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BYU Preview 2006 - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


BYU Cougars Preview 2006 - BYU Cougar Offense

What you need to know ... While BYU technically uses the spread offense and certainly has the ability to run the ball with Curtis Brown and an NFL-sized offensive line, this is a passing attack. John Beck is mobile, but he's a bomber with a good array of weapons to work with. Brown is a fantastic receiver, and tight end Jonny Harline is one of the nation's best. Now the wide receivers have to step up with the loss of deep threat Todd Watkins. This is an offense that can score in bunches, but it can't bog down like it did at times. With more experience in the system, the attack should be more consistent.

Returning Leaders
Passing: John Beck
331-513, 3,709 yds, 27 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Curtis Brown
210 carries, 1,123 yds, 14 TD
Receiving: Jonny Harline
62 catches, 853 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB John Beck
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Michael Reed
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Ray Feinga
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OG Dallas Reynolds
Top three all-star candidates: 1) TE Jonny Harline, 2) Beck, 3) Reynolds
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, backfield, tight end
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver, backup quarterback

Quarterbacks
The spread offense doesn't mean John Beck is going to be Alex Smith, but he will run a little bit more to go along with his excellent deep arm and passing talents. He should be in the hunt for First Team All-Mountain West honors and should be a mortal lock for a 3,500-yard passing season if he stays healthy. Jason Beck has been around long enough to be a decent number two man, but he doesn't have enough game experience to consider him a great replacement for the other Beck. Brock Hansen, Taylor Barnett, and Kurt McEuen will fight it out for the number three job.
The key to the unit: Develop a young quarterback. With the Becks gone next year, someone needs a little game experience to fall back on.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5

Projected Starter
- John Beck, Sr. -  331-513, 3,709 yds, 65%, 27 TD, 13 INT, 73 carries, 61 yds, 2 TD
Beck had the look of the next great BYU quarterback last year bombing away for six 300-yard games and a 517-yard, five touchdown performance in the loss to TCU. He got better at limiting mistakes as the year went on with a three-game stretch in November where he didn't throw an interception, and now he has to be even smarter in his decision making abilities with a change up to a spread offense. He has the mobility to be a decent runner, but his real talent is spreading it around in the passing game. With three years of starting experience, he should be able to handle himself well.

Top Backup
- Jason Beck, Sr.
The 6-2, 207-pound senior saw a little bit of time in 2004, but didn't play last year. He has been around long enough to be a reliable number two man and he has the quickness, 4.7 speed, and vision to be a nice fit for the spread attack.

Running Backs
Curtis Brown is one of the better all-around backs in college football and should be a fringe All-America candidate. There's good depth behind him, even if there's not a whole bunch of experience: Fui Vakapuna has all the talent and speed to grow into a top producer, while Ray Hudson will be a part of the rotation adding even more flash. There isn't a true bruiser, but all three can run with power.
The key to the unit: Brown has to keep doing what he has been doing, but he'll need a little more help. Vakapuna and Hudson have to be steady producers right off the bat.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Curtis Brown, Sr. - 210 carries, 1,123 yds, 5.3 ypc, 14 TD, 53 catches, 454 yds, 8.6 ypc, 2 TD
Unsung because he plays in a supposedly passing attack, the speedy 6-0, 205-pound senior can go on tears where he becomes the offense's main man. He had six 100-yard days last year highlighted by a 219-yard, four touchdown effort against Air Force kicking off a string of nine touchdowns in four games. While he's quick through the hole, he's deadly when he gets to the outside and is a good enough receiver to be used even more this year after finishing second on the team in catches.

Top Backups
- Fui Vakapuna, Soph.
Back after missing last year on a mission, Vakapuna has a great set of talents with 4.4 speed packed into a 229-pound frame. He got some work in his freshman season in 2003 rushing for 157 yards in a reserve role. He'll be used more in a power role than the other backs.
- Ray Hudson, Soph.
The  205-pound sophomore redshirted last year after getting a few carries as a true freshman. He's a tough back with a good combination of speed and power, but he'll have to prove he has the hands to be a reliable receiver.

Receivers
There are more than enough options for John Beck to throw to, but replacing top deep threat Todd Watkins will be tough early on. Michael Reed needs to be
a field-stretcher at the X, while reliable inside targets Nate Meikle and Matt Allen have to make more big plays. Jonny Harline is one of the nation's best receiving tight ends with backup Daniel Coats helping to form a tremendous tandem. The overall experience among the reserves is lacking, but everyone will get a chance to catch passes.
The key to the unit: Reed has to open things up for the underneath receivers, and several backups have to see time to form a steady rotation.
Receiver Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Michael Reed, Soph. - 18 catches, 236 yds, 13.1 ypc, 1 TD
Reed saw a little bit of backup time as a redshirt freshman as a steady backup all season long with a five-catch, 103-yard, one touchdown performance against Air Force to show off a little of what he could do. At 6-2 and 198 pounds, he has the side, but he doesn't have the speed Todd Watkins brought to the X last year.

