Provo • Three days before the Cougars are scheduled to open spring camp, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall announced how his mostly new coaching staff will be structured for the 2013 season on Friday.
The primary changes are that new offensive coordinator Robert Anae will be the assistant head coach and secondary coach Nick Howell has been promoted to defensive coordinator, although Mendenhall will continue to call the defensive plays and alignments.
Linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga will become the special teams coordinator.
"This formally recognizes our staff responsibilities and the contributions already being made by our coaches," Mendenhall said in a school news release. "Robert, Nick and Kelly are pillars of our coaching staff. I have complete confidence in their coaching and leadership abilities."
Mendenhall said Howell "has already been serving in this capacity [as defensive coordinator] in many ways but without formal recognition of that role."
With Mendenhall serving as defensive coordinator, a role he took over six games into the 2010 season, BYU ranked No. 3 nationally in total defense last season and No. 13 in 2011.
Howell has risen quickly at BYU since he was hired as a defensive intern in 2007 and graduate assistant in 2008.
Anae's added responsibilities as assistant head coach will be seen by many as a move toward grooming the 24-year coaching veteran to be BYU's head coach some day. He is returning to BYU for his second stint as offensive coordinator after leading the program at Arizona the past two years. BYU also announced Friday that it will conduct a spring scrimmage, which is open to the public, on March 30 at 11 a.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Camp will end the following week on April 5.