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BYU football: What defensive role will Kalani Sitake have against Liberty?

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BYU will play its eighth game in a row as the 4-3 Cougars travel to Lynchburg, Virginia to play the 6-1 Liberty Flames on Saturday. Head coach Kalani Sitake is working hard to see him have a much better defense this journey.

After a disappointing loss to Arkansas in which the defense struggled against the SEC team, Sitake worked to boost the confidence of its defense earlier this week. Part of the plan was to step in and take on a larger role and shake up some duties with his team. On Monday, he did not detail what changes he would make to the media.

Cougar Insider predictions

BYU vs. Predict the Liberty score and explain your reasoning.

Jay Drew: At first glance, this looks like the trap game of all trap games for Cougars. But with BYU losing two games in a row, the Cougars can’t afford to look behind anyone, and they know it.

After the Arkansas disaster this week, the entire program is undergoing intense self-assessment, and emotions are running high at Provo. As such, I think BYU will play one of their best games of the season on Saturday in distant Lynchburg, Virginia.

I also know this is Liberty’s Super Bowl. The Flames and former SEC coach Hugh Freeze make no secret of this fact. They’ve been preparing for this game for years – ever since they nearly knocked out BYU on Provo in 2019. Liberty really has the ability to win, and I wouldn’t even think it would be such a shame if the Flames succeeded. Freeze is an important coach and they have important players. And BYU’s confidence has been shaken, especially on defense. The key to BYU is a quick start to keep Liberty’s crowd from being a factor.

Prediction: BYU 35, Freedom 31

Dick Harmon: I thought BYU should have beaten Notre Dame but underestimated the impact of Jaren Hall’s injury and the well-hidden news that he didn’t get a snap in practice that week. Arkansas was a two-time three-pointer in the third quarter until the dam collapsed. I expect Kalani Sitake to play a bigger role in defense this week and give his players some confidence. It’s a rally week and a wake-up call for the program and I’m waiting for some results.

Liberty nearly beat Wake Forest and should be taken seriously. Flames have a great defense and lead the nation in turnovers. I think Hall is getting healthier every week and 100% Puka Nacua coming back and Kody Epps appearing would help. BYU’s two 75-yard field goal in the third quarter at Arkansas raises hope in Hall and on their side of the ball. To win this game, BYU’s offense needs to be best practiced, scoring points and building a lead to help sick defense. If the offense can do that, and I believe it can, then this is an important and necessary win.

Prediction: BYU 34, Freedom 31

cougar stories

The Arkansas loss ended BYU’s independent program with P5 schools, with the exception of the season-ending game at Stanford. If anything, the losses to Oregon, Notre Dame, and Arkansas revealed just how far BYU had to go to compete in the Big 12. Here’s a list of stories from the Arkansas loss and media availability Monday.

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Comments from Desert News readers:

Dropping 8 to rush 3 means he’s oblivious because he doesn’t have the horses to rush 3 and put pressure on a QB or stop the run. Arkansas could have run 8-9 yards per carry, but wait, they did it anyway. The problem was Titanic syndrome, once you hit the iceberg you continue to rely on the ship’s unsinkable design and therefore neglect to do something different to fix the problem. Offense and defense stuck to a plan and could not adapt. There was not enough depth in coaching knowledge and experience to make immediate adjustments. BYU will be 2-10 next year with this type of coaching talent.

– Dimitri

I’m not a coach, but I’ve been a football referee for decades. My position was referee. I stood behind the defensive line and the defenders.

I’ve seen good defences, great defences, and lousy defences.

The great ones showed different looks, they were very stunted and very daunted. Creativity was key. Being proactive rather than reactive was key. It was very important to have active defenders.

I’ve seen a kid from Grantsville with a nose guard, who couldn’t have weighed more than 150 pounds, a pivot and his guards outweighed him by at least 60 to 70 pounds. He worked in defensive order and did pretty well. I was pushed a few times, but made a few interceptions and even dismissed the QB twice. Someone taught him well.

In my observations, BYU’s advocacy is neither proactive nor creative. They are reactive. They don’t put pressure on QBs. They had 7 sacks in 7 games and missed one in a critical third down game… four players joined hands and didn’t interfere.

Something is wrong. Talent is relative. You can coach less skilled. Edwards has done this his entire career and has great defenses. This year’s team had some great stops, but not enough.

– Return


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