This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Almost from the moment it failed miserably against Utah, BYU's two-point conversion try with 18 seconds left in the 20-19 loss has been analyzed, broken down, questioned, re-analyzed and diagrammed nonstop the last two days.
What if Taysom Hill did this? What if Colby Pearson had gotten to the line of scrimmage sooner? What if Andrew Eide had blocked former BYU commit Pita Taumoepenu just a half-second longer? What if Hill had tried a jump pass to Algernon Brown?
On and on it goes.
Except for head coach Kalani Sitake.
The first-year coach said Monday at his weekly news briefing that he isn't going to question "any of the stuff that happened" in the Utah game, including the two-point try.
"I think Utah, you have to give them credit," Sitake said. "They made a play and we didn't. Looking back at the two-point conversion, all that, it could have gone so many different ways. There were a lot of details to our assignment in that play that could have been different. It just worked out the way it did, and we will just have to move on, learn from it."
Watching from the BYU sidelines and knowing Utah's defense was reeling from the 75-yard drive the Cougars had just engineered, linebacker Francis Bernard liked the decision to go for two.
"We were confident with the decision," Bernard said. "We didn't know what the play call was, but we were just all behind coach [Ty] Detmer and our offense, hoping they were going to score. That's all we can do, is trust each other and hope for the best."
Receiver Nick Kurtz wisely remarked that none of the questioning would be happening if the play had worked.
"It is just the way the game goes sometimes," said Kurtz, who had a key reception on the drive. "Everything just doesn't work the way you wanted it to."
After the game receiver Mitchell Juergens and QB Taysom Hill said they liked the play call. Utah was just in the perfect defense to stop it, they said.
The Cougars practiced Monday morning in preparation for Saturday's home opener against UCLA (8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN2), and Sitake described the mood of the team after the heartbreaking loss as good.
"We were able to get some work in, and got a great lift in this morning. The guys are ready to go. I think they have made the transition, and we are on to game week now. Whenever you are coming off a loss, you want to get back to work," he said.
Obviously, most of the questions were about the first-half suspensions vs. UCLA of safety Kai Nacua and cornerback Austin McChesney for targeting in the Utah game, and you can read more about how BYU is handling that here.
It will be interesting to see whether Nacua, a team captain, goes to midfield for the pregame coin toss. Sitake said he hasn't been banned from that, so he is going to send him out there unless told otherwise.
"He will still lead us from the sidelines. It is not like he is not present, so he will still be there. He just can't be out there making plays. Someone will fill in, just like they did in the second half. We are looking for someone to step up and take advantage of the opportunity," Sitake said.
It has become evident through the first six weeks or so of the Sitake era, since fall camp began, that he is not going to give any details regarding injuries. Asked about the status of Travis Tuiloma (Lisfranc) and cornerback Troy Warner (hamstring) on Monday, Sitake was vague.
"If I was a trainer I could probably tell you more," he said. "My job as a head coach is to protect our players. We get advice and counsel from our training room. We just don't want to put our guys out there and risk anything, especially with him and that type of injury. When the time is right, he will be back."
How about Warner?
"Yeah, it will be the same," he said.
After that, no one dared ask about running back Jamaal Williams, who returned to the game after having his face mask yanked by Taumoepenu the violation went uncalled but was not on the field for the final drive. Williams and his mother noted on Twitter after the game that he was fine.
Another big topic Monday was how BYU's defense has seemingly worn down in the fourth quarter and allowed two long touchdown drives by Arizona and a long field goal drive by Utah, a 19-play drive that took more than 11 minutes off the clock.
"Well, I think we had opportunities to get out of the third downs, we just didn't make plays," Sitake said of the Utah drive. "We had some guys trying to do a little too much. I think when you get towards the end, I think both games we had guys thinking they had to take it upon themselves to make the play when they had just been assignment sound the entire first part of the game.. So, we just can't do that. We can't take it upon ourselves to just free up our assignments and just abandon it and try to make a play ourselves. We got to rely on the other 10 guys. I think these are two great lessons for us.
We gave up two touchdown drives in the Arizona game late. We gave up one in the Utah game. But we have to learn from it. I don't think it had anything to do with our guys being tired.
A 20-play drive will kill you, it doesn't matter who you are. You can be in great shape you are going to be tired playing 20 plays on defense.
It is a lot harder than playing offense for 20 plays. We just have to learn from it, and trust it. I mean, it is effort. They are trying their best.
That's when you gotta be a little bit more disciplined and more assignment sound. I say that, but as I watch the film, there isn't like there was a lot of breakdown on those drives. Utah made some plays, and we didn't.
We had some opportunities to get out of third downs, and some long distance situations, and we didn't take advantage of. That's the game of football."
Sitake said the Cougars are in good shape, and stamina isn't a factor in the fourth-quarter letdowns.
"I mean, we are not running marathons, so it is not like it is a different deal, you know? Our guys are in shape," he said. "They are fine, if that is what you are getting it. Maybe you should just say, 'are your guys in shape?' Yeah, we are stronger. We are getting bigger, and we are going to maintain our strength. If we can increase our strength, I think there is a way you can do all of that, and be in good shape."
The coach who was once at Utah and Oregon State said his Cougars matched up well physically.
"I thought we did some good things. Our front, I thought our O line protected really well, especially because we did a lot of pass sets. I thought they did well against a well-known pass-rushing type of defense," he said. "Then I thought we moved the line of scrimmage a little bit. Obviously, I think the defenses on both sides got the edge. I thought our guys handled it pretty well physically. I didn't see a huge difference in the physical part of the game."