Early in 2021, ESPN’s Bill Connelly published his annual college football rankings in terms of returning production.
According to Connelly’s formula (which weighs offensive line snaps, quarterback passing yards and receiving yards heavily), BYU will only have 47% of its offensive production returning. That put the Cougars at 117th out of 127 FBS schools.
With five high-profile players off to the NFL — quarterback Zach Wilson, wide receiver Dax Milne and offensive linemen Brady Christensen, Tristen Hoge and Chandon Herring — as well as the loss of offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos to Baylor, it’s not surprising that many outside analysts expect BYU to take a step back from its high-flying success of 2020.
It’s up to new Cougar offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick to make sure that doesn’t happen.
BYU’s offensive improved dramatically in 2020 as the Cougars found ways to be more aggressive on the attack.
“We set out the year before to be more explosive and I think that was what we were most proud of,” Roderick said at BYU football Media Day in June. “We wanted to throw the ball down the field and we accomplished that.”
A big part of that was the ability of Wilson but Roderick emphasized that the athlete who was the No. 2 pick of the New York Jets also set a high standard when it came to getting ready for a game.
“Our entire staff had to come prepared because we didn’t want to show up and have him (Wilson) know more about the opponent than we did or poke holes in the game plan we had come up with — which he sometimes did,” Roderick said.
That has become the standard for players at BYU, according to Roderick.
“When you get four quarterbacks in the room who are all trying to outdo each other with how prepared they are for a meeting, then the learning goes through the roof compared to me just standing up and lecturing,” Roderick said. “That’s the old days. That’s over.”
Roderick said that as a coaching staff appreciates having the players be active participants in developing the game plan and shoring up weaknesses.
“It might be something as simple as the backfield action on a play-action pass,” Roderick said. “The way we drew it up and pictured it watching film looked really good, but then the quarterback says, ‘The fake we are asking him to do is kind of awkward. What if fake this other way or reverse out?’ I’m always willing to learn and listen to my players. It would be stupid of me not to.”
Roderick expects the current group of quarterbacks to continue to push themselves, each other and the coaches as they get ready for the 2021 season.
“These guys are really bright,” Roderick said. “All these guys send me plays. You can run every play in the world or you won’t be good at anything but they all have stuff that the see and then we talk about it as a group.”
Roderick has coached football for more than two decades and said he sees the game changing in some ways and staying the same in others.
“The game is always evolving but some of the principles of the game never change,” Roderick said. “A lot of the plays we are running right now that we are good at are plays BYU ran in the 1980s. They are working. It’s always a ball game. What think is really evolving is how coaches teach and how you get things accomplished.”
The bottom line is that Roderick’s expectations for the Cougar offense this fall are simple and straightforward.
“We’ve got to protect the ball and we’ve got to get touchdowns,” Roderick said. “Those are things that we did well last year and we need to do them again.”
Allgeier named to Maxwell Award watchlist
The Maxwell Football Club today announced its watch list for the 85th Maxwell Award presented annually to the outstanding player in college football, naming BYU running back Tyler Allgeier to its list of the nation’s top players in 2021.
Sponsored by Mammoth Tech and The Athletes’ Corner, which are Executive Partners of the Maxwell Football Club, the Maxwell Award has been presented to the College Player of the Year since 1937 and is named in honor of Robert “Tiny” Maxwell who was a former standout at the Swarthmore College and a renowned sports writer and football official.
Allgeier is one of 80 players recognized on the annual Maxwell Award watch list, which incorporates a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast. The list features six returning semifinalists from 2020, including Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina), Breece Hall (Iowa State), D’Eriq King (Miami), Sam Howell (North Carolina), and Dillon Gabriel (UCF).
Allgeier, a sophomore in eligibility after last year’s Covid season, burst onto the national scene in 2020 in his first year as a starter at running back for BYU, rushing for 1,130 yards to rank No. 8 in the nation and No. 1 among players with 150 attempts or less. One of 14 sophomores named to the watch list, Allgeier received 2020 Phil Steele All-America honorable mention after helping BYU go 11-1 and finish ranked No. 11 last season. The 5-11, 220-pound back ranked No. 3 nationally for the most runs of 30 or more yards while averaging 7.53 yards per carry, which was No. 7 in the country and tops among all sophomores.