Kanuch brings tough-guy mentality

During recent years, the Cougar offensive line has been labeled as being underachieving, soft, and less physical than what is commonly seen at BYU. Coach Tujague was brought to BYU to change that, and now during the first week of the 2014 spring camp, the line has already flexed its muscles. The offensive line is now fighting back.

It's early in spring camp, but heated physical exchanges have been flaring up as the offensive and defensive lines have been getting after it.

"It was good and every practice should be a battle," said Tuni Kanuch. "Every practice should be a battle of, ‘Hey, we're here. We're on top.' We're all competing and we're playing D-I football. We're playing D-I, so we should all be competitors, monsters, dogs, and that's what should happen."

Kanuch, a former defensive lineman and current right offensive guard, believes that a tough disposition should be demonstrated at every position on the team.

"I think our whole team should have that attitude," Kanuch said. "I mean, offensive or defense, whatever the position, and even the kicker. Hey man, we're out to attack people. We'll help you up after the game, but we're here to play.

"Man, every practice should be intense. I mean, it's football and that's how it should be. We're out there, we're ready to play, and it's just football. That's how it should be. That's how BYU football should be. People should look at us and go, ‘Ooh, they're coming, they're eating, they're here, they're ready to play.'"

Every group of offensive linemen brings different yet collective characteristics to the field, whether positive or negative. Kanuch believes this year's group of hogs on the offensive line brings a bit of nastiness, technicality, and an aggressive nature to the offense.

"A little bit of everything," he said. "These guys are really technical. From last year what I've seen is they know – from footsteps, to hands, to breaths, to everything – pretty much everything because they're very technical."

Now that he's settled into his new home on offense, Kanuch wants to add to that collective nastiness with his own brand of tough-guy football.

"On the o-line we should be roughnecks and we should be the monsters in the locker room," he said. "I mean, we've got good talent. We've got the strength, and we've got the size like any other school. We should be able to push around people from any other school and we shouldn't be scared. We should be able face anybody and tell them we're coming. We're here."

Before he can assert his will on opposing defensive linemen, he'll have to first improve in a few areas. Over the course of spring camp, Kanuch hopes to improve on a few facets of his game.

"I'll take in whatever Coach wants to do or tries to teach me. I can't really tell anybody what to do because I just barely moved over. I'm ready to push people if I can and get to work."

He is also aiming to become more familiar with the scheme and plays.

"You know, it's so much easier to just go out there and pick a guy and smash him, but when you don't know the plays, sometimes it messes with your mentality," said Kanuch. "It's hard to just go out and pick a guy, because right before you pick a guy someone else picks him up and you're messing up the whole scheme. I gotta learn the plays more so I can get after it more and be more physical."

The man responsible for helping Kanuch go far is Coach Tujague.

"Man, I really like Coach Tujague because he'll tell you how it is, and that's what a coach needs to do if you're soft or if you suck," Kanuch said. "If he just tells you all the good things, you're not going to know what to change or what you have to be better in. That's what I like about Coach Tujague and Coach Anae. They both tell you things and what you need to do. They'll explain it very specific so you don't have to guess how to do it, like the technique. He'll even get down and do it in front of everybody. He'll show you step by step and just tell you what you need to do so you can apply it in practice. It's good."

Kanuch's appreciation for Tujague is mutual.

"One of my favorite dudes to coach," said Coach Tujague about Kanuch. "One of my favorite guys. He's picking it up, he's getting the plays, and I think it's a little fast for him right now but he's way ahead of where we were with everybody being new."

The go-fast-go-hard offense takes its toll mostly on the big guys in the trenches, and that's not just the opposing defensive line, but also the offense's own linemen.

"I gotta get into better shape football-wise," Kanuch said with a laugh. "Everyone can always do better. The team's looking good, the team's hungry, and that's all that matters."

The offensive linemen might be showing some feistiness on the field, but it also appears they're getting after it in the weight room as well.

"It's actually a lot better from last year," Kanuch said. "I mean, I think it's always tiring because we gotta run and lift, and the running's good for us. It's hard but it's good. I feel like I've seen a difference in the weight room. Like, I see players squatting six plates, five plates, benching four plates, so I think it's a lot better than last year. We're just ready to play and get the season going and learn from Coach."

Kanuch came to BYU as a defensive lineman, but after serving a mission, he was moved to the offensive line since defensive line depth isn't an issue. The decision to move wasn't a difficult one for Kanuch.

"I told Bronco right when I came here that I'll play any position that they need me to and wanted me to," said Kanuch. "They tell me to move and I'll move. It's all good, football is football."

He does admit, however, that nose guard was a position he was growing accustomed to prior to an injury last season. The 6-foot-1-inch, 285-pound road-grader in the trenches isn't bothered by the switch and feel's Coach Mendenhall knows best.

"I did like playing nose guard," said Kanuch. "I actually liked it a lot more right as I got hurt. I'm just ready to play football because I've been sitting out a long time. I told Coach that I'm ready to play. It's Coach Bronco's team, he's a genius and he knows what he's doing. If he puts you at a position it's for a reason, and it's for the scheme and it's only going to get you a W. That's all that matters."

So while the practice field might resemble an all-out WWF brawl at times, Kanuch likes what he sees. He sees an offense that doesn't back down but gives it right back, and yes, that includes giving fellow teammates a taste of what to look forward to next time they meet. It's a message Kanuch believes they'll send to opponents in the near future.

"Everyone is going to get after each other, see if we can work each other, and we're all out here to make each other better," said Kanuch. "We have a message to send out to the world. Tell the teams we're coming."

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