PROVO — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake is focusing on what he can control and not worrying about things he can't.

With potential Big 12 expansion on the minds of most, Sitake was asked how he'd sell BYU's program to the conference, to begin Monday's press conference.

"I'd tell them that we're ready for Boise State," he said. "I'm not talking to anyone except our team and our players. I'm focused on a great team that's ranked nationally and undefeated. We're going into their home, so they're taking every bit of our attention right now. That's all we're focused on."

In order to perhaps harness that focus, coaches called a rare Saturday practice session immediately following the team's tough 28-21 overtime win over Mississippi State on Friday. With the Boise State game kicking off on Thursday, it was an effort to supplement the lack of available days of preparation.

It wasn't an easy practice session, coming so soon after the game, although players say it went relatively well.

"That was weird, actually," said receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau regarding taking the practice field on Saturday. "But it was good. Coaches know what they're doing, and it helped because of the short week."

DUMB BIRDS AND SWIMSUITS: Every trip to Boise State involves questions of playing on the Broncos' unique blue turf and the challenges it presents.

Sitake, who has made the trip to Boise several times as a coach, quipped about the playing surface, saying, "It's just a blue field. I heard birds die flying into it and everything. Either they got dumb birds in Boise or the field is really nice and looks like glass. None of our players are going to be in swimsuits, thinking it's a lake."

The Cougar coach, on a more serious note, followed up by stating, "I think it's nice. It's part of their deal, you know, and it's one of those things you see in college football that's unique. So I think it's awesome."

INJURY ISSUES: Sitake, as usual, refrained from giving specific injury information, stating he's hopeful that both offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf and defensive lineman Meti Taliauli would be available. Both players sustained apparent injuries during last week's win over Mississippi State.

"I hope so," Sitake said regarding if either player would be available on Thursday. "If they can go, they'll be out there."

The good news on the injury front is the steady increase of reps for senior defensive lineman Travis Tuiloma. Defensive end Sae Tautu directly credited Tuiloma with two of his sacks while Sitake has noted steady improvement.

"We're seeing a lot of good things from him," Sitake said. "The old Travis is starting to show up a little bit, but we also have to give him a lot more rest to recover. But I think he's going to give us everything he's got this week."

Tuiloma sat for the first four games of the season due to a Lisfranc injury and has steadily worked his way back.

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The good news is the continued availability of linebacker Butch Pau'u, who sustained a knee injury during BYU's win over Toledo. The sophomore returned to action against Mississippi State, with mixed results.

"He's not himself, but he did some good things for us," Sitake said of Pau'u's performance. "A lot of it is just being the general on the field for us. … Butch was a starter for a reason, and I thought he was really smart toward the end … understanding he wasn't giving us what we needed."

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

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