Kalani Sitake Isn’t Worried About BYU’s Lack Of Returning Production In 2021

Jul 14, 2021, 1:48 PM
Kalani Sitake - BYU Football...
BYU Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake calls a play against Texas State in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football enters the 2021 season with the least returning production in the entire nation. ESPN’s Bill Connelly crunched the numbers and BYU is dead last at only 37% of its production from its 11-1 season returning.

Connelly’s formula weighs in returning QB passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, OL snaps, tackles, sacks, etc.

BYU doesn’t bring back much of its top producers from last season. Should that be concerning for the Cougars? This season, more than ever, teams are loaded with returning experience due to the NCAA granting a free year of eligibility last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All but one of BYU’s FBS opponents in 2021 return at least 71% of their production from a season ago. Georgia Southern, who still returns 62% from last year’s New Orleans Bowl-winning team, is the only outlier.

Does it concern BYU head coach Kalani Sitake to have such little returning production compared to the rest of college football? The short answer, no.

Kalani Sitake on BYU’s returning production in 2021

“I don’t know if a lot of them played them played 12 games, you know? So they’ve probably got the same amount of returning guys as we had guys finish games,” said Sitake when asked if he was concerned with his team’s lack of returning production compared to their opponents. “So I think if you’re looking at production, we got a lot of players that got valuable reps. That’s great that they have that, but we’re gonna need to develop our players to be in that position to battle those guys.”

BYU returns one of the nation’s top running backs in Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier rushed for 1,130 rushing yards on 150 carries last season. The Cougars also bring back wide receivers Gunner Romney and Neil Pau’u, along with tight end Isaac Rex who had 12 TD grabs a season ago.

Even at the quarterback position, BYU has two guys in the running for the starting job who have been part of the program since the 2018 season in Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney.

As Sitake points out, BYU had the rare luxury last year of playing in 12 games a season ago. Teams such as Arizona State, which BYU hosts on September 18th, played in only four games last season.

It’s not a completely bare cupboard, especially for the reserves who gained valuable game reps last season. But there will still be some areas where BYU has to prove themselves heading into Sitake’s sixth season as head coach.

Great motivation for BYU Football

“The guys with all of that great returning experience that you mentioned, you know that’s something that we need to prove. So whether how many games they played and all that experience they have, they’re going to hang on those to help carry them to the season, great. But we’re gonna go to work and get better. We’re gonna have to be that much better if we’re going against guys that have so much experience and so much going for them. So we’ve got a lot of work to do and, we’ll use that; that’s gonna be a great motivation for us.”

BYU football opens up fall camp on Thursday, August 5th. The season opener takes place on Saturday, September 4th, against Arizona in Las Vegas.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Kalani Sitake Isn’t Worried About BYU’s Lack Of Returning Production In 2021