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BYU vs. NIU Postgame notes

The following notes are from BYU’s 7-6 loss vs. Northern Illinois at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. 

TEAM FLAGS: Rhett Almond, Matt Criddle
HONORARY FLAG BEARERS: Dave Rose, Carolyn billings, Trace Eddington, Amber Robbins and Eric Glem

Series Notes
BYU drops the first game of the series to the Huskies. The Cougars will make the trip to DeKalb, Illinois in 2020.

First half shutout
For the first time this season, the Cougars shut out their opponent in the first half. The last time BYU did that was against Wyoming in the first half (10-0) of the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl which BYU won 24-21.

Rhett Almond
Almond recorded a career high in punting yards totaling 294 yards on seven punts. He also tallied a career long punt at 57 yards. He dropped four punts inside the 20 and had two punts of more than 50 yards.

Dayan Ghanwoloku
Ghanwoloku tallied two tackles for loss in the game against Northern Illinois. He also recorded four solo tackles in the game.

Career long kickoff return: Tyler Allegier (36 yards, first quarter)
Career long pass: Zach Wilson (42 yards to Talon Shumway, third quarter)
Career longest punt: Rhett Almond (57, second quarterNIU head coach Rod Carey

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
On the offense
A few weeks back, I talked about playing BYU style football and being aggressive and letting it rip. That didn’t happen today and so that’s got to change. We’ve talked about being aggressive in all three phases. We’re trying to find a way to make plays and we didn’t do enough in all three phases to win the game. Honestly when you look at the score 7-6, we’ve got to get more production from our offense and be more aggressive and establish our identity.

On fourth quarter play with fourth down and three minutes left
When I’m talking about aggression it’s not just going forward on fourth down every time. It’s about playing strategic football. Being down one point and needing the field goal to win it I thought it would be good to pin them deep. I thought our defense was playing well. I thought we had a really good scheme going and had a bunch of things we could change up. I felt like we could take away from their position and sort of run the clock out. I thought we could do that and it didn’t work out.

Their punter kicked the ball really well on that and had a great game punting. His average was 46.8. He flipped the field for them and did a good job. He pinned us deep a couple times and so that was a difference maker for them. He was able to make some plays for them and put them in a better field position. But we felt like our defense could hold them and we could get the ball up a little bit more. I believe we had two minutes with a timeout left. So we should be able to get within field range from there. Unfortunately, we made a mistake and didn’t see a guy and through a pick.

On offensive line performance
It wasn’t good enough. I talked a little bit earlier about establishing our identity and being physical and we didn’t do enough of that. I think we made some mistakes along the way and I’ll have to watch the film but the numbers aren’t going to be in our favor. We had a position to score points and dominate up front and really wear them down and that didn’t happen.

On Zach Wilson’s second start
I think he did some good things. I love his athleticism and his ability to make a play. He prepares really well. I know he’s taking it really hard right now with this loss. I am looking forward to him doing some good things and making some good plays.

Freshman BYU quarterback Zach Wilson
On performance in the game 
I didn’t think we were doing too bad on offense, I just think we were hitting those bumps in the road where we couldn’t extend our drives.

On how to approach the loss after the game
Of course there isn’t a worse feeling for a quarterback, but you learn and grow. That’s how football works. We move onto next week and we approach it just like normal in our preparation. Of course I wanted to win. I wanted to punch the ball in the end zone but that trust falls on the whole team. If I try to do more, that can hurt the team. I have to do my job and have trust in the guys that they’ll do theirs.
On the interception at the end
It was just a bad read. I thought the safety was deeper than he was. I thought our over was going to go in front rather than behind. My depth perception was off a bit there and I made a bad play.
On being aggressive
It’s hard. I think we’re trying to be aggressive. We’re attempting to move the ball and make plays. It’s a full team effort though. We need to go back and see what we could do differently.
Junior wide receiver Talon Shumway
On offensive’s performance
We didn’t do what we came out to do. It’s hard to look back and see the things you wish you could have done differently. But we can’t change it now. It’s best to move on. There’s no team that doesn’t go through hard times.  
On playing true to the identity of BYU football
We need to have more plays and execute what we’re being told to execute. The coaches have a vision and it’s up to us to execute it.
Defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi 
On NIU’s performance
They played hard. They did a good job on their offense. We knew what they were going to but the guys played hard and they took the ball away a couple of times.

