PROVO — BYU’s coaching staff has a lot of experience when it comes to the rivalry game.
First-year head coach Kalani Sitake’s final game as a Cougar came at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2000, when BYU rallied to defeat Utah in the closing moments in what was legendary coach LaVell Edwards’ final game as a coach. Later, Sitake spent 10 years as an assistant coach for the Utes.
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer enjoyed a 3-1 record against Utah during his career.
Other members of BYU’s current staff have a colorful history with the Utes:
• Cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford lost three games against Utah in his career, but his 50-yard interception return in 2001 sealed a dramatic come-from-behind 24-21 victory over the Utes and preserved an undefeated season.
• Running backs coach Reno Mahe also played in that 2001 game. On the Monday prior to the game, he underwent an emergency appendectomy, then caught five passes for 94 yards and scored a 23-yard touchdown against the Utes.
• Wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon was part of the 1996 team that pounded the Utes in Salt Lake City, 37-17, as part of a 14-1 campaign.
• First-year offensive line coach Mike Empey lost only once to the Utes — the 1993 game in Provo.
• Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi went 2-0 at BYU as a player against Utah, then he was an assistant coach for the Utes from 1994-2001 before returning to BYU in 2002.
• Current BYU graduate assistants Harvey Unga and Jan Jorgensen both went 3-1 against Utah from 2006-2009. Unga scored the game-winning touchdown in the 2007 win.
FOCUSED ON THE PRESENT: BYU is riding a five-game losing streak against Utah, but that doesn’t matter to Sitake.
“I’m not really worried about the past. We are worried about this game and the season. We can’t go back and change what’s happened in the past,” he said. “I was on the other side for some of those wins. You just have to appreciate the journey we are in now and appreciate this week and appreciate the moment that these guys have to compete against great young men on the other side and a great fan base. We need to enjoy the moment and hopefully we come out with a victory.”