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Harmon's Halftime: An old tactic of football redemption is being used by BYU's new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes

BYU Football Spring Camp, March 5, 2018.
BYU Football Spring Camp, March 5, 2018.
Nate Edwards, BYU

Clean slate.

These are two words being used over and over again at BYU's spring football camp by new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes as he tries to install an offense that will supersede the failures of the 2017 season.

When Bronco Mendenhall got the head coaching job in 2005, he did the same thing, and he did it with the use of symbols. He took the team out of town and actually burned equipment that would represent any memory of the losing 2004 season and issues associated with it.

With Grimes, he's doing it with a simple mantra. Clean Slate. Everyone has a clean slate. Everyone is judged for what they do going forward, be it a certain role, position, spot on the depth chart, or the so-called team jailhouse.

"I think what's been conveyed to them is it is a clean slate," said tight end coach Steve Clark.

"There are no preconceived notions who can do what and who has had trouble in the past learning things or just being in trouble. It is all new, so I think everyone enjoyed that clean slate. That is the word Jeff has used all the time, every day. You have a clean slate, you can write your own script because we are starting new. That’s a relief to a lot of guys, I think."

In going down a list of his tight ends, I sas the name JJ Nwigwe, a converted offensive lineman, playing tight end. I said to Clark something like, "Oh, JJ, yeah, he's primarily a blocking tight end, right?"

Clark immediately corrected me. Shot it right back.

"No, no, no. It's a clean slate. Remember?"

In other words, Nwigwe will be judged on what he can do and contribute going forward, not what he did in the past.

Clark explained how this might apply to any guy you want on the team, be it Nwigwe, running back Riley Burt, Squally Canada or any receiver or lineman you want to identify.

What it is, said Clark, "Is they aren’t buried in the doghouse, they can come out and fight for a spot. That’s not to say they won’t get back in the doghouse so to speak, but that’s their choice. They are not automatically in the doghouse, and it is their choice in how to go forward."

Clark said the approach, as proven elsewhere, creates a different atmosphere in camp, one of hope, hard work, competition and desire.

Those might be small things to some, but to others, it is music if not a symphony.