BYU football: Offense rules spring game, but Anae not satisfied
Provo • Two notions about offensive coordinator Robert Anae were established, or re-established, depending on one's perspective, during and after BYU's Blue/White Spring Game in front of an estimated crowd of 12,000 on a gorgeous, sunny Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
One, Anae is going to be a difficult man to please with this up-tempo, "go hard, go fast" offense he's installing. And two, he is still a bit on the cantankerous side in his second stint as the OC when it comes to dealing with the media.
Add it up, and it should make for an incredibly interesting 2013 football season when the games really mean something against what the Cougars are calling one of their most difficult schedules in program history.
Generally, Anae's offense flourished in the 65-play game, scoring four touchdowns and a field goal on nine possessions. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall even said the offense was more physical than the defense, executed better, and won the day overall.
That was true although probable starting quarterback Taysom Hill was held out and four guys who have never taken a snap in a Division I football game sophomore Ammon Olsen (before leaving with a possible PCL tear in his knee), juco transfer Christian Stewart and freshmen Tanner Mangum and Billy Green got all the snaps.
Not good enough, Anae said.
"We have got a long way to go in terms of playing fast and playing hard, so whatever you write in your goofy columns, write that," Anae said.
The former OC, who spent the last two seasons at Arizona, acknowledged the offense "took a step forward" at one point, then bristled a bit when it was suggested his rapid-fire approach plays were run quickly, most about 16-18 seconds apart had the defense on its heels.
"You guys got to take this within context," Anae said. "Our 'D' was resting their studs. So write that in your little papers, OK? Do not take anything here and blow it [out of proportion]. It was not that great, and it was not that bad."
True enough, projected defensive starters Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley, Daniel Sorensen, Uani Unga, Remington Peck, Eathyn Manumaleuna and Bronson Kaufusi, practicing with the basketball team up the road at the Marriott Center, did not play.
But neither did Hill, nor ace receivers Cody Hoffman and J.D. Falslev. And sophomore running back Jamaal Williams, looking bigger and stronger than he did in the 23-6 win over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl last December, played only the first series, which he capped with a 3-yard touchdown run. The offense did not have a turnover, although one interception was negated by a penalty.
"Oh, we were going as well as we could go," Anae said of the offense. "I am telling you, when our D straps it up, it is on. Write that in your columns."
Olsen, who did play some at FCS Southern Utah before a church mission, directed the 11-play, 75-yard TD drive on the first series, and Snow College transfer Stewart needed just one more play than that to go the same distance for a TD (Terenn Houk's 3-yard catch) on the second series.
Olsen was hurt on the fifth series, his third, on a sack.
Mendenhall said trainers believe it may be a "partial PCL tear, which they are anticipating is not likely to require surgery. It is usually a six-week recovery."
Signing autographs after the game, Olsen said he will get an MRI on Monday. His knee felt stiff, but didn't hurt.
"I don't think it is super severe, but you never know with knee problems," he said.
Walk-on receiver Cody Raymond made the biggest play of the day, catching a 49-yard pass from Olsen. Cornerbacks Jordan Johnson and Mike Hague were the only projected defensive starters who played, and Johnson had a nice pass breakup. Mendenhall singled out outside linebacker Alani Fua (two sacks) as "someone who is really emerging" on the defense.
"I was impressed with the offense being able to maintain their tempo now that the coaches have stepped back a little bit," Mendenhall said. "They were able to hold their tempo closer than what I thought we would in a game-like setting."
BYU Blue/White Game highlights
O The offense scores four touchdowns in nine series, with Jamaal Williams, Paul Lasike and Tanner Mangum running for scores and Terenn Houk catching a 3-yard pass from Christian Stewart for the other.
• The defense, playing without seven expected starters, earns five sacks in roughly 65 plays, with Alani Fua, Jordan Egbert, Tyler Beck and Michael Doman in on those.
• Receiver Cody Raymond catches three passes for 71 yards, including a 49-yarder.