PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU may not know who or when or even if they’ll be playing this season. But the Cougars are practicing.
The BYU football team kicked off fall camp on Tuesday in Provo with its 2020 schedule still very much up in the air. But the Cougars were just happy to be back on the field as a team.
“It was fun to be back and start working together,” said senior tight end Matt Bushamn. “Now that we’re all together, we’re just trying to stay cautious. It’s just good to get practicing.”
“We had a few skirmishes, a few fights,” said head coach Kalani Sitake. “I think they were frustrated being all bottled up, but now they get to get out there and play football.”
It was a first day of camp like no other. Every player and coach had to wear masks, while the players tried to stay as socially distant from one another as they could.
“I think everyone wants to get things back to as normal as possible,” Sitake said. “But understanding the situation, there was a little bit of frustration. Nobody likes it, it’s not comfortable, but they’re getting used to it, and they know that it’s a necessity. It’s hot out there and the guys have to have these masks on. But it’s OK. That’s the price that you pay to keep it a low-risk environment so we can practicing.”
“The masks are kind of weird and kind of a hassle to put underneath your helmet and run around,” Bushman said. “We’re just trying to adjust to circumstances.”
The Cougars are willing to do whatever it takes. Whether its wearing masks, playing with no fans, they say it doesn’t matter. They just want to be able to play this season.
“That’s the biggest thing is do all that we can so there is a season,” Bushman said. “We need to do all that we can so we don’t have to be quarantined for two weeks during the season if us, or a teammate or a position group were to contract the virus.”
“We’ve already been through very different things by now, so we’re able to adapt,” added senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi. “We got our spring ball cut short, and we were able to adapt to that. We found ways to get better. We have to wear masks during practices, and we have to adapt. Playing without fans, we’re going to miss that if they decide not to have fans or limit the fans. But, you know, we just adapt.”
But who are the the Cougars going to play? BYU has already had six games (Utah, Michigan State, Minnesota, Arizona State, Missouri and Stanford) cancelled because of the virus as the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC have gone to conference-only schedules. They still have six games remaining in Utah State, Houston, Northern Illinois, Boise State, San Diego State and North Alabama.
While the team waits for athletic director Tom Holmoe to hopefully work his magic and fill the schedule, the Cougars have no choice but to prepare as though a full season is still ahead of them.
“I think the unknowns will be known soon I’m hoping,” Sitake said. “I know we had a schedule and it changed. That’s OK, we’ll figure it out. My job is to get these guys ready to play 12 games regardless of who the opponent was going to be.”
“You’re not going to progress or get any better just moping around or sitting a home,” Bushman said. “So the biggest thing is just to hope for the best, say that there is a season, and hope that there is a great schedule ahead of us.”