BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake and select players addressed the media on Monday in preparation for Thursday's game against Utah State.
Watch and read interviews from Coach Sitake, defensive lineman Tyler Batty, defensive back Jakob Robinson and wide receiver Brayden Cosper.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake (Video)
“I'm really excited about the rivalry game. We’re looking forward to having Utah State here in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Thursday night. We had a really cool game in their environment last year. Not a lot of rest for both teams, so it will be interesting how we manage the schedule from now until the game but it's part of college football, that's what happens, the NFL is doing it as well.
We knew way ahead of the season that this would be the situation, so I'm looking forward to our experts getting our guys ready, but in the meantime, I just want to see our team play better, play a good football game and play our best. I don't think we've seen it yet. I don't think it's been clean enough for all 60 minutes, so I'm looking forward to getting that done this this Thursday. That is going to be the huge emphasis for us."
On Jaren Hall’s improvement since taking over as a starter
"He's the perfect example for everyone to watch and that's for our team, our fans and our coaches. To see the things that he has overcome when he was injured, how he stuck with things even when he was down on the depth chart, he did everything he could to learn as much as he could when Zach [Wilson] was starting and Baylor was getting reps. No complaints, just hard work.
He knew his time would come and that he would have an opportunity to earn the spot, he did it and look what's happening now. You look at the things that he does naturally. That's a young man that doesn't take anything for granted, how much he appreciates the opportunity to be a leader and to be in charge of the offense. He takes extra care of the football because of that mindset.
But then you see him do wonderful things like spend extra time with fans, spend time with players that are hurting, it's a joy to have Jaren on our team obviously leading and being a captain for us but being our quarterback but it's the little thing that got him here.
He took advantage of the adversity and embraced the road to where he's at now. He had this mindset a long time ago. I challenge everyone to look what he was doing a couple years ago. What he did three years ago, two years and last year to now and how he improves over time. How awesome is that? He stays humble and keeps working hard. He's a great example to our team and even to me as a coach."
On defensive substitution patterns
"We didn't create the substitution packages, that's part of college football. The majority of our starters get the majority of the reps but we're going to use different personnel sets. Wyoming switched from three tight ends to two tight ends, two backs and two tight ends, to four wide outs and then three wide outs. So, we're going to match up our talent."
On offensive performance
"You'd like to see a better start, but you have to give credit to Wyoming, what they did defensively and they made some really good plays. After watching the film, I thought Jaren made the right decisions. It's better to punt than to take a risk and throw an interception. I was okay with the decisions that he made, he gave our guys a chance to make plays and we were able to utilize our punt game to flip the field when we needed to."
On what improvements need to be made by the offensive line
"We need to block better and make sure we get bodies on bodies because when we do that, the running backs will find the seam and be able to puncture through.
Sometimes the defense can load the box and take away all the gaps, but when there's penetration, that's on the O-line. There are moments for the running backs to create space and set up their blocks as well. So, that needs to work cohesively and needs to work better."
On expectations for Utah State in this game
“Everyone is dangerous when they're in this position. They're the same team and coached by the same guys. They have great effort and you can see it on film. I’m not really worried too much about what Utah State will do because I’m more worried about what we're doing. I can see some things that we definitely need to improve on.”
“That’s my job as a head coach and I'm frustrated that we haven't played our best yet and we haven't seen it consistently. There's no excuse for it and I think that's going to be a huge emphasis for us, for me, the team and we don't have a lot of time to figure it out. We've got to get that going now.”
“I have tons of respect for Utah State, their fans, definitely for their football program, their coaches and those players. Those guys work really hard, they’re well coached, the scheme works really well for them and they're always dangerous. I’ve played in these types of games before, so I know they're going to bring their best and we need to make sure that our best shows up.”
On the challenges of a Thursday game
“We just need to get ready for it. We knew going in what our schedule would look like and then have a plan for what we're doing today, tomorrow and Wednesday. It’s always going to be hard on the guys and it's going to be hard on both teams, but I'm excited for it. We're going to play two games in less than a week. That's awesome.”
Defensive lineman Tyler Batty (Video)
On what he learned from playing against Wyoming’s offense
“I think one of our biggest takeaways, defensively, is that we have to be better at stopping the run and getting off the field. Coming into the game, we knew that Wyoming was going to try to run the ball and eat clock. That first quarter, they really did that. We need to be able to win on first down and get off the field.
On facing Utah State
“It’s a lot of fun. Here in Utah, we have a lot of good teams and we’ve had a lot of good teams among the universities. It’s always fun to play in-state rivals. That’s something we may miss for a couple of years. I’m a little bit conflicted. I’m bummed because you may not play them for a couple of years, but at the same time, we’re going into a new era where we get to play a lot of new teams in the Big 12 and that’s really exciting.”
On starting fast as a defense
“Every game, especially defensively, you need to come out and make a statement. That’s something we’re looking to do this week. We need to come out in the first quarter and do our job; get three-and-outs, get off the field and give the offense the ball back.”
On the difficulties of a quick turnaround to facing Utah State on Thursday
“There are fewer days for rest in between games. We just don’t have a lot of time for film study and practices. Everything has to be really condensed in order to be ready.”
On what the team can do to play to its potential
“I think we expected to have a little bit better rhythm defensively at this point in the season. Looking forward and looking back at what we’ve learned through these first four games, it comes down to assignment-sound football. We need to focus on that and stay true to our identity. I think this week and the rest of the season, we will be able to play at the really high level that we know we can.”
Defensive back Jakob Robinson (Video)
On what the team needs to work on
“I think just coming out with more energy because I feel like the last two games we have come out with low energy. I think if we all come out with the right energy, it will definitely help our performance.”
On feelings about Utah State rivalry
“I think it will be sad if the rivalry goes away because in-state rivalries are always fun. I think it will be a good game though this week because Utah State will be just as good as last year."
On transition to playing corner
“It’s been a good transition and I’ve had a lot of fun playing corner. Nickel gives more space for the receiver to run on both sides, and the corner position, you are a lot more on your own island. I think they’re both hard, but just different.”
Wide receiver Brayden Cosper (Video)
On his breakthrough game against Wyoming
“I mean obviously it feels great. It’s been a long time coming, so after so many years and missing so many games it feels awesome to just get out there to enjoy the game and have fun. It felt great to make that grab in the end zone. We have had that play running the last few weeks and we have practiced it so much. It’s great when you get to work on something so much and then go perform it.”
On what he has learned through his struggles
“The main thing is when you want to do something and you have a goal in mind, it’s important to be resilient and be specific with what you want to do. I think it is also okay to adjust your expectations for yourself to be realistic and make sure they are achievable.”
On how Jaren [Hall] has improved
“I think Jaren has always been such a calm and confident guy on the field and I think this year it just shows in his preparation that he is really confident where he wants to go with the ball. He sees the coverage well and always knows where he wants to go with the ball and we are confident he can make any throw.”
On the in-state rivalry with Utah State
“In-state rivalries are awesome and the energy is always great. The Wagon Wheel is a cool thing and it’s always nice to take that home, so it would be sad if the rivalry came to an end. If it is the end, I’m sure both teams will give the fans a great showing with lots of energy and excitement. Utah State is a great rival. They are a talented team and won the Mountain West last year. They are going to come with a lot of energy and regardless of how they perform, we respect them a lot. It’s always a fun game for the fans as well.”