Dick Harmon: BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae far more positive this year than last year

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  • ratsoutah west jordan, UT
    Nov. 1, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    Unfortunately, I think Coach Anae's play calling has been suspect, at best, for 2014....especially at crucial times...it seems the team's goal of "going for it all" at least twice a quarter has hamstrung BYU crucial drives and diverted the offense from methodical 3-4 yard gains per play successful drives into a stalled drive by unsuccessfully executing the "go for it all" plays...by doing this they have squandered many a opportune scoring drives and given the momentum to the other team...if Bronco and coach Anae truly believe that the offense has to "execute" better ... then it is high time to make "offensive play calling" a priority by calling plays that make sense and have a good to high chance of successful execution. The "going for it all" play does not fit into that category and have stalled the offense and given the momentum to the other team more often this season ...than all the defensive mistakes made this year

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    Aug. 7, 2014 9:45 p.m.

    @Ronald Uharriet
    SWun City, Ca.

    "I am the only person in Cougarville that is expecting a 12-0 season."

    Not anymore, bro! I'm jumping right in with you on your boat believing that a 12-0 season will happen this year! "Be not faithless, but believing!" Count me as a true Cougar believer!

    Go Cougars!

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 7, 2014 9:26 p.m.

    And if I were a BYU fan I would be more excited about this years Cougar offense as well. Like Utah the offensive line is the biggest question. Although with BYU's schedule, they are likely to push around the smaller defensive lines they play and run Jamaal Williams down the oppositions throat. If they take that away then Hill can run wild. Then BYU's offense now has the ability to throw the ball with Hill's progression as a QB and this Leslie kid (WR) seems promising.

  • Ronald Uharriet SWun City, Ca.
    Aug. 7, 2014 8:32 p.m.

    I am the only person in Cougarville that is expecting a 12-0 season.
    It is the 30th anniversary of our NC. It is the 50th anniversary of LES.
    The 2014 is manageable with the only team ranked above us, that we play being Texas.
    Texas this season is only ranked 6 points above us. Okay give them another 4 points for HFA.

    Last season they were #15 when they came to us in Provo while we were unranked.
    Yes I am certain that their team and their coaches will work overtime to try to beat us this season.

    I am equally sure that our team and our coaches will work overtime to not allow them to beat us. Nobody in Cougar-land wants to believe that the 2013 season was a fluke. We will refuse to lost to Texas. That is the attitude that will give us the 12-0 season.

    I’m not looking for a 8-4 season or a 9-3 season, or a 10-2 season or even a 11-1 season.
    No!!!! This is the year that we go all the way. 12-0. I expect it.

    No cute slogans and thanks to Budweiser, we are without another cute slogan this season.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    Aug. 7, 2014 6:05 p.m.


    I didn't say I wasn't optimistic. Heck, I get sucked in by the hype every year to a certain extent. What I am trying to say is that I am cautious. It appears BYU has improved themselves in a number of areas, but we'll see how that translates at game time. Also note that I said I wasn't sold on Anae "YET". I am perfectly happy to concede that he (and Bronco) can get better.

    And even though I have been critical of Bronco Mendenhall at times I have been an ardent defender of his. The program has never been cleaner with him at the helm, and he has an extremely difficult job balancing missions, Honor Code, and recruiting under pretty restrictive limitations. I don't think there is anyone better out there that can sell the BYU product as well as he can and still do a reasonable job coaching football. I am NOT one of those calling for the replacement of Mendenhall. I just hope with a little more attention to the offense from Bronco we can see as dramatic improvement as he had with the defense... And beat Utah.

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 6:00 p.m.

    A lot of people making a lot of accusations. I'm curious how the fact that Anae is friendly and jovial with the press translates into hype. If he weren't optimistic, he shouldn't coach. However, let's keep in mind that last year "Go-Fast, Go-Hard" was new to the team and they found it difficult to adjust and keep up. This year they have had longer experience with it. Therefore, I choose to reserve judgment until the season is well underway.

    The past does not necessarily equal the present.

    We also see that the receiving corps as a whole is much better. No Hoffman, but a half dozen new players with experience and a lot more speed. Hill will have many more good targets.

