Kalani Sitake Media Availability - South Florida


PROVO, Utah – The following quotes are selected from BYU's Monday media availability prior to the week four game vs. USF at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Head Coach Kalani Sitake | video
We’re excited to be at home again. Everyone should be back except Keenan Pili, he will be out for the season with a torn ACL. We are still going to need him as a leader, as a captain. We’re going to need him leading our team still, he has a purpose and a role for us, it just has changed.

We’re going to rely on some of the depth at linebacker to step up, I have a lot of confidence as their coach.

I’m really happy about the ASU game. I mentioned it after the game, I feel like we could have played better, and I feel like as a head coach I have got to get our team in a better position to have more efficiency and playing at our best. That’s going to be our focus this week is executing well and everybody knowing their assignments,

USF is well-coached, he’s got tons of experience as a Co-OC and assistant at Clemson. He’s been a big part of the culture that they built there and he is trying to do the same thing at USF. We’ve seen the film, a lot of athleticism, a lot of speed, so we’re focusing our mindsets on getting that game and making sure we’re performing our best this weekend.

I’ve been happy with the leadership and their improvement. We need to see a lot of improvement, and that’s both on the players and coaches. I do need to see improvements in a lot of different areas. I was really impressed with the improvements from week two to week three, but we’ve got to make a bigger jump.

We know the game, we know the personnel, a little bit different scheme from them, but we see the athleticism, the speed and the talent on their team. We need to make sure we’re ready to do our best and keep our focus on these guys.

On who will fill in for Keenan Pili
It’s not just going to be Ben Bywater, there’s going to be a bunch of guys that we’re going to need playing against a high tempo, no-huddle team like USF. We’re going to need more than just the 11 starters on defense, we’re going to have to dip into the depth.

Ben is one of the guys that we are going to fill in that we feel really comfortable with, but we feel good about that whole entire group. We’re going to move it around and figure it out in the next few days.

On overcoming the loss against USF in Tampa in 2019
Sticking to our identity and our belief system, staying the course. Keep emphasizing our strengths, what our identity, our program is all about and keep focusing on our culture.

Be proud of what you do and who you do it for. I see young men and their coaches really buying into what we do. Right now our focus is week-to-week and on USF. But it’s been really cool to see what has happened over the past few years.

On the offensive line
You would love to demolish everybody from the line of scrimmage every play, but I think you respect the game and your opponents will have some really good schemes and athletes on the other side as well.

As long as we are not making mental mistakes and missing our assignments, then I am okay with the other stuff that happens. You’ve got to give credit to ASU, they had some really big strong guys up front, but just kept sticking with the game plan, kept plugging away and I was glad we were able to get that win with those guys carrying that load.

On his legacy
I’m trying to do what a lot of coaches have already done here, Bronco and LaVell. Everyone has their own way of running their program, and I want to give a situation similar to what I had as a player under LaVell, and I want young men who want to be here and want to be part of this program. We have a certain standard and way that we play and that’s not going to change.

Defensive Back D’Angelo Mandell | video
On playing on the defense
It’s been a lot of fun because guys are doing their jobs. When opportunities come guys do their jobs and allow us to have a lot of fun. As long as guys are doing their part, plays are going to come our way.

On losing Keenan Pili
We’re going to have to step up. Keenan was playing so well. I know how important this season was for him. Obviously, we are going to have to adjust and guys are going to have to step up.

Honestly, that’s football things are going to happen, that’s the good thing about having everyone in our room that can play.

On man coverage schemes
It’s my bread and butter, I’ve been playing that since high school, the more man the better. It’s what we’re built to do and we like doing.

On improvement since loss to USF in 2019
It’s definitely the little things, doing the simple things on defense, doing the small things will end up being more rewarding in the long run. 

They’ve got athletes, they’ve got dudes who go hard and are going to come at us with everything they’ve got, so we better come prepared.

Tight End Dallin Holker | video
On being ready to play after his mission
I really tried to focus on listening to my body and not doing too much. I worked as hard as I could. I can only thank God for helping me get back into shape. It’s a worry for a lot of missionaries, but I just had to trust God. I served my mission and I knew that God would have my back. I’m super thankful for where I am right now. I know I still have a lot to work on. 

On the offense’s strength
We are all united. We are a brotherhood. We’re a family. We have each other’s back. We had a lot of drives that were explosive. We want to be explosive all of the time and be the offense that we know that we can be. We’re trying to put everything together. 

On what the team will focus on heading into this week
They are a really good team and have a lot of athletes. You can’t go into any game thinking you’re going to win. We have to have the same preparation going into every single week. We need to play our best on Saturday. 

On Tyler Allgeier and Jaron Hall’s play
I think that play describes the way that we are. It shows that Tyler and Jaren are hard workers. We want to win together. When we see Tyler chase down that linebacker like he did, it shows that we love each other. It shows how badly we want to win. 

On if the culture of BYU influenced him to come here
The culture here is different. There is a family culture and there is love. When you feel it, you just want to be a part of it. It was definitely one of the biggest things that I considered when I was being recruited. 

Punter Ryan Rehkow | video
On how it feels to be on the record book with the longest punt
It feels pretty cool. I didn’t know that at the time. It’s an honor.

On how far he thinks he could punt a football
I don’t know. Obviously, it’s a little different if there’s wind behind you. If there’s wind in front of you, it won’t travel as far. I think the conditions during the game were pretty ideal. That punt was about as clean as they come. 

On when he started punting
Growing up, we always tossed around the football and would kick it. I didn’t take it seriously until high school. My older brother started in high school and I followed. I am trying to perfect the craft.

There’s always room for improvement. To where I started and where I am now, there is a big improvement. I would really credit that to my older brother and my dad. They have been there along the way. They know my potential and help me.

On whether he is asked to pull back on his punts
There’s a time and a place and a lot of it falls on me. If it’s going to go far, I need to make sure it goes high. There are times where I have gotten the distance I wanted, but maybe not the hang time. There’s a gray area between the 30 and 40-foot yard line. You don’t want to just kick a touchback. I think that’s an area where I can improve in practice this week. 

On his preference for punting over kicking
I did both in high school and I really enjoyed it. As I have gone on, I realized I had more of a punter’s body over a kicker’s body. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but I’ve always naturally leaned toward punting. There was a consideration and I still work on it from time to time. Jake and Justin are just so consistent. My ceiling is a lot higher as a punter. But, obviously, you want to keep both skills sharp.