After BYU football coach Kalani Sitake shuffled some of his BYU’s defensive coaching staff’s roles and responsibilities in the middle of the season due to several awful performances on that side of the ball, the changes appear to have worked, to some degree.

“So I evaluate constantly and try to get a feel for what is going on with each position group and each coach, and also with what we are doing, the support staff and all that. I have to be tuned into (that), which is what I occupy most of my time doing.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake

After all, the Cougars have won two straight games and are bowl eligible after waking up in the second half last Saturday to bury Utah Tech 52-26 on senior day. The Cougars (6-5) play at Stanford (3-8) Saturday in the final game of the regular season.

They probably won’t learn their bowl destination and opponent until after the College Football Playoff rankings are released Dec. 4.

Then what? 

Will Sitake start looking for a new defensive coordinator, after demoting seven-year DC Ilaisa Tuiaki to defensive line coach? Will Tuiaki stay in the program?

During his weekly press briefing Monday, Sitake was asked what that process will entail. He did not mention, nor was he asked about, certain staff members or coaching positions.

However, Sitake acknowledged that BYU is “going into a new situation next year,” which is play in the Big 12, and that “is probably (reason) for a little bit more urgency for things to be done, and so we will evaluate that.”

He said that evaluation process involves the whole program, which generally failed to meet expectations this season, even if the Cougars manage to win out and finish 8-5. They are six-point favorites against the Cardinal in Stanford, California, (9 p.m. MST, Fox Sports 1).

Sitake said he keeps notes and observations throughout the year, then reviews them toward the end of the season, which is obviously upon us.

“So I evaluate constantly and try to get a feel for what is going on with each position group and each coach, and also with what we are doing, the support staff and all that,” he said. “I have to be tuned into (that), which is what I occupy most of my time doing.

“And then just make sure that we are improving and that we are all aligned and working towards the same goal, which is doing everything we can to make sure these young men on our team are doing their best on and off the field. And that is my focus,” he continued. “I mentioned this before: I am committed to making sure we are the best we can be, and I think we will get there.”

Sitake downplayed the notion that BYU, which is 0-1 against the Pac-12 this season after falling 41-20 at Oregon on Sept. 17, can make a statement Saturday by beating a Pac-12 team before it moves on to the Big 12.

“I plan on giving our best shot,” he said. “I would like to see it be done for 60 minutes (unlike against FCS Utah Tech last week), from beginning to end, and then we will just live with the results.”

After his statement about upping the urgency as Big 12 membership approaches, Sitake was asked if that includes more urgency in recruiting and taking advantage of the transfer portal. With more than a dozen starters moving on, BYU seemingly needs instant help at several positions next year.

“I like to recruit from within first and see what we have in our program, and then add from that,” he said. “And they have to be a good fit. … The transfer portal is part of recruiting now. You have to factor (fit) in, and then see what (your) deficiencies are and where you lack some depth, and where you can improve. That’s the goal.”

Star receiver Puka Nacua accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl on Monday, signaling that he is likely turning pro immediately after the bowl game.

Quarterback Jaren Hall, listed as a fifth-year junior, has also received an invitation to the Feb. 4 all-star game in which participation guarantees a player is turning pro unless granted a waiver but has not accepted it.

Related
Star receiver Puka Nacua accepts Senior Bowl invite, a signal that he plans to enter 2023 NFL draft
Can bowl-bound BYU and Cal transfer RB Chris Brooks feast on fading Stanford?

On his “Coordinators’ Corner” program Monday, offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said he “can’t answer that for sure” when asked if Hall has played his final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“I hope that he stays. But I will support him no matter what because I do think he’s an NFL player,” Roderick said. “What we will do is continue to gather information from a variety of sources. We will turn in his paperwork to the NFL and they give us a report on what round they think he will go in and then we will sit down and talk about it. I think that he will make a wise decision.”

Monday also marked the release of the BYU depth chart for the Stanford game.

After rushing for 102 yards Saturday, Cal transfer RB Chris Brooks is back as RB1 on the two-deep. Arizona State transfer Sione Veikoso is now listed as Blake Freeland’s backup at left tackle, with Brayden Keim apparently injured.


Cougars on the air

BYU (6-5)

at Stanford (3-8)

Saturday, 9 p.m. MST

Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM