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I personally think that BYU's chances of pulling off an upset as touchdown underdogs at Nebraska on Saturday hinge on whether a makeshift defense missing a starting safety and at least one starting linebacker due to suspensions can hold the Huskers to fewer than 20 points.
The Cougars should be able to score some points in front of a sellout crowd of 87,000 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln and a national television (ABC) audience. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. MDT, and temperates are expected to be in the low- to mid-90s with 50 percent humidity. It's going to be a hot one.
I'll address those defensive holes later.
For now, let's hear what offensive coordinator Robert Anae had to say Wednesday about his group. By the way, I heard that sophomore center Tejan Koroma took every snap with the ones during practice Wednesday. Not sure if that means he is playing or not. Like Koroma said on Tuesday, "I guess we will see Saturday."
Anae said all the offensive players are healthy and champing at the bit to get started. Even offensive lineman Tuni Kanuch, who was injured at the start of camp, is in good shape.
"He actually picked up where he left off [last year]," Anae said. "It is real good to see his progress."
He said they won't run a play in the opener that they haven't practiced, and that they've tried to get BYU's scout team defense to get into the defensive looks that they think they will face from the Huskers. Obviously, the Cougars have studied more Oregon State film than Nebraska film to game plan, since NU's new defensive coordinator came from there.
Interestingly, Anae said coaches scaled back the offensive game plan after Day 1 of preparing for the Huskers.
"We recognized it was too much," he said. "We are not ready for way down that road. So we scaled it back and it is clear to the players, and more familiar. The concepts are all the same, but we are putting them into more familiar situations with their assignments and their technique. So yeah, we did, we thought we could really push the envelope that way, but we scaled back on it."
Oddly, Anae said he wants the Cougars to face some adversity in the opener. Seriously.
"Because if all you are geared for is success, your players aren't going to last, and then when they have to go through a hard time, it is going to be a long hard time. So my concern is I am actually looking forward to adversity in the first game. We are coaching and preparing our kids to play through it, play through a bad series, or play through when something goes bad, and they have the momentum. Get out there and fight to get momentum back on our side," he said.
Quarterbacks coach Jason Beck said Monday that he will be in the press box, just like last year, and Anae will be with the team on the sidelines.
It dawned on me Wednesday that we haven't heard a BYU coach or player utter the term "Go Hard, Go Fast" since camp started on Aug. 8. I asked Anae why.
"That is who we are," he said. "And when I first started three years ago, we were not that. So, to the players' credit, that is just naturally who they are now. When they come into this program, when we train, when we see the world, that is who they are."
Bottom line, Anae said, is that the Cougars will approach the game with no fear, at least from the offensive side.
"Not too concerned in the outcome of the deal," he said. "More concerned with coaching the process, and then after this first game, seeing where we are, and taking the next step forward. So yeah, no fear of failure. This is who we trained ourselves to be. Go hard, go fast, play-the-next-play type of deal."