Dearly beloved, as we gather here today at this glorious sports blog, we honor and commemorate the passing of the tight end position in BYU's offense. As we all can agree, many a great memory did we share with our dear friend. Some of the greatest triumphs against our nemesis up north were won by the tight end. But alas, the chapter of Johnny Harline still being open has now closed. Andrew George has stopped running as the Cougars' current offense is now running in a different direction, leaving the tight end position six feet under.
Dramatic intro? I agree. I just felt a few words should be said during the off-season burial of our beloved tight end position. With BYU's offense still seeking to establish it's identity in this new era of "Go Fast, Go Hard", a few of the main staples from the glory days have been axed from the Xs and Os and the tight end is one of them.
Some fans cry, "Preposterous! Blasphemy! Inconceivable!" Their pleadings fall on deaf ears as last season showed that Robert Anae has pulled the plug on the group that was already on life support during the Brandon Doman years. Over the last few seasons, the disappearing act of the tight end can be blamed on a few things. Firstly, a diminished passing attack, thanks to the underachieving Jake Heaps, the (sadly) overachieving Riley Nelson, and the inexperienced Taysom Hill, excluded them from the offense. Jake threw to Ross Apo. Riley threw to Cody Hoffman. Taysom just ran around trying not to get sacked. Everyone else became spectators. Secondly, the tight ends aren't completely without blame. The lack of reliability due to performance or injury made the position an afterthought in the offensive scheme. With the return of Anae, the nail was in the coffin as the Cougars employed the new read-option "GFGH" attack.
What I've said so far is not a shock or surprise to anyone that's followed BYU football the last few years. What might come as a shock is the thought that BYU is better off without the good ol' trusty tight end. Good riddance!
Last season, BYU worked too hard on offense to produce too little. Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns is what plagued the team in some of their biggest games. The red zone became a wall that the offense could not break through when it counted the most.
So instead of smacking our heads against the wall that our offense is not designed to break through. Why not go over the top? Instead of grinding our way across the red zone, let's see some more Taysom vs. Texas rushing touchdowns from 40-60 yards out. Why not bomb it deep to Mitch Matthews and company for the Hail Mary strikes. Let's be the gun slinging gingerbread man and see if the defense can catch us. This is not the Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Harvey Unga juggernaut that could sustain long drives of 3-5 yard gains. Anae has traded in the reliable Chevy truck for a sports car.
Some might say that the GFGH read-option offense has already shown that it can't work here at BYU. I agree that last year's attempt was lackluster, but the right pieces weren't there. This offense needs to be more explosive in order for it to work. Our recruiting class has solved that issue. With Nick Kurtz, Jordan Leslie, Devon Blackmon, and Trey Dye joining Mitch Mathews and Ross Apo, Anae now has the most explosive and athletically superior receiving corps that the Cougars have ever seen. I understand that it's a little reckless and inconsistent to apply such a strategy, but if worse comes to worse, the offense can always rely on Bronco's defense to bail them out like they've done the last few years. This approach at least gives the Cougars a better chance to fully utilize the athletes and offensive scheme that they have in place.
BYU's exposure, due to independence, has now opened up doors to these explosive athletes from around the country that we haven't had access to in the past. I reiterate, good riddance to the tight end that is slowing this offense down.
I mean no disrespect to the position, but in Anae's offense, the music has stopped and there is no chair for the 6-4 250 lb. pass catching/run blocking utility man. Personally, I prefer a tight end based offense. I would love to install Stanford's jumbo package two tight end attack, but Robert Anae has refused to take my suggestions. If this is what BYU is going to run on offense for the next few years, then let's see the offense go pedal to the metal and commit 100% to it by employing a more explosive personnel without the tight end.
It will be intriguing to see in this Saturday's spring football scrimmage, whether or not the tight end position is included in very many formations and whether or not the tight end is targeted at all. There are some promising newcomers to the group but it might be too little, too late for the BYU tight end.
In conclusion, the only hope for the tight end is if Anae's GFGH philosophy flounders a few more years and forces Bronco to sound the trumpets of Judgment Day. Under a new reign, the tight end might be resurrected and flourish once more. Until then, I bid you farewell my friend and thank you for your years of service.