Earlier this week I spoke with radio Voice of the Cougars Greg Wrubell about this upcoming season and what to expect from the 2014 Cougars. This post is the first of three and will focus on the offense and how many wins he expects the Cougars to have at the end of November.
QB Taysom Hill will be a better passer this season. He had a full off season to practice and not have to worry about rehab. The offensive line has more experience with Anae's Go Fast, Go Hard scheme and five seniors. The receiving corps looks to have more talent across the board than it did a year ago. "If he sacrifices a few running yards for more passing yards, I'll take that trade," Wrubell said. These factors, combined with his ability to run, will make him even more difficult to defend. If Texas couldn't find an answer for him a year ago, and both Hill and the guys surrounding him have improved, will Texas be able to find an answer for him this year?
As far as the receivers go, Wrubell pointed out that the new guys (Nick Kurtz, Devon Blackmon, and Jordan Leslie) are not, as of yet, known Cougar commodities. Leslie has performed well as a legit DI receiver, and juco transfers, Kurtz and Blackmon, are expected to step in a make an impact. Mitch Matthews and Ross Apo are nice targets that Cougar fans are already familiar with.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Giving credit where credit is due, Wrubell was quick to point out that the offensive line was a good run blocking unit last year. Again, credit where credit is due, Taysom Hill also created a lot of his on the ground production. "The offensive line has a lot of room to improve....The lack of pass game protection and pass game efficiency kept BYU from maximizing its potential. It has to be a priority focus to be a better pass blocking team." said Wrubell. Eleven guys started last season in seven different line ups. Combine that experience with incoming o-line talents Ului Lapuaho and Tuni Kanuch and Wrubell likes the potential for this unit.
Wrubell also pointed out Robert Anae's history in working with offensive lines. His first year at Arizona was almost more like a preparatory year for what was to come. It was in Anae's second year at Arizona that the offensive line really started to maximize their potential. Let's not forget the solid offensive line play during Anae's first go around at BYU either. Expect better things from the offensive line this season.
Wrubell doesn't have a lot of question marks about the team going into the summer months. He did say, "To me the biggest question marks are actually things like place kicking. I want to see who the long snapper and place kicker are going to be." He also reiterated the offensive line play, "...and again just how good can an offensive line be?"
ROUND 2 OF GO FAST, GO HARD
Anae has said that his new system is here to stay, but Wrubell wants to see greater efficiency on the field, "A lot of time it seemed that BYU ran plays just to run plays and I wouldn't mind if this season if BYU became situationally a little more different." Think red zone, end of half, and end of game situations. He brought up when BYU went 3 and out just before half time against Virginia and the Cavaliers kicked a field goal. For a game in which BYU lost by 3, a little more tact could have made a very big difference. "Running plays to run plays fast hurt BYU," he could continued. "When Robert Anae was here first, his most prolific season...they averaged about 65 plays per game." Wrubell's preference is not to do away with Go Fast, Go Hard, but rather to use more tact to ensure higher levels of efficiency.
OFFENSIVE NEWCOMERS TO MAKE AN IMPACT & CURRENT PLAYERS FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
"I guess we can throw all the wide receivers in...Jordan Leslie, Devon Blackmon, and Nick Kurtz," as well as Ului Lapuaho and Tuni Kanuch (position change from the D-line) are the offensive players Wrubell has his eyes on to make immediate impacts. "Well he's not really flying under the radar because he was highly recruited and got a lot of attention last year, but I want to see if Brayden Kearsley's a keeper or not," said Wrubell, citing off the field issues that kept Kearsley from consistent performance.
EXPECTATION FOR 2014
Wrubell expects a ten-win season and if the Cougars can get out of September undefeated, it could become a special season. The Texas game will be his barometer for how good the Cougars can be in 2014.
Tomorrow's post will include Wrubell's thoughts on the 2014 Cougar defense.