The anemic offense of the BYU Cougars has one person to blame, and one person only: Robert Anae, the Cougars' Offensive Coordinator.
Anae lost every skill position an offense can lose. Austin Collie left for the NFL 2 years ago. Dennis Pitta, BYU's all time leader in receiving yards and catches, is now catching passes for the Ravens of the higher league. Harvey Unga, the Cougars all time rushing leader, is sidelined in the NFL for the bears. BYU's all time leading winner at the QB poition, Max Hall is now second stringer for the Arizona Cardinals. I don't care who you are, that's a lot of talent to lose in 2 years, most of them leaving after last years campaign.
That being said, they had promising recruits come in to take their place. Jake Heaps, often regarded as the best QB coming out of high school, committed to the Cougars. Bringing along with him a nice big wide receiver in the likes of Ross Apo out of Texas. Josh Quezada was a star running back in high school in 5A California ball. Three offensive recruits that were expected to contribute right away.
BYU thought they had a rebuilding year ahead of them, but they didn't think they would have a 3 game losing streak after 4 games. All in all, BYU's play calling has been the reason for this current awful play.
Yesterday, during the Cougars 27-13 loss of high powered Nevada, Anae decided to go for 4 fourth downs. One of which BYU was in Nevada territory on a good drive. 4th and 4 and Heaps and the Cougs hurry to the line, hoping to catch Nevada off guard, and hand the ball off to Bryan Kariya? Are you kidding me? You don't hurry to the line, threatening to score, on a 4th down, and hand the ball to your blocking back in hopes that he hits the whole. Needless to say, Nevada's defense stopped the run, and the drive was killed.
Heaps, who has struggled with accuracy so far this year, is having trouble hitting out routes. To get his grove going, run the ball on first down, get a couple, do some short dump off passes to the backs or quick receiver slants. Get him some completions to get his confidence going. Don't throw the ball on first down, incomplete the pass and have a second in long, where then you call a run, to only get 3 or 4 yards and give your freshman quarterback a long third down.
Anae has to realize that bringing in a highly touted freshman in Heaps means the fans are going to be expecting him to throw a touchdown every series. The expectations the fans alone are going to put on Heaps are exponential. He needs to be groomed to start out little and work his way up. That is Anae's responsibility to train Heaps how to manage the game, by giving him manageable situations to work with.
Heaps has shown great arm strength, as well as throwing accuracy while on the run. Heaps has shown he can lead the cougars on scoring drives, given most of them have been field goals. Heaps needs to be able to punch the ball into the endzone in order for the Cougars to be successful.
Robert Anae has got to simplify the play book for Jake Heaps, and let the game come to him, not make Heaps live up to the hype. Anae is the reason the cougars offense has been so terrible this year. He needs to call the game allowing Heaps to make the Cougar faithful trust him, as well as the team he now will control for the next 4 years.
If Anae can't figure out how to do that, BYU has got to start thinking about alternatives for the position of offensive coordinator.