Robert Anae needs to go, now, not later, now. In BYU's biggest game of the year at Utah, Anae led what was quite possibly the worst play calling in the history of the BYU football program. There is no need to debate this, as the evidence is still on the Rice Eccles scoreboard in a 17-16 loss to the Utah Utes.
While Bronco's defense smothered and frustrated the Ute offense all day long, Anae's offensive decisions thwarted all of the defensive effort showed by the gritty BYU "D".
It wasn't Jake Heaps fault, nor his receiving corps. It wasn't the backfield either, as they continually proved they could run the ball on Utah. No, this was solely a matter of play calling at its absolute worst.
For the sake of the reader, I won't go into detail about Anae's decisions play by play, which seemed to have Cougar fans scratching their heads on every drive. I'll simply point out the obvious.
The first glaring decision came in the second quarter with BYU leading 3-0 with a 1st and 10 on their own 45 yard line. The Cougars had just run for three yards, five yards, and completed a short eight yard pass on the previous three plays. Utah was having major difficulty stopping the run and the short passing game. So what does Anae order up? A double reverse flea flicker that ends in a QB sack, a 15 yard loss, and a subsequent BYU punt.
The second glaring decision, and largest, came in the third quarter on a BYU 4th and inches at the Utah 14 yard line, with BYU leading 6-0.
Should BYU fire Robert Anae?
What would a competent coordinator do?
If it were me, I would have put three points on the board since BYU's defense was lights out.
However, BYU decides to go for it, which isn't a bad idea either especially when your offensive line has been pushing Utah around up to this point . A nice little QB sneak, or run up the gut should do just fine. But what does Anae do on 4th and INCHES? How about a play action incomplete pass? That's right, a play action incomplete pass on fourth and inches at the Utah 14 yard line. So not only do you not get the INCHES, you don't get the three points. I guess Anae thought he didn't need them.
The third glaring decision came early in the fourth quarter with BYU leading 13-3. BYU, who had no problem running the ball up to this point, simply needed to keep the hand-offs coming to run clock. However, instead of lining up traditionally with the QB under center and two backs in the backfield (so that one back can block for the other), BYU is in shotgun formation with Heaps flanked on both sides by his backs. What happens, of course? Both backs run into each other on the forward hand off, resulting in a fumble. With a 13-3 lead, nothing is more important than simple, clean hand offs--- however, Anae put the Cougars in a risky shotgun formation instead of playing conservative run football. The result: A quick Utah touchdown.
Lastly, there was the final drive of the game for BYU, who was now trailing 17-16. With BYU on their own 20 yard line and less than four minutes to play, it was passing time, right?
Instead, Anae calls two straight runs up the middle that go nowhere, resulting in a 3rd and 9 for his freshman QB. What's horrific about these two running plays is that BYU had already proved they could pass effectively against the lackluster Utah secondary. However, Heaps would bail Anae out by converting his 3rd and 9 pass to extend the drive, and then complete five consecutive passes before Anae would pull the plug on Heaps air attack and stall the drive on the Utah 30.
Finally, there was the last play of the game before the Mitch Payne field goal attempt. With BYU in questionable field goal territory as is (a forty-plus yard kick), Anae calls for a hand off that goes for a two yard loss!
Are you kidding me? What's wrong with a QB keeper in that situation? The two things you cannot do in that situation is one, fumble the hand off, and two, lose yardage--- yet Anae managed to do just that, lose yardage.
Granted, BYU players made huge mistakes late in the game to allow the Utes an opportunity to come back, but it was Robert Anae who drove BYU's offense into the turf and set up the late game collapse.
Utah tried several times to hand BYU an early Christmas gift with their erratic play and poor performance, but they can thank Robert Anae for returning the gift just before time expired.
Hopefully for Cougar fans, Mendenhall can give us all a Christmas gift by showing his offensive coordinator the door.