COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Football Knows They Belong, Now Looks To Build On Success

Jun 22, 2022, 10:04 PM
BYU Football, Aaron Roderick, Media Day...
BYU football offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick leads an offense looking for more in 2022. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The independence era’s final BYU football media day was true to its name. An opportunity for the media to catch up with BYU coaches and players about the upcoming season.

BYU didn’t need to roll out a fancy announcement or an ESPN personality. They did have ESPN’s Pete Thamel on for a portion of the Independence Era program on BYUtv, but the point stands, it was a business-like media day.

That wasn’t always the case for BYU as they navigated the road less traveled of independence. Questions typically from media centered around, “Where does BYU fit in college football?” No sign of that on Wednesday. BYU knows they belong among the power conference structure with their membership in the Big 12 awaiting on July 1, 2023.

The focus now is building on the success that has led to BYU producing Top 25 seasons and a wave of momentum that hasn’t been seen since the late Mountain West Conference days.

Can BYU Football maintain its success?

Coming out of the business-like media day, there’s optimism from BYU coaches and players that the good times in Provo can keep rolling.

“It was two years in a row we sort of had something to prove and we could each week we could kind of come up with our own motivations about who’s not respecting us or whatever,” said BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick to KSL Sports. “I’m excited about going into the season knowing we’re a good team. We’ve been a good team for a while; can we stay good?”

There’s no reason to think BYU can’t stay good in 2022. BYU brings back the second-most returning production in college football this season. It also doesn’t hurt that Jaren Hall is returning for his second entire season as the starting quarterback.

Roderick couldn’t help but rave about Hall. After a year when Hall passed for 2,583 yards and completed 64% of his passes, Roderick is confused about why he isn’t getting more attention. “It surprises me how sort of unnoticed he went and how great he played. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the country last year.”

Kalani Sitake focuses on the final tour of Independence

It’s easy for everyone outside the Student-Athlete Building walls to look ahead to 2023 and BYU’s future home in the Big 12 Conference. Trust me; there was plenty of Big 12 talk at BYU’s Broadcasting Building. Some BYUtv employees were sporting BYU merchandise with Big 12 logos on their attire.

Kalani Sitake isn’t taking that same approach as he gears up for his seventh season leading his alma mater. The focus is on the final Independence Tour that will see BYU do what they typically do, rack up a bunch of frequent flier miles as an Independent team.

“Here we are; everybody knows we’re going to the Big 12. But we’re going to get this thing focused on the thing that matters the most and that’s 2022 and getting it focused on these seniors that will not be playing in the Big 12,” said Sitake to KSL Sports. “We need to make sure that they feel that they get all the attention and respect they deserve and make sure we’re focused on this year. And giving them all of my energy and all of my effort.”

The 2022 schedule is another gauntlet of challenging games for BYU. Five games headline it against Power Five opponents. Four of those five could be Top 25 programs entering the pre-season.

But first, an opener against a revamped USF team in Tampa on September 3. A team that BYU lost to with Hall as the quarterback in 2019. It will be another chance for BYU football to display the high-level success from the past two seasons.

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

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