BYU opens 2018 season at Arizona on Saturday
PROVO, Utah – BYU football opens the 2018 season on the road at Arizona on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. MST/8:45 p.m. MDT at Arizona Stadium.The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Live radio coverage can be found on the BYU Sports Network two hours prior to kickoff with Greg Wrubell, which will be broadcast on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYUCougars.com/LiveRadio, BYURadio.org and on the BYU Cougars app, BYU Radio app and KSL app.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage with Countdown to Kickoff starting 6:30 p.m. MST/7:30 p.m. MDT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour or more after the game depending on the timing of the game.
Please note the time difference from Tucson (Mountain Standard Time) to Provo (Mountain Daylight Time) due to the majority of Arizona not observing daylight savings time.
BYU (0-0) at Arizona (0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. MST/8:45 p.m. MDT
Arizona Stadium (55,675)
SERIES NOTES. BYU and Arizona are meeting for the 24th time. It is also the fourth time since 2006 that the Cougars and Wildcats meet in the season opener, and the seventh overall. BYU has more openers against Arizona than any other school. The series has been a fairly even match, with BYU trailing 10-12-1 overall. The two teams met 16 times over the 1960s and 70s as members of the Western Athletic Conference.
SEASON OPENERS. BYU is 9-1 in its last 10 season openers. The Cougars have defeated six Power 5 times over that span, including Arizona (2016), Nebraska (2015), Washington State (2012), Mississippi (2011), Washington (2010) and Oklahoma (2009). Since 2001, no other team has opened against as many Power 5 teams than BYU with 14. BYU has gone 10-4 in those games, giving it more wins than any other school against Power 5 teams in season openers since 2001.
DEJA VU. For the second time in three years, BYU is opening the season against the Arizona Wildcats. The 2016 game was Kalani Sitake's first game as a head coach and was filled with drama at University of Phoenix Stadium. Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill returned to the field after missing 2015 and kicker Jake Oldroyd drilled a 33-yard field goal with four seconds left to win it 18-16.
BOUNCE BACK LIKE LAVELL. Head coach Kalani Sitake and the Cougars are hoping to bounce back in 2018 similar to how LaVell Edwards and company did after his second season at the helm of the program. Edwards' second season (1973) was his only losing season of his 29-year career as the head coach. In season three of Edwards' tenure, the 1974 squad turned around from 5-6 the year before to 7-4-1, a WAC championship and a Fiesta Bowl appearance – the first bowl appearance in program history. BYU looks to follow in the hall of famers' footsteps.
NEW PLACES, NEW AND FAMILIAR FACES. BYU had several changes on the coaching staff in the offseason. Jeff Grimes is the new offensive coordinator. Grimes spent the last four seasons as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at LSU and brings 25 years of coaching experience to his second stint as a Cougar. Grimes was BYU's offensive line coach from 2004-2006. Passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick played at BYU in the late 90s and spent three years as a graduate assistant with the Cougars. Two other offensive coaches joined the program, Fesi Sitake and AJ Steward. Sitake was most recently the offensive coordinator at Weber State and Steward coached running backs at Rice. On the defensive side, Preston Hadley is the new safeties coach after coaching defensive backs at Weber State. Hadley played cornerback for BYU in 2011-12.
HEADING HOME. Top returning tight end Matt Bushman is heading back to his old high school stomping grounds in Tucson. The sophomore standout played at Sabino High School and was not only an all-state tight end but also a terrific baseball player. In fact, Bushman played for BYU's baseball team during the 2017 season prior to his freshman All-American football season. BYU has four other players from Arizona, including long snapper Mitch Harris, offensive lineman Chandon Herring, wideout Gunner Romney and defensive back Beau Tanner.
The following quotes are from BYU's Monday press briefing
Head coach Kalani Sitake
On Tanner Mangum in the final weeks of fall camp
"There was a huge sense of urgency. I think the fact that he knew he had to compete for the spot, we saw the change in his body and that’s not the only thing that he’s changed. He prepared himself in a lot of different areas to be the quarterback. It’s not that we weren’t sure who was going to be the guy, we just felt like there were two guys who did extremely well and I thought that Tanner had earned the starting spot. But we feel really pleased with the progress that we saw in Zach."
On the competition in fall camp
I think it elevated everyone’s play. You heard players mention that we played more football this off-season and this camp than ever before and more live reps than I’ve ever seen in fall camp. I think we played football and the best guys performed. I’ve seen a lot of improvement and I like this format, I think I’m going to keep it. I’ve seen a lot of guys get better, but more than anything I saw that in the younger guys, the three’s and four’s, they elevated their game a lot more. So I guess it’s true, if you want to get better at football, you have to play the game and not just do drills.
On picking eight team captains
"I went thought it and I keep thinking about Coach Leach when he talked about winning the coin toss. I keep thinking that there needs to be a role for the captains. I think for me when it comes to captains, I needed to have specific roles and responsibilities for each one of the them and it exceeded more than just four guys. I thought it was good for us to get eight and the way that our players were voted, those were the eight that got the most number of votes."
