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Kalani Sitake’s 2-0 football team will be on the road at Arkansas this Saturday in what will be the final tuneup before the Cougars’ Big 12 opener at Kansas. Here’s what Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman had to say about the Cougars in a report from Jay Drew. Sitake said revenge won’t be the motivating factor after the Razorbacks dominated the Cougars in Provo a year ago. 

Predictions

Question of the week: ​​With Sam Houston and Southern Utah in the rearview mirror, up next is SEC’s Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday. Is BYU ready for the challenge? 

Jay Drew: I would like to say BYU is ready to face an SEC team on the road in front of more than 73,000 fans in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but I just can’t. Why? Because the Cougars simply have not looked like a decent Power Five football team through two games of the 2023 season. Sure, they might get there — they are adding 60 new faces to the roster, after all. But they aren’t there yet. Games against Sam Houston and Southern Utah were closer than they should have been for a team hoping to win enough games to get to a bowl game in 2023, which is and should be the goal.

Obviously, the Cougars have the talent, thanks to some nice additions via the transfer portal. But depth could be another concern and the fact that the offensive line is off to an awful start. I think BYU will keep it reasonably close against Arkansas in the first half, then wear out against the Hogs and superb dual-threat QB KJ Jefferson.

Prediction: Arkansas 35, BYU 17

Dick Harmon: The Cougars are off to a 2-0 start. That was expected. But in this early going, I was hoping to see a very physical offensive line push around Sam Houston and SUU defenders along the line of scrimmage. We didn’t see that. The trip to Arkansas and Big 12 play will demand it. Football is essentially an organized fight. BYU’s offensive line will need to get meaner, get more physical, get more in sync or it will be a disaster in Big 12 play.

I think Kedon Slovis is the guy. He can lead BYU to a bowl game. But he needs help. The O-line’s best work is protecting him, but even that can improve. I expect the receivers and running backs to deliver, but BYU has to win its share of short-yardage battles on fourth-and-2s, third-and-1s, and at the goal line or Slovis will not do what he’s capable of doing. He needs a bruising, physical run attack to surface. BYU’s offensive line is big enough and I think it is talented enough. It just needs more focus and attitude.

I’ve seen BYU beat Texas, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC, Tennessee and others on the road. BYU can compete, but it needs to overachieve to play against teams with higher-evaluated talent. The O-line needs to step up this week.

Prediction: Arkansas 34, BYU 24.

Cougar tales

Right after beating UCLA, women’s soccer achieved a No. 1 ranking and then spanked Utah in dominating fashion. Former Cougar and No. 2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson found himself QB1 after star Aaron Rodgers got injured just four plays into Monday’s game against Buffalo to open the NFL regular season. Keanu Akina won an international golf event, adding to an impressive summer for Bruce Brockbank’s players. Men’s cross-country won the annual autumn classic. No. 8 BYU’s women volleyball dropped a four-set match to Washington State.

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Extra points

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers:

The Y just simply does not have the talent level with depth needed as a P5. Has their been an increase in talent? Yes. But still not there by a long shot.

Defense is definitely improved. Jay Hill has them on the right trajectory in terms of scheme, philosophy and the right culture. Nice not to see the bend don’t break philosophy that plagued the program. Hill simply does not have the sufficient number of athletes to create the disruption in the backfield with sacks and tackles for loss his system and schemes are designed to create. I do think the DBs are pretty solid with coverage, etc. But not enough athleticism and talent level with the LBs and D-line.

O-line can definitely pass block effectively. Just lacks the physicality to push people around with the run game. RB talent level is decent to be effective; but no push from the O-line that needs to get more nasty in the run game where linemen are truly knocking the defensive lines around and beating them up. They are not doing that so far this season. I want an O-line that beats people up, gets a few unsportsmanlike while beating up the defense. Even an occasional late hit just to get in a defense’s head and push them around more. Need to play with a more intense attitude. Then the run game can take hold.

Arkansas is going to be a tough game this week that could get ugly like last year. The gap in athleticism is going to really show this next week unless the offensive and defensive fronts can improve.

— Jayson Meline

Blah, blah, blah. The Y is what it is. A brand that has held up against an unfair P5 system from the outside with ever-shifting goal posts. The P5 with its native driven standards that move to make the critic of those on the inside right.

Now BYU is on the inside. Let’s see where this goes. 😀

PS. I hope Y fans will treat the Boise States of the non-P4 (those still on the outside) with respect as they darn well deserve. Let’s not change our tune on how unfair the P4 system is just because we are now on the inside. Let’s not do like many from the school up north.

The Boises are better by a long shot than the bottom parts of the P4 word and at times as good as many in the top half. Think if they had access and money like the P4 programs??. Oh wait, that’s why the P4 system was set up.

The problem the SEC and Big 10 don’t seem to understand is that there us more good talent than their schools can house coming out of HS. …

— BYUToday

Up Next

  • Sept. 13 | 7 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | Utah | @ Provo
  • Sept. 14 | TBA | Women’s tennis | ITA Bedford Cup | @ Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Sept. 14 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | TCU | @ Provo
  • Sept. 15 | 2:45 p.m. | Cross-country | Blue-White meet | @ Provo
  • Sept. 16 | 5:30 p.m. | Football | University of Arkansas | @ Fayetteville, Arkansas
BYU soccer fans fill the stands at South Field in Provo to watch the Cougars battle Saint Louis Aug. 18, 2023. Thursday night the Cougars will face TCU in what will be the first contest against a Big 12 foe since becoming a member of the Power Five league. | Nate Edwards, BYU Photo