BYU COUGARS

Sam Houston Coach Sees BYU As Example Of Today’s College Football

Aug 31, 2023, 2:55 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU welcomes FBS newcomer Sam Houston to Provo on Saturday night. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

Sam Houston, who doesn’t want to be known as Sam Houston State for their athletic programs, has jumped from the FCS ranks to Conference-USA. They redshirted many players with experience on their national championship team in 2020-21 to compete immediately at the FBS level.

Some players to watch for Sam Houston are JACK linebacker Markel Perry and middle linebacker Trevor Williams.

For BYU, the Cougars have a lot of new faces this season. Nearly 60 players on this year’s roster were not part of BYU’s 2022 squad.

Sam Houston head coach K.C. Keeler, a two-time FCS National Champion coach, whom Kalani Sitake has referred to as “one of the best coaches in college football.” He was asked this week about the challenges of facing a BYU team with so many new faces.

K.C. Keeler on BYU having so many new players

“Welcome to college football,” Keeler said. “It’s just changed so much with the transfer portal and all the movement that now takes place; it’s almost like a common theme. I think almost every team that you play opening day is going to have a lot of moving parts.”

From August 1, 2022, to May 1, 2023, 8,699 NCAA football players entered the portal. So, to Keeler’s point, any team will have many changes courtesy of the transfer portal.

BYU landed 21 transfers, ranked by 247Sports as the 20th-best transfer portal class in the 2023 cycle.

Sam Houston has two transfers worth monitoring on Saturday night. One is quarterback Grant Gunnell from North Texas. Gunnell is competing with returning starter Keegan Shoemaker for SHSU’s starting QB job. Then, on the defensive side, Akeem “Meatball” Smith transferred in from Georgia State to handle the defensive tackle spot.

Keeler sized up why he believes BYU made so many changes.

“They might have a couple more than most because they really weren’t satisfied with the season they had. Even though there were a bowl team and I believe they won that bowl game,” said Keeler. “You know, I think they felt they needed to do some upgrading. It looks like on paper, and just watching a little bit of their spring game and just watching the clips that come out via Twitter and those things, sounds like they feel pretty good about the team they have going forward.”

BYU/Sam Houston poses some unknowns

Week ones are always a crapshoot in college football. Unlike high school or the NFL, college doesn’t have preseason games to sort things out. You find out in week one when the games matter. So it causes many unknowns. Both coaches in the matchup acknowledge that.

“Every team can go through that,” said Kalani Sitake. “You wonder if [Sam Houston] is going to do a lot of what they’ve done last year. They hired a new offensive coordinator (former Virginia Tech OC/QB coach Brad Cornelsen), a veteran, a guy who has called games before. There’s this mindset of being ready for everything. But you have to have that mindset going into game one. Everyone’s doing that.”

“We have a new offensive coordinator. So, you know, I’m sure they’re looking over Virginia Tech tape, and they’re looking at Memphis tape and doing all those kinds of things. Just like we’re looking at FCS tape from where their defensive coordinator came from,” Keeler said. “So again, it’s gonna be a great challenge. There are going to be some things that are going to surprise you that you maybe didn’t realize the caliber of players they got or some different schemes based on the players they go. Opening day is always a mystery.”

The mysteries between BYU and Sam Houston will be revealed on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on FS1 and KSL NewsRadio.

BYU vs. Sam Houston

Date: Saturday, September 2, 2023

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Provo, Utah)

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.

TV: FS1

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

citizens bank park...

Brian Preece

Locals In MLB: Former BYU Pitcher Advances To Triple-A While Rehabbing For Philadelphia Phillies

Former BYU baseball pitcher Michael Rucker is one call from making his Philadelphia Phillies debut after a promotion to Triple-A.

5 hours ago

BYU Football, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Sam Turner...

Mitch Harper

Georgia Tech Commit Shares Pictures From Visit To BYU Football

BYU is looking to flip a prospect from the ACC.

2 days ago

BYU Football, Tucker Kelleher, Commitment...

Mitch Harper

Georgia Native TE Commits To BYU Football During Visit

Second day in a row that BYU football lands a commitment from a 2025 recruit.

2 days ago

BYU-Football-Helmet...

Kyle Ireland

2025 Four-Star Wide Receiver LaMason Waller Commits To BYU Football

Four-star wideout and member of the 2025 recruiting class LaMason Waller announced his commitment to Kalani Sitake's BYU football program.

3 days ago

BYU-Creamery-Chocolate-Milk...

Kyle Ireland

BYU Football Cools Off Louisiana, Tulane Beer Ads With Famous Chocolate Milk

BYU looked to one-up a couple of advertisements shared by Louisiana and Tulane with the "coldest chocolate milk in college football."

3 days ago

logan porter utah tech...

Brian Preece

Locals In MiLB: San Francisco Giants Trade For Former Utah Tech Catcher Logan Porter

It was always going to be an uphill battle for former Utah Tech Trailblazer Logan Porter as a catcher in the Kansas City Royals system.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Sam Houston Coach Sees BYU As Example Of Today’s College Football