Football Media Availability – at Stanford


PROVO, Utah – BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and select players addressed the media Monday ahead of Saturday's regular-season finale at Stanford. 

Read select quotes from Coach Sitake, wide receiver Chase Roberts, linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa and offensive lineman Joe Tukuafu. 

Head coach Kalani Sitake (Video) 
“I don’t know where we’re going bowling yet, so I’ll just get that out of the way. I’m hopeful we can find out our destination as soon as possible. We’re looking forward to this last week here; Thanksgiving week. I look forward to showing gratitude for a lot of things. I’m thankful that we have this opportunity to play this last game. We’re going to be on the road, so we’re thankful we could get that win at home last week against Utah Tech and have our departing players go out with that victory. I’m looking forward to our preparation for this Stanford game. BYU has never beaten Stanford before, so we’re looking forward to hopefully getting that done. We see a lot of talent from Stanford on film. They’re a very well coached team. [Head coach David] Shaw is one of the best out there. This is their last game. I know they’re going to find a lot of motivation and strength in trying to win one for their team and seniors as well. We know this is going to be a tough game. We’re excited that we get to empty the tank. We need to do this the right way and make sure we show up at our best in all three phases of the game this weekend.”

On Stanford’s history of recruiting Latter-day Saint players
“Stanford’s not the only one that recruits Latter-day Saint kids. There’s a lot of good football players out there who happen to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Stanford definitely has some. I wish we could take all of the recruits who are Latter-day Saints, but we can’t. There’s great ones who go different places.”

On gratitude for the ups and downs this season
“The whole experience is a learning process for us. We talk about the culture of love and learn. You learn through the good times and through the adversity as well. I’m committed to increasing our opportunities to get better. I’m proud of us overcoming some adversity. We went through a stretch that was very difficult. When you’re going through some tough times, that’s a good moment to really count your blessings. Our guys still get to represent their loved ones and all of the sacrifices their families have made for them to be here. There’s a lot of things to be thankful for, regardless of the situation you’re going through.”

On fullback Houston Heimuli’s role on the team
“He’s had a lot of experience and was a captain for Stanford. Maybe this season he hasn’t been on the field as much as he planned on or as I anticipated, but I can tell you that he has made an impact and had an influence on our program off the field and in the locker room. He’s an amazing teammate and wonderful young man. We’re a better program with him being here. I know he anticipated he would be on the field a lot more and there’s still a couple of games left where he can do that. He’s going to have a lot of success in life just because of who he is. He has tons of energy and passion. He’s a wonderful young man and it’s been an honor for me to be his coach.”

On decision-making at the end of the season
“The evaluation process goes through the whole program. Usually, when you get towards the end of the year is when you start to review all of the notes and observations that you made throughout the year. I evaluate constantly and try to get a feel for what’s going on with each position group and coach. I also evaluate what we’re doing with our support staff. I have to be tuned-in to all of that stuff. I just try to make sure that we’re improving and that we’re all aligned and working toward the same goal which is to do everything we can to make sure these young men on our team are doing their best on and off the field. That’s my focus. I’m committed to making sure we’re the best we can be. I think we’ll get there. We’re going into a new situation next year, so there’s probably a little bit more urgency for things to be done.”

On recruiting and the transfer portal
“The first thing you do is look at your program. You see that there’s quite a few guys that have to make a decision about whether or not they’re going to be here or move-on to the next level or start their careers outside of football. We get there first and then we build our depth chart to see where we can improve along with looking at our own guys who are looking to go elsewhere through the portal. Most of the time when guys enter the portal, it’s because they want more playing time. That’s a factor when we’re making decisions. I like to recruit from within first and see what we have in our program, then add to that. Any additions to the program have to be a good fit. We’ve had success with guys who came through the transfer portal because we were able to look at them and evaluate whether or not they’re a good fit; whether or not they’re committed to doing not only what the football program’s about, but also if they’re aligned with the mission of The Church and the University. The transfer portal is part of recruiting now. You have to see where you have deficiencies and where you lack depth. That’s the goal.”

Wide receiver Chase Roberts (Video)
On thanksgiving week and how the trials of the season impacted the team
“This week has really put things into perspective. We have had a rough season, but it's been awesome to look back on the great times that we've had. Being senior night just a couple of days ago, we were able to remember those moments that we've had, together with the seniors, with everybody. The early morning lifts, going out to eat, the little things, practices that are rough, they're hard but we love each other and we're just so grateful for the opportunity to play as a team. To be able to represent BYU, to represent our Savior, Jesus Christ in everything that we do, and it's been an awesome week. Now we're getting ready to prepare for another awesome week.”

On first full season of college football
“I wouldn't take anything back. It's been such a perfect year for learning, growing and being the best football player and man, I can be. Having to battle some injuries and having ups and downs, it's been a journey for sure.

I feel like Heavenly Father's hand has been in every aspect and helped me become the man he wants me to become as well as the team that he wants us to be. To represent Him, to represent this university and everyone that is affiliated with it, so definitely a lot of ups and downs but I wouldn't take anything back. It's been amazing.”

On playing a lot of Utah and LDS players this weekend
“I definitely talked a lot with Stanford. I committed early here at BYU as a sophomore and told them [Stanford] early on that I was I was headed here. They didn't ever offer me, but I'm grateful for Stanford and how they impacted me and pushed me as a young kid in high school. I'm excited to go see the coaches again, all the players that I was close with some that committed there like Tanner McKee and other guys. It's going to be awesome to be on their campus, be able to be around the amazing people that represent that university and we're going to go perform and hopefully do well.”

On what Puka Nacua means to the BYU receiving core
“He is one of a kind. Puka has been a great example of leadership. You can see his passion on the field but it's nothing like what we see in film, in meetings and everything. His passion for the game is out of this world and like nothing I've ever seen. That has been a great learning experience for every one of the wide receivers and the whole team, to see how much he loves football, how much he loves his brothers and how much he loves BYU football. He has put his heart and soul into every minute that he has been here on campus and I'm grateful for him.

Whatever he decides to do, we obviously hope he comes back. We don't know yet but whether he stays or leaves, he's had an amazing impact here at BYU, not just BYU football, but this whole university. I’m grateful for him, what he's taught me and everyone else.”

On goals for BYU career and going into the Big 12
“I'm just going to go play. I want to be the best football player I can be, a good leader to everyone around me and a positive example. I'm just going to be me, go perform and be that that leader and example to everyone. I'm going go represent this university and represent my families as best I can.”

Linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa (Video)
On gratitude for BYU career and this season
“Yeah, just throughout my walk career, I've really fallen in love with the journey. That's been my favorite part about football. Obviously, the outcome, the chips kind of fall where they fall. Falling in love with the journey has been one of the best blessings of my life because it's taught me the principles of hard work and doing everything within my power to prepare. I'm so thankful for football, thankful for my family and I love this time of the season, because of the gratitude that's in the air and in the amount of reflecting that I can do.”

On motivation to get a win at Stanford on Saturday
“I think it's just our pride as competitors. We love this sport, we love what we do, we love to win and we pride ourselves on being excellent. That's what we're striving for. We're hoping that Stanford brings their a-game because we're looking to bring our a-game as well.”

On playing Pac 12 foe Stanford
“We love playing all schools, especially the Pac 12. They're a great competition and a great league, so we're excited to play. We haven't had the chance to play too many Pac 12 teams this this season but we're excited.

On the senior day festivities
“It was a little bit surreal. I was glad that they honored the seniors after the game because I am a bit of a creature of habit and I love our game day routine exactly how it is. It was great to be able to treat it like any other game and be able to reflect afterwards on the four years I've been here and the many years that the seniors have been here and on all the experiences we've had.

My family was able to decorate my locker and you know, I was getting a little choked up seeing some of the pictures of my dad and I a while I was playing youth football in third grade. It's been an honor to be here. I've loved every moment of it and I’m really excited for the last two games.”

On if the defense improved against Utah Tech
“I think it was a mixed bag. I think there's definitely some things that we could have done better. One of the things I loved about the Boise State game was how hard we came out in the beginning. I think that's something that we can improve on going into Stanford, and something that we're going to need to do because they're such a good team. I really loved how we stepped it up in the second half, especially holding them to zero points until that last touchdown.”

On Houston Heimuli’s impact as a teammate
“It feels like that guy has been here for the whole time I've been here; it seems like he's been here for four years. The influence that he's had, you just can't put into words. He is a guy who always has a smile on his face on the sideline, that guy has the most energy I think on our team. I think he might rival Puka, which is saying a lot. I'm so grateful to him for having come here because he's shown me a whole different aspect of football that I never even saw before. So grateful for him.”

Offensive lineman Joe Tukuafu (Video)
On what thanksgiving week means to him
“It's another week that I’m thankful to play football and to attend Brigham Young University. That'll be the last regular season game of my career here. Many years here and I've enjoyed every moment, especially as we wind down to the end of this career and this chapter here at BYU. I'm just grateful for the staff for always sticking with me through all my time here, their confidence and their patience with me as I learned how to play offensive lineman.”

On plans following his BYU career
“I'll take a shot at playing in any league, particularly the NFL. I’ll do a Pro Day as I think I have the capability to play at the next level. I have a background of two positions, three if you include high school. There's a lot of talent and a lot of time that I put into my skill set, so I feel like I have at least something that I can pick out of the bag and prove that I can do at the next level whether it's offensive line, tight end or fullback; whatever I can do to play.”

On motivation for the Stanford game
“Just taking like another game, respecting the game and respecting our opponent, watch the film and put in the practice that is needed. I think everyone has a Thanksgiving vibe with them, so everyone will be itching to play this game, spend time with family throughout the week and just spend time together as a team. It'll be good to have Thanksgiving and then to get out to Palo Alto and play Stanford.”

On playing Stanford who is a Pac-12 team
“There's a lot of respect for Stanford. It is a very prestigious school, university, a very prestigious program and coaches that have instilled greatness in the program. It will be good to go in there, play a great game and it's good to have Houston here. Houston tells us a lot of great things about Stanford and so it's just good to have that connection.”

What playing a power-5 team in Stanford means for momentum going into the Big 12
“I think any power-5 team that we play will add momentum to who we are, what kind of football we play and our brand. I think playing this will set the tone for how next year could play out and set the tone especially for the offseason. That's a big time where players develop their bodies and put in a lot of time, so it'll be good to end this season on the right note against the very great opponent, power five and so we're going to go out Saturday and play our best.”