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Provo • Brandon Doman will admit it now. There was a little bit of fear in his heart heading into last season's opener at Ole Miss, his first year as BYU's offensive coordinator.
"There were so many unknowns out there," he said. "That was tough. It wasn't that I was fearing failure, of not doing well. I was just scared of all the unknowns."
As BYU prepares to take on Washington State on Thursday in the season opener at LaVell Edwards Stadium (8:15 p.m., ESPN), Doman says the fear is gone, replaced by the confidence that only experience can bring.
"It is night-and-day different," he said. "This year, I know where I am going to be, I know where I am going to be calling plays from. I have experienced all the different situations: third-and-long, second-and-long, all that.
"I'm prepared for sacks and how to recuperate from all that stuff," he continued. "I have managed the end of a game, where you have to make a comeback. So I think having done that as a coordinator has given me a lot more confidence going into this year."
Coach Bronco Mendenhall, who promoted then-quarterbacks coach Doman to replace Robert Anae as BYU's offensive coordinator in January 2011, has noticed the former BYU quarterback's confidence level and said he "totally trusts" the 35-year-old's ability.
Doman got off to a rough start his first year, as the offense sputtered its first four games before Riley Nelson and an easier schedule happened. Mendenhall and Doman predict a better start offensively in 2012, despite a September schedule that is just as difficult, if not more so.
"From what I have seen in practice, yeah, the offense is hard to stop," said Mendenhall, also the defensive coordinator. "So I just kind of gauge it by that. I like the way they look."
Doman's best decision last year was to replace a struggling Jake Heaps with Nelson in the Utah State game, and by the end of the season the offense had crawled out of the basement in most NCAA categories. It finished 41st in total offense and 42nd in scoring offense (30.0 points per game), and most impressively, it vaulted to No. 5 in the country in third-down conversion percentage, at 51.3 percent.
"I feel a lot more positive," Doman said. "I don't know what the right word is. I am a lot more at peace than I was last year. I was nervous. I am nervous this year, but it is a different nervous. I feel more like I have in the past, kind of like a player going into a game. I know what to expect."
An experienced, senior quarterback and a year under his belt aren't the only things giving Doman confidence. He says the BYU rushing attack, which got off to a slow start last year but ended up finishing 55th in the country at 160.3 yards per game, is better heading into the WSU game than it was going into Oxford, Miss.
"Well, I am confident. I like the players. I like our scheme. I like the identity that we have created," he said. "But you never really, really know until you go out there and play the first game.
"But I am confident in what we are doing, our ability to move the ball in scrimmages, in practice. We are going to be better than what we were."
BYU's offense in 2011
Category YPG/Pct./PPG National rank
Rushing 160.31 yards 55th
Passing 245.38 yards 47th
Total offense 405.6 yards 41st
3rd-down conversions 51.3 pct. 5th
Scoring offense 30.08 points 42nd