Big 12 media day recap: The BYU perspective

BYU coach Kalani Sitake and the Cougars headed into Big 12 Media Days with just as many questions about themselves as the media did. BYU came walking into Allegiant Stadium Wednesday morning picked to finish 13th in a revamped 16-team conference, an entirely unclear QB situation and coming off a disappointing 5-7 season.

Tyler Batty, Chase Roberts, Darius Lassiter, Jakob Robinson, and Connor Pay all sat patiently all day as they were inundated with questions about seemingly everything but football. Sitake smiled and answered every question like a seasoned vet, making sure to never say anything too bold or give out any information that wasn’t already common knowledge.

Here’s what everyone from BYU had to say.

Offense

One of, if not the most, disappointing part of last season was the offense. Cougars fans will recall games with just nine total rushing yards, inconsistent quarterback play and losing big games late because of costly turnovers. Much of the conversation surrounding this media day was how the offense would respond this year.

Pay represented BYU’s offensive line and was adamant things were going to look different this year for the Cougars up front.

“I think it’s really different,” he said. “We’re running a new coaches scheme now. There’s a different level of mental acuity. That’s forced everyone to step up their mental game which will pay dividends in the fall.”

For a team that was ranked 118th in in rushing yards per game, a boost to the offensive line will be critical to the offense’s success.

One of the biggest points each player, especially Sitake, drove home was physicality. Every player attested to the fact that this spring was some of the most physical spring practices they’ve ever participated in.

“This conference is a physical conference,” said Sitake. “You have to be physical. That’s got to be part of our identity.”

The biggest question on everyone’s mind was the quarterback situation. Both Jake Retzlaff and Gerry Bohanon have been competing for the starting position. Both BYU receivers were confident they could get the job done.

“Either one of those guys can go up there and be our quarterback,” said Lassiter.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen is competition,” said Roberts when asked about what both QBs bring to the table. “When they’re competing and when they’re grinding to earn that one spot, everyone else is seeing that and wanting to get better and compete with those around them.”

Read more about what was said about the quarterback battle here.

Defense

Perhaps the biggest bright spot for the Cougars last season was the defense. Jay Hill is coming into his second year as the defensive coordinator and the Cougars have the benefit of returning a lot of experience on that side of the ball.

“We have a lot of potential,” said Batty. “It’s definitely the year to realize that potential. We have a lot of old guys on the D-Line. I’m really confident in our ability this year to execute.”

Star corner Jakob Robinson kept it simple, answering most questions with a quick “We gotta do our job” or “Keep working hard.” Both defensive players exuded confidence in the improvements in the offseason and what will be shown on the field come fall.

Expectations

Much was made about BYU’s 13th ranking in the preseason poll amongst the media, but Sitake and company brushed it off.

“We haven’t been talking about that a lot. We’re just super confident in the offseason work that we’ve put in,” said Roberts. “It almost doesn’t make sense because we know what we have done as a team and we know that we’re gonna compete with any team that we go up against.”

The very same people who voted in the poll and put BYU there continued to ask every player the same question.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with preseason polls but more to do with how embarrassed we are with how we played last year,” said Pay. “That desire to improve has nothing to do with preseason polls.”

Pay continued to emphasize what he continually referred to as an embarrassment when he addressed last season. It was clear that BYU had learned from last season and was taking those lessons into the offseason and beyond.

“Last year it was little bit of an unknown,” said Batty. “There aren’t any this year.”

At the end of the day, all the BYU players and coaches walked onto a private plane and flew back to Provo with perhaps more questions than when they arrived. Their second-ever Big 12 media day was over just like that.

The answers to all of those questions will be answered this fall.

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