Why Kalani Sitake has been ‘heavily involved’ with the BYU football defense during the pandemic

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BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki says the Cougars’ defensive coaches are working hard in the offseason to identify why they’ve slipped in the NCAA’s defensive rankings, and confirms that head coach Kalani Sitake is more involved with the defense than ever before. | Jaren Wilkey, BYU

Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki describes ways in which a defense that has been mediocre the past few seasons can get back to its 2016 glory

PROVO — The numbers don’t lie.

BYU’s defense has gradually worsened the past four football seasons under head coach Kalani Sitake and his hand-picked defensive coordinator, Ilaisa Tuiaki. It’s not terrible, but it hasn’t been great, either.

Mediocre is the word that might describe it the best the past two years. The Cougars’ defense ranked 68th in the country last season, allowing 393.5 yards per game. In 2018, it ranked 51st, giving up 372.8 yards per game.

What’s the problem? Everything from failure to get pressure, and sacks, on opposing quarterbacks to shoddy tackling to the inability to stop rushing attacks has been fingered by BYU fans, especially last year after letdowns on that side of the ball led to losses against Toledo, South Florida and Hawaii.

And don’t get people started on that rush three, drop eight strategy that, granted, worked well in a few games but was ripped apart by Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald in the bowl game.

“A lot of the (position changes) we are seeing is really us backing up all the things Kalani wants to see us do. He has obviously had a lot of success in his years as a coordinator just moving around certain guys and just trying to get the best 11 guys on the field to do the job.” — BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki

What happened to that attacking defense in Sitake and Tuiaki’s first season, 2016, that had the Cougars sitting at No. 23 in the land in total defense against a rugged schedule that included Utah, Michigan State, UCLA, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Arizona and Boise State?

Credit Sitake and Tuiaki for putting in extra time, by all accounts, to get it figured out as the coronavirus pandemic has opened up more time for coaches to focus less on recruiting in May and June and more on their current personnel and game plans.

Tuiaki told the Deseret News last Wednesday that Sitake has been “involved heavily” with the defense since the bowl game, including the six spring camp practices before everything was shut down.

“A lot of the (position changes) we are seeing is really us backing up all the things Kalani wants to see us do,” Tuiaki said. “He has obviously had a lot of success in his years as a coordinator just moving around certain guys and just trying to get the best 11 guys on the field to do the job.”

Tuiaki said some of the moves will “end up being permanent,” but some are just to get players cross-trained in case they’re needed midseason. He didn’t specify.

As has been reported, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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