Kenny Cox | Posted: 22 Nov 2021 | Updated: 28 Nov 2021

Kalani Sitake Media Availability - USC

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Sitake media availability

The following quotes are  from BYU head coach Kalani Sitake's Monday media availability, including select players. 

Head coach Kalani Sitake (Video)
We are preparing for the last game of the regular season. We are looking to finish strong. I'm excited about the matchup against USC.  At on of talent and athleticism. Its their Senior night and we are excepting their best shot. We know that they are still playing for bowl eligibility. This is our opportunity to play our best. I'm looking forward to the matchup. We have some improvements to make from last week. Coming off the bye week, I feel like the guys played well in the second half. 

On the game being on a holiday weekend
We will practice Thursday morning and have our players go to different places for Thanksgiving. Most of them have a place to go, so we want them to be in a family setting with coach's families or their teammates. There will be a lot of football this weekend for them to watch. They have a lot to be grateful for.

On areas to improve upon still
I don't want to get too general. It's more specific. We want great fundamentals and great technique. I don't want to take away from the majority of the group that is doing it right. We focus on the individual and what they can do better to improve from week to week. I hate to use a blanket statement. Collectively, if everyone gets better at their assignments, it will make us better as a team. 

On seeing his players be grateful
It's part of the values that we have. Humility allows us to learn. It gives us the ability to increase our love. We can never say thank you too much. They are a thankful group. It's been a lot of fun, but groups would be better if they focus on being thankful. I'm grateful for our group. 

On injuries
It was a huge impact when we lost Keenan Pili and Keenan Ellis. We are down some starters. That's valuable leadership. It feels the same way with Payton Wilgar. We had to make a discussion on the timing of everything. He was playing with a lot of pain. It was the right thing to do. He is more important than the game of football. He won't be on the field on Saturday night. But, he can still have an influence on our players. 

On having double-digit wins
I'm trying to get these guys ready for Saturday. I'm just focusing on that. That is the goal. I'm not worried about an overall record right now. We respect all the opponents that we go against. We don't look at a team's record and judge them off that. We are a ranked team and we aren't hiding from anyone. We anticipate that each team is going to give its best shot. We want to give ours as well. We focus on the here and now. I know that everyone wants to talk about possibilities and future opponents. We are just focused on this game and this opportunity. That's the best way to show gratitude. We need to enjoy the day. Our goal is to be focused and take it day by day. We're looking forward to seeing bunch of our fans there. My focus is helping my team to focus on this game only. 

On playing in the Coliseum
It's a great place for an event. For football, the guys are used to seeing it on TV, I want the boys to embrace the opportunity to play in that stadium. They will remember all the athletes who have been on that field. I want them to have fun with it. 

On USC on film
They have tons of talent. There is no lack of talent. They will be well-coached. You see their speed on the field. They have former Cougars on their staff. We know that they will know a little more about us. I know how some of their staff coaches. What you see on film is what you're going to get. 

On Jaxson Dart
Great player. We recruited him and he has a wonderful family. He has been trained well and has a good football IQ. He can hurt with you his arm and he can run. He has capable receivers and ball carriers. Knowing that kid and being around him, he will be ready for this game. I'm looking forward to seeing him and wishing him the best in every game, except this one. He's a great kid. 

On BYU athletics and its success
A lot of good things happening due to great leadership. We have great people here working on campus. We have awesome student athletes. Teams are having success. The No.1 thing is the fans. That's the common denominator amongst all teams. We have a huge advantage. I don't know how many we had at the Georgia Southern game, but it was at least 10,000. The fan base is unbelievable and they make some noise. All sports want to keep their fans happy.

Defensive back Kaleb Hayes (Video)
On gratitude
We like to give and we like to show respect to our fans, to our families, to our loved ones, to friends. Just showing them we're playing this game for them and it's more than us. Going into this Thanksgiving week and playing this game is like, it's more for our families and to show Cougar nation we love them and we’re playing our hearts out for them.

On the gratitude mentality at BYU
We speak about it every day. Like, literally every day. At meetings, after practice, even when we’re outside on the field. Love and learning is a real saying and we really do believe it.

On the game against USC
It’s going to be amazing. I’m very excited to go back home and see my family and friends down there supporting me and just going back to Cali. I love that area.

Defensive back Malik Moore (Video)
USC is definitely a team that was everybody’s dream school to go to. USC is a historic place to play and hopefully Cougar nation fills it and it’s a good show out for us.

On friends & family attending the USC game
Old teammates have been asking me for USC tickets since the beginning of the season. I am sure there will be a great show out of friends and family at this game and BYU fans filling the stadium.

On the defense
We’ve been really great at getting a lot of turnovers, at least one a game and I believe that’s the key. Our tackling improved last week against a very good run team, but there’s always something that that can be improved. Coming into the next game, tackling is definitely going to be an emphasis.

On gratitude
Being a part of the BYU football team has taught me to appreciate the little things in life. For instance, the fans that came to the Georgia game and packed the stadium. We have fans that watch our games at 2 a.m., when we are playing at 8 p.m. It is those type of things that we have to be so grateful for. Being grateful and celebrating the little things that happen in our program has really carried into my life, just appreciating waking up each day.

Quarterback Jaren Hall (Video)
On gratitude for the BYU fan base
Let me just say I'm grateful for our fans. Kalani (Sitake) mentioned how devoted these fans are to us when they don't even really know us or who we are individually, but the fact that we're representing BYU is something they love and the fact that they're invested in our lives now and supporting us, it's a blessing. Just to realize how those fans on the East Coast that came to that game are the same ones staying up late at night, when most people are sleeping, and they'll be yelling and screaming at the TV, good or bad, just invested in us, it's amazing. It's one of the things I'm very grateful for being here at BYU."

On the offensive line shifting around
There's no difference. Just finding a way to motivate the new guys who are in and build confidence in them. Everyone we have on this roster is capable to play and play well, so just getting those guys that are new to playing time ready and up to speed, and they've done a good job so far, everyone who's stepped in, so a lot of confidence and nothing different for me.

On the receiver room and guys stepping up in Neil Pau'u's absence 
Fesi (Sitake) and A-Rod (Aaron Roderick) demand a lot out of the receivers and our receivers are up to the challenge every time. Keanu has done a great job stepping up all year long. You've seen his name, same with Chris Jackson, who came in earlier in the year and did a lot of good things for us. So whenever guys go down, there's always another who's next up. That's kind of something we preach, I think every football team does the same, because you never know what happens.