‘Revenge Can Only Get You So Far’: BYU Preps For Rematch Against Arkansas

Sep 12, 2023, 12:27 PM

PROVO, Utah – When BYU lost to Arkansas last year, it was a low point for the 2022 squad. You wouldn’t typically think that suffering a loss to an SEC team where you score 35 points, but the defense for BYU that day made it clear that changes had to be made.

BYU gave up 644 yards of offense to the Razorbacks and 52 points. The Hogs could have tacked on another touchdown in the final seconds, but head coach Sam Pittman showed sportsmanship and called it off in the last seconds.

It was a tough day for BYU coach Kalani Sitake and his program.

The loss to Arkansas last year brought changes to BYU football

That game led to former defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki being demoted and, eventually, BYU parting ways with him. The same happened to Ed Lamb and the rest of the defensive staff except cornerback coach Jernaro Gilford.

Jay Hill has since stepped in as the defensive coordinator and early returns would suggest that this scheme is a lot more aggressive than the one Arkansas saw last year. Despite only producing one sack through two weeks, the Cougars have been more opportunistic in takeaways.

But with so many new coaches and nearly 60 players on the roster who didn’t experience last year’s game, is revenge even on the mind for BYU this week?

“Revenge can only get you so far,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “I think the key for us is to keep things more simple than that. The fans probably weren’t happy about the game, obviously. But for our players, this is a whole separate deal. I think that’s the way we’ve got to keep it. Just focus on what’s the task at hand and that’s making sure we do our part to be ready, go out there, scout them out and watch them on film. They’re very impressive.”

Star Hog at QB: KJ Jefferson

Like BYU, Arkansas is a different team than the Cougars hosted in Provo a year ago. One returning piece, however, is Razorbacks star QB KJ Jefferson is back.

“Doesn’t hurt that they have a veteran quarterback returning that’s big and strong, that can run and throw,” Sitake said.

But the Hogs went with a new offensive coordinator in Dan Enos after moving from Kendal Briles, who ended up at TCU. That means some new looks that include under center, pistol, and the usual shotgun. The tempo might be slower as well.

Arkansas and BYU average 66 plays per game through the first two weeks. That would rank 82nd nationally.

Along with changes to the offense, the Hogs, as did BYU, overhauled their strength and conditioning staff to be a tougher football team.

KJ Jefferson said after Arkansas’ win over Kent State last Saturday that he wants to see the team “come out with an edge” out of the gates in the coming weeks. Sam Pittman believes his team senses the urgency for this non-conference tilt with BYU.

Kalani Sitake wants BYU to establish a physical identity

Sitake wants his team to improve from this experience to SEC Country. Despite being 2-0, there is much room for BYU to improve. The rushing game has stalled through two weeks. Is it the offensive line’s fault? The running backs?

Answers to those questions likely come in the first trip to SEC Country since 2019, in one final non-conference before kicking off their inaugural Big 12 season.

“When we get through this, make sure that we’re committed to being physical. Because I know they will be and then let’s see what happens,” said Sitake. “I really look forward to this game and trying to find ways that we can become a better program and a better team from this experience. I just want to make sure that we’re ready, that we do all of our jobs as a head coach and our assistants from Monday to Friday and even Saturday.”

BYU vs. Arkansas

Date: Saturday, September 16, 2023

Location: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Arkansas)

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m.


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame coverage begins at Noon

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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 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

Quarterback Riley Nelson of BYU looks to pass during the second half of an college football game ag...

Chandler Holt

This Day In Utah Sports History: BYU Football Stuns Utah State In Final Seconds

On this day 12 years ago, BYU Football put together a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback to beat Utah State in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

3 minutes ago

BYU Football, Kedon Slovis, Cincinnati, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

BYU Wasn’t Perfect Against Cincinnati, But Delivers Much-Needed Big 12 Win

BYU comes away with an important victory entering the bye week.

7 hours ago

BYU receiver Chase Roberts makes a catch against Cincinnati...

Matt Baiamonte

Questions Answered In BYU Football’s Win Over Cincinnati

I don't think it's a debate any longer who is wide reciever number one for BYU football, it's Chase Roberts who led the team in targets and catches against Cincinnati.

9 hours ago


Mitch Harper

Instant Takeaways From BYU’s First Big 12 Win Over Cincinnati

The BYU Cougars picked up their first Big 12 win and improved to 4-1 this season with a win over the Cincinnati Bearcats.

9 hours ago


Mitch Harper

BYU Football Earns First Big 12 Conference Win By Beating Cincinnati

The BYU football team picked up their first conference victory as a member of the Big 12 as the Cougars defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats.

9 hours ago


Kyle Ireland

Cougars Capitalize On Bearcats’ Special Teams Fumble With LJ Martin TD

BYU took advantage of a special teams mistake by Cincinnati and converted its next possession into a touchdown against the Bearcats.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

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.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

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

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

‘Revenge Can Only Get You So Far’: BYU Preps For Rematch Against Arkansas