The following notes and quotes are from BYU's 16-10 loss to UMass Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
AMERICAN FLAG BEARER: LB Va'a Niumatalolo
TEAM FLAGS: OL Tejan Koroma, DB Kamel Greene, OL Tuni Kanuch, DB Hiva Lee, DB Cody Stewart, LB Fred Warner, DL Handsome Tanielu, DL Kesni Tausinga
Seniors Tejan Koroma, Fred Warner, Kamel Greene, Tuni Kanuch, Hiva Lee, Cody Stewart, Handsome Tanielu and Kesni Tausinga carried out the team flags before the game. It is the first time BYU has lost its senior day game since a 41-34 overtime loss against Utah in 2005.
Losing at Home
With a 2-4 record at home this season, the Cougars have their first losing record at LaVell Edwards stadium since 2003. That year, BYU went 1-5 in Provo.
The 16-10 loss also snaps a streak of 20-consecutive wins at home in November for the Cougars.
Shelton led the BYU punt return team with six punts for 86 yards. He returned his longest punt of the game for a season-high 39 yards, just one short of his career high (40).
Almond hit a 40-yard field goal to put the Cougars on the board late in the third quarter, 16-3. It was his second career field goal of 40 yards or more this season after a career-long 46-yarder against Fresno State earlier this year.
After returning for an injury, Hall rushed eight times for 37 yards and caught four passes for 33 yards for 70 all-purpose yards.
Canada rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries. He now has over 900 career rushing yards with 913.
Takitaki led the Cougar defense with six solo stops, two tackles for loss and one sack.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
On overall performance
Our performance wasn’t good enough to win the game today. I can understand why a lot of people are upset and disappointed, including myself, but congratulations to UMass for making enough plays to win the game. They were better than us on the scoreboard in a lot of different ways; the turnover margin was huge. It’s hard to win when you don’t score points.
There are a number of things we wish we could have done differently in that game and have them work out in our favor. We have to compete. I think we are good enough to beat this team. We have to do a better job. I owe it to the seniors and the fans that this is a better football team than we are playing.
We have to rally back and find a way to perform better this last week. We can’t get down on ourselves — we have one more game to play. It’s been a disappointing season, but we have to continue to find a way to work through the adversity. We are looking forward to the next game and trying to find a win.
On Joe Critchlow’s performance
We gave up a lot of sacks. There were a few sacks that happened because of the protection, but there were some that Joe brought upon himself. He scrambled at times when he probably should have stepped up. That is just what I saw from my perspective on the field. We probably threw the ball too much today after coming off a good week running the ball. We ended up having to play catch-up.
On the running backs’ play
Squally (Canada) got banged up a little early in the first half, but I don’t think there was anything that should have kept him out. I will talk to the offensive coaches and figure out why he was out for a long period of time. Maybe they felt better with KJ (Hall) being in there as a receiver also. KJ is more of a back on third downs who can be used in passing situations. We had to move to a faster pace and had to probably had to air it out a little more than we normally do because of the score.
On the BYU defense’s play
We had some bad technique. Our corners need to compete more. Coverage wise, we were misaligned a couple times. Not having Troy (Warner) there hurts, but these young guys know how to play. We gave up a lot of slants and that is something that should never happen in man coverage. Our corners have to challenge the throw game and passes that come out to the outside receivers.
The UMass offense has done some good things all season long. I would have taken 16 before the game. Holding them to short fields was a defensive battle. We had some opportunities to get some turnovers. We weren’t able to capitalize on those opportunities and that hurts us, especially when we are giving away the ball on the offensive side.
They pressured us. We knew they were going to. We took some shots down field, they had seven sacks and came after Joe. We had to try to make them pay for only covering one deep, but we didn’t do that. There are a lot of reasons why we weren’t effective enough.
They will be joining a fraternity and alumni group when they look at the stadium. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. There is something special about this place. I think the fans get that, and we all wanted a win for them. I have seen a lot of these young guys grow up in the two years I have been here. They are going to contribute in the community and the community will be better because of them.
We have to get to work. The focus will be on working and finding a way to win. The goal is to win the game next week and we have to make a lot of improvements. We have to use every minute to prepare for this game.
Quarterback Joe Critchlow
Throughout the week, we had a pretty good game plan set up. Obviously, the way the game went and the way that the defense adjusted, it allowed us to run the ball a little bit more and I feel like our lack of success throwing the ball could be narrowed down a lot to my efforts — missed throws, missed reads. But I feel we left a lot of big plays on the field tonight.
On reading their blitz
Over the week of practice, I feel we definitely went through a lot of blitz combinations. We felt like we had a pretty good scheme going into the game. Obviously, I failed to recognize some of the blitzes that came my way and failed to make some throws during those blitzes. I felt like us throwing the ball a lot more led them to blitz and key in on me because I didn’t pass the ball that time. Moving forward, we can learn from that and we can be better.
On the pressure of chasing the game
I’m not entirely sure on why we ran the ball less this time. I think that just the way that the game played itself out and the adjustments let us pass the ball more. I felt like there were a lot more throws this time than last, and I could have taken responsibilities, better reads and better throws but I failed to do so.
On the receivers
Credit to their defensive backs. Their coverage was tight. We saw a lot of man-to-mans and they made some great plays. It comes back to us though. We have got to be better at creating that separation, getting in better locations and making better plays. Obviously, the holes were a lot more open last game but we felt like we still left a lot of great plays on the field tonight.
