BYU head coach Kalani Sitake spoke with Hans and Scotty G Tuesday about his team’s narrow win over Toledo last weekend, eking out the two-point victory with a kick from Rhett Almond. He talked about the progress the 2-3 Cougars are making and previewed the matchup with Michigan State.
When asked how his blood pressure was handling these nail-biting finishes, Sitake said it’s not how he’d prefer to play each game.
“It’s a lot of fun for fans,” he said. “But for me, I’d rather have a comfortable win.”
“No complaints about the effort from our guys,” Sitake added.
Sitake did say he’s looking for some more consistency across the board, particularly from his offense and defense. The reliable group, in Sitake’s eyes, has been BYU’s special teams.
“The consistent thing for us has been our special teams, which is really nice,” he said. “If we can get our defense and our offense on the same page, then we’ll be pretty good.”
Sitake had a lot of positive things to say about kickers Jake Oldroyd and Rhett Almond, who have sealed a win a piece for the Cougars.
“First of all, they’re great players and they work extremely hard,” Sitake said. “I’m just thankful that those guys are stepping up and winning games for us, and hopefully we don’t have to rely on kickers all the time. I mean, it’s great. I think we’ve had enough of it now. Let’s just win some games on O and D, and put some games out of reach.”
Feeling snarky, Sitake said that he recognizes some of the kickers’ strange shoe habits, saying “The last thing I look at are the kickers’ shoes… they all wear these ballerina slippers to kick in.”
What he does he expect from his kickers?
“Kick it through the uprights and do your job,” Sitake joked.
The Taysom debate
Through five games, there’s been much debate about Taysom Hill’s ability to fit Ty Detmer’s offense, but coach Sitake said Hill gets an unfair amount of criticism.
“I think that’s probably the most criticized position in football is the quarterback,” he said, “not understanding that there’s a lot more to the game than just the quarterback himself, like pass protection and routes.”
“I’ll be the first to be an advocate for Taysom and say he’s done a great job for what we’ve asked him to do,” Sitake added.
When asked about what he expects from his QB going forward, Sitake said that he thinks Hill is on the right track.
“I think what you saw in the second half is what we need more from him — the consistency in [his] play,” Sitake said. “The things that he’s done has been pretty good from what we’re asking him to do.”
Running back Jamaal Williams had a record-setting night for BYU last weekend, scoring five touchdowns, carrying the ball 30 times for 286 yards. Sitake was happy with Williams’ performance and had nothing but praise for the RB Tuesday.
“He does a great job of seeing the field and he also does a great job of utilizing his blocks,” coach said. “He’s just crafty.”
“He’s got all the tools necessary as a running back,” Sitake continued, adding that Williams has been an important leader for the Cougars, on and off the field.
Looking ahead to the Cougars’ Saturday matchup against the Spartans, Sitake said he has a lot of respect for Michigan State’s program.
“Look at the tradition and the things that they’ve done,” he said. “I think we match up well for us, but it’s a test for us.”
“We know how hard teams can fight, especially when they have a great coaching staff and they’re used to being successful,” Sitake said. “We’re expecting their best, and we have to go into their house and try to get a victory, and our focus is trying to get that done.”