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On Friday, March 31, Kalani Sitake will welcome the public to an open scrimmage in LaVell Edwards Stadium at 3 p.m., followed by the alumni game comprised of former stars at 5 p.m. Because of the competitive nature of the alumni contest, last year’s last-second, game-winning TD pass by Max Hall and the fact it is on BYUtv has given the event an organic push. For Sitake, his squad will be on display beforehand in a controlled scrimmage. If history repeats, many first-team players will be used sparingly, if at all. Gates are set to open at 2 p.m.

Quick hits from spring football include the injury to RB Sol Jay Maiava-Peters and my piece on defensive coordinator Jay Hill’s installation of an aggressive philosophy. 

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: Aaron Roderick recently said BYU’s offensive line may be one of the most athletic the program has had in some time. How does this fit with the Cougars losing a tackle like Blake Freeland, who set an NFL combine record for vertical leap?

Jay Drew: According to Roderick and offensive line coach Darrell Funk, the Cougars will replace Freeland in the athleticism department with Kingsley Suamataia, who is also replacing Freeland at left tackle. Roderick told me that Suamataia is almost as “freakishly athletic” as Freeland is, just not as tall. 

The coaches also said that some of the new guys, such as Brayden Keim, Utah transfer Paul Maile and Utah State transfer Weylin Lapuaho, are more athletic than the guys they are replacing such as Clark Barrington and Harris LaChance. They are also really excited about Missouri State transfer Ian Fitzgerald. Throw in Connor Pay and Keim, and the Cougars have enough pieces to seamlessly move into the Big 12, in my opinion.

Dick Harmon: If indeed this is an extraordinarily athletic group of offensive linemen, it will show in September where it failed last year in short-yardage run plays. Getting leverage, pushing the line, fighting for a yard or two for the running backs and converting near the goal line on power plays will prove to me just how athletic this group is. From there, you go to zone blocking effectiveness, how quickly they can pull and get to the second level and knock around linebackers.

I think this will be a very good pass-blocking crew. It is getting a first-class stress test from Jay Hill’s aggressive defense and pressure. Freeland was a master at left tackle and it is expected Suamataia will be as effective in protecting the QB. I believe Snow College transfer Lisala Tai (6-foot-7, 300) and freshman Trevin Ostler (6-5, 330), can give Darrell Funk plenty of choices to mix playing time with Lapuaho, Fitzgerald, Pay and Keim to provide impressive depth in case of injuries. If Lapuaho, who started every game for USU, and Fitzgerald can step in and perform better than the now Baylor Bear Barringtons, Funk will be in great shape.

Cougar tales

BYU softball is going through catchers at an alarming rate and you can read about the latest to take on that position in this Dave McCann piece.

Men’s volleyball upset No. 7 Pepperdine in a grueling match. 

With BYU naming a new president, here is athletic director Tom Holmoe’s take on the new administrative leader.

Rudi Williams will represent BYU at the Final Four in Houston this week.

From the archives

Related
Kingsley Suamataia could give Cougars back-to-back early-round NFL draft picks — next year
Wintry weather in March along the Wasatch Front taking its toll on Cougars’ spring football plans

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

Introducing BYU’s dream recruiting class (247Sports)

Three young linebackers emerging (Cougs Daily)

Kaleb Hayes steals BYU pro day attention (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

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Comments from Deseret News readers:

After finishing 10-3 in 2010, their final season in the MWC, Utah had an overall Pac-12 record of 14-22 (39%) in their first four seasons in the Pac-12 and the Utes didn’t have a winning conference season until their fourth year in the conference.

2011 — 4-5.

2012 — 3-6.

2013 — 2-7.

2014 — 5-4.

Let’s see how BYU does in their first four seasons in the Big 12 before determining if BYU can be competitive in the Big 12.

— BlueCoug

Three things will come into play for the Cougars as they enter the Big 12. Offensive line play. Defensive line play. And speed!!! This is going to be a whole new level of football, and not just because BYU will be playing better teams than usual, but because they will have them every week once the conference schedule begins. If the offensive and defensive lines do not match up week after week it will be a long haul. The Cougars will have to contend with faster players on a regular basis as well. Of course, it will be a transition, and it will be a big one. Hang in there Cougars!

— Stathis

Up next

March 29-30 | TBA | Track and field | Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays | @Austin, Texas
March 29 | 3 p.m. | Gymnastics | NCAA Regional | @Los Angeles, California
March 30 | 9 a.m. | Men’s golf | The Goodwin | @Stanford, California
March 30 | 5 p.m. | Softball | vs. LSU | @Baton Rouge, Lousiana
March 30 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Gonzaga | @Spokane, Washington
March 30-31 | 7 p.m. | Men’s Volleyball | vs. USC | @Provo
March 31 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Gonzaga | @Spokane, Washington
April 1 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Gonzaga | @Spokane, Washington

BYU players celebrate after a point during match against Pepperdine at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Friday, March 24, 2023. BYU won in five sets, and did likewise the next night, too. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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