Alisa sees results from new changes

After suffering a broken arm during the fifth game of last season, senior running back Michael Alisa looks to return to full running back duties. With the rise of Jamaal Williams, there might seem to be a logjam in the Cougar backfield, but Alisa feels that won't be the case.

Coach Anae is in the process of developing an offense that will run a play about every 20 seconds. The idea is to create a fast-paced, efficient style of offense that will run an incredible 90 plays a game. If this staff is able to produce such an offense, they'll need depth, including at the running back position.

"Jamaal [Williams] is great and he's a good running back, and Adam Hine is looking really good too," said Michael Alisa. "His legs got all the rust off from being on a mission, so I feel like we have a lot talent and a lot of speed. With the pace that we are going at, there's going to be a lot of substitution. The moment they see someone letting up a little bit, like two plays later, they're going to put in another back. They always want fresh legs in there. It's going to be go, go with eight-second transitions."

In order to produce such results, the offense has to have a few key characteristics.

"I would say speed and a lot of quick-hitting plays," Alisa said. "It's pretty basic and a lot of zone. I don't want to give away too much, but we're going to try and go a lot more deep than we did last year."

Utilizing fast execution while chewing up large chunks of real state would seem like an offense comprised of complexity. However, it's just the opposite. The offense has to be simplified in order for the offense to do as Anae says and "go hard and go fast."

"Actually, the plays are a lot more simpler," Alisa said. "You know, it's stuff that everyone has been picking up really quickly. We've got those new cards that we're using, and I would say the biggest thing is just excitement. It's a new thing, there's new plays to learn and it's quick-hitting."

So as the offense works to develop the scheme, there was a lot of commotion and missed assignments due to the quicker pace that the staff expects. It's something to be expected for the first day of spring camp.

"There were a lot of blown assignments. I had a few myself," said Alisa. "But on the plus side you see everyone going hard and you see that pace. I mean, we saw glimpses of it and we weren't going as fast as we were supposed to. [Anae] wants us to hike the ball and then every eight seconds have the ball being placed. You can see glimpses of it."

This new approach to practice is a big change from last year, or even from when Coach Anae was at BYU the first time around. Previously it was about execution first, and then the speed came later. Now, it's sort of the opposite.

"Yeah, number one is effort and then we try and find technique," said Alisa with a laugh. "It's kind of reversed from last year's approach. Last year it was more know what you're doing first, then when you know what you're doing you go fast. This year it's go crazy and buck wild, then later know what you're doing."

However, new running back coach Mark Atuaia has done a great job of keeping his players on top of the new pace and expectations.

"Coach Atuaia is a motivator and, you know, we're from the same hometown back in Laie," said Alisa. "You know, he gets it. He's been in our shoes at this very institution, and so he knows what we need to do to get to where we need to be."

With both Atuaia and Alisa having deep roots in the North Shore of Hawaii and coming from the same close-knit community, Alisa thought that maybe his new coach might favor him a little more. He found out quickly the exact opposite was the case.

"It's kind of funny because he's from Laie like me, and so I was thinking we're going to be like buddy, buddy," said Alisa with a smile. "It hasn't been like that and he's held me to the highest standard. The other day, I came late to a workout and he had me do 400 burpies."

Burpies are a specific conditioning exercise that wear on the body fairly quickly.

"Burpies are when you dive on the ground and then you get up as fast as you can and jump up as high as you can," Alisa said. "I had to do 400 that day and he was counting every single one. After I was finished he says, ‘Now do 10 more.' He doesn't budge and give us an inch, but at the same time he's also that loving guy that's always motivating and energetic. It's good though because he wants us to be the best, and so in a way what he's doing is showing us that he does care."

And of course, by now everyone has heard of the more vocal demeanor among the offensive coaches this year. It's another change in coaching philosophy the players have actually bought into.

"I don't think anyone resents it at all," said Alisa. "Because, like I said, everyone is on board and we see that it's a good thing happening. I don't know, nobody wants to stop it and we all want to jump on board with it to see how far we can go with this new program."

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