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Three Things BYU Coach Kalani Sitake Said ahead the Cougars’ Game against OSU

Sitake talks OSU, the BYU quarterback situation and OSU recruiting Utah.



[Liz Parke/Big 12]

The Cowboys and Cougars each enter their regular-season finale with high, but different, stakes.

Oklahoma State and BYU face off for the first time as conference foes at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. By the time the game starts, the Cowboys will likely be playing for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. At 5-6, the Cougars will play to become bowl eligible.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake met with reporters this week to preview the matchup. Here are three things that stood out.

Sitake on the Cowboys

Sitake was incredibly complimentary of Mike Gundy and his staff.

Sitake said Gundy has been nothing but kind and gracious to Sitake in their interactions. Here is what Sitake had to say about Gundy’s team in his opening statement:

“They’re a well-coached team,” Sitake said. “You don’t just become a ranked team by coincidence. They do things the right way, coach the right way. Their guys play hard, tons of athleticism on both sides of the ball, playmaking ability. A running back that’s one of the best running backs in the country. When you talk about his running ability, you have to give a lot of credit to the O-line and the guys that block, tight ends. Then when you combine that with they can throw the ball on you and make you pay when you load the box.”

Late-Season Quarterback Competition?

OSU fans weren’t sure who would start at quarterback for the Cowboys for the first four games of the season. BYU fans enter Saturday’s regular-season finale unsure who will start at quarterback to attempt to extend the Cougars’ season.

USC/Pitt transfer Kedon Slovis was the Cougars’ guy to start the year before an injury to his throwing arm made way for Jake Retzlaff to start BYU’s past three games. Slovis is practicing again, Sitake said. Here are the season stat lines for each guy entering Saturday:

Name Completions Attempts Pass Yards Pass TDs INTs Rush Yards Rush TDs
Kedon Slovis 153 266 1,716 12 6 -41 3
Jake Retzlaff 49 95 487 3 3 119 1

So, Slovis — if 100% healthy — provides the Cougars a better passing game with a higher completion percentage and a better touchdown-to-interception ratio. But Retzlaff provides more in the run game. It’s not exactly a matter of BYU doing the same thing regardless of what guy is in the game.

“I think going into this week it’s who is going to help us put points on the board, extend drives, convert first downs?” Sitake said. “That’s what the goal is going to be. Kedon hasn’t been healthy. He’s been practicing. They’ve been competing against each other. Whoever gives us the best chance being the guy taking the first snap, that’s not to say that the other one is eliminated from being in the game. That’s just where we’re at right now.”

Cowboys and Cougars Battling in More Ways than One

Since the 2019 recruiting class, OSU has signed eight players from the state of Utah with another two already committed for the 2024 class (offensive linemen Nuku Mafi and Semisi Tonga).

It’s been a fruitful state for the Pokes as of late, providing the likes of Jaylen Warren, Mason Cobb, Nathan Latu and Justin Kirkland.

A lot of OSU’s prowess in Utah stems from player development specialist Beni Tonga. If you ask a lot of those Utah kids how OSU got on their radars, they point to Tonga — who just so happens to be Sitake’s cousin.

“That’s kinda recruiting nowadays where you’re recruiting a lot of different areas,” Sitake said. “When you’re going into a conference, I think schools are going to start looking at this state. There’s a lot of prospects in this state. With the growth and the population in Utah, the more people that move in, the more schools that we build and have more young people, the more opportunities to recruit kids. That’s just part of the game, and now with technology, you can go anywhere. And with the ability to travel with technology, again, it’s an easy move. That’s just part of it.

“Recruiting is always an everyday thing for us. That’s part of our program. That’s part of it. We gotta fight off the people that recruit here.”

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