Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Mailbag: Should Taysom Hill redshirt; Will Ezekiel Ansah breakout this year?

Welcome to the Friday Mailbag where once a week I answer your questions and respond to your comments about Brigham Young Cougars football. As a quick reminder, there are three ways to submit a question:

1. Email: bluecougarfootball@gmail.com
2. Twitter: @BlueCougarFball and use #BCFmailbag
3. Leave a comment at the end of a BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL article.

On to the mailbag.

Taysom Hill is getting most of the number 3 quarterback reps, which makes him the early front runner for the starting spot for 2013. [James] Lark is showing well, so I doubt Hill will take over the number 2 spot on the depth chart. Should Hill redshirt and save four years to start or is it better that he gets a small taste of live action before starting next year?

Before Jake Heaps transferred, it was a foregone conclusion that Hill would redshirt this season. Hill would not be needed until 2014. Now, BYU needs someone for 2013. The real question is will Hill be ready to start in 2013 if he redshirts this year.

Max Hall, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Kellen Moore, and Andrew Luck are all examples of players who thrived from the start with no game experience. However, they all had a redshirt year to get ready. Hall even credited the experience he gained on the scout team going against BYU’s starting defense being a big reason why he played so well even without any game experience.

Comparing the two options, which would be more valuable?

Redshirt: Going against BYU’s starters four or five times a week, Hill is going to know what it feels like to have Ian Dulan breath down your neck, to have Uona Kaveinga come out of nowhere on a blitz, to have Kyle Van Noy intercept your pass even if he wasn’t even near the intended receiver, and to figure out how to get the ball to receivers covered by the likes of Preston Hadley and Joe Sampson.

No Redshirt: Being the “emergency” quarterback will force Hill to get experience by watching what Riley Nelson and James Lark do. Maybe Hill will get a couple of reps in team drills during practice each day, and play 10 to 15 downs in a real game during the year.

Another consideration is how experienced the other offensive players will be. In 2012, BYU will have very experienced wide receivers, even if Cody Hoffman bolts to the NFL a year early. Ross Apo and JD Falslev will return with two years of significant playing time under their belts. The tight ends will be very experienced seniors. BYU doesn’t lose any running backs until 2014. This is a pretty good situation for an inexperienced quarterback to step into.

The bottom line is neither scenario is better. How well Hill plays in 2013, and beyond, will all come down to how good he is. If he truly is good quarterback material, it won’t make a difference what type of experience he gets this year. Playing on the scout team or playing mop up minutes will be enough for him to get his feet wet and figure out what the game is like on the college level. Some quarterbacks have three years as a back up to “get ready,” and they turn out to be mediocre. Jake Heaps had tons of live game experience as a freshman, but that didn’t seem to make him any better the following year.

The decision to redshirt will come down to what the coaches think is best for the team. Personally, I would stick with the original plan and redshirt him.

*****

Lots of good reports about Ziggy [Ezekiel Ansah] coming out of spring practices. We have been hearing about him for a few years now. Is this the year he breaks out?

Two years ago, Ansah was trying to figure out what football was all about. Last year, he switched positions from defensive line to linebacker, so he was trying to figure out what it meant to be a linebacker. Both years he was almost non-existent on defense. That could change this year. He should benefit from the continuity of not changing positions this year. He should see more playing time now that three good outside linebackers have graduated.

At 6-foot-6 inches and 270 pounds, Ansah is still a moster sized linebacker. Throw in his track speed, and he should be a force to be reckoned with. However, I am still reluctant to predict a breakout year for him.

Size and speed can only take a guy so far. After that he needs good football instincts. How much of those he has developed in two years is unknown.

I am confident we will hear his name called more this year, but I don’t think it will be enough to qualify as a “breakout” year.

*****

I loved what Chris Peterson at Boise State said. "All their current QB's are mobile, and by that they can use their feet to keep the play alive. We are not a QB running school. We pass the football here at BSU".

That is a good quote. Peterson knows what he is talking about. For any football program to have sustained success, it needs an identity. The coaches and players need to know what that identity is and try not to deviate very far from it. No team can be everything. If a coach thinks they can, then they will stumble.

One of the reasons BYU got into trouble in 2002 under Gary Crowton was that he insisted on running option plays and doing other things with the quarterback that didn’t fit BYU’s identity. The personnel on the 2001 team made those plays possible, but the 2002 team didn’t have those types of players. Rather than adapting to the talents of the best players, Crowton stuck with his system.

I can appreciate that offensive coordinator Brandon Doman wants to take advantage of the skill set of the current quarterback(s) and even focus on recruiting players with similar mobility. This can be a benefit to BYU, as it has been in the past (see 1983 and 2001). It can also cause problems if Doman overemphasizes mobility.

BYU is a passing school first. It needs to stay that way. Whether that is done with rollouts or dropping straight back into the pocket doesn’t matter. At the end of the year, BYU needs to have at least 3,000 yards passing and 20 touchdown passes. As a rule of thumb, the quarterback should not run the ball more than 10-12 times a game.

*****

RE: The New Brand of BYU Wide Receivers

Heard the same thing last year. Until they prove they can move it against elite, athletic corners and safeties, I'm not buying it.

It is starting to sound like a broken record to hear how good the wide receivers should be. Playing “against elite, athletic corners” (i.e. TCU) has been their Achilles heel the last few years. I don’t blame you for wanting them to prove their worth.

There were signs of progress in 2011. Against TCU, Hoffman made four receptions for 67 yards. Ross Apo got loose for a 42-yard reception.

There is still some room for improvement. However, this group of wide receivers is more capable to reach the next level than those from the last three years.

*****

Wow. The only name I recognize on the list is Todd Watkins. I guess bigger isn’t always better. At least we already know we have something in [Cody] Hoffman and [Ross] Apo.

This list really opens your eyes to how much height really matters. Recruiting services and NFL scouts love measurements, but the things that can’t be measured are what make the difference--route running, reading coverages, concentration to make the difficult catch.

Most BYU fans should recognize Watkins. He caught 101 receptions for 1,720 yards and 15 touchdowns not too long ago (2004-05). To be fair, let me point out that Lloyd Jones was a significant contributor. He had 1,544 yards receiving, 7 touchdowns, and averaged 22.4 yards per catch (BYU record, minimum 13 receptions) from 1978-80. Homer Jones, 1979-80, is another (78 receptions, 795 yards, 6 TD).

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment