There's tons of great stuff worth talking about from the first game but I wasn't able to get to everything I was interested in discussing. So before we get into details on few topics I just wanted to give my overall thoughts on the offense.
Areas we need to improve:
-Assignment mistakes in the run game. These are mental errors and need to be corrected right away.
-Blocking technique from the tight ends and h-backs. We played too fast and out of control.
-Decision making by our blockers in space. We cut far too often and we were again out of control. You need to be right on top of the defender in order to cut effectively and cutting usually creates a pile up. That's fine if you are trying to hold up backside pursuit but it's not a good idea in the hole. But if you are going to cut a lot, you better have a good hit rate. Far too many whiffs on cuts and missed blocks in general. Also, we had too many instances where our linemen chased an assignment in space rather than letting their initial assignment go and getting vertical to create a running lane. There’s huge room for improvement for us in space.
-Getting the ball out on 3-step drops. Gilbert made solid reads on several plays but then waited for the receiver to clear before firing the ball. He has to see the play developing and throw in anticipation of the receiver clearing on a 3 step. That will be important if we are hoping to spread BYU out and work the quick game.
-Missing downfield opportunities and panic plays from the QB. Obviously there's a few that we'd like to have back.
Areas that I was happy about:
-Red Zone and short yardage. CJ ran with authority in the short yardage game and the wildcat is obviously going to be a great tool for us in the Red Zone. Both areas are crucial to our ability to win tough games.
-Responsive play calling. Harsin helped his offense out throughout the game by creating some opportunities within the offense despite some poor decisions and execution early from the offense.
-Playmaking from the QB. Gilbert made 3 great plays under pressure in this game and that’s a good starting point for this season from him.
-The Ash package. It is ripe with possibility and going to be a serious headache for DCs. We are going to struggle early with some execution issues on offense but this is a trump card that has the possibility of keeping us in games we wouldn’t otherwise be in.
To the Filmroom
I really wish I had more time to spare because there’s a lot to explore. As it is most of these are one take wonders so I apologize if I’m not as clear as I could be. Hopefully the general points still translate.
Let’s start with the lackluster opening to the game and some of David Snow’s stuggles.
None of those are mistakes that can't be easily corrected but they are mistakes that can't be tolerated regularly. Walters also struggled on a quite a few plays in the game from a technique perspective. Generally speaking we need more from both guard positions going forward.
We really featured Flex Outside Zone, Inside Zone, and Power blocking against Rice. It’s no coincidence that each of these plays exerts a complementing pressure on the defensive end. We touched a little bit on the Flex play last week and I really thought we blocked it well in the game (save one or two plays) but our backs need to have a little more patience. There were several instances where they didn’t let the pullers really get on defenders before making their hard upfield cuts.
Let’s take a little masochistic trip to 2010
So what’s changed?
We need better execution on the backside of this play and we have some work to do to change our mentality from one assignment to another (comboing is a different mindset than solo blocking and blocking for displacement is different than blocking for position). The good news is we won't be abandoning any of our core concepts... this line will develop in this scheme.
We ran a lot of power in this game but Rice did a good just of denying the C gaps. We countered with some big plays to the outside. We definitely got better with our Power blocking as the game progressed and some of our best moments came in the special packages.
Definitely promising signs on both fronts.
I probably won't do player features often but in this case I think it was appropriate. I just wanted to share the game that Jamison Berryhill had. I’ve said it elsewhere but he made a very compelling case to have a much larger role in our offense. Berryhill is an accurate blocker who blocks way bigger than his size and can win battles in the box or in space. He isn’t just our best fullback, he’s one of the best blockers on the team regardless of position. More Berryhill, please. Malcolm Brown will aggressively take it to the defense when he has a lead blocker setting the tempo like Berryhill.
A parting thought about BYU
As I said, I didn't have time to delve into everything but there will be no shortage of topics going forward. Enjoy.