Cougars Rested, Ready For NIU
PROVO, Utah – With their bye week behind them, the BYU Cougars have their attention on the NIU Huskies.
For head coach Kalani Sitake, the bye week was beneficial for many reason.
“We had a good mix of extra prep time for Northern Illinois and a break to give the guys their legs back, knowing that’s the only break they are going to have all season. We hit the weight room and did a lot of things to get them caught up on academics. I think the bye week came at the right time, midseason, to get some guys healthy,” said Sitake.
Huskies Praise Cougars’ Maturity
Now, the Cougars will look forward to NIU, a team that has been playing well as of late with three straight wins over Eastern Michigan, Ball State, and Ohio. The Huskies also played Florida State, Utah, and Iowa in tough losses earlier in the season. They’re also well rested, coming off of a bye week of their own.
NIU head coach Rod Carey had plenty of praise for the Cougars in his weekly press conference, acknowledging some of the unique challenges that come with playing BYU.
“Really what you’re looking at is guys that are seniors in their program that are much older than seniors in ours, in some cases. And so you’re looking at a real experienced player, not so much in volume of football played but more so life. So I think you see that maturity out there with their players, I don’t think they get rattled a whole lot,” said Carey.
Cougars Depending On Young Talent
That said, the Cougars are currently experiencing a youth movement. In the win against Hawai’I, BYU started seven freshman, including six on offense led by quarterback Zach Wilson.
As for how he thinks Wilson will fare against a stouter defense in NIU, Sitake is confident in the youngster’s ability and preparation.
“I think he’ll be fine. We’ve shown him a lot of the stuff during spring ball and fall camp. We put him live in so many situations against our defense so I think he’ll be ready for it. I think he was ready for it last time against Hawai’i. His progress has gone really well from what we’ve seen from when he first got here in January to this point, so we’re excited to see him take the field again,” said Sitake.
The game will begin Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium and be broadcast on ESPNU.
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