    Further, those faulting Bronco for a lack of progress might want to consider that John Wooden was nothing outstanding for the first 14-15 years of his UCLA career - in fact, from 1957-58 to 1960-61 the team's record was 64-39, never winning a conference title. From 1963-1975 they won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years. Let's not compare Bronco to Wooden, but let's also not say neither he nor Anae will ever get any better.

  • Copacetic Logan, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 4:43 p.m.

    @ idablu:

    Not being optimistic about this year's team doesn't necessarily make that person a "realist".
    A person can objectively assess the changes that have happened since last season and then be an optimistic realist.

    I agree that losing to a team like Utah is ESPECIALLY underachieving, particularly since BYU statistically outplayed them 3 of the past 4 years in single score losses. But I guarantee you BYU will not suffer anymore losses to Utah for a least 2 more years and probably a lot longer.

    Just because Bronco has recently just been "an adequate head coach" as you state, doesn't mean he can't and won't get better. We all have that ability. And especially coaches who are able to get better players and assistant coaches under them. Bronco has recently done that on both accounts.

    Robert Anae received additional experience under 2 nationally renowned head coaches during the time he was away from BYU. Being back just a single season and trying to implement an entirely new offensive scheme hasn't realistically given him a chance to show the improvement that many of us feel he's obtained.

    Realistically enjoy your high expectations this year.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    Aug. 7, 2014 4:16 p.m.

    Consider me among the ranks of the realists. Regular donor and season ticket holder, I am loyal, but I, too, have some doubts about all the hype. I think Bronco is a very good defensive coach, but only an adequate head coach, but the type of guy the BYU Board of Directors wants heading the football team.

    I am not yet sold on Robert Anae. I was glad to see him dismissed last time and there was nothing last year that proved to me that he was a better coach. He just seems out of his depth calling plays in the hurry-up offense. I am sure it is not easy calling plays on the fly, but BYU's offenses always have been best when the QB is given license to read defenses and regularly change plays at the LOS. I would like to see the reins on the QB loosened up a bit.

    I can't help but have high expectations of this team and be very disappointed when they underachieve, ESPECIALLY when they lose to Utah...

  • Objectified Richfield, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 4:07 p.m.

    @ Riverton Cougar:

    From reading the article, I'm pretty certain that Robert Anae wants to see the same thing as you and the rest of us... winning fast and hard.

    The reason "go-fast go-hard" doesn't always work as well in practice as you think it should is because the BYU defense is already so familiar with all of the offensive schemes. However, other defenses that the offensive will face the remainder of the year won't be.

    That will make the execution of this year's playbook exceptionally fun for fans... but not so much for opposing teams and their fans. Utah's AD was smart enough to realize as much and so bailed out while they still could.

    The "in theory" concept you mentioned will definitely start carrying over to on-the-field. I've been studying this team in much detail. They are the real deal. Barring any serious injuries to the wrong players, you can pretty much take it to the bank.

  • Objectified Richfield, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    @ ChrisR:

    Just because BYU's schedule isn't as tough as Utah's doesn't make it "super easy". A significant part of it is against P5 programs. Just more unwarranted criticism from another jeasous BYU critic.
    Besides, Whittingham would undoubtedly change schedules with BYU in a heartbeat. The Ute schedule may very well cost him his job this season.

    @ Y-ask-Y:

    Why do you assume any Cougar fan is "hating" on any other Cougar fan? I haven't been able to read that into any comment thus far. It's appears you must be pouting because Brio didn't agree with your overt cynicism and negativity about this year's team. Well neither do I.

    From all that's happened since last season, there is amble reason to now be optimistic. So try hard to resist the temptation of getting down on those of us who genuinely are.

    @ TheGreatPAC12:

    I really don't enjoy bursting your bubble. But even though the PAC12 is indeed a competitive conference (apparently too much so for the Utes), it's pretty much a consensus around the country with football pundits that the SEC is still at the top of the conference heap.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 3:33 p.m.

    I do think that "Go fast, go hard" is a good idea in theory, although in practice it may not work as well as it should. It comes down to execution; don't go any faster than you can skillfully execute, or else it does become "Go fast, go hard, punt soon" and the defense ends up getting more tired.

    What I really want to see is "Win fast, win hard".

  • WaybackCougar Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    "Strength of schedule" numbers mean nothing at the start of a season. Let's see where things stand at the end. All BYU can do is win impressively against the teams on their schedule. If they do that, I'll be happy. And the team down south forfeited the right to comparisons this year. Without a game, it's all conjecture.

