BYU football: Jaren Hall, Kalani Sitake and Cougars open fall camp
Kalani Sitake is set to open his sixth BYU camp, half a dozen years of teaching experience as a young head coach in his back pocket, and resting on a season of eleven wins and a national ranking in an exceptional 2020.
“Put an asterisk on it,” some say.
“You don’t deserve the ranking,” say others.
“Who did they play?” Add more.
“This year they will be playing against some real teams and they will generally get their butts kicked,” some predict.
But all you can do is play who is in front of you.
That’s what Sitake’s team did a year ago while others canceled, canceled, and shortened their seasons in a COVID-19 campaign asking for caution and logs.
Sitake won’t stick to the mindset that their team will have reached a milestone in 2020. On Thursday he will preach work, earn respect, and fight for positions and playing time. There’s a lot to prove. This is the psychological game that a seasoned coach sells in the hot August before Game 1.
In truth, there is a lot to prove for this team.
Take the QB spot, for example.
Not much really works in Provo unless you have a chain-moving, playing, TD-producing quarterback to take the lead. Not on the offensive, not on the defensive.
This guy sets the tone.
According to all reports, Jaren Hall is set to take the first snaps in practice, where he will be pushed hard by veteran Baylor Romney and fearful newbie Jacob Conover.
This first guy is going to have to prove a ton. He must postpone the offensive, take the lead, have a set 9 out of 10 and 11 for 11 elapsing days in skeletal exercises. Must be efficient in yards per deal, TDs per possession. He has to look and play the role and just be productive and feared by the defenders.
That’s what Zach Wilson did when he first stepped on the Cougars practice field. That was done by others who left before. They erase all doubts. If not, the next type is the most popular.
Like Wilson before him, Hall decided to invest this summer in working with former BYU and NFL quarterback who threw guru John Beck at 3DQB in Southern California.
Wilson made the best of it and it showed.
Hall must hope that some of it rubs off on him. He’s a competitor and a great athlete. He has a cannon for his arm. He can throw a 65 yard missile that runs to the right and he can get out of the pocket and crawl very effectively.
But is he a playful passerby?
That remains to be seen.
Hall worked with Beck on a handful of visits and got three sessions per trip to California.
“I know Jaren worked extremely hard this summer,” Beck said on Saturday. “He took every opportunity he had to train in California. On each of his visits, we talked to his teammates and coaches about the preparation he was initiating in Provo.
“I know this opportunity means a lot to him and he is doing everything possible to make the most of it. I’m excited to see what he can do after this whole offseason of doing repetitions with the team during the spring ball and summer training. “
What’s the standard?
Hall doesn’t have to be Wilson, but he has to be productive. Good numbers with this type of schedule would be 225 yards passing, 50 running, 57 percent completions, and a few TDs on a run or pass. If he does, he is well on his way to a productive show.
If not, there are others out there intent on pushing, encouraging, and showing that they can, and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick won’t conduct a month-long experiment to find his Wilson replacement should Hall be inconsistent in the camp .
This is the QB spot in Provo. All eyes and certainly the greatest pressure will be on this position.
Fortunately, Hall or whoever shows up gets a ton of help with a solid, skilled running backroom, one of the deepest reception corps in memory, and a tight-end group of big size, some speed and jumps.
Aside from the QB, the main BYU storylines will be defense, security position and offensive response to the loss of Brady Christensen and Tristen Hoge.
Football camp in autumn. You can feel it is just around the corner this week.
And yes, this Sitake team has a lot to prove.
That should be the subject of the next four weeks heading to Las Vegas to fight Arizona. That neat new changing room? Bronco Mendenhall would likely get players to earn the right to dress in them.