Kalani Sitake Press Conference - UMass


The following quotes are selected from BYU's Monday media availability prior to the week 11 game against UMass on Nov. 23 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Watch the full media session here

Head Coach Kalani Sitake
On his contract extension
I’m excited to keep coaching and keep working. I’m just thankful, first of all to our players and for their hard work and the belief they have in our system and program. I’m thankful for the administration, Tom Holmoe and President Worthen, for all their hard work and their belief in my coaches and me. Everyone that’s been involved at BYU, there is so much gratitude on behalf of my family and me. My family and I love it here in Provo and we’re looking forward to spending more time here.

On negotiations for the extension
I was just focused on football. Tom asked me to trust him in the whole process, so he can probably tell you more of the details on that. My focus has been on trying to win games, trying to keep this team going and trying to keep building the momentum. If you have more details you can ask Tom, but I thought they allowed me the opportunity to keep coaching and that’s what I’m thankful for.

On the locker room reveal for the extension
It surprised me, but it was cool. I liked the way he delivered it. It was a good moment, our guys had the opportunity to dance again in the locker room. Whenever that happens it’s a good sign for us and a good sign for the program. It was a lot of fun for the fans and in this specific weekend, it was a lot of fun for the seniors.

On the mood of the team now versus a month ago
You can guess on what it was. If you take the results out of the equation, meaning the wins and losses, these guys have worked extremely hard every week, every day. The players have been focusing on each other and growing closer as a group. That hasn’t changed. The guys have been really hard workers and they understand what it takes to be successful. That’s a huge indicator coming from their families, so I have great young men to work with, a great fan base to entertain and it’s a really cool mix right now.

On Zach’s performance
It’s nice for him to get back on the field. The one thing that I really liked, was after he threw the interception, he was back in there making the tackle. That’s how he injured himself from the beginning, so it seems like that’s not something that’s still living up there in his head, he’s just playing football. It was really good for him to get those reps and to be in there and get the feel for the game and get in variety of plays. I’m looking forward to him getting better and improving on how he did. The mistakes cloud a lot of the issues and when you’re trying to look at momentum or at some of the big games and big plays. The penalties take away from a lot of that and that’s something that we’re working on. The things that we can really control are the administrative ones, like false starts and offsides on defense that should not have happened. That’s our job as coaches to make sure we get that done.

On keeping the team locked in and motivated for UMass
We’re going to keep building on what we do. I’ve mentioned this before and we’re really focused on what we can get done and being at our best. This is another opportunity for us to go see our fans on the East Coast and we’re looking forward to our players being at their best for our fans and for themselves. We’re creating momentum and we’re creating belief in each other, so this is something that is more focused on what we’re trying to get done. I have a ton of respect for our opponents. That’s just how football goes, a lot of guys do what our players do, they work hard and put a lot of time into the game. This will be their last game of the season, so we know it’s going to mean a lot to them. We’re going to get their best shot, so we’re going to make sure they get ours as well.

Running Back Sione Finau
On his confidence as his work load has increased
I’m getting more comfortable, especially playing in front of a lot of fans. I’m focusing on the things that I need to get better on a daily basis, trying to hone in on those. I’m just trying to be more comfortable in my role and do what I can to help the team.

On the reaction to Kalani's contract extension
I can’t speak for the other guys, but it’s a good thing for me. I love him as a coach and outside football as well. I was very excited. I was just really excited for him. Him believing in me as a player. going from Oregon State to here, I’m always supporting him.

Defensive Line Khyris Tonga
On getting in the end zone
I felt like Sione Finau. It was good, it was super fun to hear the crowd and celebrate with my teammates. Yeah, it was good.

On his teammates celebrating with him after the touchdown
It was super fun, we ended up getting a penalty because guys were out there on the sidelines running onto the field without their helmets. It was great, we practice that play everyday and never called it once. My first time I fumbled the ball, but they were offsides, but Kalani said to run it again. It was just super fun.

On what it means to see Kalani get the contract extension
It meant the world. I felt like I was getting a contract extension. Kalani - it’s more than football to him. I’m happy for him and for his family, we love coach Kalani and everything he’s done for us.

Defensive Lineman Uriah Leiataua
On reaction to Tom Holmoe's reveal with "Extend Kalani" shirt
I was so excited. I am so happy for Kalani. I testify this to everyone. Kalani puts his heart and soul into the team.The losses hurt him more than they hurt us. He really does show his true character all the way through. I'm excited to have him again next year. 

On the focus for the next two games
​Our focus is to win out and get to work, especially for our seniors. We've had some ups and downs, but we want to finish this season strong. Coach Kalani had a talk that got us all emotional. Dayan Ghanwoloku stood up and spoke too. We know we want to do it for our seniors. We know we can do it too. 

On mindset facing UMass
​I don't think we're overlooking the team. We're going to treat them as any other opponent. We're going to take them on and be prepared for anything. They're a good opponent and they can surprise anyone.