Kelsey Brunner, Deseret News
BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki gives a thumbs up to his players during a break at a BYU football practice in Provo on Thursday, August 10, 2017.
PROVO — Early in his coaching career, BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki spent three seasons at Utah State.
Tuiaki coached the running backs and special teams in Logan from 2009-2011 under then-coach Gary Andersen. During that time he coached a pair of running backs who ended up being selected in the NFL draft — Robert Turbin and Michael Smith.
And, during that time, Tuiaki helped the Aggies defeat the Cougars, 31-16, in 2010, breaking a 17-year losing streak to BYU, “which was a big deal,” Tuiaki recalled this week.
Now, Tuiaki is hoping to help the Cougars end this season’s three-game losing streak when BYU visits USU Friday (6 p.m., MDT, CBSSN).
Tuiaki is looking forward to his return to Logan.
“Cache Valley is full of both (BYU and Utah State) fans. It’s a big game not only for that valley but the players. There’s a lot of in-state kids on both teams that know each other. It’s definitely going to be a big game for both of us,” he said. “I had a great time there. I have a lot of friends and recruited a lot of kids. It’s a special place to me. One of my sons was born there. I loved it there … It was fun going through the building process with Gary Andersen. I love Utah State. I love Logan.”
While Tuiaki currently coaches at BYU, three former Cougars, Quin Ficklin, Roman Andrus and Dallin Leavitt, now play for the Aggies.
“There’s a lot of connections between our program and Utah State. I personally know a lot of coaches on that staff, too,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “Our coaches have great relationships with a lot of those guys.”
Friday’s game marks the 87th meeting between the two teams, with the winner taking possession of…