"If we looked at our responsibilities and the things that I’m asking our captains to do, it’s more than just the coin toss, there’s going to be a lot involved in it. More than anything, I’m asking them as leaders to serve the team and be there rather than just being a coin toss guy. The way we’re going to have it work is we’ll have four guys rotate to coin toss and the other four will be in the locker room with our team getting ready to take the field."
On the first game
"We’re ready to go. These guys are ready to compete and they’ve worked hard in the off-season and made a statement. I think these guys have worked harder than anybody else and so we’ll find out on game day. Everyone knows that this is the week that we’ve been waiting for. Less than a week away and I’m excited, I’m ready to see our guys go."
Quarterback Tanner Mangum
On being named the starting quarterback
"It’s been a long past year. At the end of last season, with the injury, there were times that I doubted myself a little bit. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Thinking forward to this point wasn’t really in my mind, I was focused on getting healthy. Throughout the whole injury process, I was motivated to get healthy and be able to play. I just tried to take things one day at a time and not get ahead of myself. I took that same mental attitude into fall camp. I tried to take it one day at a time and do my best each and every day not worrying about the position battle."
"When they told me I was going to start, it made me reflect on the journey I had been on. It has been a wild ride with a lot of ups and downs. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be able to play and a chance to finish off my senior year on a high note. We’ve been working really hard as a team to get ourselves ready, in the right frame of mind and the right physical stature to come out and have a good season.”
On being named a captain
"It is humbling to be voted by my peer and teammates. To be considered a captain is definitely an honor. If you look at the group of guys on that list, I’ve known a lot of them for a long time. It’s cool to see our unique journeys. We’ve all gone through different things and we’ve had our fair share of highs and lows. It has prepared us to be leaders and gain experience, wisdom and maturity. It is our opportunity to help this team, to be leaders and to set an example. We don’t have to change who we are or change personalities, but more than anything let our example do the talking.”
Thoughts on team drills
“It has been a really fun fall camp because it has been fairly different with a lot of team work and 11-on-11 full-speed drills. Whenever we do that it is competitive, it is high tempo and high intensity. The more reps we can get of that, the better, especially with a new offense. Getting familiar with the offense in a high-speed setting is very beneficial. I’m thankful for our coaches for seeing that and making that adjustment to get us some more team reps. It has prepared us for this upcoming week.”
Defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi
On being named a captain
"I’m just excited for the season. It’s fun to be a captain because I get to interact with the guys more. I like having the responsibilities spread out between eight captains. There are just so many guys on the team and with more captains I feel like you can spread out to more guys and we get a bigger base. When there are less captains there wasn’t always a good fit for every player but now I feel like we have guys that cover all the different aspects of the team."
On arriving at game week
"It’s kind of surprising and surreal. I woke up this morning and after thinking about it for a good 10 minutes I was like, ‘I can’t believe it, we play this week.' It’s just a couple days until we’re in Arizona. It’s this weird feeling because, even though you spend all these months in preparation, it’s totally different to play in a game. It kind of all hits you. It’s a new experience again."
On development of new defensive linemen
"It’s been great because I’ve been able to be with them through the whole summer in all the workouts and stuff. It’s fun to see guys step up when it’s time. When someone goes down with an injury these other guys are ready. It’s really fun for me to see that, not only because my brother is in the mix, but because all these guys that I’ve grown to love are stepping up their game. I want them to succeed."
Wide Receiver Micah Simon
On being named a captain
"It’s pretty cool to be recognized like that by your teammates. It’s been a long road this offseason just trying to get our team to where we want it to be, changing the culture and getting everyone to buy in fully. I feel like fall camp went really well for everybody and you can see the differences. I feel like it will translate over to the season."
On being the only junior captain
"You never know how your career is going to play out. When I came in as a freshman I changed positions from quarterback to receiver and you just never know. You hope for the best and work your tail off to be someone that’s reliable and that your teammates can count on. To be the only junior up there with two guys who were captains last year in Tanner and Butch is humbling. It doesn’t happen often for a junior to be a captain. I am humbled and we’ll take it day by day."
On competition raising level of play
"Competition is great. Obviously the big storyline was quarterback but we had competition at receiver, there was competition at running back, offensive line, every position. Competition brings the best out of every player and that’s what you want. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who the starter is or who the second string is because we are going to need everyone in that meeting room to contribute in one way or another. That competition was great. All of us got better and we’ll be ready to go."
On playing with a chip on their shoulder
"I think every position group has a chip. You can never be satisfied with a good season, let alone a bad season. It’s something that we’ve kept in the back of our minds that we obviously needed to improve from last season. It started in the offseason together and it’s been carrying on until now with the new coaches and we’ve been getting a lot better. I’m ready to get going this week. It’s finally game week, it’s finally here. It’s been a long time coming. Back in January we were doing up-downs in the snow. It’s been a long journey but it’s been great."