Kenny Cox | Posted: 17 Dec 2021 | Updated: 22 Dec 2021

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Pregame Press Conference

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SHREVEPORT, La. – BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, wide receiver Gunner Romney and running back Tyler Allgeier met with members of the media at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl pregame press conference Friday morning.

The following quotes are selected from Friday's press conference. Watch the entire press conference. 

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
We are one day away from the game and we’re really excited. We just wanted to express our appreciation to everyone who has shown us such great hospitality here, to the sponsor Radiance Technologies and the Independence Bowl committee. So much energy and effort goes into taking care of us from the people here in Shreveport. We feel it, and are really excited for the opportunity to play in this game. The amount of love and effort, we feel it. The people here are amazing in getting to know everybody.

The different events we’ve had all week have been amazing for our players. So, I speak for them saying that being involved in the community was really a lot of fun. And, also being able to see how hard they’ve worked in getting ready to put on this bowl game, I hope they know that we really appreciate it and are really honored to be here in this game. To be able to share the field with a wonderful team like UAB and a great coach like Bill Clark, they’re wonderful people and it’s been really cool.

We compete against all these teams. I don’t know how the come up with the championship belt for the competition deal but obviously we’re really not very good at playing Madden as a team and I don’t plan on that getting any better. For some reason we can throw axes. I don’t know if we can put that in our players lounge, and the trivia part competition was fun. But, getting to see our players interact with the UAB players, it was a lot of fun and something that’s really special at a bowl game and during bowl season.

We’re really honored to be a part of this bowl game, and on the field, I’m excited to see our guys perform one more time. As a coach, I really appreciate the preparation our players brought and the development of a lot of our young guys. We took full advantage of the practice we had and hopefully this will springboard us into the preparation for the 2022 offseason. But, all in all we’re really excited about this game. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and being on the field with these guys on more time.

On UAB coach Bill Clark:
Bill has a great reputation in college football and the coaching world. I’ve known of him and seen a lot of the things he’s done with his program. It’s been an honor to meet him and to get to know him on a personal level. Not just him, but if you look at his coaching staff and what wonderful people they have running that program, including their athletic director. It’s really cool. If anyone understands what we’re doing it’s coaches. So, being able to talk and share and not worry about game planning but to express an appreciation for each other. I appreciate him because he wants to make a living mentoring young men and adults and that’s something I really appreciate.

On team getting better during bowl prep
I think we probably got a little healthier on the offensive side, but on the defensive side not as much. Everyone is banged right now, so going into this last game I think we have a good number of guys and contributors that will help us in this game. I don’t really focus about the outcome of the game as much as I am about the guys being up and ready to play the game at their very best. For us, focusing on the fundamentals and the little details that matter the most. So, it’s really the bowl prep allowing us to go back to day one again and getting better. The small detail and fundamentals of the game, making sure we’re assignment sound. All those little things that sometimes become big when you’re shuffling players in and out and dealing with depth, sometimes you don’t have enough time to focus on the little fundamentals of the game. So, this was a good way for us to go back in and review that and make sure we’re taking care of that day one stuff.

Thoughts on and respect for UAB
Of course. We have a bunch of football junkies on our team, so we love college football. We don’t have an NFL team in our state, so everything is about college football. Our guys love to follow the game and when you see a team like UAB that’s won a lot of game and you have a coach that’s won coach of the year a number of times that’s what we’re focused on and we appreciate. Last year, we played so many in their conference that it carried over. We played La. Tech and UTSA, those games carried over, so we saw them as an opponent that we saw on film and in scouting, and you appreciate good football when you see it.

Strengths of UAB
Mentioned earlier, the fundamentals, they’re fundamentally sound, well coached, physical team. I think if you look at their defense, they’re committed to stopping the run. That’s why they are ranked so high in stopping the run. I think sometimes that overshadows an offense that is physical and can run the ball, but they can also take some shots down the field and make big plays. If you look at the yardage per catch that their receivers and tight ends have that’s pretty impressive in that they’re able to make big plays. You compliment that with how hard they play with how physical they are at the line of scrimmage it’s going to be a great challenge for us.

On his love for his players
I love these guys. I love our players. I’ve said this before that I’ve had great mentors in my life, Lavell Edwards being one of them and he took really good care of me when I was a player for him and so it’s an honor for me to be here. These guys make me a better person, so it goes both ways.

Wide receiver Gunner Romney
How hungry are you to win this game?
We’re extremely hungry. You know that is probably the number one thing when it comes to bowl prep that people talk about is that whoever is the most motivated wins this game. That is one thing that all throughout this bowl prep I feel like practices have been more competitive than they have been all season, you know we have been getting chippy with each other and getting in fights because everyone is competitive and everyone is hungry to play another game, so it’s just another opportunity to go have some fun.”

Will this be your last game at BYU?
Right now, I am not really focused on that, all the focus has been on preparing for this bowl game, and I think what me and Tyler have both been talking about a lot has really just been to put all of our effort into this game and then we can decide afterwards. We have time to do that afterwards.

