Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates with players after their win over the Western Michigan Broncos in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018.

PROVO — Since the conclusion of the 2018 season, the BYU football program has experienced some changes on the roster and on the coaching staff.

Several players have announced that they are leaving school and have placed their names in the transfer portal, including defensive lineman Tevita Mo’unga, running back Riley Burt and offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez.

Coach Kalani Sitake likes the concept of the transfer portal. While the Cougars are losing some players, can they capitalize on the transfer portal to add new ones?

“The hard part about the transfer portal is that academics at BYU are hard. We can look into the transfer portal but we have to see their transcripts and what their grades are, even if they are graduate transfers. Attrition is part of college football. It’s always been there. There’s been transfers every year at every program. That just happens,” Sitake said. “What’s great about the transfer portal is it allows kids to put their names out there and get recruited. Before this year, when the portal wasn’t around, you just told your coaches that you’re going to transfer and you were left on your own to figure something out. You’re calling people in the middle of recruiting and all you really had were connections.

“Now, a kid from BYU that goes into the transfer portal can go all the way to the other side of the country if they have a need for that position,” Sitake continued. “I think it’s great for the young men and for college football. It allows kids to be at a place where they never thought they had an option at. For us as coaches, it allows us to go to the portal and see what guys are there to look at and then see if it fits what we need. I think everybody wins in this. It’s just the first year it’s been available so guys are making announcements to let them know they’re on the portal. It’s good for the young men.”

Sitake is happy with the players who are currently in the program and how they bought into the culture the coaching staff established last season.

“It’s pretty evident that our guys really felt comfortable with our coaching, our technique, and the demands we have of our players and the demands I have for our coaches. It went really well. Everyone wants to do better,” he said. “But considering the things we had to deal with, whether it be injuries or inexperience, the guys performed well and gave us a chance to extend the season, go to a bowl game and win. It’s truly something to build on. Obviously, there are things that we want to improve on in 2019. That’s going to be the focus now.”

Meanwhile, offensive line coach Ryan Pugh, who spent just one season in Provo, was named the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Troy last week.

Sitake isn’t in a hurry to find a replacement. BYU opens spring practices on March 4.

“I think we can take some time here. The major thing is, we have (offensive coordinator) Jeff Grimes, who is Pugh’s mentor. His expertise is in the O-line, so I don’t think it is a huge departure having (Pugh) gone,” he said. “Obviously, we’d love to have him around but it’s such a great opportunity to go and be a coordinator. Having Jeff remain here as our coordinator and O-line expert, I think we’ll get the right guy in place. I don’t think the timing is as important as the fit and the person to take over this job.

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“Ryan Pugh did an amazing job in his first year under the tutelage of Jeff Grimes,” Sitake added. “We’re going to find someone that will fit into that mold as well. I have a lot of great coaches on this staff. They’re great minds offensively, defensively and special teams. I think we have a lot of great future coordinators and head coaches on our staff. If they’re getting opportunities to be a coordinator or a head coach, it means we’re doing something really well. I’m really happy for Ryan. He has an opportunity to go close to home and be a coordinator. That’s a great opportunity for him and we’re just happy for him.”