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BYU learned tough lessons in bowl game, but what will it do with them?

Cougars won’t waste time preparing for new season, beginning with offseason conditioning, recruiting and rebuilding an injured defense

BYU players watch the final seconds tick off the clock during loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 18, 2021.
BYU players watch the final seconds tick off the clock during loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. UAB won 31-28.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Kalani Sitake says he will take lessons from the 31-28 bowl loss to UAB and apply it to the 2022 season, beginning with offseason conditioning, recruiting and rebuilding an injured defense.

The Independence Bowl loss was a tough setback in an otherwise remarkable season filled with national rankings, upsets, the end of a losing streak to Utah and an impressive 5-0 winning record against the Pac 12.

In this piece, Jay Drew explains why it will be tough to put the negatives ahead of the positives with the way the season ended. Here is another story on how players and fans might deal with the end of the season.

Mark Pope takes the Cougars to Honolulu for their first big tournament and here is Jeff Call’s preview,

Should Tyler Allgeier go to the NFL or stay? Here is my analysis of his upcoming decision.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Here is the question of the week: Should Tyler Allgeier return for another year or put himself in for the NFL draft?

Jay Drew: As much as I would love to see Tyler Allgeier return to BYU for another season because he’s one of the most fun-to-watch players in recent memory, I think it is in the best interest of the young man to declare for the NFL draft.

Allgeier should strike while the iron is hot, and he’s completely healthy. He told me at the bowl game that this is the best he’s felt since the beginning of the season. Running backs take a lot of hits, a lot of pounding, and I would hate to see Allgeier return next year and then have something happen to him that would put his draft stock in jeopardy.

Sure, BYU could have a better offensive line next year. But not by much. It is likely losing James Empey and Joe Tukuafu. Clark Barrington has said he will be back.

I just don’t think it is worth the risk. For that reason, I think Allgeier should move on to the next level. He has nothing left to prove at the college level.

Dick Harmon: I think Tyler should take care of Tyler. If that means putting his name in for the draft, great. If he somehow receives an NIL deal in Provo to come back and earn $250K to $500K and he feels good about that, if insured against injury, then that would be awesome.

Tyler has earned everything due him in his future. He’s been the consummate teammate, he’s been humble about his achievements. He walked on. He was asked to play linebacker and did. He was asked to carry the ball and he did, with power, speed and flare. It would be a nice chapter to his story if he returned and busted BYU’s record book, surpassing Jamaal Williams as the all-time leading rusher.

But that’s all on him. All I know is he’s getting a full-court press lobbying effort from his teammates to return and join them. It may be a tough decision. Or it could be easy. Teammate James Empey declared he’ll leave, could Allgeier be next? Selfishly as a sports writer, I’d like to see him return for his senior year and see what he does among his friends and buddies, but I’d support his decision to turn pro with no hesitation at all. I’d predict that will happen after Empey declared, but I’ve been wrong before.

Cougar tales

The Cougars stumbled across the finish line to a 10-3 season with a 31-28 loss to Alabama Birmingham in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. The Cougars defense, riddled by injuries, simply could not get off the field when it counted and it was costly. Here are our bowl coverage stories and analysis:

  • Why BYU’s defense wilted in the final game (Dick Harmon)
  • Late season swoon catches up with BYU (Jay Drew)
  • Tyler Allgeier breaks single-season rush mark (Brandon Judd)
  • Three takeaways from BYU’s bowl loss (Brandon Judd)
  • Allgeier: I’m going to keep you guys guessing (Jay Drew)
  • It was all fun and games until … (Dave McCann)

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

Empey declares for NFL draft (Deseret News)

Former Bronco assistants on market (Deseret News)

Way too early look at 2022 football (KSLsports)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers:

“Losing a key player for a game or two is one thing, but losing them for the entire season is devastating. Then lose two key players and it is really hard to regroup. I am glad to see the BYU men’s basketball team adjust and find new ways to win. Now if only the football team could learn from the basketball team! Of course, Sitake and his staff got their extended “unprecedented” contracts, so they barely showed up for their bowl game. I like Sitake as a person, but he still has a lot of growing to do to be a great coach.”

— water rocket

“Sitake is already a good coach and had he left the program it would have been set back several years and possibly suffered irreparable damage. The BYU program is so dependent on a pipeline to the better Polynesian players and there is absolutely no one better than Kalani to assure that. Polynesians have traditionally had strong matriarchs and their influence has been often important in steering their sons to BYU.”

— Norske Puma

Up next

Dec. 22 | 7:30 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. South Florida | @Honolulu

Dec. 23 | TBA | Men’s basketball | TBA | @Honolulu

Dec. 25 | TBA | Men’s basketball | TBA | @Honolulu