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Kalani Sitake Boasts Confident Outlook For BYU Football Entering 2024 Season

Jul 11, 2024, 12:37 AM

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LAS VEGAS – No one is giving BYU football much of a chance in 2024.

The Cougars enter the season at No. 13 in the preseason Big 12 media poll for 2024. Last year, the media was spot on with their prediction of BYU by predicting them at No. 11.

BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake would probably love nothing more than to show that this year’s pick was a short-sighted move by the media.

Kalani Sitake enters year nine as BYU’s head coach

It’s hard to believe, but Sitake is already entering his ninth season at the helm of his alma mater. It’s the second time in his BYU career that he enters a season on the heels of a losing campaign.

In 2017, he finished 4-9. The following year, in 2018, BYU reached the postseason with a 6-6 record and earned a seventh win in a bowl game.

That type of finish in 2024 would be an excellent bounceback for a program that struggled in their first experience as a Big 12 team.

During a scrum next to the big stage inside Allegiant Stadium, Sitake spoke with reporters and had confidence that his team could exceed expectations this fall.

“It’s not about proving you guys wrong. You just don’t know,” Sitake said. “But once we get on the field, you’re going to know, and you’re going to feel it. Hopefully, we change some minds.”

What could he be hinting at that none of us are looking at?

Reasons for optimism with BYU football

The natural thought is the returning experience. Despite going through a losing season, nearly the entire offense returns. On defense, Jay Hill’s scheme goes into year two, where returning starters better understand what they are expected to do.

Sitake pointed out physicality as an on-field identity he wants for his team as a Big 12 member. BYU players pointed out being challenged by the retooled strength and conditioning staff throughout the offseason.

The team went through numerous stadium stairs and workouts this offseason to bring that physicality.

Perhaps that’s why it is generating Sitake’s confidence. Ultimately, we will all find out on August 31 what is giving Sitake the quiet confidence that his team will improve this season.

“There were a lot of unknowns that went into this year from your guys’ perspective. I happen to know and have a better perspective of it all,” said Sitake. “I just can’t wait to show it when it gets to the season.”

Four QBs with starting experience

One of those big unknowns is at quarterback, where BYU will look to settle a competition during fall camp. Jake Retzlaff and Gerry Bohanon are the projected top two entering fall camp.

Still, Sitake quickly mentioned Western Michigan transfer Treyson Bourguet and McCae Hillstead, who transferred in from Utah State two months ago.

“All four of them had played college football and started games,” Sitake said. “That gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that a lot of things can happen in college football.”

The Big 12 is the one Power Four league with no hierarchy. Utah is the preseason pick to win the league, but the Big 12, even with Texas and Oklahoma in recent years, produced unexpected title contenders.

Last year, the media picked Oklahoma State to finish seventh, and the Sooners played in the Big 12 Championship Game against Texas.

Sitake knows his team will need to work hard to rise above the low expectations.

“You don’t just show up with BYU and expect people to understand and give you the benefit of the doubt. That just doesn’t happen. We don’t expect that to happen.

“Also, we don’t look at this as an angry thing like, ‘Oh, this is a no-respect type of deal.’ We have a way to earn it. I don’t fault you guys for how you did it. But if you’re able to see what we see and know what we know, then I think it’ll be a little different.”

BYU football kicks off fall camp practices on July 31.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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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Kalani Sitake Boasts Confident Outlook For BYU Football Entering 2024 Season