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BYU’s Kalani Sitake Doesn’t Plan To Make In-Season Staff Dismissals

Oct 24, 2022, 4:24 PM

BYU Football, Kalani Sitake...

BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake called the defense against Liberty. He doesn't plan on making any in-season staff changes. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is in a fight-or-flight moment right now. That was the message from BYU coach Kalani Sitake after the 41-14 loss to Liberty.

Heading into this week’s game against East Carolina, Sitake will continue giving his coaches a chance to keep fighting to bounce back from this adversity.

When asked by KSL Sports during his weekly press conference if he is considering dismissing staff during the season, Sitake isn’t doing that.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake keeps in mind what fans want, players need

“I’ve never done in-season dismissals. I’ve mentioned before we need all hands on deck. I know that I have a responsibility here as the head coach and that is keeping in mind what our fans want and what our players need. I’m aware of everything,” Sitake said Monday via Zoom.

Firing coaches during the season at BYU is uncommon. You have to go back to 2010, when Bronco Mendenhall canned defensive coordinator Jaime Hill to find the last time BYU dismissed a coach during the season. It’s not often done around Provo, and it doesn’t appear to be on the table for Sitake right now.

BYU is currently navigating a three-game losing streak. The loss to Liberty wasn’t a setback that you can point to just one side of the ball to blame. All three phases failed in a game that saw the Flames score 38 unanswered points to pull away with the victory.

“What I’m really focused on right now is the adversity that is happening and the growth that can happen from it. We can really become better because of this, and I think it’s going to make our program better. That’s the approach that I have,” said Sitake. “We’re going through some tough times right now. What tough times do is expose a lot of things, and not all of it is negative. So there’s some really good things that we can see from and build on. But there are also some things we can eliminate and sometimes the distractions are part of that. My goal is still to try to make everybody happy and that’s what I’m going to try and get it done.”

Sitake, who said after the Liberty game that he called the defense, plans to call the defense moving forward.

Ilaisa Tuiaki is working full-time with the defensive line

What does that mean for embattled defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki? Sitake said it’s not a demotion but added that the seventh-year defensive coordinator, who has worked with Sitake at previous coaching stops at Utah and Oregon State, is now working full-time with the defensive line.

“As a defensive staff, we work together on game planning and everything; that’s the entire staff. With our analysts and GAs (graduate assistants), we’re all in there working hard and going through film and talking schemes. I have a number of guys that are in that room that have been defensive coordinators before and have a lot of experience. So it would be really wise for me to listen to what they say. But at the end of the day, I’m coming up with the menu and deciding on the plays, and deciding on the personnel. The way we do that, I’ll call the plays in the game. We just need to execute better. It’s not about the plays or the calls; it’s about executing better.”

BYU football will face an East Carolina team riding high after taking down the UCF Knights. A team that, like BYU, will be joining the Big 12 next season. ECU made celebratory social media graphics poking fun at UCF’s loss as they move into the Big 12. To avoid more celebrating on ECU’s social media feeds, BYU must stop a potent ECU offense led by 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback Holton Ahlers.

“This offense that we’re going against this week is a little unique, and it’s a little different,” Sitake said. “You can see their pass game has some Air Raid background in there, but they also have a big O-Line and they can run the ball. We’ll have to be able to handle both things and be able to handle the bounce that they bring.”

BYU vs. ECU

Date: Friday, October 28, 2022

Kickoff: 6 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU’s Kalani Sitake Doesn’t Plan To Make In-Season Staff Dismissals