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Tom Holmoe Lays Out His Views On BYU Football Entering 2024 Season

Jul 7, 2024, 10:37 PM | Updated: 10:40 pm

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is looking to bounce back after a 5-7 campaign in its Big 12 debut a season ago.

The underwhelming first impression in the Big 12 last year has put the Cougars near the bottom of the new 16-team league in the minds of media members.

BYU was picked to finish 13th, entering Big 12 Media Days, which kick off on Tuesday. Kalani Sitake and his players will take center stage on Wednesday.

Being picked to finish that low creates little preseason buzz. However, BYU reached the postseason the following year after enduring a losing campaign in the previous two occurrences (2004, 2017).

State of BYU football entering the 2024 season

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is entering his 20th football season leading the department. He spoke with KSL Sports about his thoughts on BYU football and the state of the program.

“I love our program; I feel we’re in a good spot. I knew that last year, going into the Big 12 –all of our teams– would have a very difficult transition. And I think we did. I think we knew it was coming. And it came,” Holmoe said to KSL Sports.

“So with football this year, we had a really good spring, we had a good recruiting class, we’ve made some changes with the transfer portal. We were able to hold on [to players]. Retention is a big spot. I think we’re in a position right now to make continued improvements. A lot of it depends on how people play in the new transition. Have we developed our student athletes from last year to this year? How much growth do we show? We’ve made some changes in football and other sports in the coaching staffs and support staffs. So I think we’ve done the necessary things to help us be as competitive as possible.”

Retention was a top priority

BYU made a significant commitment to roster retention. During the Early Signing Period last December, BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick pointed out that keeping the core players was probably the biggest victory for the offensive staff on the recruiting trail for 2024.

The lone surprise loss from last year was running back Aidan Robbins, who declared for the NFL draft and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns.

BYU returns its top five receivers from last season. They bring back four offensive linemen with starting experience and running back LJ Martin is one year older and bigger after a solid freshman campaign.

Expectations have remained low for BYU despite the roster retention because they have one of the toughest schedules in college football. BYU faces the top five teams in the preseason Big 12 media poll.

Phil Steele’s annual college football preview has BYU with the 23rd toughest schedule in college football.

Pair a tough schedule with a large question mark at the most critical position; quarterback and it’s clear why BYU has low expectations entering the 2024 campaign.

Holmoe maintains an optimistic outlook on the group that features returner Jake Retzlaff, USF/Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon, Western Michigan transfer Treyson Bourguet, and Utah State post-spring transfer McCae Hillstead.

Quarterback competition

“I think there was great competition. One of the key reasons you have spring ball is to look at the people coming in. All of these guys could come in and compete. So we have great depth at that position,” Holmoe said.

Retzlaff and Bohanon emerged from spring ball as the top two contenders for the job. Aaron Roderick felt both separated themselves to be the top two in contention. Hillstead has yet to compete in a BYU practice yet.

Head coach Kalani Sitake has stated in the past that he wants that quarterback unit to be loaded with talent. He has four players who have started in FBS games. Holmoe likes the options in BYU’s signal-caller room.

“If you look at BYU football over the last 20 years, or at least since I’ve been here, there’s not very many years where you go through one quarterback all the way through. So we’re gonna need to be as deep as we can. One of the keys for all positions in the Big 12 is to be deep and good.

“When you have that depth, you are able to develop the younger or newer kids so that when the time comes, hopefully, you can have them homegrown, and you don’t have to go out and look at the transfer portal. But the transfer portal has been a big benefit to BYU.”

BYU football will kick off fall camp practice on July 31. The season opener is against Southern Illinois on August 31 in Provo.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Tom Holmoe Lays Out His Views On BYU Football Entering 2024 Season