I’ve expressed my concerns to the coaches and to our staff and I’ve asked the players to keep buying into our culture and our team. —Kalani Sitake
PROVO — Saddled with a dismal 1-7 record and a dreadful seven-game losing streak, BYU coach Kalani Sitake and his team are adopting a new, aggressive approach this week.
The beleaguered Cougars take on the equally beleaguered 1-7 San Jose State Spartans on Saturday (1 p.m., MDT, BYUtv) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“I’m sick of losing so we’ve got to do whatever we can to break the streak,” Sitake said Monday. “Basically, my mindset is, if you’re going to go down, you better start swinging and in the meantime develop an identity. I’ve been talking about that for a while, about what are we going to hang our hat on? Those of you who’ve known me for the many years I’ve been coaching, I’ve been aggressive.”
Sitake is referring to being aggressive on both offense and defense. He thought his team was “a little bit too conservative” in last Saturday’s 33-17 loss at East Carolina.
“That’s not my style. We’re going to be aggressive and try to find ways to develop an identity through aggression and through our toughness,” Sitake said. “That’s what we’re focused on this week.”
Against ECU, the Cougars trailed 16-10 in the third quarter when they drove into Pirate territory. On fourth-and-6 at the ECU 24, BYU opted to attempt a 41-yard field goal — it would have been placekicker Rhett Almond’s career-long had he made it. But Almond missed and the Pirates extended their lead to 19-10 on their next drive.
The Cougars have also been conservative in their play-calling at times, including dialing up a screen pass on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line in the fourth quarter. Tanner Mangum's pass was batted down, ending the drive.
Monday, Sitake said all of it was his fault. Moving forward, he wants his team’s play to exemplify his aggressive mindset.
“I’ve expressed my concerns to the coaches and to our staff and I’ve asked the players to keep buying into our culture and our team,” Sitake said. “We’ll see if the results are any different this weekend.”
Sitake explained he wants his team to be aggressive, but not in a haphazard fashion.
“It’s taking risks at the right time. That goes for everybody. It’s not like we're going to say, ‘There’s no caution; we’re going to go after it.’ There are times to say, ‘Why not?’ It’s either feast or famine. Let’s give us a chance to feast,” he said. “Otherwise we just sit there and bleed slowly and die.”
Added Sitake: “I’m just sick of excuses. That’s what it comes down to. I’m over it now. Hard work and all that stuff makes sense, but working smart also. It’s fight or flight time. And I want to fight. Not literally. The sun came up, there’s another game this week and there’s some positive things. I’m going to stay positive. The urgency is to get better now. The only way you can get better is to work hard and be aggressive. I don’t think as a program we’ve been aggressive enough and that’s my fault. I’m hanging this on me.”
From an offensive standpoint, Sitake wants to see his team, which is averaging a woeful 12.1 points per game, to get into the end zone more often.
“Just score points, whatever it takes I want to be able to say, ‘Hey, let’s slow down.’ I’m giving free rein to our offense staff to be creative as much as you can and use the talent we have on the field,” he said. “Regardless of injuries, there’s enough talent to win games and score points. Maybe I’m letting the game plan out, but we’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to give it everything we can and get the playmakers to make plays. As coaches, we need to put them in that position.”
Sitake reiterated that BYU is going to keep fighting for the rest of the season despite the losing streak.
“I’m not one to ever quit or give in. Neither is this team,” he said. “Like I said, if you’re going down, I’m going to be swinging. That’s our mindset right now going into this week.”
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Cougars on the air
San Jose State (1-7)
at BYU (1-7)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM