BYU Football Media Availability – at Boise State


PROVO, Utah – BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake and select players on Monday in prep for Saturday's game against Boise State. 

Read select comments from Coach Sitake, offensive lineman Clark Barrington, quarterback Keenan Pili and quarterback Jaren Hall below. 

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake (Video)
“I’m excited for this week and this new game. I’m excited to get up to Boise and play this game. They have a very good team. [Head coach Andy] Avalos has done a great job. They’re on a win streak right now and we’re on a slump, so something has to give this weekend. I feel good about our team and our guys’ focus. This is a rivalry game, and we don’t know what the future holds for it. I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and their team. They have an identity on offense. Andy [Avalos] has done a great job with the defense. They’re one of the top defenses in the country. This is not an easy game. I know a lot of the players on that roster. I have tons of respect for their fan base and the energy they provide for their team. It’s a unique and fun atmosphere.

On injuries to Kody Epps and Chris Brooks
“Kody Epps’ injury is season-ending, unfortunately. We were hoping after getting information back and meeting with the doctors that it wouldn’t be. He’s in high spirits. I’ve spoken with him. He’s excited to keep his role as a leader on this team and to keep working with us. I’m excited about his energy and approach to the injury, but not excited that we don’t get his production on the field. Chris’s injury is not season-ending. It’s a day-to-day, week-to-week thing.”

On defensive injuries
“It’s towards the end of the year. We’ve played 10 weeks straight. We knew we were going to have to test our depth, but I hate that we’ve had to test it as often as we have this year. That’s the game though. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We have some young guys that can step up, make plays and give us some production.”

On the spirits of the team
“I’ve had plenty of discussions with the players during the last few days. I feel that there is still strong leadership on this team. There’s a sense of positivity and optimism. They know this week we have a rivalry game. This is a great time for this game. We know we haven’t been performing at our best and getting the results we or our fans want, so there is definite disappointment. Our attitude isn’t to bypass the disappointment. You can be disappointed, but you have to keep working. Our focus is to keep working, try to be as positive as we can and fix some things and improve. Hopefully we get that done and get the results we’re looking for. That doesn’t come with pouting. You have to get to work. You have to put in all of the hard work and sacrifice time to get that done.”

On Gunner Romney’s injury and considering a medical redshirt for him
“We want to see as many guys as we can play another year if they’re not given a full year. We’ll always visit the opportunity to get guys more years to play, if we can. It’s been unfortunate. He hasn’t played even close to the number of games we hoped for. Hopefully we get him this week. That’s the hope I have every week for him and some others.”

On his focus right now
“I’m focused on getting our guys to play to their potential. That’s on me and our coaches. I’m focused on allowing our leadership to continue to form. We have some really great young men in this program. When you’re going through some adversity, that’s a great opportunity for us to push guys into leadership roles and force them to be in a position where they have no choice but to lead. I’ve mentioned before that we’re in a position of fight or flight, and I have a bunch of fighters here. That keeps me feeling really good about our program and where we’re at. Obviously, we want to get more wins. We have great young men in this program and I’m going to lean on them to lead.”

Offensive lineman Clark Barrington (Video)
On takeaways
“Lots of positives from last week, but just like you said we weren't able to pull through on some of those critical downs, and we need to get better and in that aspect.”

On improvements needed in short yardage situations
“Execution, being ready for the plays that will be called and then having the mindset that we're going to get the first down or score no matter what is called.”

On if BYU can beat Boise State
“For sure. If you go into a game feeling like you're not going to win, what's the point of even playing the game? Our mindset is to win the game. I know what's possible.”

On the focus on the run game against ECU
“It was a big focus for us. The past couple of games we haven't had the best run game, so we were focused on getting that started early and counting on that throughout the game. The improvement just came with a change of mindset and knowing that we're going to run the ball and that's going to be our thing.”

On how much analytics are valued as an offensive line
“Honestly not a ton. I'm not a big numbers guy or analytics guy. I leave that to the coaches and trust them to run whatever is called.”

On expectations of the Boise State defense
“They bring their best every year and just like Kalani said, it's a great team and we need to bring our ‘A-game’. We're expecting it to be a fist fight, it's going to be a physical game and so we need to bring it.”

On morale within the team
“The season isn’t going the way that we wanted it to, but I think we're doing a good job of just keeping the mindset of next game up, next play and learning from the past.”

Linebacker Keenan Pili (Video)
On addressing the run defense
“The only thing you can do is try to correct the problems. That comes with film, it comes with study and every Monday we get together and go through that. Then you try to correct what went wrong.”

“It's obviously a little bit disappointing. On the defensive end, with adversity comes better things and I think we're going to grow as a defense. We're going to grow as a rush defense, stop the run more often and try to get better each week.”

On giving up big plays
“It comes a lot with the shape of the defense, you really have to be disciplined when it comes to running backs bouncing and playing around in the backfield. You need to be really disciplined in your shape and all it comes down to is doing your assignment.”

On expectations for the 2022 team
“I don't know what expectations others may have had but, within the locker room and within the team, our expectations will always be high. It's BYU football, we work so hard in the offseason for these moments and you have to shoot for the stars.”

On expectations for facing the Boise State
“We just want to play our best game. We feel like we haven't been able to show all the work we put in, we haven't been able to execute how we want to and I just hope that this game can be our best.  We're going to come into it with positivity, we're going to come into it with greater motivation and hope that we can show our best.”

Quarterback Jaren Hall (Video)
On analytics
“We talk about them a lot in meetings, we watch film when the game plan certain down in distance plays and then, on the field, we have a great way of communicating those things so I'm aware of what the book is telling us at the time. So, it's been a big part of our offense, and really all three phases of the game for three years now and all the success we've had recently.”

“We go by the book, we do as it tells us to because there's been a lot of time spent in researching the impacts of it and oftentimes, it's gone our way over the last couple of years. There are times it hasn’t but even with numbers you're still human beings on the field and you have to go play and you need to make it work. I'm confident in the book and I'm confident with our coaches make their decisions about what to do in each situation.”

On the challenge of leading the team over the last month
“Not a challenge, an opportunity, though to find ways to keep people positive and keep yourself positive really. As a leader, a lot of times you can take stuff on yourself, you can allow a it to become burdensome. So, for me personally, to stay positive and then find ways to look outward, see the guys that need to be reached out to, see the guys that need more belief in themselves and to help strike that belief within them.”

On the Boise State rivalry
“It's always an intense game, there's always history behind it, there's always grit on the field between both teams and it's always a good game. It's a good atmosphere wherever you play, whether you're in Boise or here in Provo, and it's always a challenge every year. It's no different than playing Utah or even playing Utah State. It's very similar feel. So, it will be really fun to play out there in Boise in their stadium. Their fans are very passionate, they always come out to support and so it will be a good challenge for us.”

On the offensive injuries and impact on the offense
“We you always pray for their health, you want them to get back as soon as they can and you'd like to have all your weapons out there at the same time, but the nature of football is that it is a physical game. So, you can't really make excuses and you can't let that become a burden for anyone to try and carry more weight.”

“All you need to do is be the most prepared player you can, do your 1/11th because at the end of the day there's 10 other guys in the field that can make up for what you lose when someone else is hurt. I have a lot of confidence in all of our guys and we've seen it all year. Everybody stepped up at certain points and made plays, so now it's a matter of getting everybody that's available to have the best game of their season at the same time.”