Football Media Availability – Oregon


PROVO, UTAH – BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake and select players addressed the media on Monday in preparation for Saturday's game at Oregon on FOX.

Watch and read interviews from Coach Sitake, offensive lineman Connor Pay, linebacker Ben Bywater and safety Malik Moore. 

Head coach Kalani Sitake (Video)
“We’re really pleased with what we saw on film from all three phases of the game versus Baylor. We have some things to correct this week, but from my perspective the improvement from week one to week two did take place. I’m really happy about that. We’re hoping to take another step forward this week against Oregon in Eugene. We’re facing a different beast this week. Oregon is a great team with a lot of talent. I know a lot of their coaches personally. I know from watching their film that they are well-coached. They made a huge improvement from week one to week two in their level of execution. They beat Eastern Washington last week, and Eastern Washington is a perennial power at the FCS level. They’ve beaten FBS, even Power 5 teams before. Oregon scored 70 points on a tough, well-coached Eastern Washington team last week, so that has our attention. We’re looking forward to the matchup. It will be a great challenge for us. We’re honored to have this opportunity to go to Eugene and play against this really good, ranked Oregon team. They will put us to the test. I’ve been in that environment before. It’s a tough place to play, not a lot of teams come out of there successful. We need to work hard during the week and as we do our best, the best versions of ourselves will show up on Saturday.

On balancing effort and discipline
"Desire to make a play, doesn’t mean that you lose your senses. We try to make sure our guys have the right mindset headed into every play. We’re never perfect. Our guys make mistakes, but we learn and get better from them. Where it becomes a problem is when a player makes the same mistake repeatedly."

On similarities between Oregon and Baylor’s defenses
“They’re very similar. I know [Oregon defensive coordinator] Tosh [Lupoi]. He became an assistant at a young age. Look at the experience that he’s had and the people he’s worked with. He’s setting up his defense perfectly well. They’re utilizing their talent very well. I know they will be ready, so I have to make sure we’re ready on our end.”

On the run game versus Baylor
“It was a difficult matchup. Baylor did some unique things up front. If we want to have success, we need to do some things better, and I know we can do better. I imagine Oregon will watch our film versus Baylor and try to do some similar things defensively. I trust [Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick], [quarterback] Jaren Hall and the other leaders on our team. We can tweak things and find ways to be better, but we can’t just abandon our identity either.”

On offensive lineman and Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia
“He’s awesome, and not just on the field. He has so much talent and athleticism. He has a high ceiling. We knew when he came to us that we were going to get something special. I’ve known him his whole life. He loves being part of this team. He loves his teammates. I think he feels very comfortable here with our coaches and in our offense. I know he has an appreciation for Oregon. He’s looking forward to this matchup, but I don’t think he has any ill feelings. He’s a kid that shows a lot of gratitude and humility. I’m just proud to be his coach.”

On the team living its culture of love and learning with kicker Jake Oldroyd versus Baylor
“We talk about learning and loving and trusting each other. I trust the leaders on our team to take care of everyone. It wasn’t just that hug from Jaren. There were hugs the cameras didn’t catch as our players showed their love for Jake in the locker room. It’s hard to see your brother down and disappointed. It’s good for these guys to pick each other up. A lot of teams do that. I don’t want to sit here and brag about it with our players. I feel really good that our players feel empowered to do what they’ve been raised to do: love their teammates, embrace the fans and love the opportunity that they have to compete.”

Offensive lineman Connor Pay (Video)
On how the offensive line is doing healthwise after the physical game against Baylor
“Everybody’s good, everybody’s healthy. Obviously that was a really physical game, so everyone’s sore but overall everyone is healthy.”

On improving the run game against Oregon
“Obviously I don’t think we did as good a job as we could have in the run game, and that’s our responsibility as an offensive line. We just need to do a better job at starting and sustaining our combo blocks because like you said, Oregon has great defense. They’re fast, they flow, so it’s going to be another challenge this week to run the football, and we need to be really consistent in our technique.”

On how Oregon’s defense compares to Baylor’s defense
“I think there are both similarities and differences. Both are really strong run defenses and they both have good front-seven players. Both defensive lines do their job in freeing up the linebackers and playing fast.”

On focusing on the next game after an emotional win over Baylor
“It’s business as usual for us. We love it when the fans get excited, especially after a big win like that, but for us our minds are all on Oregon now and preparing the same way we do every week. After a very emotional win, we regroup, refocus and prepare the way we know how. As long as we do what we’re coached to do, then we’ll be okay and be ready to play.”

“We stay focused on who really matters, which is the people in this building - the teammates, coaches and staff. We stay focused on our preparations for Oregon and people outside can say whatever they want to say and it doesn’t really affect us. I mean, we rushed for only 83 yds against Baylor which is not good at all, so we have a lot to improve upon. It’s not really worth it to listen to the outside voices. It is wonderful to receive recognition, but that doesn’t matter unless you move forward and win your next game.” 

On what it’s like playing with Clark Barrington
“It’s awesome. To have a veteran and a leader like Clark being next to you and always knowing what you’re going to get from him is great. The chemistry and camaraderie is really nice and I love knowing I will have a strong, consistent player next to me.”

Linebacker Ben Bywater (Video)
On what it was like watching the film and seeing the success they had against Baylor’s offense|
“I was proud of our guys and the way we battled up front. For us, we had a lot to prove, especially after what happened last year. So, I was proud of the way we handled business, and it’s a testament to what we did in the off-season.”

On what was the key to success to get pressure on Baylor’s QB Blake Shapen
“A lot of it was the scheme. Our coaches did a great job putting us in good positions to make plays. But at the end of the day, it comes down to whether you have put in the work and if you have a relentless effort and attitude. Caden, Lorenzo, and John made their sacks by hustling, so I was proud of those guys.”

On how difficult it will be to bounce back for another difficult opponent this Saturday
“Connor talked about it earlier, you can’t sit on your wins for too long. We’ll enjoy it for 24 hours, but then we’re right back to the drawing board Monday morning. It was a huge win, and it will be a memory for me and Cougar Nation for a long time, but it’s about Oregon this week.”

On how big the culture is for the players
“For us, it’s a brotherhood. All off-season we’re with each other every day working hard, and we always have each other’s back through thick and thin. And that for me is comforting. Kalani always talks about love and learning and that’s. what our culture is based on. We take our wins and losses with gratitude and move forward.”

Safety Malik Moore (Video)
On the fans rushing the field and celebrating the win
“You’re just speechless. You don't really know what to say at a moment like that because you realize that this game isn’t just for you, it’s for the fans and everybody has a part in it. It’s exciting to see how excited everybody else gets when we have a big win like that and you’re just overfilled with joy at that moment. In a moment like that, anything goes. I didn't ask to crowd surf; they just picked me up. I was like, ‘Okay here we go.’”

On what improvements the defense needs to make
"We can improve on a lot. We can improve our tackling, everybody rallying to the ball, keeping our eyes on the ball. Also, being aware of those sneaky plays that Baylor threw at us towards the end of the game when they scored. I think that's a big area for improvement is just focusing on our assignment and alignment."