BYU football notebook: Big plays, position switches and a smaller Mo Langi – Deseret News

Tabitha Sumsion, BYU

The BYU football team practices in Provo, Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

PROVO — By any means possible, BYU coach Kalani Sitake couldn’t care less.

During the latter stages of BYU football practice on Wednesday, true freshman quarterback Zach Wilson executed a flea flicker just about perfectly, with the end result being receiver Akile Davis catching a 40-yard touchdown pass. When asked about the play and whether it surprised him, as a defensive-minded coach, disappointed him, or anything else, Sitake was mostly positive about the result.

“I couldn’t care less what the play is as long as we score points,” Sitake said. “That one got us points, and whatever they do to get points on the board, I’m okay with.”

The play perhaps underscored the aggressive mentality new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and his staff are working to establish this spring. It’s not a typical play shown during the second day of any practice, yet along during the spring session, but results were welcome.

“Our players are excited about a lot of the new challenges they’re facing,” Sitake said. “Our coaches on the offensive side have installed a lot of different things, and I think our players are doing a good job of not being too saturated with it, but they get it. I think they’re really responding well to the challenge.”

SAME FACES, DIFFERENT SPOTS: The offense isn’t the only unit undergoing changes this spring, as the defense has shifted around several of its noted playmakers. The hope is to form a defense that features the best combination of 11 players, with position switches made to pursue that goal.

A couple of notable switches has been the movement of Zayne Anderson from safety to outside linebacker and top defensive end Sione Takitaki moving to linebacker to play opposite Anderson.

“For Sione, I just think his future is going to be (at linebacker),” said BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki. “Even though he can still play (defensive end), and do a good job — I just think for his future that he needs to start learning (linebacker.)”

With regards to Anderson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior, it’s all about replacing the speed vacated by the graduation of Fred Warner, along with compensating after the injury of Morgan Unga, who isn’t able to participate in practices yet.

“Moving Zayne back to safety is going to be easy to do, so we just wanted to see what he can do (at linebacker),” Tuiaki said. “Right now he needs to learn that spot…but it’s about getting the best 11 players on the field.”

A SMALLER LANGI: A lot of the preseason talk last fall surrounded the 400-plus pound Mo Langi and his acclimation to playing football. This time around, the New Zealand native has shed around 50 pounds, in hopes of becoming better able to play at defensive tackle.

According to Tuiaki, the mammoth 6-7, 397-pound lineman has a ways to go yet but is improving day by day.

“He’s done a great job this offseason losing weight,” Tuiaki said. “That’s been the biggest challenge for him. He’s just too big — too heavy, so he’s lost close to 50 pounds and he’s still on his way down. Being big isn’t enough. You have to move with the (offensive linemen) and use your weight. So he’s got a long way to go, but he’s come a long way, too.”


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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