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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nothing secret about Anae's model offense

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nothing secret about Anae's model offense

By Dick Harmon
Deseret Morning News
Robert Anae, BYU football offensive coordinator, Year Two.
Anae remains very much the same. He's stoic, a little bit stubborn, and he's a little shy. He avoids the limelight, he's the antithesis of show and tell. Yet he represents a rock-solid core, which to those who know him is a veneer practically impenetrable and unwavering.
There's a little-known secret about this quiet recluse of a man. He once posed as a model for an artist named Jan Fisher, who created a famous sculpture set on one of the most popular walkways in the world.
Tourists from all over the globe who visit the famous Waikiki Beach front in Honolulu pass by the towering bronze statue of the Island's most famous surfer, a giant of a man considered the father of surfing, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku.
Fisher used Anae as a model for the statue of The Duke. It's Anae's body in bronze.
You can peruse it on the Internet — do a Google search on such words as "duke," "Waikiki" and "statue" and you'll see a host of professional and candid photos of Anae/Duke holding a surf board the size of a roof truss.
"That was a long, long time ago, after my playing days when I'd lost 45 pounds," Anae said. "I was a graduate assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. The artist needed a model, a surfer who was tall, and he went looking for the tallest surfer on the North Shore — that was me. I was done playing football and pretty devoted to surfing at that time in my life. I was trying to challenge myself to take on bigger waves. I was pretty thin at that time, trying to get a few extra bucks."
Fisher chose Anae to represent the legendary surfer, a Hawaii celebrity born in 1890 who became the state's unofficial ambassador and Olympic gold medalist in swimming, a legend and escort to many movie stars.
"Back then, I was built for surfing and that was just a way of making some money," Anae said, allowing a rare peek into his otherwise guarded interior.
Now in his second year as Cougar offensive coordinator, there is little hidden as to what Anae's offense is about at BYU, the one he brought from Texas Tech and adapted specifically to fit Cougar personnel.
Last year, BYU gained 5,549 yards and averaged 462 yards and 33 points a game while scoring 54 of 60 times (90 percent) inside the red (blue) zone.
"My guess is, coach Anae has more perspective as a coordinator, as I do as a head coach," Bronco Mendenhall said.
"There's less uncertainty, there's more likely more confidence, and there's just a continuing evolution in his progress. But the results that coach Anae achieved last year can't be argued with, and what the offense has done so far in camp is just a continuation of what's already been established."
It was an impressive start in 2005, although it came with several bumps in the road, like the home-opener against Boston College when the Cougars dinked passes up and down the field while failing to score but a field goal.
Then, after posting 51 points on TCU, BYU lost in overtime due to defensive woes. The turning point — the true breakout of the Cougar offense — came after BYU chugged to a skid in a 31-10 loss at San Diego State.
After the BC, TCU and Aztec losses and the glaring absence of 1,000-yard rusher Curtis Brown's presence, Anae's schemes evolved into a more rhythmic, dynamic, well-rounded show, one that managed three 90-yard drives on Cal in the Las Vegas Bowl — something even No. 1 USC could not do on the Pac-10's No. 1 defense.
Now comes the encore. BYU is loaded on offense with 13 players with starting experience. And they believe it will all be better in 2006 because they are more familiar and Anae trusts them.
"I feel coach Anae has a lot more confidence in us," said senior tight end Daniel Coats. "We know the offense and he's given us more freedom in it. Now that we know the basic routes, know how things should look and how it comes out, he is definitely going to be more flexible.
"He's given quarterback John (Beck) a lot more freedom out there, and that's a lot better for us because we'll have all the plays on the field all ready to where we get into them faster. Since John has seen it all, it all comes out better."
Anae , a master of understatement, puts it simply when asked how the first week of fall practice has gone.
"Not bad," he said. "We look at our deal day-to-day. We're plugging along. We're pleased with the progress we are making, and again, the emphasis is on progress."
Anae calls his first year as Division I coordinator "a real positive experience."
What lessons did Anae learn, aside from getting away from the long ball, trying to implement it back — albeit kind of late — and getting Brown more touches? (Note: This is my list, not his.)
Said Anae: "To trust who we are as players. In an execution-type offense, that's what we do best — execute. Probably what I've learned most about these players is their 'want to' is very high and their execution level is very high. To ignore that in lieu of something else is not playing BYU football in my mind."
BYU's offense could also use some in-game adjustments and "setting up" defenses rather than staid play scripts. That could be coming in 2006.
"I commend our staff," Anae said. "What you see on game day is the cooperation. If it works, it means our staff is working well and we're preparing well and the translation from the staff to the players is on target. If it's not working well, the first thing you need to take a look at is what we do as a staff. I think most often than not, we as a staff were pretty close to being on the money and the players were there."
Scoring 51 on MWC champ TCU could be called a high point, but Anae said it was actually a low.
"We didn't win," he said. "And then, in the SDSU game, we didn't build off that 51 points. On that road trip, it wasn't' clicking. The whole group just wasn't there, so we take full responsibility as a staff. We did not execute e xecute the game plan we went into the game with. That is our fault."
BYU then defeated New Mexico, Colorado State, Air Force, UNLV and Wyoming while losing to Notre Dame, Utah and Cal. But in those three losses, the Cougar offense scored 23, 34 and 28 — enough to win at least two of the three if the defense hadn't started into a slide.
Will Anae see BYU's offense average more than 33 points a game in 2006?
"I hope," Anae said.
"We need to see consistency and progression on a day-to-day basis. If we do that as a staff and players, I think we can pick up where we left off and do better."


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