If BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has felt a little adrift in 2014 fall camp, who can blame him?
He's relinquished the playcalling duties on defense, passing them on to Cougar defensive coordinator Nick Howell. He's instead trying to focus on the entire team more, as well as other duties, like fundraising.
But if you've ever watched Mendenhall at practice, it might be easy to wonder if that's enough for the head coach. Getting down and working with the players is often when he seems most at home.
That's where the nose guards come in, according to Mendenhall.
"I'm having fun," Mendenhall said after Tuesday's practice. "I get to coach the nose tackles for about 10 minutes a day, so I get my coaching fix at least on a position group."
Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi said he gets to be the beneficiary.
"Being a defensive line coach in a 3-4 scheme you want to have some individual time to work," Kaufusi said. "We're doing nose guard stuff now, we're doing defensive end stuff now.
"When I do that with the small amount of individual time we have, I'd usually have a graduate assistant do it. This year it's great with Coach Mendenhall, even though he has other responsibilities, he helps with 10 minutes of nose guard stuff."
Kaufusi said that allows him to focus on the other guys, so the unit is getting a lot done in a short period of time.
"It saves me a lot of time," Kaufusi said. "He has specific things he takes and works with those guys. Then we come back together and go about our business."
The defensive line coach pointed out that Mendenhall has coached defensive line before.
"I think it's fun for him," Kaufusi said. "When he asks where he can help in our meetings, he's able to help us with that."
With the limited number of returning starters, the extra focus has to be beneficial in getting guys ready to go.
Overall, Kaufusi said he's happy with where the defensive line is at early in camp.
"We've got depth and we get better each day," he said. "I like my group, so hopefully we stay healthy. We have enough guys to rotate. That part I'm excited about. That gives our starters a chance to recover their legs. Hopefully we will find six or seven guys to take us through the season."
For the head coach, this year has given him the chance to find areas that he thinks need extra attention -- perhaps like the nose guards -- and zero in on it without being taken away from other specific duties.
"It's fun to be able to address whatever I see offensively, defensively or special teams-wise," Mendenhall said. "I'm focusing more on relationships with the players than just the head coaching responsibilities, so that's been kind of fun too."