One of the highlights of Saturday’s post-game press conference after the 31-24 BYU football victory over Liberty at LaVell Edwards Stadium was in the interplay between Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake and senior wide receiver Micah Simon.
While both sat behind microphones, the first questions in the session were all directed at Sitake. When Sitake was finished, the BYU sports information staff thanked him and he started to get up to leave the interview room.
“Hey, you can’t leave,” Simon interrupted. “I waited for you.”
Sitake responded: “Not a lot of players can talk to me like that. But Micah? He gets it. I’ll support Micah. It’s alright.”
A little later in the press conference, Sitake turned the tables when Simon was asked about his phenomenal quarterback rating for the season. He is 2-for-2 on wide receiver pass trick plays for 57 yards and a touchdown, which equates to a passer rating of 504.4.
“Woohoo, I love that!” Simon said with a grin as he looked at Sitake. “I might be the starting quarterback next week. I’ll let the guys know about it, especially (sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson).”
Sitake shook his head in mock disgust and responded to the media: “Stop. I’m trying to keep him humble.”
It was another moment where the camaraderie between Sitake and Simon was very much evident.
“It means everything to have a coach that has your back through any situation, a coach that I can talk to about anything,” Simon said at Monday’s press conference. “People crack jokes about us because of how close we are and it’s awesome to have that relationships with someone, especially the head coach.”
During his career in Provo, Simon has seen ups and downs, phenomenal wins and disappointing losses.
“We’ve had some pretty cool seasons and some pretty not cool seasons and I’ve just been part of it all,” Simon said. “
I think that’s what has made me the player, the person and the leader that I am today, being through all those things. Going through it all with these brothers and these coaches and learning from it. Obviously, I could go back and say that I wish we went undefeated every year and that we scored 60 points a game, but you learn those lessons from tough seasons and tough situations from that and I really wouldn’t change it.”
He said he realized this season that, no matter what, he needed to enjoy his final year. That included being one of the last Cougar players off the field after pre-game warmups
“In the past I was concerned with being locked in,” Simon said. “When warmups were over, I was the first guy inside, the music was on and I was just keeping to myself. I think sometimes I was too uptight and didn’t enjoy the moment. This year at home games or away games, I’m just looking around the stadium and soaking it in. I’ve tried to stay in the moment and just enjoy it.”
He explained that getting a chance to complete a couple of passes on the trick plays has been pretty satisfying.
“It was actually pretty fun,” Simon said. “It brought back memories of high school. I guess I’ve had two completions this year with a little bit of pressure. I love the aggressiveness from our coaches. Every week they have put some different wrinkles in there for us to go and execute. It worked and I’m glad he scored.”
BYU senior wide receiver Aleva Hifo agreed that Simon’s pass to junior tight end Matt Bushman wasn’t the prettiest and added that now his teammate has got two completion while he only has one.
“He took quite a big hit,” Hifo said. “Not a lot of guys would be able to deliver that ball. Micah unfortunately has one pass over me — but I’ll hold on to that Wisconsin one (a wide-receiver pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau for a touchdown in 2018) for as long as I can.”
It’s unknown whether Simon — or Hifo, for that matter — will get another chance to throw the ball or not when they play Idaho State on Saturday afternoon in Provo. The most important thing is to make the most of that final opportunity in front of the home fans.
“Before Saturday we had only two more games at LaVell Edwards Stadium,” Simon said. “That’s something that really hits home. It makes it special. Now we only have one more and that’s really all it takes to get you to go out and play as hard as you can because you never know when your time is done.”