On a drive after halftime
I think it was after the half and we took a little to long to get going. We let them kind of get after us and we were kind of on our heels a little bit. We’ve got to be better about coming out at the half. If they have the ball we’ve got to come out and play  our game and let them do what they do.

On team’s mental game after the loss
The thing about losses is you’ve got to take them. No one comes out after a loss and is happy.  I think the biggest thing is how we come Monday. I think Monday is when we’ll be able to see how the team reacts.

Linebacker Sione Takitaki
On NIU’s performance
We knew what they were going to do when they came out and I wish we would’ve gotten some picks, forced fumbles or something like that. It would’ve changed the game. But I feel like we all played hard.

On coming up one point short
It sucks to lose overall but losing 6-7 it hurts more.  One play could’ve changed the game but we’ve got Boise State coming and they’re a good team. So we’ll tackle that on Monday.

NIU head coach Rod Carey
On feelings of the game.
We’re obviously extremely happy with the outcome. The only number that matters is 7-6, that’s it. That was an old school ugly football game from start to finish. To give our team credit, we uglied it up. We uglied it up on offense, we uglied it up on defense and kicking game was really outstanding today. Matt Ference did a nice job minus that one kickoff return that they had to open the game. It was ugly and it’s beautiful to us, I can tell you that, in every way, shape and form.

On adjustments made at half-time.
The opening drive of the second half offensively, I really thought we were going to keep scoring there after the first one because we had to make some adjustments. They did a nice job, a lot of credit to BYU, they’re a really good football team and outstanding program, we have a lot of respect for Coach. But they made some adjustments defensively that we had not seen. We needed to go ahead because we were scrambling the first half and still moving the ball and doing alright at times. We got those adjustments done and we came out. Then defensively, we’re always tweaking things here and there and finding tendencies, so we did that as well.

On preparation during the bye week.
I don’t think we went into the bye week saying we wanted to win a game 7-6, we want to get better. I think that at times, we milk the clock. On defense, BYU got some first downs on them, but then our defense stiffened up. So you give them credit for the time of possession because they held the ball with some early first and second downs, but then on third downs we were usually pretty good on them.

Sophomore defensive-end Matt Lorbeck
On the defensive performance.
First of all, I think we stopped the run and that’s our number one goal every week is to stop the run and get to the ball. I think we did that really well. I don’t know exactly what we held them to, but it wasn’t a lot.

On planning for opposing running backs.
It’s just a cumulative effort, I mean you know what guys are good at. They were all elusive and we knew that and we had to get past to the football.

Junior safety Mykelti Williams
On interception
We made and adjustment at halftime to adjust our coverage to what they were doing to attack us. Our coaches did a really good job putting us into a position to execute the play and that is what I did.

Mindset of defense on final drive.
We try to approach every time we go out there the same way, no matter what drive it is. Of course, we think about what the time is and things of that nature, but, we approach every drive the same way.

Senior defensive end Josh Corcoran
On preparing for BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
Watching the Hawai’I game and seeing him hurdle another player, we knew he was more elusive so we prepared for that. Our D-line coach tells us to put the points on the quarterback and keep in the pocket. Rushing yards for us come on quarterback scrambles. We knew he was a runner and we knew he was athletic so that was our mindset.

Senior wide receiver Jauan Wesley
On first drive of second half
It was just a matter of time. We were moving the ball extremely well but sometimes we’d step on our own foot. We came out in the third quarter planning on executing all the plays and we executed them.