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BYU football’s “turnover belt” intended to bring more energy on the sidelines

By Jared Lloyd - | Sep 22, 2021
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BYU's Talmage Gunther forces a fumble during the 27-17 Cougar win over Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU players celebrate after recovering a fumble during the 27-17 Cougar win over Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)
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BYU safety Malik Moore celebrates after making an interception during the 27-17 Cougar win over Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

College football has been inundated with sideline props used to celebrate turnovers in recent years. The most famous is probably the chain used by the Miami Hurricanes but other teams have used thrones, hats, bags of fake cash and other items for similar purposes.

BYU now has a “turnover belt” that looks like the type used in pro wrestling events. Cougar director of player experience and equipment operations tweeted on Monday a photo of the navy turnover belt that will be ready for Saturday’s game against South Florida at LaVell Edwards Stadium (8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN2).

What do the players think of having the turnover belt?

It depends on who you ask.

“I need to have the turnover belt over my shoulder on Saturday,” BYU freshman linebacker Ben Bywater said with a grin during Tuesday’s press teleconference. “I love it. I love the tradition. I think it’s so fun. It bring energy and tradition. I’m waiting for my shot with the turnover belt. I’m a big fan of that, 100%.”

Bywater’s teammate, sophomore linebacker Max Tooley, doesn’t get quite as amped up, however, when it comes to the Cougar sideline prop.

“To be completely honest, I’ve never really big been a big fan of the turnover belts or anything,” Tooley said. “Getting that recognition when you make a big play is obviously something that is really cool. I appreciated that last Saturday (after Tooley made an interception). It’s a cool thing when you make a takeaway. I’m not a big celebrator. Maybe I’ll get excited in the moment. I could do without the turnover belt but some people really love it.”

BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said the prop is just about keeping a high level of energy on the sideline.

“The belt is a cool idea but I don’t think it is the end all for takeaways,” Tuiaki said. “I think it’s just a great way for us to have fun. You know how (head coach Kalani Sitake) is about the boys bringing juice on the sideline. This is just another thing that adds to the culture of us trying to stay loose and have fun.”

The Cougars have forced seven turnovers in three games (one against Arizona, two against Utah and four against Arizona State), so there have definitely been some moments to celebrate.

“The team’s done a great job,” Bywater said. “I believe it starts with what we did in fall camp and then we’re getting a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks. I give all that credit to our coaches and the scout team, which gives us great looks. Obviously guys are making plays but our coaches are doing a great job in us getting us opportunities and putting us in places to make plays.”

While being part of a ball-hawking defense is generally good, there are occasions where players focus so much on trying to get an interception or force a fumble that it allows an opponent to gain more yards.

Tooley said as defensive player, the key to having the right balance is being smart and knowing the situation.

“There’s times to know when to go for the ball, when to make a play on the ball and when it’s not that time,” Tooley said. “If you’re the first guy in the play on a tackle or if your guy catches it, it’s not always the best time to go for a strip. After however many years of football for most of us on the team, I feel like we’ve all kind of gotten used to that aspect of football. You take care of your assignment first.”

Tuiaki said that making the safe play or the aggressive play is all about the right situation.

“We as coaches can probably pick and choose our times be little more aggressive with the scheme and where we think it’s just not worth it,” Tuiaki said. “I think on every play on defense there are elements of trying to get a takeaway and get the ball back.”

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