PROVO — This certainly won’t be a typical BYU spring game.
For starters, don’t call it the spring game; the Cougars are calling it a spring open practice — a chance for fans to get an early peek at the 2019 team.
“We’re calling it a practice because everyone’s going to be dressed up and they’re going to get better that day. Not everybody’s going to be live, 100 percent, flying around and getting hit,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “Quarterbacks won’t be live, as much as I want to do it. As much as (quarterbacks) Jaren (Hall) and Baylor (Romney) and Joe (Critchlow) want to do it, they’re not going to be live on Saturday, but I think everyone else will be. We’ll see how it goes. That’s the main reason I’m calling it a practice — to get the guys in full gear and have them hit a little bit.”
Another thing that makes this event different is it won’t be held at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which is being renovated. Instead, it will be held at the nearby BYU west campus field, the former Provo High School field.
Why this venue?
“Convenience. We just wanted to keep our guys here,” Sitake said. “We had options to go different places in the state. I thought it would be better for them to go across the street to play the game. We still have three practices afterwards to prepare for the offseason and going into summer conditioning. Not having our stadium, we thought it would be good to have it close by.”
With so many key players and projected starters sitting out this spring, Saturday will be an opportunity for less-experienced players to shine.
“It’s the next closest thing to a game. So we’re trying to simulate those opportunities for these guys where they get the nerves in there and work with it a little bit,” Sitake said. “Some of the guys have been on missions for a long time. They have to get used to football. It will be a good opportunity to them to be in front of our fans and mingle with our fans.”
The east gates will open at 10 a.m. The kids’ clinic begins at 10:30 a.m. and there will be a fan fest at 11 a.m. (“There will be some pulled hamstrings in that one,” Sitake joked) and an alumni game at 11:30 a.m.
The open practice starts at 1 p.m.
Parking is available in the lot east of the field as well as the student lot across from University Avenue. Food concessions and BYU merchandise will be available.
Linebacker Chaz Ah You, who returned home from a mission last October, is looking forward to playing in front of a crowd Saturday. He hopes to get a lot out of the event.
“Just running around and getting to go full-speed,” he said. “Here at practice, you kind of hold back a little bit and keep each other safe and everything. At the spring game, they let us go a little more physical.”7 comments on this story
“The big thing for that is just getting a game-like atmosphere. We don’t have set reps, but we’ll have actual drives, down and distance, and real football atmosphere instead of a practice-like schedule,” said offensive lineman Tristen Hoge.
The Cougars will hold their final spring practices next week. Sitake is hoping Saturday’s open practice will be a positive experience for fans and his program.
“We’ll have a deal for young kids, where our players can interact with them. It will be a fun day,” he said. “It’s at Provo High so the fans will be a lot closer to us. We’re looking forward to the day and more importantly trying to simulate a game-type environment for our players and be close to our fans.”