Arizona has experienced plenty of turnover during the 2011 offseason. There has been plenty of talk of what is missing in terms of players on the field, but another area that experienced a vast amount of attrition is the coaching staff.
Gone from a season ago are offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh; defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo; and defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown.
New to the staff are offensive line coach and former BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae; defensive line coach and former Wildcat player Joe Salave'a; and former UA grad assistant Ryan Walters.
Arizona has also done away with the co-coordinator system – an idea that seemed to work initially, but when the Wildcats lost their final five games, that philosophy came into question.
Now UA enters 2011 adjusting to a set of coaches that have similar but slightly different approaches to the game than their predecessors. There are certain advantages to having these new coaches on staff, but there are also adjustments that the players may have to make.
Anae had been in charge of the Cougars' offense for six seasons and proved to run a very successful scheme there. His presence at Arizona will not only benefit the offensive line, but his experience in the coordinator role could be helpful for the rest of the offense.
Anae has a tough task ahead of him. Not only is he new to the staff, but he has an offensive line to work with that has little-to-no game experience. How will Anae get these players up to par? Only time will tell.
In many ways, Salave'a is very similar to Tuiasosopo in his approach, but he seems to be a little more openly animated on the field. He is a fiery type of coach that is determined to get the most out of his players. The returning players all seem to have acclimated to Salave'a quite well and that should make the transition from one coordinator to the next much simpler.
Salave'a has in set of challenges he must face. He doesn't have the luxury of coaching Brooks Reed or Ricky Elmore like Tuiasosopo had. What he does have is a converted linebacker who hasn't seen the field much since arriving two years ago and a defensive end that has only played in a handful of snaps.
The good sign for Salave'a is that both players were surprisingly effective during the spring practice session. There is still a lot to accomplish for the new UA assistant, but early signs point to him being a big positive for the defense.
Walters is a bit of a mystery; mainly because he has only served as a graduate assistant until this season. He has a lot on his plate as well. With Adam Hall injured, it's up to Walters to sort the secondary out. Robert Golden's transition back to safety will be closely monitored and Walters will be tested with the uncertainty surrounding the secondary.
Walters has a lot of young talent to work with, so he has a chance to put his mark on the secondary. He seemed to grasp the role quite well during the spring and has received praise from his peers for the job he has done, but until Walters shows what his secondary can do when the games count, there will be skeptics.
The new assistants should bring a sense of enthusiasm with them. They all have something positive to offer the team and the hope is that the players adapt to their approach quickly. Early signs are positive and fall camp will show just how positive of an impact these coaches have.
Assistant coaches remain storyline
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