Kansas Coach Points To Age As Stand Out Trait With BYU

Sep 18, 2023, 3:14 PM | Updated: 3:16 pm

PROVO, Utah – Age and BYU football. It goes together like peanut butter and jelly.

But for some folks, the conversation of age for BYU’s football players is a new concept, especially coaches in the Big 12 who have never faced the Cougars. So there could be some common misconceptions about the Cougars.

That’s the case for BYU’s opponent this week, the Kansas Jayhawks.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold has done what many thought was unthinkable in Lawrence: turning around the Jayhawk football program. He’s been a winner throughout his coaching career.

Leipold’s Jayhawks are off to a 3-0 start for the second consecutive season. They will host BYU, which comes into its first Big 12 Conference game ever as a 3-0 team.

When asked what stands out with an undefeated team, you could point to a handful of things that have made them successful.

Kansas coach Lance Leipold points to age of BYU

Leipold, when asked Monday during his weekly press conference, what stood out to him about BYU. He turned to the classic commentary about age.

“I think it’s probably made a lot about is, of course, probably the age and maturity of the team. I think the average age of the roster is like over 22 years old or something versus what a traditional college roster is,” Leipold said on Monday. “So the size and maturity and those things, the experience, well-coached.”

The average age for the 2023 team is 21.7 years old. Last year, it was 21.78. Two years ago, BYU had an average age of 21.4.

The youngest player on BYU’s roster is QB Ryder Burton, who turned 18 last month. BYU’s oldest player is offensive tackle Simi Moala. He’s 26 years old.

Age has been a talking point for years with the BYU football program. That is due to many BYU players choosing to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

BYU is owned and operated by the Church.

A total of 65 players on BYU’s 123-man roster have served two-year missions for the Church. So when stepping away from all football and athletic activities, players could be older. But nearly half of the roster did not serve missions.

To Leipold’s credit, he’s never faced BYU. Leipold cut his teeth as a head coach at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. After that, he was at Buffalo, and now Kansas since 2021.

In July, Leipold had similar commentary about the age and maturity of BYU at Big 12 Media Days in Arlington, Texas, when he fielded some questions from KSL Sports about his thoughts on the Cougars.

Respect for Kalani Sitake

The third-year Kansas coach also added that he respects BYU head coach Kalani Sitake.

“Talking with Coach just a little bit the few times we’ve bumped into each other, I think he and I are aligned in a lot of ways [on how] we think and how we like running our programs and what we expect from our players,” Leipold said in July. “Again, I think [BYU] ‘s a real nice addition [to the Big 12], just like all the schools are in their own unique way that will boost this conference.”

BYU is riding high after a win over Arkansas

BYU rolls into Kansas on a high after a win over Arkansas last week in SEC Country. The Jayhawks are coming off a late-night victory on the road against the Nevada Wolfpack.

“They had a big win. That was a big road win for them. To be down two scores on the road and to come back and win in the fashion that they did, I can tell they’re well-coached, poised, that maturity that you’re looking for. And for them to come here for their first Big 12 game, I’m sure they’re going to be excited about the opportunity.

Kalani Sitake, in his eighth season at BYU, senses the magnitude of the opportunity for his program against Leipold’s Jayhawks.

“This is our opening game in the Big 12 Conference. We’re never going to ever get this back again,” Sitake said about what he expects from his team heading into the matchup with Kansas. “So I need these guys to understand the seriousness of this situation and why there needs to be a huge sense of urgency for us to get to a position where we can play at our best.”

Regardless of the age of the players, Saturday afternoon’s undefeated Big 12 tilt will be won between the lines. Both teams are gearing up for the matchup.

“There’s 30-plus undefeated teams in the country right now. And they’re one of them,” Leipold said. “So it’s going to be a great challenge.”

BYU vs. Kansas

Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023

Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, Kansas)

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m.


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame coverage begins at 9 a.m.

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.

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Kansas Coach Points To Age As Stand Out Trait With BYU