BYU Football Friday Mailbag

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:
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On to the mailbag.

The questions this week came in response to A Sneak Peek at BYU Football 2012

50 receptions by 3 Wideouts is asking for quite a bit. It's been quite a while since that last happened.

This is a lofty goal for the wide receiving corps. In fact, BYU has never had three wide receivers catch 50 or more passes in the same season. Three times, BYU has had three players catch 50 or more, but they have always been a combination of wide receiver, tight end, and/or running backs.

My line of thinking was that Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo should both get 50 receptions, no question. JD Falslev caught 31 passes this past season, but 23 of those came in the second half of the season when he started playing more on offense, so his numbers should bump up from extra playing time. Neither Michael Alisa nor Joshua Quezada have been used much as receivers out of the backfield. BYU doesn’t have a running back that will catch several passes coming out of the backfield next year, at least not early in the season. The absence of a pass catching back will result in the slot receiver—Falslev—having more passes thrown his direction.

Maybe the receivers don’t reach this goal, but it will challenge them to be their best.

I thought O'Neill [Chambers] was moving to Defense.

There has been much speculation over which side of the ball Chambers will play on next season. Since the bowl game, I recall hearing Bronco Mendenhall say Chambers was most likely going to play wide receiver. I have been trying to find the audio for Mendenhall’s exact words, but I cannot. Based on this December 21, 2011, piece from, Chambers’ position is still up in the air: “‘Haven’t decided for sure yet, but receiver or safety is where he’ll play,’ Mendenhall said.”

Chambers may try defensive back, but I don’t think he is going to find a home there. Mendenhall likes what he has in Daniel Sorensen, Mike Hague, Joe Sampson, and Craig Bills. It doesn’t make sense for Chambers to spend his senior season learning a new position only to never see the field.

Chambers was at his best as a receiver when he wasn’t in the spotlight. The 2009 season defenses focused on BYU’s two big tight ends. Once the focus and attention shifted to him in 2010, he didn’t produce. In 2012, Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo will be the main focus for defenses. If Chambers played in the slot with JD Falslev, he could roam the field without much attention from the defense and even benefit from some match up mismatches.

1) The BYU TEs averaged over 50 yards per game last year. Let's up it to either 70 ypg or 50 ypg by a non-Mathews TE. 2) Alisa is already a guy who regularly breaks off long runs. In half of the games he saw significant playing time (more than 6 carries) he broke of runs of over 30 yards.

First, you are correct. The BYU tight ends averaged 51.8 yards receiving per game in 2011. From my observations, the BYU offense works best when the tight end averages at least 50 yards a game. There have been occasions when the tight end has averaged much more. For 2012, I am content to leave it at 50. With such great talents on the outside in Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo, I don’t think the success of BYU in 2012 will be greater if the tight end is averaging 60, 70, or 80 yards receiving per game as opposed to 50.

I do agree that BYU would be better served if Austin Holt and Richard Wilson were accounting for those 50 yards each game. I don’t mean to disrespect Marcus Mathews and his key contributions this year, but he is not a true tight end. He was responsible for 23 of the 51.8 yards per game, which is 44.4 percent of all tight end production in 2011. I understand part of this is a result of Holt and Wilson missing several games due to injury. In any case, that percentage needs to drastically decrease next year.

Second, your comments about Alisa are clearly in response to the running backs goal to “Find a feature back who can gain 100 yards in a game regularly and break off a 50 yard run once or twice.” The 50-yard run part basically stems from this piece I wrote back in December. The starting running backs have to start doing better than the backups. It is a fact that no BYU running back, including Alisa, had a 100 yard rushing game this season. I have some reservations about Alisa. Maybe by next year he can become the guy that BYU needs in the backfield, but he isn’t that guy right now. Against the three best teams he faced (Oregon State, TCU, and Hawaii), his longest run was 14 yards. BYU needs a guy it can count on in the big games.

This is just nit picking, but I thought the LBs did a good job of sealing the edge. The 80 yard run vs USU was not a normality. Oh and I heard Travis Tuiloma was going on a mission?

With this group of linebackers you, pretty much, have to nit pick to find something that needs to be worked on. However, Utah State running back Robert Turbin wasn’t the only one to break off an 80 yard run. Idaho’s only score came on an 80-yard run on a sweep down the sideline.

You are correct about Tuiloma. He has been called on a mission and will serve in Western Samoa.

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  1. The Alisa comment was mine. Do you know the last time a BYU running back had 3 runs over 30 yards in a single season? the anwer is 2005 by Curtis Brown. Now Alisa did look raw at time, but that isn't surprising because he was recruited as an outside LB and there as a freshman. Last spring he was moved to FB and it wasn't until the season had started that he moved to RB.

    For a guy who was basically new to the position (at the college level anyways) he was pretty good.

    In addition to his 3 big runs, he also had another 2 that were called back. Alisa is the fastest RB the Cougars have had in a long time. He is faster than Diluigi, Unga, and Brown. I don't know how far back you have to go to find someone with his speed.

    I don't know if he is going to develop into a great running back, but in his firt year as a RB he lead all Cougars in ypc despite looking somewhatlost at times. Give him a full spring and summer as a feature back and you will get your multiple runs of 50+ yards and you will have a back who can regularly give you 100+ ypg. He may not do in all the time because he will be sharing carries with Quezada and Nelson, but he has the ability and the drive. Just Wait

    1. Gorum, you make some good points about Alisa. I am a little more optimistic about him now.

      By no means was I saying Alisa is a lost cause. Nor am I placing a ceiling on how good he can become (or any other BYU player for that matter).

      Alisa definitely earned his carries this year, but it sounds like we both agree there is room for improvement.

      As we saw this year with guys like Heaps and Quezada that improvement isn't automatic.

      I am hoping Alisa can make those improvements, but I am not going to just assume it will happen.


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