Dick Harmon: BYU's acid test arrives Aug. 31, but Robert Anae's 'go fast, go hard' offense shows promise
The simplicity of BYU's zone blocking is allowing quicker play. The fast pace is placing defenders in uncomfortable positions — mentally, physically and schematically. By cheating on recovery time for defenders, the offense is creating bigger plays, especially deep. A team starved for chunk yardage is getting just that, albeit with some star defenders used sparingly in team practice sets.
Third, what about intangibles?
The biggest, in my opinion, is the unity and chemistry of the staff Anae assembled. Players see this and step in line.
It is a big thing to dump an entire staff, a coordinator and bring in all new faces. Starting over isn’t always fun, easy or productive. It is risky.
But if you watch Anae’s staff at work, they appear to be the elixir the Cougars needed. The new guys are vocal, spirited, pushy, determined, focused on specifics and are unyielding in what they accept as passable performances.
Anae has always been a stickler for detail, especially effort. With Garett Tujague from College of the Canyons (Calif.) joining him coaching the offensive line, the scrutiny is extreme, as is the coaching intensity. By hiring a QB coach in Jason Beck, Anae has a luxury not given to his predecessor Brandon Doman, who tried to wear hats of coordinator and QB coach. This is important because Beck is always in the room and his focus in practice is on one position.
As a receiver coach, he is knowledge, crafty, demanding and instills confidence. You have to look no further than the seeming resurrection of oft-injured receiver Ross Apo. The former Texas commit has never practiced harder or played tougher than this fall.
Mark Atuaia? His intensity level adds to a staff chorus that hasn’t been seen on BYU sidelines since the days of Roger French. The refrain is the opposite of timidity.
So, how is this Anae thing working?
It’s a parade with potential.
Nobody can completely deliver a clear verdict on how good BYU’s offense will be in Charlottesville, Va., come Aug. 31.
But by all accounts — from all kinds of sources, measuring sticks and scales that one can find in fall camp — Anae is on to something and it looks coordinated.
Most definitely, this is a better offense than the one that struggled to score against San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl last December.
Maybe by a mile. Or a light year or so.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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