Kalani Sitake Press Conference Quotes - Utah


The following quotes are from BYU's Monday press conference prior to the 2019 season opener against Utah on Aug. 29 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. 

Head Coach Kalani Sitake (Watch)
On opening the season against Utah
It’s done its purpose in giving a sense of urgency to our players. I don’t know if we’ve ever felt this strongly about an opening game, but I think more than anything, I want our guys to remember what it’s like, so we had to simulate during this offseason preparation and try to get that feeling every year. I love the response our players have been giving, the ownership and leadership that we’ve seen. I’m really excited for the season and it just happens to be against Utah this Thursday, so I’m really excited about 2019.

On the team’s success in past season openers.
The first thing that comes to mind is health. If you’re looking at it from that statistic of winning 9 out of 10 season openers, it’s the fact that we have time to get everyone ready. For everyone coming off of offseason conditioning, surgeries and anyone that has any issues going on with their bodies, they can get that ready. The goal is to be ready by the time we open up for camp and then work at camp a little bit so they can get ready for the season. That’s for the guys that are recovering. For the most part, everyone uses that as a goal to get their body to 100 percent if possible. That weighs a lot into it, but we have to be able to do it 12 times. That’s what I’m focused on trying to simulate so we can give the best performance and be the best BYU that we possibly can this fall. It starts with the first game and hopefully it gets us the results that we want. Hopefully we can simulate that and do it every week from there on out.

On the plan for naming captains
We have a large group of leaders on this team. I looked at a lot of different organizations and the team votes matters, but as you’re looking at the voting on our team, they would vote the same guys that I think are leading the team already. I don’t want to limit it to four people, our leadership group will decide the four that will go out there for the coin toss. I look at the structure of the military and things like that. They don’t vote to see who’s going to be in ranks, they assign them, and right now I have assigned a lot of leaders that have taken the initiative and become leaders themselves. They’ll be the captains and they’ll be the ones to decide who goes up for the coin toss. I’m just really pleased with the amount of leaders that we have on this time, young and old, and we’ll just keep building on that. 

On if this game will define the season
No, the season is 12 games long with the opportunity to earn more games. I don’t really focus on end result as I do the process and enjoying the opportunity to make memories. Sometimes you are so fixated on the result that you forget to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the process that you miss out on making the memories. I am really trying to find ways to make as many memories as we can this Thursday. We will enjoy them and see what the result is after. Our players have been really excited about this game because it’s the first game of the season.

On preparing for a team with a new offensive coordinator
Well I worked with him for four years, so that helps out a little bit. The fact that I am familiar with him and same as Coach Tuiaki. We have coaches that have been around Andy Ludwig. We have seen what he has done and he’s been coordinating for a long time. We are able to look at a lot of that film. But, I think he is one that works with his talent. He works really well and is a great coach. He’s great at schemes and strategy so we will have to be ready for all of it. We have had a month to prepare for it so hopefully there won’t be too many surprises but we will see.

On how they have drown out the hype around Utah
Our focus and our energy have been on us. I mean you can’t really discredit the fact that they are predicted to finish well. By focusing on us, we know that we are going to have a team to play against, so that is part of scouting our opponents. I have a great deal of respect, but at the same time we are focused on what we can do as a team. But, going into your game you haven’t to know your opponents and we see them. There is a lot of excitement and we are looking at the great opportunities that this season holds for us. Not just the first game but the whole season. These guys have worked extremely hard and I am excited to see some things happen.

Defensive Back Austin Lee (Watch)
On his feelings toward the rivalry game
Emotions are big. In saying that, I think the offense is going to be very productive. Just seeing them at fall camp, they have been very explosive and consistent as well. Of course, I feel like the defense can have a big part making plays, and I’m confident our offense will do that as well. The game is going to be fun. It’s going to be intense. 

