BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake and select players addressed the media on Monday in preparation for Saturday's game against Wyoming.
Watch and read interviews from Coach Sitake, linebacker Keenan Pili, tight end Isaac Rex and wide receiver Kody Epps.
Head coach Kalani Sitake (Video)
“I’m excited for this next week. While I’m definitely disappointed from last week’s performance, but there’s a lot of things we can learn from reviewing the film. Our guys gave great effort. It was a tough place to play. It was a missed opportunity for us, but it’s important that we learn and improve from last week to this week against Wyoming. I’m looking forward to the matchup with Wyoming. They’re a really well-coached team. I’ve known [head coach Craig] Bohl for a long time. We played against him in the [2016 Poinsettia Bowl] when they had [current Buffalo Bills quarterback] Josh Allen. I have a ton of respect for Coach Bohl and how he does his job. On film, they look very big, aggressive and tough. It will be a great matchup for us, especially after what happened over this last weekend.”
On the team’s health
“We’re hopeful to get Earl [Tuioti-Mariner] and Tyler [Batty] back, as well as Puka [Nacua] and Gunner [Romney] back too. I felt this way a couple of weeks ago too, so I have no idea anymore. We’re going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Today, I think Batty’s closer than the others. We’ll find out more today.”
On struggles in the run game
“There’s a bunch of things that factor into it, including lack of technique and missed assignments. The guys are giving us the effort, but we just need to play more disciplined. We need to be more disciplined as a team in all three phases. I need to do a better job making sure our guys are playing correctly and that we show up better. We’re looking forward to learning from the loss to Oregon and getting better. I’ve mentioned being humble and hungry. We’re in a situation where we’re humbled. Now we need to focus on how much we can learn from this and how we can get things back on track.”
On challenges Wyoming’s offense presents
“If you look at they’re game, they build a lot off of their run game. They use multiple sets and a very strong offensive line. We’ve seen the quarterback run and he’s fast. They have really good skill positions too. They can go empty [backfield] and spread you out, but they have an identity of establishing a run game and building off that. They’re having success for a reason. The variety of things they can do on offense causes problems for defenses.”
Linebacker Keenan Pili (Video)
On what he learned from the loss to Oregon
“After watching the film and talking with some of the boys, we’re just trying to stay positive and fallback on what we know; love and learn. We’re going to try to learn from those situations, move-on and hopefully correct them this week.”
On how the defense can improve against the run
“We have to execute our assignments better. That’s our plan for this week. We need to execute the plan we’re given and play our one-eleventh.”
On his expectations when facing Wyoming
“Wyoming’s a respectable opponent. I know they had a big win last week (versus Air Force). We’re excited to compete against them. They’re a great program with great athletes.”
On correcting missed tackles
“We need to go back to fundamentals. Whether it’s the feet, angles or shape of the defense, we have to go back to those fundamentals, iron out those creases and get better this week.”
On his health at this point in the season after returning from a torn ACL in 2021
“I feel way better than I thought I would. I feel 100%. I feel like I can trust my ACL. It’s not very sore after the games. It’s a nice answer to prayer. I’ve been blessed."
Tight end Isaac Rex (Video)
On how the tight ends can help improve the run game
"I think staying on blocks, working on getting hands inside and staying in front of guys is pretty much our goal. We pride ourselves on running the ball at BYU and we want to get better. We want to improve the running game and we'll get better this week."
On ankle injury progress
"I feel like I'm getting close to 100-percent. Obviously, the ankle is still an ongoing process, but I've been feeling good, feeling healthy and I feel I’ve been playing good. I'm still working on rehabbing the ankle but I'm happy with how I've progressed so far throughout the season."
On tight ends involvement in the offense
"We'll do whatever it takes for our team to win. Whatever the coaches want us to do, we'll do, whether it's catching or whether that's blocking. We're only three games in and we have nine more, so we'll keep going."
On the BYU vs. Wyoming rivalry
"It’s a legendary rivalry. I know going back to the WAC and Mountain West days, Wyoming has always been a key game for us. They're going to be tough, they're going to be gritty, Wyoming's a good team, so we have to be really prepared."
On bouncing back from the “missed opportunity” this week
"Yeah, that's the key. We can't let this loss affect the rest of our season. We need to learn from it, watch the film and take this loss with a grain of salt. We have to focus on getting better from this."
Wide receiver Kody Epps (Video)
On his first action at BYU and how he contributed
"It felt pretty good. Going into that game, every game you want to do your best, give your best effort and as a receiver you always want to get in the end zone to make those big plays. Thinking back to a year ago, I was watching on the sidelines and even in a loss like that it felt really good to be a part of the team, through wins and losses. It just feels amazing to be on the field with those guys and make plays."
On where the run game can improve
"I had a couple routes where I didn't get my depth and that could have helped us complement the run game. Stretching the field on my end, being able to make big catches down the field will just help us a lot because safeties have to move further back, DBs have to latch on to us a little bit more and even linebackers they have to be able to climb up the field, just in case we get behind them. I want to do better in the depth of my routes and just being able to make those big plays down the field to just compliment the run game."
On moving forward from the “missed opportunity” at Oregon
"From a personal standpoint, I have to double down on all the things that got me to where I am today. From a team standpoint, I think we just continue to focus on our values, continue to be true to who we are as a team, our identity, and move forward with that. A loss doesn’t define us as a group. We know what we need to focus on and what we can do better. If we just stay true to ourselves and looking at the things that we can do a lot better, we'll come back this week and do what we usually do."