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BYU football: Cougars will focus on conditioning during summer workouts

Published: Wednesday, April 10 2013 5:35 p.m. MDT

BYU's Paul Lasike hops on one foot as he tries to keep his balance as BYU wraps up their spring football practices Friday, April 5, 2013 with a scrimmage game for the alumni at LaVell Edwards Stadium.  (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) BYU's Paul Lasike hops on one foot as he tries to keep his balance as BYU wraps up their spring football practices Friday, April 5, 2013 with a scrimmage game for the alumni at LaVell Edwards Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO — As physically demanding as spring ball was for BYU players, the real work is just beginning.

Cougar coaches have installed a fast-tempo, no-huddle offense that requires the players to be in the best physical shape of their lives. The focus during the summer, then, is to become the best-conditioned team in the nation.

"We're not close right now," quarterback Taysom Hill said after last Friday's final spring practice. "I have high expectations, and I know (offensive coordinator Robert) Anae does, too. I would say he shares the same feeling that I do, that we have a ways to go. It's because we want to be great. I don't know that we'll ever really achieve where we want to be. That's our mindset — that we've got to be the best-conditioned team in the country. That's what we're going to work for.

"We need to get into better shape," Hill added. "This will give us an opportunity to bulk up and do those things and get ourselves ready physically to go as fast as we're going right now. They ran us into the ground this spring. Come fall camp, we need to be ready to go."

What does coach Bronco Mendenhall expect from his players during the summer?

"Just consistency," he said. "No. 1, the conditioning of physical play with speed. That's got to continue to happen. Then the position mastery within the schemes — that's got to happen at a really high level so we can be consistent enough to move the ball and stop opponents from moving the ball from beginning to end, not just bits and pieces here and there."

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy said the offense's fast style of play certainly affects the way the defense plays.

"The tempo's faster. That means you have to react faster and get lined up faster," Van Noy said. "Basically, it creates chaos and you're playing backyard football all over again. You have to focus on fundamentals, run around and have fun and you'll be fine. … It causes more stress on the defense. That could be a good thing and a bad thing. It's the way you look at it and the way you line up and go through your reads. It eventually falls into place if you take one thing at a time."

Conditioning is crucial for the defense, not just the offense, Van Noy said.

"Our conditioning is going to be different. It's going to be more running. It's going to show in the fall."

Aside from conditioning, Van Noy said there will be plenty to work on during the summer.

"Leadership is going to be a huge (priority) during the offseason, getting the younger guys to learn the defense better, and to build team camaraderie and get closer as a unit. Eventually, that will help (us) know each other and that will help us in the fall. It's not going to be easy, though. The offseason isn't easy. … This is when you put in the work. This is where the extra work goes a lot further than people think."

BYU-BOISE STATE GAME MOVED: ESPN announced Wednesday that the BYU-Boise State game has been moved to Friday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. MST. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

This will mark the second of a 12-game series between the two programs that started a year ago. Boise State downed BYU last September in Boise, 7-6.

ANSAH GOING TO NEW YORK: Former BYU defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah is one of 23 players that has accepted an invitation to attend the National Football League draft festivities at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The draft begins at 6 p.m. MST on April 25. Ansah is projected to be a first-round pick, and many draft experts predict he will be a top-10 selection.

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