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Kalani Sitake welcomes back his team for spring practice next week and during this session he will take a 2021 team that was in a rebuilding year, yet won 10 games, and try to prepare for the future in the Big 12.
In coming weeks we will be breaking down the position competition and featuring newcomers who can contribute. This is a critical session for the Cougars with another challenging schedule ahead in 2022.
Cougar Insiders predictions
Here is the question of the week: What do you project as the three top priorities for Kalani in spring practice, which begins the last day in February?
Jay Drew: Kalani Sitake enters 2022 spring football practices with the same coaching staff he had when the season ended in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Dec. 18. That’s good news for the Cougars, because several of Sitake’s assistants were courted by other programs the past few months, but chose to stay in Provo. Sitake’s “unprecedented” contract in which BYU administrators made promises to increase assistants’ pay and lighten their workload with more support staff is one of the reasons why.
So what are three of Sitake’s top priorities for camp, which begins Monday?
First, he needs to identify a capable backup quarterback and begin giving that QB the bulk of the reps. Jaren Hall is a known commodity and doesn’t need many reps in the spring.
Second, Sitake needs to figure out the running back situation. Who is going to replace Tyler Allgeier? Will it be Cal transfer Christopher Brooks, or running back by committee this year?
Third, BYU needs to find more playmakers on defense — at all three levels: defensive line, linebacker and secondary. Candidates include Micah Harper and Keenan Pili, but injuries either cut short their seasons last year, or ended them before they got started.
There are fewer question marks surrounding this team than in recent memory. Look for the Cougars to build on a solid foundation, and perhaps find a couple more impact players out of the transfer portal to take them to a higher level, as Puka Nacua did last year.
Dick Harmon: I agree with Jay on the priorities of pushing the competition for a backup quarterback, replacing Tyler Allgeier and shoring up the defense on all three levels, but I’d add a few more. With the departure of Samson Nacua and Neil Pau’u, Aaron Roderick needs to push hard to prepare deep-threat playmakers, which sets up his offense. Puka Nacua is a prime leader, as is Gunner Romney. He needs to find new playmakers from among Chase Roberts, Keanu Hill, Kody Epps and new faces like Cody Hagen.
The other areas imperative for Kalani Sitake to continue to build is depth, strength and skill among both sides of the line. It is in the trenches BYU needs to prepare for Big 12 play. It is on the line that the Cougars defeated five Pac 12 schools last year. It’s a physical game and the Cougar offensive line is ahead of the D-line heading into spring. Look for newcomers like Kingsley Suamataia and Snow College transfer Lisala Tai. BYU really needs players like DE Aisea Moa and LB Michael Daley to come in and make an impact early.
The biggest step BYU can take in spring and summer is to become more physical where it counts, and find depth so injuries don’t set it all back like at the end of last season.
Mark Pope watched his team make a valiant effort against Saint Mary’s on the road, falling short in the final minute. The Cougars now finish the season at home against LMU and Pepperdine before heading off to the WCC Tournament far short of the No. 2 seed they once thought they had. Meanwhile, BYU’s women under Jeff Judkins set a new home attendance single-game record in beating Gonzaga on Senior Day.
From the archives
From the Twitterverse
Most Wins Among Teams in the West Over the Past 3 Seasons:— WestCoastCFB.com (@WestCoastCFB) February 21, 2022
1. BYU - 28
2. Oregon - 26
2. SDSU - 26
4. Utah - 24
4. Boise St - 24
4. Air Force - 24
If you start at the top of the NET Rankings and work your way down you'll see three WCC teams before seeing a single Mountain West team.— Will Maupin (@willmaup) February 21, 2022
- BYU brings tremendous credibility to Big 12 (Deseret News)
- Could Zach Wilson get help from local? (Deseret News)
- Browne providing help for men’s volleyball (Deseret News)
- Non-LDS lineup historic for BYU (Deseret News)
- How Roderick envisions offense (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers
I think BYU will now have a better recruiting pool from the state of Texas (and perhaps Florida) than Utah has with the PAC-12. We will see how the pans out in four or five years.
As a passionate U of U fan, Judkins was always among my favorite players. He was everything that Utah basketball stood for. It’s nice to see him have the success that he has, coaching the right way. Truthfully, at 23-2 his BYU girls should be ranked higher, maybe in the Top Ten.
Feb. 24 | 11:30 a.m. | Softball | vs. Bethune-Cookman | @Cathedral City, California
Feb. 24 | 2 p.m. | Softball | vs. Tennessee | @Cathedral City, California
Feb. 24 | 6:30 p.m. | Baseball | vs. ASU | @Tempe, Arizona
Feb. 24 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Santa Clara | @Santa Clara, California
Feb. 24 | 8 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. LMU | @Provo
Feb. 25 | TBA | Men’s tennis | vs. Nevada | @Davis, California
Feb. 25 | TBA | Track & field | BYU Invitational
Feb. 25 | 11 a.m | Softball | vs. Cal Baptist | @Cathedral City, California
Feb. 26 | TBA | Men’s tennis | vs. UC Davis | @Davis, California
Feb. 25 | 5 p.m. | Women’s tennis | vs. Utah | @Salt Lake City
Feb. 26 | 6 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Pepperdine | @Provo
Feb. 27 | 2 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Pacific | @Stockton, California