Ari Davis | Posted: 24 Aug 2021 | Updated: 13 Sep 2021

Football concludes 2021 fall camp

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PROVO, Utah – The BYU football team concluded 2021 fall camp on Tuesday, August 24 and now turns its attention to its season opener against Arizona on Sept. 4.

Special Teams:

BYU’s special teams will be returning notable contributors for the 2021 season. The Cougars are returning sophomore placekicker Jake Oldroyd, who was a Lou Groza Award Finalist for the nation’s top placekicker, 2020 Third Team All-American and tied No. 1 in field goal percentage (1.000). He started 11 games and was a perfect 13-13 in field goals in 2020, with more than half of his kicks coming from at least 40 yards out, including 3 from beyond 50 yards. He also was 60-62 in PATs, placing him at No. 4 in PATs and No. 6 in scoring among kickers (99 points) in the nation. 

BYU also returns freshman punter Ryan Rehkow, who earned his starting role as a true freshman during the 2020 season. He was named the 2020 Phil Steele All-Independent First Team punter after tallying 28 punts, averaging 45.14 yards. He punted a career-long of 61 yards against Houston and rushed for 49 yards on his lone punt fake attempt.

Other notable contributors include sophomore deep snapper Britton Hogan and freshman deep snapper, Austin Riggs. BYU’s special teams will also include experienced returners freshman Caleb Christensen on kick returns and freshman Hobbs Nyberg. Others who could see time as a specialist including sophomore Jacob Boren and senior Samson Nacua on punt returns. Freshman kickers Justen Smith and Cash Peterman look to contribute as well this season.

The following are quotes from media availability following practice on Tuesday. 

Head Coach Kalani Sitake
On the end of camp
You can tell the guys are just ready to get moving on Arizona now so it comes at the right time. The guys are just ready to play somebody else. We're going to move on to Arizona prep, we'll have the majority of our depth chart figured out tomorrow, including the quarterback.

On how he’s feeling about the team
I really like our depth. I like what I've seen through camp—the chemistry on our team, the connection that they have to each other and also to the fan base. My expectations are for our guys to perform at their best.

On season-ending injuries
Braden Cosper, our receiver, got hurt and that happened a few days ago. So he had surgery, and he's gonna be recovering and he's back with the team in meetings and helping the guys out. He's going to be basically coaching and trying to be the leader that he's been for us all year long.

On what stuck out to him in fall camp
Everyone keeps reminding us how many people we lost to the NFL and lost to graduation, so you kind of are looking to fill those pieces. Then you start to see that these guys that are here, that returned, they've actually upped their game. That was really impressive for me to see that those guys worked extremely hard in the offseason and saw a lot of improvement.

On the defensive line
There's a lot of guys that I think perform and do some really good things, and there's a lot of returners there that I think some people are overlooking. Hopefully, this is their opportunity to show what they can do.

Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Ilaisa Tuiaki
On the shift to Arizona prep
We have shifted to focusing on Arizona and it’s just getting our players more familiar with their schemes and what to expect from that first game. We’ve been evaluating film and making corrections where they’re needed.

We have watched the three kids Arizona has talked about for quarterback and we see the potential problems each of them could bring, so we’re just trying to have a contingency plan. There are little things you have to change with each new player, but I think we’ve been getting a good dose of that with Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover. They have different skill sets and we play to those like you would any team with several quarterbacks, like Arizona. 

On the position battles
Our one and two deeps are getting close to being set. Right now, we have to really focus on giving the correct guys the reps. We are still rotating in three deep in some positions, but for the most part the guys we anticipate the ones and twos getting the majority.

On keeping players healthy and getting physical reps
Our ones and twos have been doing a really good job taking care of each other. They’ve been playing physical and fast, but also keeping each other healthy and not taking unnecessary shots.

Offensive Lineman James Empey
On expectations for the offensive line in 2021
We had a few guys leave after last season and they're playing pretty well in their NFL preseason games right now. I love them watching them on TV. We're trying to fill some spots and get a group of five ready to go. I think during camp we've found a bunch of guys, gained a little more depth and developed into a good unit. There are still some competitions along the way, but I think the guys are competing and getting better. I'm excited for us to keep going. We have ten days before the first game, and we're pumped about it. "

On new offensive line coach Darrell Funk
He's really smart. He knows his stuff and is doing a great job teaching us. He's come in and done a really good job leading our room and helping us get better at our craft. He's been accepted by the guys and done a really good job so far.

On feeling a sense of rhythm similar to during the 2020 season
Every day I feel like we've come out with the mentality to get a little better, to keep grinding and put things together. There are moments where everything's clicking and then there are moments where we have to figure something out. Every day in practice we've come to work with that mentality of getting better. We're doing good right now, but we're not where we need to be yet."

Defensive End Pepe Tanuvasa
On being ready for week one
I'm really confident coming week one. I'm excited to see the practice translate onto the field, especially in front of the crowd that we're going to have in Vegas. I am especially excited some of our older guys like Uriah Leataua and also getting watch Tyler Batty ball out and just to see them produce."

On Coach Hadley's effect on the defense
Coach Hadley has been awesome in the tenacious way he's attacked defensive end play. I think that has really translated to us, the players, and really on the field. If you came to practice, you'd see we're really playing really tenaciously and it's all thanks to him. It's kind of a trickle-down effect."

On a word he would use to describe the linebacker group
Deep would be one of them. At practice today you saw guys like Isaac Matua, Josh Wilson, Villiami Tausinga – you saw these guys really producing out there at a really high level. I'm really excited for them. This year might not be their year, just with how much depth we have at linebacker, but they're going to be awesome when their time comes, whenever that is."