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BYU seeks to pressure opposing quarterbacks more, record more sacks

BYU's Corbin Kaufusi (90) plays in the first quarter during an NCAA college football game against Southern Utah Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
BYU's Corbin Kaufusi (90) plays in the first quarter during an NCAA college football game against Southern Utah Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PROVO — While he was the defensive coordinator at Utah, BYU coach Kalani Sitake oversaw a defense that established a reputation for putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and recording a slew of sacks, ranking among the best in the nation in that category.

Last season, the Cougar defense ranked No. 115 nationally in sacks with a total of 17.

What are Sitake and the rest of the coaching staff doing to generate a better pass rush?

“A lot of things,” Sitake said. “We have capable coaches that have led the country in sacks before. We just go back to that stuff and we’ll be all right. We have two monster D-ends and monster D-tackles. As long as we collapse the pocket, we’ll be OK. If we have to call on pressure, then we can do that too. We’ve added a lot to our install and it’s getting a lot better.”

Sitake is counting on Corbin Kaufusi, Trajan Pili, Khyiris Tonga and Merrill Taliauli, among others, to make a difference on the defensive line. But others, including linebackers and defensive backs, are expected to get pressure on the QBs when necessary.

“Our pass rush scheme is all about the team working together, collapsing the pocket and funneling the sacks to our ends, mostly,” Sitake said.

QB UPDATE: Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said Monday said nothing has been decided in the quarterback battle between Tanner Mangum, Joe Critchlow and Zach Wilson.

“It’s still too early to say,” Grimes said. “Ideally, we’d like to be there at the end of two weeks. If we can be there sooner, great. If it takes a little bit longer, it takes a little bit longer. But naming the right guy is more important than doing it at a specific time."

During Monday’s media viewing portion of practice, Mangum threw a touchdown pass to Micah Simon, Critchlow threw a touchdown pass to Dylan Collie while Wilson threw TD passes to Talon Shumway and Collie. Freshman Jaren Hall completed a touchdown pass to Dax Milne.

“They’ve all improved. They’re all in position where they know more about the game than they did before,” Grimes said of the QBs. "They’re getting rid of the ball quicker, their anticipation is better. You can tell they’ve thrown the ball a lot with our receivers this summer. Our chemistry between quarterbacks and receivers is better than it was in the spring. Like other positions, still a lot of work to do. But I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far.”

O-LINE COMPETITION: Sitake is happy with what he’s seen from the offensive line under Grimes and offensive line coach Ryan Pugh.

“I trust coach Pugh and coach Grimes. I’ve seen some things with the O-line that I’ve never seen before as a coach,” he said. “The way they work their scheme and the things they do as O-line coaches, I’m really excited about. I think we can do some good things up front.”

Offensive tackle Austin Hoyt said the O-line is performing well in camp.

“We’ve had a good start so far. Over the summer we worked a lot on executing plays and that’s carried over. We haven’t had many false starts or lapses in assignments,” he said. “(The competition) is open right now. There are no for-sure starters. Coach Pugh wants us to keep grinding at each of our positions and he wants to get the best five on the field.”