  • CBPapa Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 1:59 p.m.

    I've been a fan for my entire life and I always get excited this time of year like other Cougar fans. But there are some good reality checks in the comments on this article.

    Like many fans, I'm ready for all the pre-season hype to be backed up with QUALITY play and QUALITY wins on the field. This doesn't make me less of a fan. Some might even argue it makes me a bigger fan considering my concerns with the past few years and wanting nothing but success for the program.

    In a few weeks it will be time to live up to the hype with convincing wins against most of this year's opponents.

    Go Cougs.

  • Y-Ask-Y? Provo, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    Typical. So-called "true blue" fans make disparaging remarks against those of us who inject some reality into our pre-season opinions.

    Does hating on fellow Cougars make the team better?

    Does criticizing and attacking fellow fans (and telling us we are not "real fans") move our Strength of Schedule up from 97th to anywhere close to Utah's at 11th?!

    So what if we do have a stellar season against a thrown together mashup schedule of misfits? We get no Conference championship, least of all any power Conference status. We win big against cupcakes, lose close against legit teams, and no matter how the W - L comes out, there is always a huge question mark on every season, including the National Championship from 30 years ago.

    Being positive is fine, but at some point it becomes delusional, especially when you have to bad mouth fellow fans because they break ranks with your naive wishful thinking.

    Get real.

  • WaybackCougar Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    Complain, complain, complain. From experience, I can say it's a common attitude on the east coast and it seems to be spreading around in Cougar Nation.

    This was a fun article! It is certainly significant that Robert Anae is being so positive. We haven't seen this before so it must mean something. I do agree that it remains to be seen whether the change is in Robert himself (offseason PR coaching?) or in the progress of the team. But isn't it fun to look forward to a bright new season?!!

    And, Dick, your writing has come a long ways since you started at the DN. I used to think your sports metaphors were corny, but loved the ones in this article. Great job!

  • ChrisR centerville, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:30 p.m.

    BYU is overrated.. super easy schedule, what a joke!

  • BlueHusky Mission Viejo, CA
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    Comments about "this coaching staff" always starting slow is bogus. "This coaching staff" is new. Last year they put in a completely new offense. "This coaching staff" has one year of history.

    The previous three years were marred by a 4-star kid QB who called a press conference to announce his signing. After one year, under Anae, he was improving, but the following year Anae was gone and Doman was OC. Another new offense. Star QB kid could not run an option offense, failed badly. Replace with gutsy running QB with weak arm, who broke his back.

    The years since independence has seen struggles on offense, a shambles to be sure, precipitated by Anae's departure and the hurry-up promotion of Doman. Meanwhile the defense became stellar under Bronco's direct management.

    Those days are past. We now have Anae back with a new offense. We have an experienced DC, and Bronco as a HC.

    Recruitment has focussed on speed and size on offense. Hill is the real deal and Stewart has a cannon. And guess what? Coaches learn, too. Bronco is doing the right thing, IMO.

    Forget the past. This is a new team, under new management.

  • TheGreatPAC12 Salt Lake City, 00
    Aug. 7, 2014 12:08 p.m.

    I would be more positive too if I didn't belong to the best conference in the country.

    Proud PAC12 member

  • ClarkeinAK Anchorage, AK
    Aug. 7, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    Did anyone ask him if he's abandoned the run up the middle on first down play? By the end of last season, he was calling that same play most of the time...to the surprise of NO ONE.

  • Brio Alpine, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    Wow. I'm somewhat surprised at the general negativity from several on-line commenters here. True BYU fans have traditionally been somewhat optimistic this time of year. It's too bad the past few years have created such cynicism in some of these "fans".

    I've been following BYU for several decades. I've paid particular attention the Robert Anae both times he's been coaching at BYU. This is the first time I've ever heard him be so positive and optimistic before any season ever began. To me, that is particularly meaningful.

    After watching the mid-season progress last year when BYU won 5 straight games including over some very good programs, some undefeated and even on the road. That was real progress from the first of the season.

    Considering the high talent level of the added skill-position players, combined with the number of returning players, and also combining the added advantage of having a year to work out the wrinkles in the new offensive scheme, there are multiple legitimate reasons to warrant genuine optimism.

    But if the naysayers want to maintain their getting-old cynicism, then have at it. But some of us are smiling already.

