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USF Reminds BYU’s Kalani Sitake Of Prior Matchup With Pac-12 Team

Sep 2, 2022, 10:38 AM
BYU Football - USF - Gabe Summers...
PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 25 : Demetris Harris #64 of the South Florida Bulls dives on a fumble while being tackled by Gabe Summers #98 during their game September 25, 2021 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

TAMPA, FL. – The USF Bulls are on the opposite end of the country, but they remind BYU football coach Kalani Sitake of a team from the Pac-12 Conference.

BYU takes on the Bulls on Saturday to open their 2022 schedule. It’s a game where No. 25 BYU is a heavy favorite. By many projections, BYU is a double-digit favorite against the Bulls.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake is not buying into those prognostications as he greatly respects USF coach Jeff Scott. Especially when you consider the Bulls have 15 players they landed out of the transfer portal, with 13 of them being with the USF program since January. They also have two new coaches at the offensive and defensive coordinator spots.

With how many new faces the Bulls have on their roster, it’s challenging to forecast what the Bulls will do against BYU.

“There’s a lot of unknown still. We don’t know much about what they do on offense or what they do on defense with the new coordinators that they have. So we will have to be ready for everything,” said Sitake.

USF reminds Kalani Sitake of Arizona in 2021

It has Sitake looking back on a previous game BYU recently had against a Pac-12 team.

“Last year against Arizona, very similar thing,” Sitake said. “We didn’t know a whole lot going into that game. I think it’s very similar.”

In that Arizona game Sitake refers to, BYU faced an Arizona team in Las Vegas with a new coaching staff led by head coach Jedd Fisch and many transfer portal players in game one.

Despite Arizona coming off a winless season in 2020, the Wildcats hung around with BYU before the Cougars ultimately came away with a 24-16 victory.

Could USF do something similar and make this game closer than the experts think? It’s possible.

The Bulls and BYU squared off last season in Provo. BYU jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead over USF. But the Bulls had success in the second half outscoring BYU 21-7.

Last year’s game in Provo ended up coming down to an onside kick with five minutes to go that USF couldn’t recover. BYU then ran out the clock with now Atlanta Falcons RB Tyler Allgeier leading the way.

“We have an idea, but [USF] could do a lot of different things,” Sitake said. “Probably some of the things that were successful for what they saw last year against us. So we’re working towards all of that and trying to cover all of our bases with it. I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

BYU/USF features a lot of mystery with the Bulls

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick acknowledged that this game is challenging because the Bulls know much more about the Cougars than BYU knows about USF.

But that’s a good thing for BYU. The Cougars return one of the most experienced teams in college football, led by quarterback Jaren Hall.

Last year, USF did not see Jaren Hall in action as Baylor Romney filled in for him while he was out with an injury.

Hall took on the Bulls three years ago in his first career start in Tampa, but a lot has changed since then.

“I think once the game starts, we’ll do our best with scheme and strategies and let the boys just play and settle it on the field,” said Sitake.

No. 25 BYU at USF

Kickoff: 2 p.m. (MT)

Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)

TV: ESPNU

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended Pregame Coverage Begins at 10 a.m.)

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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