BYU head coach Kalani Sitake held his weekly press conference this morning and it began with with birthday wishes from the media. Sitake turned 41 today and said that his birthday was more exciting for his children that it was for him but he was thankful for the well-wishes.
Coach Sitake was asked what his assessment of his team was as they have hit the midpoint of the season. He said he was proud of his team's performance to this point but that they needed to remain dialed in as the schedule does not lighten up in the near future.
"They are a resilient bunch and they never quit," Explained Sitake. "When you have that, you’ll have some success. We’ve faced a lot of great teams and another one this week. Nothing has changed we’ll go into the schedule and we’ll be tough. Obviously we lost some close ones but we’ll build off that and have it work in a positive way to help us win this week."
BYU is coming off their most impressive win of the season after defeating the Michigan State Spartans 31-14 last Saturday. Coach Sitake said he was pleased with the performance by his team as a whole.
"I was really pleased with the complete game," Sitake said. "If you asked Ty (Detmer) he was a little disappointed we didn’t start off faster [on offense], but you have to give Michigan State a lot of credit. For the most part, the guys have been consistent in their desire to win and desire to compete, so I was pleased with that and I know I can always count on that.
"For the complete game, I thought the guys played with effort," Sitake continued. "Putting it together and having it all click was really important and obviously you saw the results of that Saturday."
Coach Sitake was asked about the raucous celebration that ensued after the Michigan State win and he said that it is a part of helping his players have fun playing a sport they've spent the majority of their lives competing in.
'They all got into the game because it was fun at one time," Explained Sitake. "Whenever it becomes a job, it becomes a little bit harder to deal with. The more we can remind these guys to have fun with what they do, the easier it’ll be. Regardless of our wins or losses, we’re obviously going to celebrate our wins but there are a lot of good things to celebrate in a loss as well.
Coach Sitake added that he was thankful for the examples put forth by his players on the field.
"They’re in a great spot and I think it’s important for them to represent their families well as they’re out on the field," Sitake continued. "I thought they did that last week. They’ve been doing that all year long. I’m proud of the way they handle themselves as football players but more importantly as people."
Sitake said he was pleased with the relatively comfortable win over the Spartans but would like to have a win well in hand earlier so that he can relax more on the sidelines.
"I hate to be picky, but I’m going keep demanding our guys to do it just to help my heart out," Said Sitake. "We’ll take it any way we can. I’m really proud of the way the guys played and their mindset. I think they’re beginning to understand what we want them to do on defense and on offense. I was really pleased with the offensive and defensive lines."
When asked about facing Mississippi State this Friday, Coach Sitake was effusive in his praise for their coaching staff.
"Oh they’re a great team, Sitake pointed out. "First of all, Dan Mullen is a great coach and I have a great connection with Brian Johnson (MSU's quarterbacks coach), who is a good friend of mine. The game will be the game, but he’ll always be a good friend of mine. They have a great coaching staff and they understand football and they [have] run into a little bit of adversity, which makes them dangerous.
"They’re a quality team. They’re coming here to Provo and I’m honored to have them at LaVell Edwards Stadium. We’ll welcome them here and we’ll compete and see what happens. We’re expecting their best shot."
During his media session, Coach Sitake was asked what the tradition of BYU football meant to him as the Cougars have their annual homecoming festivities this week in conjunction with the game against Mississippi State. He stated that BYU stands for more than just football to him.
"It’s a little different. It’s been in my life for so long," said Sitake. "I can’t imagine what my life would be like without BYU, being a BYU fan, player, former student, and now coach. I had a chance to be around LaVell Edwards and to see the things he did outside of football. I think we have some opportunities to serve others, and that’s a great position for us to be in and we’re going to take advantage of that. It’s different for a coach to say there’s more to life than football because my job and livelihood depends on it. I really believe if you’re grounded in other things besides football you’ll be successful and you can build success off the field, in the classroom, and [in] your social lives and [those things] will carry over to the football field."