This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
One of the takeaways I got after listening to three of BYU's four newly named team captains on Monday was that these guys have a lot of confidence in what new head coach Kalani Sitake is doing with the program.
Taysom Hill, Kai Nacua and Harvey Langi all spoke positively about feeling as prepared as they can possibly be for the season opener on Saturday against Arizona.
"Ultimately, he is the lead guy," Hill said. "When we look to him, and we see him give off all this confidence that he has, that confidence comes down to us, and gives us confidence as players."
Earlier Monday, I had asked Sitake if he will have butterflies in his stomach, nervousness, prior to kickoff in his first game as a head coach.
"Nah, I am good. I have been more nervous for a lot of different things, but I feel confident in our guys, I feel really confident i our players and the talent that we have," he said. "I guess it is not about me. As a coach I am excited and ready to go. More than anything, we have been waiting a long time. This is like Christmas is coming up. So our guys are ready. I am really happy with what they did in the offseason, and we look forward to showing what they did and all their hard work and sacrifice paying off on Saturday."
Hill said he won't be nervous, either, in making his fourth start in a season opener. Has a BYU quarterback ever started in four openers?
"I will say, my experience playing at the college level has been a lot different than playing at the high school level," Hill said. "When I was in high school, I would get pregame jitters and I would be nervous. In college, you work so hard and for such a long period of time to get to the game, I haven't felt those nerves in college, because I've worked so hard, I've felt prepared and I've just been more excited than anything else. I would say that's the same emotion that Kalani and I am feeling."
Last year, BYU struggled to run the football against Power 5 programs such as Michigan, Missouri and Utah. To rectify that problem, Sitake put an emphasis on the offensive linemen getting bigger and stronger in the offseason.
He was asked Monday if fans will see a more physical, dominating offensive line this season.
"That's why we hit the weight room harder than we've ever done before," he said. "We felt like we needed to get that edge on the line of scrimmage. We did some unique things to get our guys ready. If you ask our players, we squatted more, I can say that confidently, we squatted more than any team in the country. And we ran more stairs than them. We built a lot of strength. We lifted every day. We did the same thing in camp.
If your want to get bigger and stronger and have confidence, the weight room is the best place to do it. All you have to do is look at Taysom and his physique to see how hard he worked out. All our guys worked out, and our O line gained weight, and they are big and strong and yeah, it will be fun.
All the questions you are asking me will be easier to answer after this game is done. But that's the excitement of Game 1. It is about to start. .. It is going to be fun."
Yes, the excitement is palpable in Provo, Langi conceded on Monday. But he reminded fans that the 2016 club has yet to do anything special.
"To answer that question, hype is cheap," Langi said. "You know, talk is cheap, hype is cheap. Sitake is a great coach, great guy, great man, great friend, and he's come here and he's done a lot for us. Football is football. There's a winner and a loser, and he's trying his best to help us win, and all of us are going to try our best to follow his lead and do the things that he has taught us to get wins this year. It is a great change, I feel, for BYU. It was the right change for BYU. But hype is hype. And every team in the country right now is trying to get hyped up. And the biggest thing that all teams can do, especially ours, is just work. We have five days until the hype can be settled, and in these five days that is all we can do, is just prepare and work."