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BYU football believes accountability, focus will help team to bounce back

By Jared Lloyd - | Oct 11, 2021
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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake (left) watches his team compete during the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU players come out of the tunnel and take the field before the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)
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BYU fans cheer on their team during the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU defenders prepare for the ball to be snapped during the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)
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BYU linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa makes a sack during the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

No one who listens to BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake after his teams loses a game can claim he doesn’t take accountability.

In almost every sentence in both Saturday’s post-game press conference and Monday’s teleconference where Sitake discussed the mistakes that resulted in the 26-17 Cougar loss to Boise State, he says that the bottom line is it is his responsibility.

“If you’re looking at the assignments and technique and the fundamentals that broke down, that’s that’s something that I need to correct as head coach,” Sitake said on Monday. “I thought we’ve done a pretty good job in most of it. We had some issues with technique and then we’ll get those fixed. We just need to get our guys back on track. It’s humbling and it’s a good opportunity for us to focus a little bit more. The key is learning from the mistakes and making sure that that stuff doesn’t happen again.”

While it is laudable to have Sitake take a “the buck stops here” approach, the reality is that players have to make the plays on the field and they know that.

“In a team game, everybody’s responsible for their own job,” BYU junior wide receiver Gunner Romney said. “If one of our boys makes a mistake, then it’s our job to step up and help cover that mistake. It really falls on everybody. We win as a team and we will lose as a team so we’re not pointing any fingers at anybody. We can do a better job at our own individual positions to cover up for some mistakes that we’ve had. But it’s not on Kalani, it’s not on one person, it’s not on one player. It’s on the entire organization.”

While losing definitely hurts — particularly when the team had played at a much higher level in previous games — it can be a tremendous teacher.

“Coming back from a loss is always difficult but this is an opportunity for us to learn and get better,” Sitake said. “When you lose games, we want to make sure that it doesn’t carry over into feeling sorry for ourselves and things like that. We’ve got to move on and the best way to move on is to get to work.”

He called the defeat at the hands of the Broncos “humbling” and said that puts both players and coaches in a position to get better.

“None of us are immune from mistakes, so there are things we can look at to get better,” Sitake said. “Mistakes happen so it’s a matter of how you respond to them. You never want to lose, but when we do or we fail I want to make sure that as a coach and as a program that we learned from it and make sure that we can maximize our opportunities to get better.”

BYU junior center James Empey pointed to the team’s motto when talking about improvement.

“We’re all about loving and learning here, so what better time to learn than in a moment where you can see what you did wrong and try to get better,” Empey said.

He said that there are relatively few college football games in a season, so players have to make the most of each no matter what happens on the scoreboard.

“There are only so many chances to play football,” Empey said. “You work all year round for just a few weeks in the fall. You can’t let any of them slip by. You’ve got to enjoy the moment, enjoy what you can and work your butt off to try to get better each week. You have to take it as it comes and find ways to love it and learn from it. That’s what we’re going to do this week.”

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