Provo • Saturday's scrimmage at BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium represents a chance for many fans to see the 2011 team for the first time and for the players to show coaches what they can do in conditions as similar to real football as possible.
Brandon Doman is also eager to give himself a dry run of sorts, having been promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator during the offseason when Robert Anae was forced out, eventually landing at Arizona.
"I'm still learning, and that is part of the process," Doman said Thursday. "I have a long ways to go still in just managing game day. We have the scrimmage Saturday, and we will really simulate game day. We will use that day to learn how to handle the fog of war and communication in those situations and how it will work."
As first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday, Doman has decided after lengthy consultation with head coach Bronco Mendenhall that he will be on the field during games, rather than the traditional spot for an offensive coordinator, which is in the press box high above the field. Tight ends coach Lance Reynolds will be in the press box and will communicate with Doman via headset.
"I think it will go smoothly," Doman said. "I have been down on the field and I've been a quarterback, so I am not real worried about the heat-of-the-moment stuff. But things pop up that you're never quite prepared for."
Through five practices at preseason camp, Doman said his new gig is about what he thought it would be: demanding, pressure-packed and exhilarating.
With quarterback Jake Heaps and a lot of experience on offense returning, including a veteran offensive line, he feels as if he's been handed the keys to a Lamborghini.
"Ask me after the Ole Miss game if we're on the right track," he said.
Heaps insists they are. It was no secret around Provo that Heaps had a difficult time working with Anae for that matter, so did his predecessor at starting quarterback, Max Hall. But the sophomore rolls out superlatives anytime Doman's name is mentioned, saying the chemistry he has with the Cougars' starting quarterback of 2001 is off the charts.
This week with Doman as OC "has been absolutely amazing," Heaps said. "I think coach Doman is the real deal. He's an amazing offensive coordinator. He gets us prepared for every practice. ... It is just an absolute blast to come out here and practice with him and see our team evolving."
Clearly, Doman isn't Anae. From his rapport with the players to his openness with the media to his willingness to divert from the script even in practice to his leadership ability and gregariousness, it's evident that he could possibly could be the next head coach at BYU when Mendenhall decides to step down.
"There's not a guy out here that wouldn't run through a brick wall for either him or coach Mendenhall," Heaps said last spring. "We're going to have an offense that is so diverse and so different, it will always constantly be making the defense think."
Scrimmages such as the one Saturday, a week from Saturday and on Aug. 24 are vital to him, Doman says, because he knows he will be "thrown to the wolves" quickly this season, with road games at Ole Miss and Texas before the home opener with the rival Utes, a team he beat twice as BYU's starting quarterback in 2000 and 2001.
He has already shown a penchant for making changes on the fly, bound and determined to get away from the predictability that marked Anae's final days as the offensive coordinator.
"I am certainly going to be an intuitive play-caller," Doman said. "I don't know how else to do it. It would be against my nature to do it any other way. But it will be sequential, it will be organized. It will be according to the right situations. But sometimes, we might pull something out of our hat, or we might draw something up in the dirt on the sidelines."
BYU's offensive rankings in 2010:
Category Actual Rank
Rushing 168.08 ypg 42nd
Passing 198.38 ypg 76th
Total 366.46 ypg 73rd
Scoring 26.15 ppg 70th
Passing eff. 115.38 apg 99th