PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has stepped down after seven seasons on Kalani Sitake’s staff.

Tuiaki made the announcement in an Instagram post Sunday, saying, “What a great seven-year run it’s been. It’s time to venture out and pursue a new challenge. I want to say thank you. Thank you to my friend, my brother and mentor Kalani Sitake for the opportunity to coordinate this defense all these years.”

BYU’s defense struggled mightily this season. After giving up 52 points and 644 total yards to Arkansas last month, head coach Kalani Sitake took over the defensive play calling duties, signifying a change was coming.

“This job can’t sever the bond that we’ve built in the fire of adversity growing up with nothing,” Tuiaki wrote in the post.

defense, the BYU defense took a step back in 2022. The Cougars finished the regular season 101st in scoring defense, giving up 30 points per game, and 93rd in total defense, allowing 410 yards per game.

Sitake released a statement Sunday about his longtime friend and only defensive coordinator, who he also worked with at Utah and Oregon State.

“It’s not possible for me to express my true appreciation for Ilaisa and what he means to me as a friend, brother and coach,” Sitake said in a statement. “Not only have we coached together more than a decade, but he and his wife Viola and their kids are like family to me and Timberly. I can’t offer enough thanks to him for all he has done to help build our football program as our defensive coordinator the past seven years.

“His dedication is unquestioned and his trustworthiness is unmatched. He is completely selfless in how he handles everything he does. I have seen how much of an impact ‘Ilaisa has had on the lives of the players he has coached and how much he genuinely cares about them and about their well-being. He will always be family to me and to so many others. I know he will continue to have that kind of impact as a coach as he takes on his next challenge.”

“Thank you to all of the players through the years that I’ve had a chance to coach and recruit to BYU,” Tuiaki wrote. “I want you players to know that I gave you my best. To the passionate Cougar fan base, thank you for the memories. I have made a lot of friends and met a lot of awesome people during my time here.”

BYU finished the regular season 7-5 after defeating Stanford on Saturday and is awaiting its bowl invitation to conclude the 2022 season. Tuiaki is not expected to coach the BYU defense in the bowl game.

A search for a new defensive coordinator is underway. It is not known how many current defensive coaches will remain on staff.