Kalani Sitake Press Conference - Idaho State


The following quotes are selected from BYU's Monday media availability prior to the week 10 game against Idaho State on Nov. 16 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. 

Watch the full media session here

Head coach Kalani Sitake
On game scheduling during the season
I get the team ready to play every week. The goal is to match the expectations of our fans and what the players have for themselves. This is another week for us at practice to get ready for this weekend.

On Zach Wilson’s availability
If he’s cleared to go, then we should see what happens. Baylor has done some great things, but I’ll leave it up Coach Roderick and Coach Grimes to figure what gives us the best chance for victory. We’ll have to see how Zach progresses with his healing. We’ll know more after practice and as he heals day-by-day. Zach already has made a lot of improvement from Thursday to Saturday.

Developing seniors at final home game
We’ve been able to work a lot together in the last few years, especially with establishing the team culture. We’ve worked hard with giving them feedback. I’ve seen them grow to leadership during my time here. Dayan Ghanwoloku for example would barely say a word when I first got here. Now he’s a vocal leader for us and it’s been awesome to see his voice grow as he’s become a natural leader for the team. His teammates have really started to follow him. He and several others have stepped up for the team. The past years have gone by really fast. I know they’ve put a lot of hard work into establishing the team that we are right now. I’m looking forward to seeing how their work and sacrifice will contribute to the future of this program. This week will be focused on those seniors and sending them out the right way. We want them to have good memories of their last game.

On Dayan Ghanwoloku changing to the cornerback position
I’m not sure if that will be a permanent move. Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox will both be playing this week, so we have to figure out our depth chart and rotation. We moved Dayan right in the middle of a drive and once we moved him over to corner, he was ready for it and I thought he performed well. Luckily, we have players that can swing and go between corner and safety. We have some flexibility and we want to get the best 11 on the field.

On Idaho State
They put up a lot of yards. Even last week, they only had five points against Eastern Washington, but they average about 160 in the run game and 240 yards in the passing game. Last year, I know they were putting up a lot of points and stats. For us, we’re going to respect every opponent we go against and this week we are focused on playing at our best and doing it for the seniors.

On starting 13 different freshmen
We have some really good freshmen that have stepped up and we have others that have been forced to play because of depth charts and injuries. It shows that our evaluations are working. There’s a lot of freshmen that didn’t get as much attention coming out of high school, but we’ve been able to develop them in the weight room and at practice.

Senior wide receiver Aleva Hifo
On the fourth and two play against Liberty
I remember we got put in a fourth down situation and we had a play called, but I remember our quarterback was struggling with the signal, so it forced Kalani to take a timeout. It gave us a little bit of time to go over what plays we wanted to run, punt or kick a field goal, so it worked out. That play couldn’t have been called at a better time.

On getting ready for the game on Saturday
It’ll be an emotional one. It definitely hasn’t hit me yet, being a senior. There are times where I don’t feel like one. But, it’s another game for us to win, another game for us to earn and another game for a chance at a bowl. For me personally, it’s another week of work.

On being a leader
At the end of the day we’re the ones taking the field, that’s where our coaches are coming from. They want us to be able to take over our team. If we have any on-field mistakes, we need to take over. If there are any off-field mistakes we need to take over. They want us, as seniors, to lead and take over. Ultimately, that only benefits us over time as opportunities like that are presented and being able to take care of them. It does something to you. Not only with football but with life as well. I think it’s a good opportunity for our seniors to learn and for our seniors in the future to take over as well.

On his time at BYU
It flew by. Obviously, there are a lot of things that happened between now and then. You talked about the new coaching staff, a lot has changed between now and when I was a freshman. I grew up a lot, I can still grow up a lot, like I said I’m still a little kid but it’s been a crazy journey, but one that I’m very grateful for. Coming out of high school, a lot of the reason why I came here is because of my cousin, Sione Takitaki, and a lot of his influence early on. I’m glad that I chose to come to this school because I changed for the better.

Senior tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau
On heading into LaVell Edwards Stadium on his senior day.
I’m grateful to be here and I’m grateful for the people that have surrounded me throughout the journey and have helped me stay here, on and off the field academically and physically. I’m grateful and blessed. I’ve said it before, it just feels like a whole different lifetime. It just hit me last game that I only have two more games in LaVell Edwards Stadium. I’m just trying to soak it all in and cherish every moment that I have left.

On the player leadership during coaching transitions.
It’s awesome. It’s a great opportunity and I think all the great teams are led by the players and are led by great leaders. So, it’s been a cool opportunity for a lot of us to step up and fill those rolls of leaders on the field. I overheard Aleva Hifo say that at the end of the day, we’re the ones on the field, and that’s true. At those moments, those critical fourth down moments when we need a first down, it’s the guys that you’re looking at in the huddle, and that you’re looking at on the field that you have to trust. To have that opportunity and the prep throughout the year and the week during practices, to hear each other’s comments and to lead and coach, it gives us confidence on the field and that’s how it’s been for me. 

On the importance of the juniors and seniors leading the team’s culture.
It’s critical. We’re a young team. I can say for myself that when I first got here, looking at the older guys, I learned more from them than I did anything else. Just watching how they practiced, how they played and what they did to be successful. It’s huge for us because we have a lot of young guys and a lot of great talent. For them to look up to a lot of the great players we have, Dayan Ghanwoloku, Austin Lee, Micah Simon, Aleva Hifo, all these guys, offensive and defensive side of the ball, can see these guys and how they’ve done it. I think that’s the best way to learn.

Senior wide Receiver Micah Simon
On the talent level of his teammates
There’s always been great talent here. I’ve been around a lot of great players in my time here. It’s been pretty crazy thinking of my time here as a freshman and the players I’ve been around, like Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams, Bronson Kaufusi, Fred Warner and Sione Takitaki. Seeing them play at the next level is pretty crazy to think that I was with those guys every day here. To be here now with a lot of great players that obviously have the chance to be at the next level too is pretty awesome to see.

On his past five years at BYU
It’s been great. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, personally as a player and as a team. We’ve had some pretty cool seasons and some pretty not cool seasons and I’ve just been part of it all. I think that’s what has made me the player, the person and the leader that I am today, being through all those things. Going through it all with these brothers and these coaches and learning from it. Obviously, I could go back and say that I wish we went undefeated every year and that we scored 60 points a game, but you learn those lessons from tough seasons and tough situations from that and I really wouldn’t change it.

On his senior day coming up.
It really is surreal. It really hasn’t hit too much yet, but it definitely will on Saturday. I’m just excited to go out there and play one more game in LaVell Edwards Stadium and to play in front of our fans that come out there and support us every week no matter what.

On his relationships with Kalani.
It means everything to have a coach that has your back through any situation, a coach that I can talk to about anything. People crack jokes about us because of how close we are and it’s awesome to have that relationships with someone, especially the head coach.