PROVO, Utah – BYU football opened its third week of spring ball on Monday with a practice on the SAB outdoor fields.
The following are quotes from the postpractice media availability.
Head Coach Kalani Sitake
On Coach Aaron Roderick
Aaron Roderick is a great coach. He has a great mind. He’s been around some of the best coaches in football. Whether it’s as a graduate assistant or an assistant or a coordinator, the guy has soaked up so much football that he can tell what scheme fits the best for the quarterback and for the talent that we have on a team. The best part about him is that he’s all about the players. So, it’s not just that he was coaching Zach Wilson last year. I saw him coaching the whole group, and so every quarterback that was here on the roster got better last year during the season. That speaks to how special he is as a teacher. He knows what he’s doing. I trust him and he’s been a big part of our success here. He knows a lot of football and he knows how to get his guys to be efficient and throw the ball well. So, I trust him and I think he’s brilliant when it comes to game football.
On the offense and the defense being well-matched so far
I think if you’re looking at the 11-on-11 stuff, yeah, then it favors both sides. Both sides have had done well and then they’ve had some issues. There are just things that we have to do better. I would agree with Fesi Sitake if he said that is a little bit more evened out. I think that this has been one of those times where one isn’t just completely dominating the other. I think it probably means that we have some pretty good depth on our team and that our guys have been working really hard. I would have to say there’s not a lot of missed assignments either, so the mistakes that we’re making are things that have to do with technique and are very correctable. But I like the fact that we have a lot of talent out there. We’ve got to keep developing it. I like that the defense – as everybody knows – is young, but they’re definitely able to play and they have the capabilities and talents to make it work.
On the factors they look at when choosing a starting quarterback
Sometimes when you’re competing for a spot, you’re looking at a two-man race and you kind of figure out who’s going to be the starter. I never really liked that. I always want to have too many guys to figure out. So, we’re in a position now where I think we have a good group. I’m actually impressed with all the guys and Roderick has done a great job coaching them.
I feel like there’s a lot of guys that are capable of helping us win games. In regard to quarterbacks, I feel comfortable with four guys right now and the way they have progressed. Eventually, we’re going to have to get to a point where we’re going to need to whittle it down and make sure that we can give as many reps as we can to the guys who will get ready for the season. We’re starting to do that a little bit. So, we’ll see how this thing breaks down, but I can tell you that I like being in a position where there’s a bunch of them.
Defensive line/Hybrids Coach Preston Hadley
On Coach Tuiaki
He’s really good to work with. In no way does he ever step on your toes. He lets you coach your guys. He just focuses on the interior. He’ll also offer his insights and just do some on-field coaching, like coaching the coaches. So it has been good being a part of this. We’ve had a great relationship and spent some time together outside of the office as well. Whether it’s going golfing or just going out for a meal. That’s what’s really nice about this staff, there are relationships that are being built, not just while we’re here at the office, or on the field, but we’re together outside on our own personal time. I mean, they’re real friendships right there. So, with that relationship, I feel like there’s instant trust and confidence in each other. He’ll trust me to let me coach things the way that I want to coach them, and he’ll give his input. It starts from the top with Kalani. We’re big on autonomy here – letting everybody make mistakes they need to make. It’s been smooth so far. I’ve really been enjoying it so far.
On following a successful season
One of the perks of coaching at a place like BYU is our players have been through a little more life experience. I think they’re going be more mature than they would be if they were somewhere else. So, I think the players have so far been able to handle success and stay humble. Right now, we’re in the first quarter, and so this is what we do. Just like we do every other year, we just ramp up the intensity and continue to harness our focus and energy. It’s just about keeping to the process and in a routine. And then those times that you’re not feeling as disciplined in your process, that’s where we fall back on your routine.
Safety Chaz Ah You
On working with Coach Hadley
Coach has a lot of energy man. You got to really keep up with his energy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s always upbeat, you never see him down and quiet. You always see him going 100%. So, I think that kind of carried over to the players a lot, you know, just the energy and kind of just rubbed off on a bunch of the players. You always watch the safeties you know we have a lot of energy. That’s something that’s kind of his mark that he left on the safeties.
On some teammates that are standing out so far
So far, the dude that has stood out to me the most is Keenan Ellis at corner. DeAngelo Mandell and Keenan have made huge strides as far as coverage and being able to make plays on the ball. Those are two dudes that I’ve watched put in hours of extra working and it’s starting to pay off. These guys are just around the ball constantly. Keenan Ellis is a name that is really going to stand out in this 2021 season.
On speaking up about mental health
I think the biggest impact it made is making it a more comfortable conversation. I’ve kind of put my neck out there, on the line, to kind of show them that this is something that a lot of people are dealing with. And since then, I’ve had tons of teammates come up to me and I’ve been able to direct them to help. I’m not an expert myself, but I do know where they can find help. I think it’s really improved the team. We’ve had open conversations about it in our team meetings. We’ve brought up mental health and we talk about it just as players. So, it’s really just become a more comfortable conversation for our team, and I think it’s really helped us bond together.