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Kalani Sitake made a shift from fall camp to game preparation this week by fine-tuning his depth chart, creating a scout team and posting a travel roster for the trip to Las Vegas for the opening game against Arizona of the Pac 12.

To do this, he needed to get some of the starters more reps in practices, especially 11 on 11s. In Saturday’s scrimmage, he limited tackling of running backs and the QBs are off-limits. It’s a fine line coaches play in trying to protect the health of players while pumping the gas on aggression and physical play.

On Saturday, Fesi Sitake put Washington transfer Puka Nacua on the field with increased reps and he delivered some nice catches. BYU’s defense fiddled with its increased emphasis on putting pressure on opposing QBs early in the scrimmage, and it was effective on Aaron Roderick’s offense.

Cougar Insider’s predictions

Question of the week: Now that we know Jaren Hall will start at quarterback against Arizona, what kind of season will he have? Predict his strengths and weaknesses, assuming he can stay healthy for the entire year.

Jay Drew: Jaren Hall should have an above-average season for the Cougars in 2021. Asking him to put together the type of season Zach Wilson did last year is a big stretch, though, given the quality of opponents that Hall will face.

The last time we saw Hall — the first half against Utah State in 2019 — he was sensational. Concussions robbed him of showing more of what he could do that year. So now is his time, and I expect him to shine because he’s got a big arm, outstanding running ability and good leadership skills. His teammates seem to like him and will rally behind him.

He’s also got strong coaching in his corner — Aaron Roderick proved that last year with his work with Wilson — and a nice supporting cast on offense.

Dick Harmon: Aaron Roderick has been looking for consistency and big playmaking ability and Jaren fits that bill. He will need to increase his accuracy to be effective in this offense. People should be a little careful with expectations of any replacement for Zach Wilson — he was that good. He was generational good. Hall still has not played a lot of college football due to his string of concussions, but he deserves the chance and BYU is giving him that.

Hall is a gamer and a tremendous athlete. He can extend plays and when he breaks for a run, like Taysom Hill, he can go the distance, not just pick up a first down. He will be very good on bootlegs and sprint outs throwing on the run. He has good chemistry with the receivers and tight ends and is a leader. He has fulfilled his slot as a legacy recruit, son of Kalin Hall, a former running back.

Cougar tales

BYU golfer Kerstin Fotu became the first woman to make the cut in the Utah Open, which was held at Riverside Country Club this past weekend. The long-hitting Cougar was required to play from the tips with professionals from all over the country including former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo.

Zach Wilson had a great week of hype and praise after his performance against the Green Bay Packers. He also received great praise from Romo when I asked the NFL TV analyst what he thought about Wilson’s talent.

Jay Drew took a stab at ranking the difficulty of BYU’s football opponents.

From the archives

Navy transfer Pepe Tanuvasa is on the move again — this time to a different position
Ultimate underdog: The unsung legacy of former BYU coach Tony Ingle

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers

I’m increasingly more excited about this game and will be driving to Las Vegas that morning (like many, I jumped to get the tickets right away). (I expect that I-15 will have a lot of fellow travelers heading to this game on that day.) 

Just read that masks will be required inside Allegiant Stadium — I’m happy to hear it. 

Also read that Arizona’s football team is 100% vaccinated against COVID — they should be praised for this.

(I would like to know where we stand in this regard. Whittingham said on Saturday that the Utes likely will stay at about 95% with around 6 players still opting out.) 

In a rather unique fashion, Allegiant Stadium allows play on both artificial turf (which UNLV uses for its home games) and natural grass turf (which the Raiders use for their home games). The natural turf is on a gigantic “tray” that is kept outside most of the time and moved into the stadium for the Raiders games. Does anyone know which will be used for our game with Arizona? (I would guess the artificial turf but would be interested to have this confirmed or refuted.) 

— Cougarforever

Up next

Aug. 26 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. USC | @Provo

Aug. 27 | Noon | Women’s volleyball | vs. SUU | @Provo

Aug. 27 | 7 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. Long Island University | @Provo

Aug. 28 | 7 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. UNLV | @Provo

Sept. 4 | 9:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Arizona | @Las Vegas

Sept. 11 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | vs. Utah | @Provo