On being on the opposite side of the rivalry at one point
I’m a competitive guy and I want to win in anything that I do. When I was at Utah, I just wanted to win and I just wanted to go out and compete and have fun. The emotions are a little bit higher than normal, but I think I’m getting a little more used to it. I’m making sure that I’m assignment-sound rather than just so emotional toward the game. I have to do my assignment and do it correct so I can execute and help the defense out. There’s a little bit more emotion that comes with the game, being from Utah, playing from there and having family from there.

On whether this year’s team is more equipped to face adversity than previous seasons
I would like to say so. We like to train ugly, is what we call it. There are numerous times when coaches made us run “gassers” right before we compete one-on-one. Since adversity does set in, when are you ever going to play fully ready and not be tired? We like to train in hard situations and we’ve been looking for the right kind of mindset to face adversity. We’re looking to be very optimistic in situations that do come. 

On being the underdog through the lens of the media
You know, it’s good whatever we get thrown our way. I know who we are. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m glad that they’re ranked in the top 14 because it’s just another opportunity for us to show who we are. But it’s going to have to show game one, game two and be consistent.

Tight End Matt Bushman (Watch)
On what its like now that game week is here
It’s crazy. I feel like just the other day we were talking and saying 'Hey, the game is 100 days out, 50 days out.’ And now we play on Thursday. It’s exciting. Everyone’s kind of antsy, ready to get the season going. It was nice being able to watch a couple of those college football games on Saturday. I think we’re ready to go and ready to get the season started.”

On the key to opening a game strong
One of the main things is to prepare so that we’re a fine-tuned team at the start of the season. A lot of opening games, like Florida and Miami, there were so many penalties and missed assignments.  Last year, we had a main emphasis on that, and we want to come out like we’re in mid-season form. We’ve worked really hard offensively, defensively and on special teams. We just want to go out there and be prepared for any type of situation. We don't want to have those missed assignments or pre-snap penalties, so that we can give ourselves a chance to play the best game possible.

On how comfortable he feels with the offense
Everyone in the offense feels a lot more confident. We understand what we want to do as a team, and what we have to do offensively. I think we’ve done a really good job during this fall camp and I’m really excited to see what our offense can do. Now that we’re not really trying to install an offense, we’re just trying to adapt and it should be a really exciting offense.

Linebacker Zayne Anderson (Watch)
On the excitement of the Utah game
With what happened last year, it was a devastating loss. That game has been our focus and in the back of our minds during every training and every session this offseason. But, we went to the bowl game last year and showed everyone what kind of team we were after that loss and we’ve carried that throughout the offseason. So it’s been in the back of our minds all offseason.

On what it would mean for the seniors to beat Utah
It would mean so much. Right now we’re trying not to look back. Just like Kalani said we weren’t even a part of the losing streak eight years ago. But for me, as a senior, it really is important and we want to give these guys this unique opportunity and we’re really excited. 

On the keys to success in season openers
It really is just always being ready. That’s what we’re really putting our focus on this year, is starting games fast and finishing them. Last year, there were some games where we started off slow and it really hurt us. Then there were games, like against Utah, where we didn’t finish. So just starting with the foot on the pedal and not letting off is something we’re really focusing on.  

On how the linebackers have progressed this offseason 
I’m really proud of those guys. I think that was a big question heading into fall camp. I knew we had some players there but I didn’t know who was going to step up. Keenan Pili started off playing linebacker behind me, but I knew he needed to be out on the field. He’s one of our best linebackers so we found a spot for him as a mike linebacker and he’s done an excellent job. Payton Wilgar, Jackson Kaufusi, Kavika Fonua have all made huge strides so I feel really comfortable with those guys right next to me. 

On what he learned about the team during fall camp 
Just how united we are. I’ve never been on a team quite as close as this. I think as a group as a whole we really are really close and I’m not just saying that. I’ve never been on a team that’s been this close before and I think that’s going to carry out on the field. When you’re fighting with your brothers and you’ve trained with them all offseason and you’re that close with them and you have that bond I think it carries a long way. ​