On what has been his favorite part of this season in general and what is the favorite part of the position
This season has been really fun. I think after last season that there was a lot of people doubting what we did and there were a lot of people saying that it was a fluke year and that your schedule wasn’t great. So, I think my favorite of this season has been proving everybody wrong and proving that we are are a great team and that this team can compete with almost anybody. Playing receiver is super fun for me and I think just growing up it’s the natural position I fell into. My favorite part is really being just one on one with your guy out there, so it’s man against man and whoever wins it shows up, and so I think that’s what I really like about this position, just did the competitiveness of it.

Running back Tyler Allgeier
What’s going through your mind game in and game out, rep in and rep out?
Yeah, just obviously trying to protect the football. Protecting the football is one thing, but whenever you see the seam, it’s really just knowing the defense and your angle of escape, and it all really works into place right there. You just have to have that mindset, you have to hit them before they hit you and you will be successful from there.

How hungry are you to win this game?
Not even just the game, it’s more of the competition. For example, winning the belt, we were so competitive, I was getting mad when we were losing, so it was tough, but they’re a respected program and we’re just excited. It’s another game we get. We’re on track to win if we play our best and play BYU football.

On Kalani Sitake's extension – What does he mean to the BYU football program, and his role and the impact he has on you players? 
I don’t think I would’ve came to BYU is Kalani wasn’t the coach. Kalani just brings that family, that culture, and that coaching that I think everyone would want or would love for his players. Just the type of coach that he is, he’s just like a father figure, he’s like father figure to everyone especially to me, you know the way he is on and off the field. It’s great to have a coach like that.

Do you feel like you personally backed up what you did last season?
I wouldn’t say just me, I would say the whole offense. Whatever they do, they bring the success on me. All my success is devoted to them. I would say yeah, obviously, we had that year last year and we backed it up this year. We had a lot of guys hurt on the o-line and a lot of guys that and a lot of guys that ended stepping up. It’s trusting the guy next to you or below you.

UAB head coach Bill Clark
Once again we want to thank Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl for having us. What a great experience that we’ve had all the way back to Tuesday when we arrived. The hospitality has just been unbelievable. We had heard a lot of great things about the bowl here, but it has exceeded our expectations. The people and it is obviously important to this community. Once again, thank you and it has been terrific. Obviously, for us getting here as the season ended, after game 12, we gave our guys about a week off and we were in the middle of recruiting. We came back after a week and had about three practices before we arrived. Practice has been good since we’ve been here. BYU, what a quality opponent and hats off to them for the great season they’ve had. Coach Sitake and his group over the last two years; I’ve been following them for a while, and they’ve done a great job. We know what a quality opponent we’ve got and we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’m really proud of these guys who are up here with me (Dy’Jonn Turner, Colby Ragland, and Gerrit Prince) and representing their teammates. They’ve done such a great job for us, being part of three-straight [CUSA] West championships, two conference championships and a really good year this season. I’m really proud of them and proud to be here at this bowl game.

On the season’s tough losses/motivating his team for this game
Yea, people ask “what are your expectations for this game” and our expectations every week are to win. People ask me about the importance of a bowl game. That says you’ve got a winning season. We’ve been able to do it every season since we’ve got here. All the way back to ’14 we’ve been bowl eligible and certainly since we’ve brought the program back. I think anytime you lose a game you go back and look back, woulda, coulda, but we break it down on champs. We lost some games this year, specifically game 11 that will hurt us forever. But we move on and had a big last game. Gave the seniors their last win at home and then got invited to this bowl game. I think we know that all we have to do is cut the film on to watch BYU and see who’ve they beaten and how they play, how they are coached. Our guys know that. This is a veteran group. They know what it looks like. We came to win the game and that’s how we practice and I think there has been a very serious attitude yet at the same time they’ve been able to enjoy themselves.

On what it would mean to earn a win over an historic program like BYU
I think any bowl win is big. But this is one of those programs that you grow up watching. You watch them in big games. You watch their history. I know that’s important to them. There’s a big tradition there. We were talking about traditions we’ve started at our place. Colby [Ragland] was eluding to the past and maybe not winning as much until he gets here and then it’s expected. We expect to win. They expect to win. So obviously being a history buff, especially a college history buff, about their program it would mean a lot obviously.

UAB tight end Gerrit Prince
On BYU’s defense and the UAB offensive game plan
Yeah, I'm just picking up on what he [Colby Ragland] said is we know how important it is to start fast. We know we know we have to go out there and we have to execute and do what we practice to do. We know how good they are. They're a very good team. They're smart. They do what they do very well. So, we know we're going to have to bring our A-game and we hope to do that.

UAB offensive tackle Colby Ragland
On BYU’s defense and the UAB offensive game plan
Oh, we understand that they have great defense. We know that our offense we run to open up passes and we know we can run the ball, it’s just as simple as that. Whenever you're able to run the ball, if opens up the shots downfield that we want to take so we can get my guy here (Garrett) the ball get all our playmakers the ball. Like you said it’s a way to impose your will. There’s nothing better than a feeling of knowing that you can run the ball well and that's something that we pride ourselves on. We know that, like you said, they're a great football team and have a great offense, so we're going to have to score points.

UAB safety Dy'John Turner
On BYU’s great offense
Our coaches put together a great game plan that we intend to play out to the best of our abilities. As coach Clark said on the field they have some great players that make plays. We just got to play our best game. We got to go out and play together as one offense and one defense.