Defensive lineman Handsome Tanielu
About the defense’s performance
We don’t really have room to allow anyone to score any points. It was a great performance by us overall. It’s obvious that we have a hard time scoring so the best way to win is to not let the other team score. We put ourselves in a bad situation by allowing them to gain momentum and move the ball.
We just have to go to Hawaii and finish strong.
I feel like there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this. We’ve seen great teams rise up and do really well after a really bad year. There are a couple of those teams right now doing that. We’re hoping that with all of this adversity and things not going our way that it turns around. The best part about it is there is another year coming and another year coming. There are things to learn from and you’ll know who your returning guys are by who are the players instead of just the people that stand on the side.
What have you learned from this year?
We can’t rely on a previous year’s hype to intimidate others and allow us to win. Every game has to be your “last game” effort. It has to be a “close game” effort. We’ve been in games where we’ve been up and we lose. We’ve been in games where we’ve been down and worked our way back up and lost. I feel like every play has to mean something. And that was the great thing about a lot of the seniors last year – they knew the situation and they knew how to control it and they knew how to play.
How are the seniors feeling?
Probably just disappointed. But the positive side of it is that next year these guys know how to lose. And there’s nothing worse than having a loser come back and prepare for a new season. That’s when they’re most hungry and that’s when they play their best.
Defensive lineman Trajan Pili
I think a lot of it was just the quick passes, a lot of three-step passes for them. They try to go of the chippy stuff, little by little.
I think our job and the lesson to learn is to not let this happen again. We need to find a way to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s just like he said, there is something to learn in every loss and every win, something to gain from that. We’re going to take that right when this season ends and start putting that in the offseason with winter workouts. We know what we don’t want it to happen. It won’t happen again next year. For us as a young team and a young group, I feel like it won’t.
Wide receiver Micah Simon
It was just guys making a play and putting the ball in a good spot for us to go and get it. It’s just a matter of learning from this and doing that every quarter, not just the end when it’s comeback time.
We look forward to every game. We just want to finish the season off the right way. We couldn’t get this win for our seniors today on their last home game, but we’ll just look at next week the same and focus each each day at practice and be ready to go.
He’s for sure disappointed, but he’s still the leader he was every game this year. He continued to talk in the huddle and keep everybody focused. If there’s five minutes left he was in the huddle saying, “we’re going to win this game.” That’s just the type of attitude he’s had every week. It’s sad to lose him, but I know he’ll do great things and he’s let a lot of knowledge with us underclassmen that we can bring into next season and know how to lead.
UMass Head Coach Mark Whipple
On what earned the win
We put pressure on their young quarterback and got an early pick. We missed the field goal, but the guys didn’t flinch on the sideline. It wasn’t like anyone lost their mind. They did a nice job, they had field position and we didn’t have any misses after that point. We went into halftime and I thought our defense had a lot of confidence. We have been in this situation a couple of times before on defense. Those guys really stepped up. We came out of halftime with a really good drive and a connection to Izzy (Andy Isabella). That was a double move was big. After that, we kind of rode the lead and took care of the ball, but didn’t run it as well as we could have. Credit to BYU, they came out with a lot of different things that we hadn’t seen.
On the defense at the end of the game
BYU made some plays and threw good balls. The guy made a good play and a good catch. We were in good position but he went up over us and they scored. I really felt that it was going to be that way the whole time. It’s hard to come in here and across the country. It’s a big difference from last year’s score of 51-9. We were just a little off on offense and defense kept making plays. I’m really happy for those guys and gives us confidence.
Credit to BYU, they kept making plays and their quarterback kept fighting.
Linebacker Byton Barr
On all the pressure up front and sacks
That was 100 percent effort. Coach always preaches to us “you have to practice as you play.” and this week at practice we were really busting our tails and getting after the ball every single play. Even if the ball was on the opposite side of the field, everyone was rushing to the ball. It was 100 percent all effort.
On playing in the altitude
We got a little break at halftime and got our legs back under us, and came out the second half and it helped that the offense started out too. But once the defense got out there we got a quick three and out and that carried us through the rest of the game.
Quarterback Andrew Ford
On how they picked up the momentum at the start of the game
I think we just picked up a couple of third downs and put ourselves in favorable situations. The first couple drives, we had 3rd and five plus and let those pass rushers pin their ears back and let them play coverage because that's what they want to do. First to stay on schedule and get to a 3rd and one or two and build some drives was key for us
On experience playing here
I think for us being here two years in a row was big for us. We knew what to expect this time. Stayed at the same hotel and had the same exact schedule, so from that standpoint, it was just about executing. Give our guys credit, this is not an easy place to play with the elevation and it came down to the 4th quarter and we had to fight until the very end. I am just really proud of these guys for fighting till the end. Like I said, being our second year here, this is probably the coolest place I have ever played a football game at. The people of Provo are so wonderful and it’s just a really cool place to play a football game. I just feel really lucky to have been able to play here two years now.
I think we played our best complementary football game of the year. I think defense helped us out and gave us the short field a bunch. A couple times when we were pinned deep in our own end zone, we were able to get a couple of first downs and pin them deep. We just played a solid 60-minute football game and I am just happy for our guys. It’s unique to play another independent team is a unique situation, because there are not many of us, so just to be able to compare yourself to a team like BYU that has set the standard with all the tradition here is something that we can build on going to the future. We have a week off, so we’re going to enjoy it longer, but give them credit. They’re a good football team. We just made some more plays at the end.