Cougars to face Bruins in home opener on Saturday
PROVO, Utah – BYU football looks to bounce back in its home opener against UCLA on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised live from LaVell Edwards Stadium on ESPN2.
BYU (1-1) vs. UCLA (1-1, 0-0 Pac 12)
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Kickoff: 8:21 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470)
SERIES HISTORY. BYU and UCLA are meeting for the 12th time. The Bruins won the last meeting 24-23 with a comeback effort in Pasadena last year. The last time UCLA visited Provo it was a different story. The Cougars jumped all over the Bruins with a 59-0 drubbing in 2008 behind Max Hall’s seven touchdown passes. It was UCLA’s worst loss since 1929.
LAVELL EDWARDS STADIUM. BYU is 8-3 in home openers since 2005 and have won four straight. The Cougars have also won eight consecutive games at home dating back to 2014 after going undefeated at home last year. BYU has a .770 winning percentage at LaVell Edwards Stadium, No. 12 nationally in stadium winning percentage.
PAC-12. The Cougars are facing their third and final Pac-12 team for the regular season. BYU is 72-123-6 overall against the Pac-12.
POWER 5 WINS. BYU has defeated a team from the Power 5 conferences in 11 consecutive seasons after a win over Arizona to start the 2016 season. Since 2003, BYU has 21 wins over Power 5 schools, No. 2 among schools not in the Power 5 (Navy No. 1 w/22).
STADIUM STRIPES. Fans sitting in odd sections are encouraged to wear blue and even sections and the ROC will wear white.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
What’s the mood of the team like today?
“It’s been good. We have been able to get some good work and a great lift session this morning. The guys are ready to go. Whenever you come off of a loss, especially like that, you want to get to work and these guys have made the transition and we are on to game week now.”
“Coach Mora does a great job. His team is always ready and they have a great quarterback and they have a bunch of great athletes on their team, so that’s never really changed. They are a little bit more physical now, so we are looking forward to the game this Saturday. I have nothing but respect for their coaching staff and that program. They do it the right way.”
On UCLA QB Josh Rosen
“Well he can throw. That guy was a true freshman [last year] and came in to college football and doesn’t seem so young. He manages the game really well and I’ve been really impressed with him. Seeing him play last year and now starting the season this year, I think he has already been in some tough positions and he has been able to get him and his team out of it. That Texas A&M game was impressive to watch. I think this game will be difficult, but I think our guys are up for the task.”
The offense on the brink of breaking out
“We have capable players and we have guys that are capable of making plays. We are right there at the edge of it and we just have to keep anticipating that our guys are going to make big plays and make big things happen this weekend. We have the players, we have the talent and a great coaching staff to go along with it. I anticipate a good game.”
On Butch Pau’u
He is doing great. That is why our coaching staff felt comfortable moving him to middle linebacker. We felt like he could play that Mike position and that we could put Harvey (Langi) at the end. To be honest with you, Butch is a really instinctive player and he is just hard to run over. He just knocks people back. It’s the kind of player that you want. He is only a sophomore and so we can have him around for a while. He is already a great leader on our defense.
Senior WR Nick Kurtz
How they’re handling loss to Utah
“It was definitely tough, but all you can do is go out there and get ready for the next week. I think it lights a fire under us and gets us going. We wrapped it up and have moved on to UCLA now.”
What they learned from film
“There are always little mistakes here and there, things that we can change. If we’d have converted the two-point conversion, we wouldn’t have been saying, ‘What did you learn from the game?’ It’s the way the game goes. Sometimes everything doesn’t work the way you want it to.”
“The defense is doing a really great job. But we (the offense) need to step it up a little bit. Fix those little things, pass a little thing here and there, and next thing you know, you’re scoring a lot of points. It’ll happen next week, week after, whenever it is. We’re going to keep going hard.”
Feelings on the receivers
“I think we’ve done a good job. We have a lot of guys who step in, younger guys who are playing too, and we’re pretty deep. I’m still working my way into it since the injury. We have a lot of talent and I think we’re going to burst one of these games. Hopefully this week, we burst out big.”
How excited is the team to play at home?
“This is just like last year. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I know we’re going to have all the fans there—they’re all going to be representing for us and screaming. It’s always fun when you walk on that field for the first time.”
Junior LB Fred Warner
On the mood of the team
“The guys are motivated for this week coming into our first home game. We’re not trying to dwell on the past game. We know what we did wrong and what we need to fix. We’re just excited to get after it and fix those things.”
On forcing turnovers
“That’s usually the way you want to try to win football games -- getting turnovers on defense and obviously protecting the ball on the other side. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to convert as many points as we wanted to on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense still has a lot of things to work on. We gave up 11 minutes of possession time to the offense in the fourth quarter so that’s something that we need to work on.”
On the upcoming UCLA game
“It’s always a fun game because I know people on that team. It will be fun and exciting especially because it’s at our house this time.”
On staying focused in the fourth quarter
“We have guys to rotate. So if that’s an issue, we need to make sure guys are rotating and staying fresh because there is no excuse for being too tired to make plays in the fourth quarter.”
On Sitake’s passion
“It’s awesome. At one moment I’m looking up at the scoreboard just trying to see if it was a targeting call or not, and the next I see him just storming on the field and flags flying in the air. It’s awesome to see that out of him, knowing that he has our back and that he’ll be out there for us. We can have confidence in that.”
Sophomore LB Francis Bernard
“We just ran our base defense and I came up the field and the running back ended up running a wheel and I was supposed to run with him. The quarterback shouldn’t have thrown the ball. It was double coverage and he just threw it up. Not the best catch I’ve made but in a game, yeah.”
Attitude of team after a tough loss
“Coach Kalani and some of our captains were telling us to stay focused for the next one. There’s a lot of should have, would have, could have but there’s nothing we can do now we just have to move on to the next.”
Defensive perspective on when the offense decided to go for two
“We were confident on the decision. We didn’t know what the play call was, but we were all behind Coach (Ty) Detmer and our offense, hoping that they were going to score. That’s all we can do, trust in each other and hope for the best.”
BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning.