BYU sophomore tight end Masen Wake was a battering ram of a running back during his high school football days at Lone Peak. That meant a lot of defenders would try to tackle him low, but he would counter by jumping over them.
He discovered in the Cougars’ season-opening win at Navy on Sept. 6 that it’s a little bit different to attempt to execute the maneuver at the collegiate level.
“I’ve been doing that for awhile,” Wake said in a phone interview last week. “I did it a bunch in high school. I caught the ball, broke a tackle and then jumped a little too early. I was expecting the defensive back to come up and shoot at my legs but he just kind of stood there. Thankfully he kind of ducked, so I got a little bit over him.”
While his effort did result in gaining a couple of extra yards, Wake said it drew some laughs and teasing when the team watched the play on film.
“Since I barely cleared him, it didn’t go too well,” Wake said. “I got made fun of quite a bit, so next time hopefully I’ll clear him by a couple of inches. It’s all games. They were making fun of me but it was all love though.”
He said he isn’t ruling out hurdling defenders in the future but he has been told to use other methods of getting downfield as well.
“After that play, I went off to the sideline and Coach (Ed) Lamb was kind of like, ‘maybe don’t do that’ but the Coach (Kalani) Sitake loved it and thought it was pretty cool,” Wake said. “We’ll have to see what naturally happens. They want to see me truck a few more guys.”
While Wake might not be ready yet to be the next Chad Lewis (who was famous for hurdling defenders back in the mid-1990s), he is definitely needed to fill a bigger role for the Cougars since BYU won’t have star tight end Matt Bushman on the field this year.
“I’m definitely playing a lot more,” Wake said. “In fall camp, I had a bunch of plays but it just multiplied. Last year I was mostly in on run plays but we had to make it multi-dimensional. I had to do more so defenses couldn’t read it. With Matt Bushman going down, no one needs to be a superhero. We just need to be us. No one is expecting anyone to be Matt Bushman because no one can. He is that good. We just need to be us and we’ll be fine.”
One area that he felt like the Cougars did well in the rout of Navy was in their blocking.
“Coach (Jeff) Grimes always harps on it,” Wake said. “He says that a wide zone is an 11-man scheme. It’s everyone blocking their guys. We really took that to heart. Everyone finished blocks. We came out with a chip on our shoulder and we were ready to play.”
Now the Cougars are having to try to maintain that attitude while having virtually two straight bye weeks, due to the postponement of the Army game that was scheduled for Sept. 19.
“I don’t know about the other guys but I hate bye weeks,” Wake said. “I hate just sitting there during those long weeks. Having a game at the end of a week is like a present. I love it.”
He said the team knows it can’t let up.
“We have to have the mentality that we are 0-0,” Wake said. “The first game is over and we have to come out and grind. We can’t let that get to our head. The other team is going to come out hard and we are too. We’ve got to move on to the next game.”