BYU football wrapped up spring camp with focus on season-opener against Utah
When the BYU football team broke the huddle for the final time at the conclusion of its 2019 spring camp Thursday, the two words spoken in unison by the players sent a very clear message about the mindset of this Cougar squad.
“Beat Utah!” they said.
BYU spent some time during the final week of camp giving the players a taste of what the team is looking at in the season-opener against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Aug. 29, which hopefully will help the athletes stay focused on getting the necessary work done during the player-run practices over the next few months.
“I think we are in a good spot now, getting ready for the player-run practices,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I think it will be a lot of fun to see them again at the end of July.”
He said he felt like the Cougar team made some strides in its development during the last month of practices.
“I’m really pleased with camp,” Sitake said. “I’m pleased with the 15 practices that we had. It was a really physical camp, even though we didn’t go live as much as we did last year. Having the quarterback go live last week was good for us. Overall I thought we took a step forward in getting where we need to be for the fall. With offense, defense and special teams, we are way further ahead than we have been.”
There is still plenty to get better at, of course. BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes specified some of the things he wants to see his guys develop.
“We made some progress but we still have a lot of work to do,” Grimes said. “The specific areas where we can still grow the most are in reliability and mental and physical toughness. I think a lot of that can take place in the offseason with the strength staff pushing and grinding on them. We have got to get to the point where the silly penalties like the false starts are just gone. One happens every 10 days and we’re not there yet. I like the group a lot and I think we have the capacity to show a lot of improvement from the step that we took last season.”
Grimes said he was most pleased with the progression in spring of the receivers and the quarterbacks.
“I think the receivers have shown that they all have taken steps forward this spring with their consistency, route running, knowledge of the offense and the ability to make plays when we through the football up,” Grimes said. “They can continue to work on getting better at blocking but they have been a group that has been a highlight of the spring – as have the quarterbacks. All three quarterbacks – Jaren Hall, Joe Critchlow and Baylor Romney – have all had good springs and grown a great deal. We can run the offense and be successful with a number of guys back there taking snaps.”
Since many experienced players were limited for health reasons, many younger Cougar players gained valuable experience and had opportunities to show what they are capable of.
“We were able to create a lot of competition,” Sitake said. “Guys were stepping up. I thought we were able to work on our fundamentals and our technique. When you do that, you’re able to see the guys perform well. I think we know who we have going into the offseason, who we can count on to provide some competition for the depth chart.”
In spring and summer, the growth of the individuals comes down to the dedication and discipline of the players themselves although the coaches will look to provide a good structure for that improvement.
“We are going to maximize as much as we can,” Sitake said. “We’re asking our players to do a lot, to sacrifice a lot of their time in order to get ready. I think the players have an idea of where we are going to be but I think it important for us to detail it as we go along. I feel good about the knowledge our players have with the scheme in all three phases to be able to run their own practices. They are ready for it.”