What Changes Could Be Taking Place To BYU’s Coaching Staff?
PROVO, Utah – After three seasons with just 18 wins, the lowest total for wins in a three-year period since the early days of the LaVell Edwards tenure, some changes need to take place within the BYU football program. Usually, when a college football team makes changes, everyone’s attention turns to the coaching staff.
Everyone on Sitake’s staff from last season is expected to be back in 2020. Unless someone gets hired away to coach at another school. With everyone expected to return, it doesn’t mean the staff will remain the status quo. Reports suggest that Sitake has made changes in terms of responsibilities with his staff and has yet to publicize what those changes are.
What could those changes entail?
Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.
Statistically, BYU’s offense in 2019 was pretty good. Especially in the passing game. Last year was the first time since 2008 that BYU passed for over 200 yards in every game and the Cougars finished 26th nationally in passing offense at 284.7 yards per game.
Despite the success in the passing game, BYU’s scoring offense still finished 67th nationally averaging 28 points per game. BYU started the season 2-4 and that led to offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes leaving the booth for the field, a spot he has preferred over the years from his 20-plus years in coaching in the Cougars upset win over Boise State.
With the new field assignments and Aaron Roderick remaining in the booth, BYU pulled off an upset win over nationally-ranked Boise State. After the big win over Boise, when asked who called the plays for the offense Sitake said it was a “collaborative effort.”
Will the collaborative effort continue and will it consist of titles that read Co-Offensive Coordinator next to Grimes and Roderick’s names?
Within that co-offensive coordinator setup, it would be easy to assume that Roderick would be in charge of the passing game while Grimes would take over the ground attack. That could work as long as everyone is on the same page.
This offensive staff is heading into their third year together and forming an identity will be of the utmost importance as they look to improve from a pair of 7-6 seasons the past two years.
Kalani takes over the defense
Last year, Kalani Sitake became more heavily involved with the defense beginning with the upset win over Boise State. Will he take over as the defensive coordinator full-time in 2020?
It’s not an ideal scenario for a head coach to also take on defensive coordinator responsibilities. Former BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall regained control of the defense in 2015 after a dip year statistically in 2014. He didn’t want to take over because it pulled him away from the offense and other areas with his program. But it had to be done.
Does Sitake need to take a page from Mendenhall’s book this season?
Like in 2014, BYU’s 2019 defense dipped statistically compared to the previous year. BYU’s defense last season finished 68th nationally in total defense, 50 spots lower than where they were in 2018. The most surprising part of BYU’s defense this past season was their inconsistencies in stopping the run. BYU was 78th nationally in rush defense and against Power 5 opponents in the first four weeks, they were in the bottom 10 of the country.
Defensive Coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has fielded two top 25 defenses in his first four years as BYU’s defensive coordinator, but last year was a step backward as BYU was unable to create much havoc against their opposition.
Sitake thrives on defenses that can create havoc and boasts defensive lines that are the foundation of his defense. If Sitake took over, Tuiaki could maintain the defensive coordinator title and still coach up the defensive line.
Lighten up Ed Lamb’s workload
Ed Lamb handles a lot of different roles on the BYU coaching staff from assistant head coach to linebackers and also the special teams coordinator. With special teams having their share of inconsistencies like the rest of the football program the past handful of seasons, that could be a spot where Sitake could make the decision to hand the reigns over to someone else. Allowing Lamb to focus on the linebackers and assist more with the defensive side of the ball as a whole.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.