Call it the final BYU football media day of independence on Wednesday at the Broadcast Building on the Provo campus.

Barring any unanticipated changes, the next time Kalani Sitake and his boss Tom Holmoe get involved in such a preseason affair, it will be conducted by the Big 12 Conference, likely in Dallas, and won’t be in June but in July when other leagues sponsor this preseason ritual.

So, what can we look for when Kalani’s staff and players join Holmoe and a gaggle of reporters to preview, review and dissect the program heading into the 2022 opener against South Florida on Sept. 3?

Well, here’s a stab at some storylines to look for.

Holmoe usually provides some little nugget in his state of the program comments. Oftentimes it is a scheduling tidbit, a television deal, a tweak in some facility upgrade, or new brick and mortar project, stadium enhancement or coaching contract adjustment. 

I’d hope that Holmoe and Sitake address some of the challenges of the NIL fire that is blazing across the college sports scene. It would also be interesting to get their take on the ravages of the transfer portal and how it giveth and taketh.

Obviously, of most interest, is the impending move to the Big 12 and the intricacies of making that jump. 

Holmoe and Sitake are already budgeting projected additional revenue from that move to the Power Five league and are counting on making additional changes to compete. What are those changes? Most likely they involve compensation, staff expansion, support faculty, and beefed-up recruiting resources on and off-campus. Don’t look for the decadence of more private jet usage just yet.

In taking the high road, Kalani Sitake has the Cougars right where he wants them

It would be nice to know how the Big 12 has utilized Holme and his management staff and coaches. It would be fun to know who has been asked to serve on which committees.

Any news about TV negotiations, new streaming platforms, and other revenue streams the Big 12 is seeking to enhance its purse would also be worth discussing.

Offseason healing is always a critical piece of news. What is the playing status and recovery date for full contact of linebackers Keenan Pili (knee), Payton Wilgar (shoulder), and tight end Isaac Rex (ankle)?

Then there’re the headliners, players who will gather the most attention and requests for interviews from reporters and broadcast outlets — the guys you’ll see on TV and hear on live radio feeds.

At BYU this always includes quarterback Jaren Hall. Backup Jacob Conover will be in demand, as will Cal transfer running back Chris Brooks. The big question for these designated quote producers is exploration of expectations for the offense. What will be different or the same, and how have the offseason workouts gone?

This upcoming season the Cougar offensive line is expected to be big, deep, experienced, and a major part of the campaign. The 2020 offensive line is the product of Sitake scrutiny and rebuilding since he was hired at BYU, but it is the one position group that is Power Five ready right now.

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If BYU is to have any chance of winning more than seven games this season, this group will need to be physical, consistent and dominating. Led by All-America candidates, tackle Blake Freeland and guard Clark Barrington, it will be interesting to see how a myriad of the other 12 bodies are used.

In a real sense, Wednesday’s media day could be dominated by dissecting this offensive line and all the pieces of the puzzle for the first time in years. It should be that good.

Equally intriguing is the receiving corps led by veterans Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua.  Both are as good of deep threats as the Cougars have had in years. Inject freshmen Chase Roberts and Kody Epps into a group that includes Keanu Hill, Brayden Cosper, Talmage Gunther, Hobbs Nyberg and Maguire Anderson, and the competition for playing time will be intense.

This is the first full offseason of chemistry between Hall, Nacua and other receivers. It has given Hall an opportunity to polish timing and build his repertoire. He had to do those things during the season last year.

The latest on the BYU Cougars’ 2023 recruiting class

Because offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick has veteran Hall back with this offensive line and receivers and expectations of Brooks in the backfield are so high, it could be debated Wednesday how high the bar will be for his side of the ball.

Equally under the microscope for different reasons will be the Cougar defense. Coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has got to find a way for his team to get off the field. Late in an injury-laden campaign and bowl game loss to Alabama-Birmingham, his unit struggled to stop offenses that kept drives alive by gashing BYU defenders early and late. Third downs were often an open portal and the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks made it easier to attack BYU’s weaknesses.

Both Sitake and Tuiaki can expect questions about personnel, schemes, readiness and philosophy. But definitely, the defense is a topic that will get attention.  

In the past when he’s been asked to explain his  protective “defensive” mode, Tuiaki has explained the virtues of dropping eight in coverage when facing spread offenses. He’s made good points. On the other hand, its inability in stopping drives, which keeps BYU’s offense on the sidelines, is now the design of opposing coaches.

It should be a media target to have Tuiaki explain what changes or adjustments he hopes to deploy this coming season to counter offenses that are targeting weaknesses. Be it disguising formations and fronts and pre-snap looks, or adding blitz packages with a healthier roster, this will be intriguing to discuss with the coordinator.

It could get overlooked, but BYU’s kicking game, led by punter Ryan Rehkow, should join the headliner group. He is one of the best — if not the best — punters in the country and deserves to be recognized and featured by the media horde.

Stay tuned.

Football is getting closer.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and football coach Kalani Sitake answer questions during BYU football media day in Provo.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and head football coach Kalani Sitake answer questions during BYU football media day in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021. The two will be back answering questions in Provo at Wednesday’s football media day. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News