A closer look at BYU football spring drills. Here’s what we’ve learned
With limited access, those who witness BYU spring practice explain how much more physical team drills are this year, among other things
This article was first published in the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.
Kalani Sitake will take BYU football through its first major scrimmage of spring football this Saturday during a closed session. In two weeks so far, he’s introduced transfer QB Kedon Slovis and others to BYU football, and new defensive coordinator Jay Hill has busily installed a big chunk of his defense.
You can read my analysis of Hill’s progress so far here.
Cougar Insiders predictions
Question of the week: After two weeks of spring football, what are two things that stick out from a view from 30,000 feet?
Jay Drew: Perhaps the biggest thing that stands out from BYU’s spring football drills to me is how much live football playing the Cougars are doing, how much physical contact there has been since the Cougars put on pads in practice No. 3. It is clear that the coaching staff wants to identify which players can withstand the rigors of the Big 12, and are truly putting them all to the test. There’s been more tackling, hitting, etc., than at any BYU spring football camp in recent memory.
Another element of practices that stand out is the speed in the defensive secondary. This has to be the fastest group of cornerbacks and safeties that BYU has had in a long time, led by Weber State transfer Eddie Heckard and returning starter Jakob Robinson. At safety, returners Malik Moore and Micah Harper have also shown exceptional speed, and sophomore Talan Alfrey also seems to have gotten faster.
Dick Harmon: Any time you walk into a BYU practice session over the past 50 years, eyes immediately go to one position, quarterback. It is no different now. Curiosity over USC/Pitt transfer QB Kedon Slovis is front and center. So are potential backups, Cade Fennegan and JC transfer Jake Retzlaff. They are not disappointing. Slovis is the real deal.
The other thing that has stood out is how, predictably, the offense is ahead of the defense. That is partly due to Jay Hill installing a new defense and key players on defense being out with injuries. But even in this battle, you can see how Hill is transforming BYU defenders to attack and be aggressive, filling gaps and generating pressure. Players love it and the offense is feeling the intensity. In short, coaches on both sides are creating a far more competitive atmosphere and that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen passion in the past. It just seems it is being guided, stoked and utilized to build something different for the Big 12.
Here are some of our spring football features, commentary and coverage stories:
- Micah Harper is getting what he wished (Dave McCann)
- BYU linebackers pushing aggression (Dick Harmon)
- Sitake pleased with first six sessions (Jay Drew)
- What Kedon Slovis says about being a Cougar (Dave McCann)
- Navigating spring transfer portal is critical (Dave McCann)
From the archives
From the Twitterverse
Buying or selling?— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) March 15, 2023
Link: https://t.co/FxL6MkVVPH pic.twitter.com/rD6MxvNnDN
I loved what @slmandel had to say about the #Pac12 backing up what @Harmonwrites has said for years… pic.twitter.com/KidGFul7v9— David C. Moore 🇺🇸🇨🇦 (@CougarCentreSLC) March 16, 2023
Braden Moore enters transfer portal (KSL Sports)
BYU women close season with loss (KSL Sports)
When Big 12 teams open spring camps (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers:
BYU is going to struggle to compete in an NIL world. Colleges will develop a handful of super-NIL-boosters (think T-Boone Pickens and Oklahoma State). These super-boosters will demand something in return ... influence in the athletics program. BYU has several rich alumni who might be willing to contribute NIL funds — but BYU won’t grant influence in return. As such, BYU will be at a huge disadvantage. NCAA sports are now professional sports. It costs money to get great transfers, or high school signees. BYU won’t be able to compete in NIL funds. As such, BYU won’t be competitive.
1. Another PG
— Need some depth there to rotate with Hall. We might see coaches use Jaxson Robinson for some minutes next season at the 1 but we really need more ballhandling in the backcourt so getting another veteran PG is critical.
2. Need a stretch 4.
— Hoped Waterman could fill that role. Not sure what happened to him but he started to get the same yips that Lohner had the past 2 years. Waterman faded badly during conference play. Need an alpha player in this role, someone who can space the floor and hit shots. We get Wahlin home from his mission but not sure how long he’ll need to shake off the mission rust.
3. Need some depth at the 5.
— We’ve only got two 5’s on the roster, Fouss and AAA. Fouss is solid (2nd team All-WCC) but AAA is still raw. Need another solid big who can rotate with them and spell Fouss.
— Gruncle Ralph
March 23 | 11 a.m. | Track and field | Aztec Invitational | @San Diego
March 23 | 5 p.m. | Softball | vs. Utah State | @Provo
March 23-25 | 6 p.m., 1 p.m. | Baseball | vs. St. Mary’s | @Provo
March 27-28 | 9 a.m. | Women’s golf | @Honolulu, Hawaii