The BYU football team continued its spring practices on Tuesday. Head coach Kalani Sitake, offense coordinator Ty Detmer, junior linebacker Fred Warner and senior running back Algie Brown addressed the media to talk about putting their pads on for the first time, new coaching styles and what it’s like to learn a new position.
Sitake said he “saw a lot of good things” from his team today and recognized his players are “getting better.”
This was just the Cougars’ second day in pads. While Sitake said the team isn’t doing much tackling, he noted the difference in play along the line of scrimmage. He said they were watching for players to finish blocks during team drills.
On the defensive side, Sitake said that Moses Kaumatule, Tomasi Laulile, Sae Tautu, Harvey Langi and Sione Takitaki were all making strong cases to start at defensive end in the Cougars’ new 4-3 defense.
“They’re doing great. So (we’re) trying to find the best guys that can be a pass rusher and also hold the edges in the run game. It’s important for us to get a good look from everyone, especially now that we have pads on. Those guys are doing well, we have a big number of guys that can play defensive end for us.”
In the switch to a 4-3 there’s a greater emphasis on man-to-man coverage. This puts a lot of pressure on cornerbacks to maintain coverage downfield. Sitake said that secondary coach Jernaro Gilford has been doing a great job with his players and explained that Gilford’s experience is a huge upside.
“(He’s) very confident, because he’s done it before,” Sitake said. “Not just as a student, but as an athlete, specifically here at BYU. And he’s gone against some great ones, so being able to teach the corners to do it, he’s walked in their shoes and done it himself. So I think that gives him a huge upside on others.”
On the offensive side, Detmer said the players were getting more comfortable in their new scheme as they take more reps.
“It’s just a matter of reps at this point,” Detmer said. “But guys, I think, are starting to get a feel for it, understand where they need to be in motions and all those things. So I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”
Detmer added that while he’ll be utilizing a pro-style offense, the Cougars will utilize many packages and slot receivers.
“Well, they’ll still mix in,” Detmer said of slot wide outs. “We’ll have three receiver, four receiver, maybe five receiver sets. We’ll utilize the guys that give us the best opportunity with down and distance and week-to-week with the schemes that we’re seeing.”
– Detmer said a large part of the team identity is influenced by LaVell Edwards and added that Sitake brings a LaVell-like demeanor.
– The tight end position is still up for grabs, but Sitake said that “a lot of guys do well at a lot of things,” and emphasized the Cougars will have a tight end on the field this season.
– Fred Warner said he’s been moving around on defense, playing both defensive end and linebacker. “Coach Tuiaki wants to put me in positions to make plays,” Warner said.
– Warner noted that Francis Bernard has looked “really good” at linebacker so far.
– On playing with his brother, Troy, Fred said that “it’s fun,” and added that he doesn’t “take that for granted.”
– Algie Brown is moving from running back to fullback in Detmer’s offense. “I’m trying my best to do what the coaches need,” Brown said.
– Brown noted that he projects to the NFL as a fullback and said he was happy to make the change.