Kalani Sitake Press Conference - No. 24 USC


The following quotes are selected from BYU's Monday press conference prior to the week three's game against No. 24 USC on Sept. 14 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Watch the full press conference here.

Head Coach Kalani Sitake
On what he learned from the offense and defense after watching film
Obviously there’s a lot of things that we need to get better, and we’re trying to get to our best. The focus is that hopefully we’re going to be performing at our best this Saturday. We want to take advantage of the opportunity to have a ranked team coming into our stadium again. There are a lot of things in all three phases that we can adjust and improve on. We made some improvements from week one to week two, but I’d like to see it continue.

On Tennessee and the Vols' environment
The fans that were there were awesome. It was a cool experience for our players. The noise level surprised even some of our coaches. Coach Grimes mentioned that he’d never heard that place that loud before. There were some things that were surprising to us, but I’m really pleased with how our coaches responded with adjusting some of the things that we did on both sides of the ball. We were able to make it work, but that’s because I have coaches and players that can make things happen.

On how having BYU fans there that impacted the game
Yeah, they were loud. We could hear them throughout the game cheering and making a lot of noise. It was a cool place to be. It was a nice environment, great experience for our players and I hope it was a great experience for our fans too. The people in that area in Tennessee, in Knoxville, were awesome. They were really good to our families and friends that were there watching the game. They were good to our players too, it was great hospitality.

Thoughts on USC's freshman quarterback
Kedon Slovis, he’s an impressive kid with good composure. I watched him last night on film. He’s poised and made some really tough throws. Obviously, he’s very effective. I think he went 28 for 33 and 377 yards. He has some really good weapons around him but I think he showed some really good maturity and poise in the pocket and was able to throw the ball with good timing. 

On Micah Simon's performance in the Tennessee game
Micah pours his heart and soul into this program. There are some things that people don’t see, he puts a lot of effort into the program and into the culture. I was really pleased with him with the plays he made. But, it doesn’t really matter to him if he catches the football or is blocking. He takes a lot of pride in this team being successful. I’m just happy that he’s one of our leaders, one of our many leaders, and I rely on them heavily to help make decisions and get their feedback and as we collaborate this year.

Offensive Lineman Brady Christensen
On changes made throughout the game
We didn’t make many changes at half time. We just knew what we needed to do and we executed better in the second half with protections and specifically with running the ball. When you run the ball, it opens the pass game up and they aren’t as aggressive with the blitzes.

On how the team’s execution has improved and the progression of the team
It’s been better, but we still have a long ways to go with that aspect. As long as we keep getting better each week, that’s what counts.

On the atmosphere in the huddles before the game winning touchdown
When you’re in the huddle, you have to stay calm. Up front it was loud, so I was trying to focus on my job and do my job each down. I think that’s what the rest of the guys were doing too, just trying to do their job, their 1/11th every play and not focusing on anything else.

On the win over Tennessee
It gives us confidence. We’re always confident, but we’re humble too. We know we have to continue to work hard every day and every week. We know we have a tough challenge coming up with USC so we know we have to be on our A-game to be successful this week.

Defensive Lineman Khyiris Tonga
On how the defensive line can progress from here
I feel like we’ve been improving from Utah to Tennessee. For me, there’s still a lot to learn from and to grow as a defensive line. That’s good for us. Hopefully, we can continue to improve and get better each day in practice. 

On his thoughts regarding USC’s freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis
I think we’re going to go more in depth today. I starting watching film on the way home from Tennessee. I was watching the game and he’s a good quarterback. It’s going to be fun. The offensive line is very good and the receivers are great. It’ll be a good test for us. USC, in my head, is a powerhouse. Everything that they do is good.

On how the team keeps their morale up 
We just tell our offense that we know they are going to pull through. If it’s going to be in the third quarter or the fourth quarter, we’ll keep our end of the bargain. We have high hopes that the offense will do their part. 

Wide Receiver Micah Simon
On his play in the fourth quarter
It really was just four verticals on the left side of the field and I had Matt Bushman inside of me. We all know he’s a good tight end so there were a lot of guys looking at him and I slipped behind. Zach Wilson saw it and made a great throw. I was able to get to the field goal range and then Jake Oldyrod went out there to take us into overtime. I knew there were 18 seconds left when we snapped the ball, but when I had the ball and felt some pressure, I glanced up at the clock to see how much time was left. I knew I wasn’t going to score so I just thought about protecting the ball and getting the field goal team out there to take us into overtime. 

On watching film after the game
I think some of it had been talked about after the game in other interviews, but our pre snap operation wasn’t crisp. We had to make some changes. The stadium was super loud but we were able to bounce back. I feel like a lot of those pre snap issues caused us to have a small lapse in some of our plays, putting us in difficult situations. I look back at our third down total and it wasn’t nearly where we’d want it to be. That’s something we’ll clean up. 
On how it feels to be remembered as a key play in the game
It’s just my job to go out there and make plays when my number is called. I would have felt the same way if I had one catch or seven. What I want to accomplish this season is being a consistent and reliable player that Zach Wilson and the rest of the team can trust. 
Thoughts on USC
They’re a great team and I’m excited for them to come and play. This is a big opportunity for us. They have strong defense and played a good game against Stanford this past weekend. We’re going to spend time preparing in the film room and get ready to go out and execute.