The BYU football team continued its spring practices and head coach Kalani Sitake, sophomore Josh Weeks and junior Tuni Kanuch addressed the media to talk about offensive line cohesion, the tight end position and the early impact of Troy Warner.
With the loss of Tejan Koroma, the Cougars offensive line is lacking depth at the center position. Parker Dawe has been starting, but Jacob Jimenez and Quin Ficklin got some reps today. Sitake noted that the team had “two bad snaps,” but wasn’t worried.
“That’s what happens when you try some guys out at center,” Sitake said.
Kanuch, a veteran on the offensive line, said that they’re learning to work together without Koroma.
“I think when you play with new guys you just have to get used to them,” Kanuch said. “It’s all about chemistry on the line. There’s five dudes and you all have to build that wall, so you have to read each other’s minds. So as we’re playing with new people, it just takes time.”
Kanuch was named one of the leaders of the line by offensive line coach Mike Empey last week, but Kanuch was quick to dismiss any sort of title and said he was focused on working to get better.
“I’m just trying to work hard,” Kanuch said. “I love my boys, I love the team and I’m willing to do anything for them. Whoever they think is the leader is the leader, you know? The voice of the people. We’re just ready to work hard.”
Kanuch said it was nice to move away from Robert Anae’s hurry-up offense and noted that he enjoys huddling up with the team. He said it helps the line “be more physical.”
With offensive coordinator Ty Detmer’s new system and the lack of depth at offensive line, many players have been cross training at multiple positions, but Kanuch said he was only practicing at right guard.
When asked what kind of identity he wanted his offensive line to have, Kanuch didn’t mince words.
“We’re tough. We’re ready to brawl. Not in the fighting sense, but we’re willing to throw it all down, put it all on the line. We want to be the hammer, not the nail. We want an attitude where people are afraid to go against us.”
Within the new offense, expect to see a resurgence at the tight end position. Newly hired tight ends coach Steve Clark has been using a main rotation of three players – Tanner Balderree, Bryan Sampson and former wide receiver Josh Weeks.
Weeks said that Balderree and Sampson has been used as more of the blocking tight ends, but that he’s been more of a receiver.
“Coach Clark will call me in for mainly the receiving plays. There’s even some plays in the offense that are kind of designed for me – they’ll spread me out or motion me across.”
Weeks said that the transition hasn’t been too difficult because he played at tight end on the scout team last season. At this point, he said the biggest thing is gaining weight. Weeks is at 232 lbs. right now, but said Detmer wants him to play at 240 lbs.
– Sitake praised Clark as a “brilliant” coach who had to “fight for everything he’s had.”
– Sitake was pleased with the team’s first handful of practices and said there were “not a lot of lows.”
– Freshman Troy Warner is expected to make an immediate impact for the Cougars. Sitake said that offense comes more naturally for Warner, but that the team will give him plenty of reps both offensively and defensively.
– Sitake said there was no timetable to stop cross training players and noted that during his tenure at Utah the practice would often continue to midseason.
– Regarding position changes, Sitake emphasized that he’s looking to find the best 11 to put on the field.