BYU’s up-tempo offense expectations in year two

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“Go hard, go fast … and go far” is the new catchphrase offensive coordinator Robert Anae is giving BYU football’s new up-tempo offense as he heads into his second year with the team.

Returning to BYU after spending two years at Arizona, Anae brought with him a new offensive scheme in hopes of bringing BYU’s offense back to the prominence it saw under the likes of Max Hall and John Beck.

Jamaal Williams runs the ball down the field during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium against Georgia Tech last season. (Sarah Hill)
Jamaal Williams runs the ball down the field during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium against Georgia Tech last season. (Sarah Hill)

Last season was Anae’s first year implementing his new fast-paced offense, which focused on quick play calling, frequent rotations and getting a new play off every 15 seconds in an effort to take opposing defenses by surprise and catch them on their heels.

The offense delivered in 2013 by averaging 85 plays per game, compared to 77 in 2012, including a 115-play shootout against Houston.

But perhaps Anae’s new offensive scheme required a major learning curve. The team put up big numbers in the run-game, with quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams leading BYU’s offense. The 2013 Cougars were ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards per game (274.6) and 13th in total yards per game (495.3) but sputtered in the passing game with 220 yards per game (74th nationally) and imploded in red zone/touchdown percentage at 49.06 percent (112th), — a statistic that shows BYU was only a few plays short of a 10-win season.

“We were not effective in running the ball or getting pass completions in that area,” said Anae in response to the team’s red zone production. “That’s gonna be our focus this year.”

While the offense was effective in moving the ball down the field, it wasn’t effective in moving it all the way.

Now the team enters year two of Anae’s “Go hard, go fast” offense, and the team looks forward to improving the scheme.

“We’re at a much better place than we were a year ago at this time,” Anae said. “I believe we are in a position to make a monumental step in our offensive production.”

Having a year of this up-tempo offense under their belts, coaches and players alike feel they are more prepared to take on the new season.

“We have a lot of returning players on the offense,” said Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. “A returning quarterback, a returning running back, a returning tight end, a returning offensive line. Our offense will be good.”

Jamaal Williams, who ran for 1,233 rushing yards last season, thinks year two of the fast-paced offense will work better than it did in 2013.

“Last year felt like it was too new, and people were nervous,” Williams said. “This year is different. We all know what’s at stake, and we know what we learned last year. It’s nothing new for us, just the flow of the offense.”

But to prepare for the up-tempo offense, much of the focus has been put on the offensive line in an effort to get it into shape, and coaches have taken notice.

“This is the best offensive-line position I’ve ever been a part of,” Anae said.

So, in year two of “Go hard, go fast” and now “go far,” the emphasis is on passing efficiency, red zone production and offensive line play.

Mendenhall, confident as ever, believes in the 2014 BYU Cougars. Only time will tell how far they go.

“If you were to ask if we could score against whoever we play, wherever we play, I’d say yes. I’m that confident,” he said.

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