Provo • BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s last taste of the rivalry game was not a pleasant one.
In 2010, which turned out to be the final year of Anae’s first stint as the Cougars’ OC, BYU lost 17-16 to Utah when Mitch Payne’s field goal attempt as time expired was blocked by Brandon Burton.
Anae took a lot of heat from BYU faithful in the following days because his play-calling became conservative with freshman quarterback Jake Heaps and the Cougars settled for the field goal when many believe they should have tried for a touchdown.
Anae was 3-3 against the Utes before joining Arizona’s staff in 2010. The Wildcats were 1-1 against Utah in Anae’s tenure there, winning 34-24 last year after dropping the 2011 game, 34-21.
“I will tell you what: I respect the University of Utah, their players, their program, their coaches,” he said. “And I have a couple dear friends to me on that staff, and in that program. I got nothing but respect for the University of Utah.”
Anae was 3-0 against Utah while playing offensive tackle for the Cougars from 1982-84, but he doesn’t remember the wins as much as “going against cousins, going against friends.”
Particularly, he remembers facing off against former Utah great Filipo Mokofisi.
“My man from Kahuku [Hawaii] whacked me and gave me a pinched nerve,” Anae said. “That is an intense game. To this day I still sleep a little tilt-headed, thanks to how tough and physical that game was.”
The last time BYU hosted Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Utes won easily, 54-10, and many BYU fans left well before the game was over. Since 2001, Utah is 3-2 at LES, but BYU senior JD Falslev said he still believes home-field and home-crowd advantage are still relevant in the series.
“Because Utah has a very good crowd,” he said. “Our crowd has done a very good job this year. I think it can play a big role if we play to our ability. If we don’t play to our ability, they can kill our crowd, so I think having home-field advantage probably helps us.”
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday that slot receiver Eric Thornton, who has been nursing an injury, is expected to play Saturday. … Cody Hoffman climbed to No. 3 on BYU’s career receptions list with two catches against Texas and now has 205 in his career. … Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi and Utah left guard Percy Taumoelau, a second-string left guard, are first cousins. Last year, Kaufusi went against another first cousin at Utah, David Rolf.