PROVO — Last season saw players and coaches often meeting the media during Monday's weekly press conferences as if they were meeting a military tribunal. This past Monday, however, following an opening season 28-23 win over Arizona, players showed palpable enthusiasm and even some relief, in light of last season's futility.
"We've worked so hard for that first win, and when you have a team that's doing 600 up-downs because it's a punishment, and you have to run stairs in the stadium after, it's tough and it's a grind," said linebacker Butch Pau'u, referencing all the work that's gone on since the final game of the 2017 season. "We're just grateful that all of our work has paid off and the energy for the team is high right now."
Indeed no one knows what will come about when gameplans and all the offseason work is put into live action, not even the players and coaches, giving Saturday's win over the Wildcats particular satisfaction.
Although the team's confidence is high right now, BYU coach Kalani Sitake was quick to mention the Cougars aren't the only group riding a wave of good emotion heading into the second week of the season.
“Yeah, but Cal has the same thing,” Sitake said of this week's opponent, specifically, after the Bears took down North Carolina 24-17 in their opening game. “So all the hard work paid off, but it means we’re just getting started with the work. The goal is to work harder this week and get to 2-0. So we’re real excited to move on from this game.”
FOURTH AND GO: Some coaches prefer caution in most instances, but for Sitake, he often cites a desire to be as aggressive as possible, particularly with decisions whether to punt or go for it during fourth down situations. When asked on Monday his thought processes, and how he weighs options, Sitake joked there's not a lot of thought, on his end.
“You just go for it every time,” Sitake quipped. “I listen, (though.) It’s not like techno bowl…there’s a little bit of thought that goes into it…but fourth down, it’s another down for us to make a play…I have a lot of trust in our players.”4 comments on this story
SECONDARY REVIEW: Time and again Arizona attempted to exploit the BYU defense deep in Saturday's loss, with the results likely to yielding what Wildcat offensive coaches anticipated going in. But rather than pat his secondary on the back, Sitake opted to mention the things he'd like to improve upon.
“We had three pass interference (penalties), so it wasn’t too great. We have to clean that up,” Sitake said. “…They were in good position. It wasn’t blown coverages, so they just need to execute technique better and have their eyes in the right spot. I think they’ll be fine.”
Sitake also mentioned he was generally pleased with the performances of both Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku after both switched from cornerback to safety in the offseason.