Keeping it Tight



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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through two games, BYU is showing that the "Tight End Factory" is still producing at a prodigious pace.

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Dennis Pitta, Andrew George and Vic So'oto have combined for 15 catches, 213 yards and a touchdown. The average of 14.3 yards per catch is testament to both the play-calling and the ability of the three players to get open, then drag tacklers downfield.

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With Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats getting all of BYU's tight end catches last season, the position accounted for 28% of BYU's receiving yards, and 26% of receptions. This year's tight ends are pacing at 31% of receiving yards, and 27% of receptions, through two games.

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Where Harline and Coats distinguished themselves was in the end zone--they combined for 14 scores, or 42% of BYU's touchdown pass total. Pitta has BYU's lone tight end touchdown at this point (of 4 touchdown passes thrown).

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In 2001 (Gary Crowton's 1st year, with its accompanying offensive fireworks), BYU consistently employed double tight end formations (and often, triple tight sets), but the tight end was not used as extensively as Harline/Coats or Pitta/George/So'oto. Back in '01, between Doug Jolley, Spencer Nead and Gabe Reid, tight ends accounted for slightly less than 20% of BYU's passing yards, and only 17% of total receptions.

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In the Cougars' 14-1 season of 1996, featuring Chad Lewis and Itula Mili at their most productive, the tight ends accounted for 27% of receiving yards, 29% of receptions and 22% of passing touchdowns.

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So, what we see is that Robert Anae favors the tight ends perhaps more than any other BYU offensive coordinator of recent vintage, and for good reason--BYU's tight end talent pool is impressive. Hindsight being what it is, the tight ends were probably under-utilized early at UCLA (no TE catches in the 1st quarter), since they became the sparkplug of the Cougars' comeback, not to mention their offensive continuity.

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Remember: Pitta, George and So'oto are all sophomores. Devin Mahina, Braden Brown and Austin Holt merely add to BYU's embarrassment of riches at the position. The future could not possibly be brighter at "Tight End U." (sorry, Miami)

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Fast Fact:

BYU has gone 3-and-out in 26% of its possessions this season. BYU's opponents (both Pac-10 foes) have gone three-and-out in 44% of their series.

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Austin Collie was receiving punts from C.J. Santiago and Brian Smith during Wednesday's practice, and was then punting the ball back to the kickers. On a few occasions, Collie's kicks were longer than the punts he was receiving. Austin is a natural athlete blessed with remarkable talent, but I think the "First Commandment of Special Teams" reads: "The starting punter shall always outkick the starting wide receiver."

Kidding aside, BYU's punting average and net punting average are both 7th in the 9-team Mountain West Conference, so things could be worse, but they need to get better.

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