BYU football notebook: Coordinator Robert Anae shaking up Cougars' starting offensive line
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — In the wake of his team's offensive debacle against Virginia last Saturday, BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae has been moving his offensive linemen around this week.
Changes include switching Michael Yeck from starting right tackle to left tackle, starting Manaaki Vaitai at left guard, and moving Brock Stringham to the starting right tackle slot. Terrance Alletto is slated to remain the starting center, while the starter at right guard hasn't yet been determined.
“We’re going to do some shuffling on the line and see how guys respond,” Anae said. “We have four guys right now who look to hold their spots.”
Coaches again plan on rotating players throughout Saturday's game against Texas with the clear message that starting spots are in jeopardy from week to week.
It’s a message not lost on any of the offensive linemen, who are continually looking forward as they adjust to the furious pace set forth by Anae's offense.
That pace won't change anytime soon.
“Nothing is changing other than our determination to get better at what we‘re doing,” Anae said. “We (need) to have a much harder edge and more purpose when we do things.”
Those things will be vital against talented Texas, whom Anae pointed out will bring a host of talented athletes to Provo.
“The caliber of athlete they deal with has not changed,” he said. “Their recruiting methods have not changed, so I have a pretty good idea of what our guys will be facing when it comes to man-to-man matchups.”
VAITAI ANXIOUS TO KEEP IMPROVING: The BYU offense seemed to get in gear late against Virginia when Vaitai entered the game at left guard. Coaches rewarded the Euless, Texas, native with a starting role that he’s determined to make the most of.
“I’m excited,” Vaitai said. “I’m excited to get back out there, communicate, and show people that I came here to play. We’re going to rotate and let other guys play too and hopefully put the ball into the end zone.”
MATHEWS NOT 100 PERCENT: Ryker Mathews entered the season as the lone returning starter along the offensive front. He provided solid play throughout last season as a freshman, but double-hip surgery in the offseason has perhaps set him back a bit.
Mathews started at left tackle, but likely won’t be starting this Saturday after struggling mightily against the Cavaliers.
Mathews said he was a "7-8" on a scale of 1-10 health-wise, which hasn’t helped him adjust to the new offensive system
“It’s really hard to be physical and rough people around when you’re just trying to get oxygen and breath,” Mathews said. “It’s not an excuse. We definitely need to be more physical and throw dudes around, whether it’s a 10- to 15-play drive or if it’s a three-play drive. We need to perform the same no matter what.”
FORWARD THINKING: Overall the team, and particularly the offensive line, is looking to build on the momentum the Cougars created late last week against Virginia. The last couple of drives saw the Cougar offense move the ball effectively while finding some identity.
“A lot of people noticed we started driving the ball and starting scoring toward the end, but you have to play four quarters and not just one,” Mathews said. “I think that was kind of the boost that we need to trust in the scheme and to trust in the offense.”
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