Steve Clark is the Lone Ranger, the last man standing. He is the only returning offensive coach on BYU’s offensive staff that was gutted last December. The new group is commissioned to jump-start the Cougar offense.
He feels the scars of 2017 in a way the new guys can only imagine.
Clark is a beloved guy on Kalani Sitake’s staff because he works hard and the respect from his players is genuine because he is honest and forthcoming. He’s an amateur comedian whose humor is a blend of sarcasm and one-liners you’d endure from a cruise ship standup jokester.
Clark is the one guy who witnessed the pain of a year ago in a seven-game losing streak. He knows the whys. He knows tried remedies, resources available and choices made based on facts. He avoids excuses and finger-pointing. Clark just wants to get the paint on a new canvas and open the gallery.
This week I asked Clark to describe the work by the new guys, his chance to make an evaluation so far. Who better to opine than the guy pointing out to the new guys where the Diet Cokes are stored.
Jeff Grimes, offensive coordinator: “It’s execution, that’s what Jeff Grimes wants. We can’t have busts. Everybody’s got to be where they’re supposed to be. They have to do up-downs every time it happens. We do them every time after we practice. We circle them up and do up-downs. We had seven to do today. We had two turnovers and five presnap penalties today. That’s too much. The other day we had just two. Pre-snap penalties and turnovers are something he will not tolerate, no leeway. Everybody has to pay for each one, everyone does it, everybody pays the price. These are installed days and we haven’t run some of this before, but we are so far ahead because of what players did on their own this summer.”
Aaron Roderick and his QBs: “So far, really well. He’s done it before. He’s teaching them the timing, routes, and combinations. He’s being real methodical with them and we are seeing good things so far. They did a lot of work in the summer when we couldn’t be with them and got the timing down. We have put in so much offense already it’s unbelievable and this is the fourth day (Monday). They can handle it because they know it. We call it; they do it. It’s really impressive. That’s all because of the player-directed workouts the quarterbacks got in during the summer. It’s really impressive how they took ownership. They can coach the positions that they’re playing, too. The quarterbacks can tell everybody what they're doing, even the offensive line. They don’t want to go through what they did last year and they took it upon themselves to make sure they came out two or three times a week all summer.”
Fesi Sitake, receivers: “I can’t stand him. (Chuckles). No, Fesi is really smart and he’s great with the players. They love playing for him. He’s tough on them but like anything else in life as much as you love them, you coach them hard and they love you back. Each day Fesi comes out here and he’s meticulous about the routes and the depth they need to take on each route. I taught him everything he knows, so he’s going to be good. He’s just not as good looking or as good of a golfer.”
AJ Steward, running backs: "He is smart and tough on his players, and they love it because of how much he cares for them. He played tight end at Kansas in college so he helps me a ton. He has a great relationship with everyone in the program."
Ryan Pugh, offensive line: “Pugh brings a lot of energy. Pugh is putting about 50 Red Bulls into a goldfish. He’s is a high-intensity guy but very smart. He is simply very smart and that’s how I describe him.”
A lively cast that’s on a mission and it’s pretty simple:
Just score more.