PROVO — How much did BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes glean from watching this year’s NFL playoffs?
Well, he got a few morsels, tidbits, affirmations of concepts he likes and he was entertained. But in general, he does not have time to watch much NFL drama.
This year’s playoffs featured some of the most explosive offenses in league history. In particular, the Kansas City Chiefs. But the playoffs also featured outstanding quarterback play and receivers that could kill defenses.
“I do watch the NFL when I have a chance, for sure, and I had a chance to watch the conference championships and the Super Bowl,” Grimes said. “Before that, I was busy with recruiting.”
Even more useful, Grimes says, is to have access to all those games, not just the TV network broadcasts, but “real” footage of the games where you see both the end-zone view and the sideline view.
Grimes and the rest of BYU’s football staff are gathering research in preparation for spring football, which begins the first week of March. Grimes is orienting new offensive line coach Eric Mateos, who replaced Ryan Pugh, who took the offensive coordinator job at Troy after one year in Provo.
“I’ve been watching the Rams a lot and I like a lot of what they do because it's a lot of stuff we do,” he said. “That includes formations that use the jet sweep, a lot of misdirection in the run game and play-action off those plays.
“It’s stuff I’ve always believed in and it just fits something I really like, so I’ve been watching them quite a bit lately,” he continued. “Everyone respects the Patriots and the job they’ve done and it’s been really cool to watch them win in different ways. One of the things I liked about them this year is they went back to a little bit more of an old-school approach.
“I don’t know what they did in the regular season because I didn’t see any of those games, but in the playoffs, the last couple of games, you see them lining up in the I formation and just pounding people with an old-school approach to the game. I think there is still a lot of value in that because people aren’t used to seeing it on defense.”
Then, he added, there is always the case of how important quarterback play is in the playoffs and how critical a factor that is for the Cougars.
“The teams playing the best at the end usually have a quarterback,” he said.
And that’s where Grimes hopes BYU will pick things up this fall, with the return of quarterback Zach Wilson, who set a record in his perfect throwing performance in BYU's win over Western Michigan at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.
Wilson will not be throwing during spring practice due to postseason shoulder surgery to repair a high school injury. Two of his main targets, tight end Matt Bushman and receiver Aleva Hifo, had similar surgeries with similar timelines for recovery (May or June).
In Wilson’s absence, the door is open for Joe Critchlow, Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and others to carve out playing time and make impressions.
Even with Wilson standing in the huddle but not throwing, Grimes feels good about the QB situation.
“Obviously I feel good about the direction we're headed, not only with Zach but with some of the other guys on our team,” he said. “With Jacob Conover committing to us and knowing that he'll be back in a couple years, and a couple of other guys that we're recruiting right now that are really good players, I think we're in as good of shape as anybody.
“I feel good about the state of our quarterback position and I think Aaron Roderick deserves most of the credit for that.”
Do NFL schemes have an impact on BYU?
Well, if they aren’t at least part of the research, it is a lost opportunity because in both realms — the NFL and the college game — you cannot discount the value of quarterback play.