“They’ve got those guys playing harder than I’ve ever seen them play. They’re trying harder, caring about the collective entire team. Its fun to see what Bronco Mendenhall preaches and wants in a team.”
If Anae fiddled a little with the media, asking some to be sure to “put that in your little paper,” it may have been a carryover from his Saturday on the sideline, working over players. In this regard, he is a true pupil of his college coach Roger French, who would do the same thing.
In their world, there’s a great contrast between yelling at players to be physical one moment, and jockeying with guys carrying notebooks, pens and recorders the next. The dissimilarity is not lost on Anae/French, and they can’t help but tweak it.
“He was working them all the time, and I’m not talking just about the coaches but the players,” said Poppinga. “He was on those dudes non stop on the sidelines and I was like ‘oh, my gosh, he’s just after them.’ But that’s what the players need and that’s what our team needs now, to be pushed to the limit until they start pushing back.”
Poppinga said when Anae pushes BYU’s offense, it sends a signal to the defense that the offense is delivering up just as much sweat. It forges respect.
“It’s putting us in better condition than we’ve been in our lives. I’ll say this, in eight years here, we haven’t had this many plays run against us at this point. It is so fast, it’s fun and it’s putting us in a tempo that we’ve never seen before.”
What is a work in progress for Anae has already been dictated to BYU’s defenders in how they’ll practice. In that regard, it is working.
“ Ultimately,” said Poppinga, “when we get into the season, it will slow down a bit until we play an up-tempo team, but it is fun to watch those guys run a play every 15 seconds and see how our guys react to it.
“Are they going to continue playing physical? Are they going to continue with their effort? Are they going to continue with their assignments?
“If they can play with all those things, it will put us in a position to play even more dominantly next year (on defense).”
And so went the Blue-White game for 2013.
Mendenhall concludes spring drills this week.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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