PROVO — The ability to be violent on a football field can’t come before proving reliable, at least according to BYU quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick.
Roderick offered the comment when asked to address one of the most underrated stats the Cougars have put up through two games played — the lack of penalties committed. In the 55-3 week one trouncing of Navy, BYU committed just a single penalty for five yards before being flagged just twice for 15 yards during last Saturday’s 48-7 win over Troy.
The lack of penalties works in stark contrast to what’s often seen at the beginning of most seasons, where teams tend to struggle to tighten the overall execution, which at times gives way to penalties. Consider last year’s BYU team, which committed 14 penalties for a combined 126 yards a season ago in a loss to Utah and a win versus Tennessee.
Sure, the opening slate last season was much more competitive, although the lack of penalties committed should not take a back seat as significant reason for the team’s early success this season.
For Roderick, that level of mistake-free execution should be expected, given the team’s makeup, among other factors.
“The two main points we’ve made in the offseason is that we were going to be reliable, and that we were going to be violent on the field. We’re going to be a physical team,” Roderick said. “The reliability comes first, and it should be one of the strengths of our program.”
Indeed BYU fields a more mature team than any other program from year to year given all the players who elect to serve two year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While some opposing coaches have alleged dubious advantages for BYU players’ advanced age, Roderick, and the rest of the Cougar coaching staff believe one advantage inherit should be overall reliability.
“We’ve stressed it hard in the offseason and through two games it’s showed up,” Roderick said. “We have a lot of different guys in and out of the lineup, and they’ve proven reliable — they do their job. They get off on the snap count, and they block the guy they’re supposed to block, and play with the technique they need to play with. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
According to players, it’s all been about the work accomplished prior to the season.
“It’s just a really good offseason leading to the good season we’re having now,” said BYU linebacker Kavika Fonua.
As far as the tight execution bereft of penalties leading to big numbers, the stats BYU has put up through two games played speak for itself. Those two games have seen the Cougars put up 103 points, average 622 yards of total offense while limiting opponents to just 10 points and 165 yards of total offense.
“I don’t know if we can keep it up the whole season, but we’re sure making it a huge emphasis,” Roderick said.