BYU football is back in session and the Cougars are feeling optimistic about the upcoming season. The team had its first spring practice on Feb. 27 in preparation for the new football season.
The team ran drills and conditioning, then moved into various team and skill work, finishing up with a team 11-on-11 session.
Coach Kalani Sitake said his second spring with the team already feels more comfortable than the first.
“It’s nice that we have the system already set,” Sitake said. “We have guys that are veterans and know our deal. It’s a lot easier the second time around, having everything established with guys that know our scheme.”
Sitake added he was “really pleased” with the way the players worked on both offense and defense, but he still wants to improve fundamentally and technically.
“There are a lot of new guys in different spots, so we’re trying to develop some depth,” Sitake said.
Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said they’ve moved wide receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau to tight end, but the change hasn’t been finalized.
“We feel good about him, but (the move) will be determined when we put the pads on,” Detmer said. “We know he can be a pass receiver and now it is a matter of him accepting that challenge of being able to put his hand on the ground and be viable in the run game as well.”
Junior linebacker Butch Pau’u– one of the defensive leaders in 2016– said the team has a number of young impact players.
“A lot of the young guys looked good,” Pau’u said. “They performed well and I feel that with time, we’ll get better and should be ready for the season.”
Pau’u said many linebackers were rotating in, including Johnny Tapusoa, who has been moved to the middle inside backer position.
The Cougars are excited to be practicing again, but Detmer said they can’t get ahead of themselves.
“It was a good first day,” Detmer said. “There are a lot of guys that are going fast and are excited. They’re even going too fast at times. We just need to clean up the film, slow them down and allow them to play under control and detail the little things.”
Among the “little things” are defensive fundamentals. Despite being the No. 16 team in the country in opponent points per game last season, Pau’u said the Cougars are looking to improve.
“You don’t have to worry about us being aggressive or us having to play physical,” Pau’u said. “That’s something that just comes second nature to us. I think our biggest weakness last year was that we let too many big plays happen and that was due to a lack of sound fundamentals and not being in the right position at the right time.”
BYU’s spring football game will be played March 25 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.