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Provo • A little more than three weeks through BYU football's spring camp, one thing has become abundantly clear: Senior receiver Mitch Mathews is going to have a monster season in 2015.
Mathews, the towering pass-catcher from Beaverton, Ore., has looked like a man among boys in the media-viewing portions of spring practices, and was at it again on Monday at the Indoor Practice Facility, making play after play.
"In addition to Taysom [throwing the ball well], Mitch Mathews maybe is having the best spring of any receiver that I've coached since I have been at BYU. He's looking really, really strong," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said Friday after Mathews caught three touchdown passes in the 11-on-11 drills.
Senior quarterback Taysom Hill went so far as to call the 6-foot-6 Mathews, who was also a baseball star in high school, "one of the top receivers in the country."
Mathews caught 73 passes for 922 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, and should be able to improve on those numbers if his 6-6 roommate on the other side, junior college transfer Nick Kurtz stays healthy after suffering a foot injury in fall camp last year.
Tall and talented receivers with decent speed on the outside "is the threat that we hope to impose on defenses," Mathews said. "It should be a great opportunity for us. It should open up a lot."
Mathews said he has made it known to coaches that he wants to be held accountable for everything he does this spring, with an eye toward improving his speed, hands and route-running techniques. Monday, he detailed how he is working on a shoulder-rolling technique to make him a better target on deep balls.
As for Mendenhall's best-spring ever pronouncement, Mathews remains humble.
"It is good to know that your coach thinks that of you, but it is hard for me to confirm because I have played with some great receivers here [such as] Cody Hoffman, who broke all the records. I wouldn't put myself in that category yet, and I have a lot left to do."
Offense pushing the envelope
Offensive coordinator Robert Anae always seems to come up with a catch-phrase to describe his offense in spring camp, and this year the emerging front-runner is "pushing the envelope."
Anae, in the third year of his second stint at BYU's OC, said that about a half-dozen times Monday. With an experienced offense returning, and with quarterbacks Hill and out-of-eligibility Christian Stewart pulling the trigger, offensive coaches have the luxury of installing wrinkles and a multitude of formations at spring camp.
"We are throwing a lot of things, formationally and schematically, at the players, and it is the time to do it, in the spring," Anae said. "So that's kind of where we're at. … We are pushing the envelope as a group. And it is very obvious that they are invested at a very high level."
It is also obvious in portions of practiced viewed by reporters that the offense is having its way with the young defense that is missing key players such as linebackers Fred Warner, Manoa Pikula and Harvey Langi.
However, Anae balked at that suggestion on Monday when asked if the makeshift defense was sufficiently testing the high-powered offense in camp.
"What kind of question is that? Our defense is a stud. And every play you just hang onto your seat and guys are tested at the highest level. So I think it is more of the other way around," Anae said.
Spring scrimmage is Friday at LES
The Cougars' annual spring scrimmage is Friday at 6 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Gates open at 4 p.m. and a Kids Clinic and Autograph Signing Session will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Developments at BYU Spring Camp
• Offensive lineman Ryker Mathews suffered a major knee injury in the final play of the Miami Beach Bowl and is missing spring camp but should return in the fall
• Safety Kai Nacua and the young secondary is being tested by veteran quarterbacks, but the junior had a big interception on Monday
• With Jamaal Williams (knee) out this spring, big back Algie Brown is getting a lot of reps, and delivering some outstanding plays