Provo • By all accounts, BYU’s offense outplayed its defense in the first official scrimmage of training camp Saturday.
Even defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki admitted as much, saying Tuesday that he couldn’t disagree with coach Kalani Sitake’s rather blunt assessment from the day before.
“Oh yeah, I thought they got us good,” Tuiaki said. “They ran the ball well. … At the end of the scrimmage, it felt like we were giving up a lot in the run game. It opened up things for them in the passing game. I thought they executed well.”
Tuiaki’s defense will get the chance to redeem itself Thursday, and this time the second-year coordinator even might unleash blossoming playmaker defensive end Sione Takitaki.
The Cougars will conduct another scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Thursday afternoon, with only the last half hour open to media members.
“I am not sure,” sophomore cornerback Troy Warner said when asked if Sitake’s take that the offense won the day Saturday was on target. “I don’t know if I ever want to admit that the offense beat us. He might have been right. We did have some errors that day, but we are trying to sharpen up everything that we can so we are ready for [Portland State] and the rest of the season.”
Warner and fellow cornerbacks Chris Wilcox and Dayan Ghanwoloku, who sat out of the scrimmage with a sore right knee, said the defense generally had done OK in the team portions of practices.
“If we look back at where we were last year, we are way ahead,” Warner said. “I am expecting big things from this defense this year.”
Tuiaki said there was probably more experience on last year’s defense, but this year’s group has more depth.
“I think we can go deep into the depth chart as far as twos and even threes with some units being able to play and contribute,” Tuiaki said. “But which guys are going to play, which guys are going to be there on game day is what it comes down to.”
Sitake allowed more media viewing of practices and scrimmages last year, but he has tightened up things in 2017.
“For some things we are trying to do, we are a little bit different than what we were last year,” he said. “We just want to keep it hidden until we have to expose it to everybody.”
The Cougars will conduct an open practice at the stadium for the general public and the media Aug. 17, and he promised: “We will keep it really boring for you guys then.”
No workhorse needed
All eyes in camp the first few weeks have been on the tailback situation, where no fewer than six backs are vying to replace Jamaal Williams. However, Sitake reiterated Monday that it might take several guys to replicate what BYU’s all-time leading rusher did during his career.
“I just want to win games, so whatever we feel comfortable with as a staff, whatever Ty [Detmer] feels comfortable with, we are going to go with,” Sitake said. “The goal is to get to the point where we can see who the best guy is going to be and he will get the bulk of the reps. … We are not really tied to keeping it one guy right now.”
Tolutau takes long road
Running back Ulakai “Ula” Tolutau committed to Wisconsin and then-Badgers coach Gary Andersen in 2013 and signed with the Big Ten program in 2014. However, while on his church mission to Bakersfield, Calif., Tolutau learned that Andersen had left for Oregon State. Tolutau started looking for another program to join last November and remembered how much he enjoyed getting recruited to Utah when Sitake was a coach there.
So he put BYU on his radar, then became sold on the program after a visit last December.
“From the beginning, I have always been a BYU fan,” Tolutau said. “My dad used to play rugby here. He used to play for the Provo Steelers. So he used to live here. I have always rooted for BYU. When I came home from my mission and I found out about Kalani, and I took my trip here, it was my trip that really gave me the desire to come here. I felt good, my family felt good. I just felt happy. It has been eight months now, and I love the players, the coaches and the surroundings. It is all positive.”