BYU Football Media Day turns focus to 2021 season
BYU football’s annual media day festivities on Thursday were met with a relieving amount of normalcy after a COVID-crazed 2020 season.
Players and coaches interacted with the media in person with no restrictions, and more notably, there was no anxious uncertainty regarding how a pandemic may affect the coming season.
Other than the program’s new Built4Life initiative, there were no earth-shattering announcements from the team regarding the roster, future opponents or conference status. As expected, the coaches and players couldn’t offer any definitive answers on the quarterback competition.
Athletic director Tom Holmoe hinted at imminent discussion for BYU’s future as an independent program in the face of a possible College Football Playoff expansion, but such talks would not appear to be immediate.
The event’s main theme became clear: that even after finishing 11-1 last year and sending a dozen players to the NFL, the Cougars don’t intend to leave 2020 as a blip on the radar and have their sights set on what’s ahead.
“These guys know the schedule we’re up against and they know the mission they’re on,” wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake said. “They are excited about it and are open to the challenge.”
The road ahead is no cakewalk, with a season opener in Las Vegas against Arizona, crucial home games against Utah and Virginia and trips to USC and Baylor highlighting one of BYU’s most demanding schedules in recent memory.
“Our players are certainly geeked up about the fact that we’re playing more power five teams next year,” assistant head coach Ed Lamb said. “We have this schedule that everybody’s excited about and is definitely changing the way that they train. In no way though is it changing our process. We have a process and it is the same no matter who we play. We’re going to train just as hard in the offseason and give every single opponent the respect that they deserve.”
In the day’s most pressing storyline, not much could be said on who would replace Zach Wilson as quarterback, but new offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick shared that potential successors Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover each have the capable skillset to follow up the NFL draft’s second overall pick.
“I think all three of those quarterbacks were watching Zach very closely last year,” Roderick said. “Zach was in the zone last year where he was just playing such a high level with so much confidence, and most of those guys were paying close attention not only to what he did in the games but the way he operated throughout the game. I think all three of them would say they learned a lot from watching him.”
Conover expressed his confidence in Roderick’s new system to build on last season’s offensive firepower.
“Coach (Roderick) and this offense really help produce NFL players,” Conover said. “It’s taken a couple of years to get this offense rolling, but now it’s a high-powered, full-function offense, and it’s just ready to rock and roll in its prime.”
With virus drama almost entirely in the rearview mirror and LaVell Edwards Stadium back to full capacity, the Cougars look forward to sharing the excitement with the fans again.
“We had tremendous support last year, and we felt it whether the stands were full or not,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “But it’s going to be nice to see (the fans) and to hear them. I know we’ve been looking forward to this.”