  • mufasta American Fork, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    I am optimistic about the season for the cougs. The team is making progress. I think the coaches are doing an excellent job. Good Luck Cougars.

  • A_Chinese_American Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    Negative comments are not normal (or NOT Good) for anybody. Please enjoy life and the undeafted session (so-far) right now!

  • Y-Ask-Y? Provo, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    Amen, eastcoastcoug.

    We see it frequently, QB and receiver problems are really offensive line problems. QBs and receivers need time, and a creative offensive scheme can only buy so much time without a solid OL.

    Like you, I will always be a fan, but I'm not high on Independence or this coaching staff, and I grow tired of the excuses. We have a long football tradition that is overripe for moving to the next level. But we just can't seem to get there, and I don't have the confidence in the current AD and coaching staff to make it happen.

    It is way past time for a major change!

  • Denver Brad Highlands Ranch, CO
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    A light year is actually only just over 224 Billion marathons (224,370,221,756, to be more precise).

    Nowhere near 8 jillion.

  • still_thinking Draper, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:18 a.m.


    "This is just more pre-season hype which we always get in August"

    I think you missed the point of the article. Last year Anea made comments to temper the preseason hype and moderate expectations. This year Anea is building preseason hype. I like that fact that a coach who told reporters last year to check their expectations at the door is excited about this year. And counter to that - what do you want - preseason negativity? We have all season to be upset. Why don't we just enjoy a month of dreams about an undefeated season and a major bowl. If another disappointing season is coming, it will be here soon enough and we'll have plenty of time to vent and post negative comments.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    I also feel eastcoast's frustration but there are some positives for this year. I think the addition of more explosive receivers will help the passing game and open up the field more for the running game (a lot easier to run when defenses have to abandon 8 man fronts because of speed on the outside at WR.

    I have also reined in my enthusiasm in preseason over the last few years. Until this coaching staff can prove to us that they know how to make in-game adjustments and adequately prepare these guys every week, I won't count on anything special. Hopefully they prove themselves this season.

  • Spitvalve Denton, TX
    Aug. 7, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    "...like signing new Amway reps?" Oh Puh-leeeze, Harmon!

  • LonestarRunner Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    I'm looking forward to an explosive offense and a lot of wins. If BYU can make it through September undefeated, this could be a very fun season for BYU fans.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    Aug. 7, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    I'm going to be more optimistic than eastcoastcoug, but I understand his frustration with bad losses in September. BYU needs to win early and often this season.

  • blackattack Orem, UT
    Aug. 7, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    BYU will always be amazing to Dick Harmon. I totally agree with you Eastcoastcoug. Our offensive line was so weak and it was clearly evident against Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

    My excitement before each football season has waned after four years of mediocre teams (since 2009 season). We haven't been ranked consistently since that season and have not even been close to an undefeated season. We got a cute slogan last year: "Go fast, go hard" that was really, "Punt fast, punt hard." Now it is, "Go fast, go hard, go far." Why don't we put the emphasis on a concrete goal of scoring touchdowns?

    As long as we recruit mid-tier athletes, and do not produce NFL-talent beyond one or two draft picks a year, we will not reach elite levels and BCS games, and that is if we even had good access to those bowl games.

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    Aug. 7, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    This year will prove whether the hard and fast offense is viable or not. Last year was a huge learning curve for everyone but the O should run much smoother this year.

    Given their relatively easy schedule, I would expect BYU to go 11-1 or better. Anything less will be a disappointment.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Aug. 7, 2014 6:55 a.m.

    Sounds like Harmon is the one most optimistic. BYU NEEDS to be better for how awful we looked at times last year. An offensive line that couldn't move schoolchildren off the line, receivers who were never open, and a QB who never had or took time to set up and read. Just a hurry up offense. The game at U Va was an embarrassment, as was the Utah game (4th in a row). This is just more pre-season hype which we always get in August and by mid September, the air has gone out.

    I will always be a fan, but I'm not high on this coaching staff and its ability to prepare or upgrade the team. We consistently hire mediocre coaches and play with a lack of emotion. With our facilities, investments and broader recruiting base, there is no excuse for our inability to step it up a level or two from where we were 20 or 30 years ago. Sad that we celebrate our high point in Cougar Football 3 decades ago without any BCS bowl appearances or an invitation to a FBS conference.