Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Pulse of Cougar Nation: Receivers/Tight Ends

Associated Press

2010 was a transition year for BYU. A quarterback controversy delayed the development of both QBs involved, and BYU's overall team passing attack suffered, even with the strong finish by former BYU QB Jake Heaps.

Because of the strong finish and the addition of Heaps' favorite target Ross Apo, many expected great things from Heaps in 2011, so a slow start, magnified by a turnover-laden 54-10 loss to rival Utah, frustrated fans (and probably coaches). After another slow start against Utah State forced coaches to throw Riley Nelson into the game. Nelson rallied BYU to a victory in the closing seconds, and he won the job for the rest of the year.

Nelson formed a very strong connection with Cody Hoffman, who finished the season strong with three TD catches in the bowl game against Tulsa. Throughout the second half of the season, Hoffman seemed to be on the receiving end of a lot of Riley improv.
A lot of BYU receivers return for 2012, including four of the top 5 from last season. Hoffman, Apo, JD Falslev and Marcus Matthews all were solid contributors in 2011, and fans are excited at the potential of BYU's air attack in 2011.

Here's what Cougar Nation thought:

AVERAGE RESPONSE: About 3,300 yards

AVERAGE RESPONSE: 2.3 receivers

AVERAGE RESPONSE: About 7.3 TD catches

AVERAGE RESPONSE: About 24.2 TD catches

BYU's receivers and tight ends don't appear to be lacking in chemistry with Riley Nelson, so there's optimism among Cougar fans. While Cody Hoffman was the only receiver with more than 500 yards receiving last year, the vast majority of fans believe that won't be the case in 2012. 2011 played out like that partially because of the lack of health/inconsistency among BYU tight ends and running backs. This caused an increase in playing time among other potential targets for Riley, which helped spread the passing yardage around.

It's not even a little bit surprising to see Cody Hoffman as the almost-unanimous selection for top 2012 receiving. Not even a little bit.

When BYU tight ends are clicking with the QB and scoring TDs, the offense is functioning soooo much better. Last year's four TDs (including the game-winning one against Utah State) were an improvement over 2010 (zero), but BYU will definitely needs more production from that position for BYU's offense to go to the next level, whatever that means. Most fans seem to think it will happen, as nearly 70 percent of the respondents expect tight ends to score anywhere from six to nine TDs.

While 22 TDs is nothing to sneeze at, most BYU fans expect the wide receivers to improve their TD numbers in 2012. It could happen, but I expect most of the improvement in TD catches to come from the tight ends.

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