- Nate Meikle, Sr. - 36 catches, 292 yds, 8.1 ypc, 7 carries, 39 yds, 5.6 ypc, 1 TD
Meikle came over from the JUCO ranks to grow into a reliable inside receiver. He's a smart route runner with good hands and more explosiveness than he showed last year. He started the season as the team's main target with a nine-catch day against Boston College and finished with a 12-catch, 93-yard day against California. He's fast enough to also be used as a runner on end arounds.

- Matt Allen, Jr. - 21 catches, 272 yds, 13 ypc, 2 TD
A reliable number three wide receiver, Allen is a nice fir for the Z position with good hands and excellent route running ability. He's not huge at 5-11 and 180 pounds, but he can handle himself well across the middle.

- Tight end Jonny Harline, Sr. - 63 catches, 853 yds, 13.5 ypc, 5 TD
A tight-end-not-a-tight-end, Harline is a big wide receiver at the Y position finishing last year as the team's leading pass catcher while showing off the hands and deep speed to make him a good pro prospect. He's a decent blocker with a strong 6-4, 240-pound frame, but he's all about catching the ball with three 100-yard games last year and a ten-catch performance against New Mexico.

Top Backups
- Daniel Coats, Sr. - 21 catches, 189 yds, 9 ypc, 3 TD
A good blocking 6-3, 256-pound senior, Coats will back up Jonny Harline at the Y and be a big part of two tight end sets. While he's not the receiver Harline is, he's not a bad target making several big grabs throughout the year. He could easily grow into the featured go-to receiver if Harline went down.
- Manase Tonga, Soph. - 6 carries, 28 yds, 4.7 ypc, 5 catches, 50 yds, 10 ypc
The main man when BYU decides to use an H-Back, Tonga will be part fullback, part power runner, and part tight end. He's 5-11 and 235 pounds with decent hands. A good blocker, he's more than athletic enough to make big downfield blocks.
- Zac Collie, Sr. - 11 catches, 158 yds, 14.4 ypc, 2 TD
One of the team's only experienced backup wide receivers, Collie will be expected to play a big role behind Matt Allen at the Z. After starting out hot with seven catches in the first three games with two touchdown against TCU, he only made four grabs the rest of the way. He was an Academic All-Mountain West performer.
- McKay Jacobson, Fr.
One of the team's top recruits, the 6-0, 185-pound true freshman got to BYU early and showed that he'll be a big part the offense as well as in the mix for a kick and punt returns. He was a star sprinter in high school and will be one of the team's fastest receivers. 

Offensive Linemen
While there's little in the way of developed depth and the starting five loses center Lance Reynolds and guard Brian Sanders, this should be the Mountain West's best line. Tackle Jake Kuresa is one of the league's best and a great anchor to run the offense behind, while the left side should grow into a strength with 345-pound guard Dallas Reynolds on the verge of really big things. Consistency will be the key early on; the starting five stayed healthy playing every game together but one last year.
The key to the unit: Be a bit better in pass protection. This is a huge, talented line that needs to cut the sack total down from the 25 allowed last year.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- OT Eddie Keele, Sr.
The 6-5, 312-pound senior turned into s decent starter last year playing all 12 games on the left side. He's still working on becoming a dominant run blocker, but he didn't allow a sack all year long. Now that he's bigger, stronger, and more experienced, he should be in for a big year.

- OG Dallas Reynolds, Soph.
Reynolds turned into one of the big surprises last year stepping into a starting role right away at left guard and playing the entire year. He's a huge 6-4, 335-pound presence who turned into a nice run blocker. He made the typical freshman mistakes with a few problems with his consistency in pass protection, but he was hardly a liability.
- C Jeff Rhea, Jr.
It'll be up to Rhea to take over for Lance Reynolds in the middle after seeing a little bit of action in reserve. He has good size and athleticism at 6-3 and 292 pounds, but it might take him a little while before he's as steady as Reynolds was.
- OG Ray Feinga, Soph.
At 6-5 and 334 pounds, Feinga is big body ready to take over on the right side for Brian Sanders. He was a star recruit a few years ago and is expected to grow into an All-Mountain West performer over the next few years. Expect him to be dominant in the ground game right off the bat.
- OT Jake Kuresa, Sr.
Able to play tackle or guard, the 6-4, 339-pound senior will be one of the league's best tackles coming off an all-star season starting 11 games at right tackle. While he's a fantastic pass blocker, he was beaten by some of the speedier ends last year. Even so, he's a true All-America candidate and the anchor of the veteran line.

Top Backups
-
OG Travis Bright, Soph.
The 315-pound sophomore is a big option behind Ray Feinga at right guard. Since neither have any experience, there should be a decent rotation throughout the year. He was a top recruit a few years ago with enough athleticism to play tackle if needed.
- C/G Steve Aulai, Jr.
The JUCO transfer will be a key backup at both center and left guard. He's 6-0 and 313 pounds with enough experience at the lower level to be ready to play right away. He redshirted last year and now will be in a battle with Erik Freeman for playing time.

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