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What to expect from BYU’s 2021 fall football camp

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake gives a thumbs-up during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo.
Kalani Sitake, BYU’s head football coach, gives a thumbs-up during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Sitake welcomes more than 100 scholarship and walk-on players to fall camp on Thursday, Aug. 5, with plenty of positive aspirations, hope and enthusiasm.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
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Kalani Sitake welcomes more than 100 scholarship and walk-on players to fall camp on Thursday, Aug. 5, with plenty of positive aspirations, hope and enthusiasm.

This is a squad that, sans Zach Wilson, may be more prepared to open against Arizona than it was against Navy last year in terms of experienced players, talent and depth at many positions.

Because the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference football programs had abbreviated seasons due to COVID-19 in 2020, BYU hopes to build on a 12-game campaign that saw plenty of players get developmental playing time in actual games.

Will this make a difference? It should, because the talented prospects who encounter experience are more reliable weapons in any sport, especially football. The addition of Puka and Samson Nacua will be one of the more interesting developments on the offense.

Sitake’s team begins this camp with a ton of things to prove to doubters. Here is my column on this perspective.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: How will BYU football’s two new coaches impact the program as fall camp begins? What do you think they need to bring to the table and why?

Jay Drew: I think BYU coach Kalani Sitake — and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, to some degree — made a couple of excellent hires in the offseason with the additions of Kevin Clune (linebackers) and Darrell Funk (offensive line). These are two smart, veteran, tough coaches who have displayed the ability throughout their careers to work well with the players they coach.

Both coaches should have a big impact. Talking to Funk at BYU football media day, I was impressed with the passion that he already has for BYU and its tradition of developing offensive linemen. He might come across as an all-business coach at first, but I found him to be quite funny and entertaining. He will pick up where Jeff Grimes and Eric Mateos left off.

As for Clune, who has now coached at every Division I school in Utah (except Dixie State, which just became Division I), he has already made a nice impact as a defensive consultant last season and will add some experience to the defensive side of the ball.

Dick Harmon: If the consulting work Kevin Clune did to help in BYU’s blowout of Navy and disruption of UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl are any indication of what his basic voluntary work was in 2020, I’d expect to be impressed now that he is a full-time, paid coach to work with the linebackers and have a voice in the defensive room. We will learn very quick if he was an old buddy hire or if his credentials are indeed what we think they are.

I like the Darrell Funk hire because he is a veteran coach with tons of experience. These are the kinds of offensive line coaches that good programs have, guys who have been through the wars. Roger French was like that back in the LaVell Edwards era. I loved Eric Mateos as a young, up-and-coming coach, and I was sorry to see him leave the program with Jeff Grimes, but Funk has almost four times more experience coaching than Mateos, and you would think that would account for something for Aaron Roderick and his offensive staff.

Finally, I think the fact that Sitake was given the money to hire experience coaches says a lot about the credibility he gained with the administration for piloting through a COVID-19 2020 season and coming out on the other end with a national ranking, 11-1 season and blowout bowl game. BYU invested a lot in getting Grimes to Provo again. I think they used that investment to bring in Funk to keep the ball rolling.

Cougar tales

The new opportunities for athletes to profit on their name, image and likeness is explained beautifully in this piece written for the Deseret News by former BYU defensive back Derwin Gray.

Former BYU golfer Rhett Rassmussen qualified for this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event at Oakridge Country Club in Utah.

Meet BYU’s new equipment manager who has a Ph.D., in this in-depth story by Jay Drew.

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Big 12 reimagined with 14 teams (@LukeSarrisUCF)

Wilson to Moore (@00Jets)

Expansion rumors and talk, what fun (@dennisdoddcbs)

Extra points

  • Los Angeles Times writer’s mock college team draft (LA Times)
  • Slimmed-down Taysom Hill locked in a battle to start (KSL.com)
  • Film breakdown of BYU’s two most important offensive players (247sports.com)
  • What can be expected of instate FBS teams in September (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

New year and new players. History has been written and set in stone.

BYU has nothing to prove to a bunch of whining cry babies. It’s done!

The proof was on the field last year, the NFL draft and the experts who rated the Cougs highest in the west.

Can they do it again with new players? Not likely, but the last years history books have been written.

Go Cougs!!! Enjoy it while it’s there.

— Worf

BYU’s ranking last season was legit and they would have beat Utah, no doubt about it. We should count it as a win anyway since they and the pac chickened out and basically forfeited.

— Steve24/7

Up next

Aug. 14 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. Weber State | @Provo

Aug. 19 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. Ohio State | @Provo

Aug. 21 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. Auburn | @Provo

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

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

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