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BYU football: Coaches aim for more consistency after Saturday's loss to Northern Illinois

Brigham Young Cougars running back Matt Hadley runs the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies during NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
Brigham Young Cougars running back Matt Hadley runs the ball against the Northern Illinois Huskies during NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

PROVO — It's at times difficult to ascertain a certain theme put forth by a coach during interview sessions, and at times there's no certain theme conveyed at all. But during Monday's press conference, BYU coach Kalani Sitake left no doubt regarding the theme he's drumming on to his staff and players following Saturday's uninspired 7-6 loss to Northern Illinois.

The theme on Monday had everything to do with consistency, with Sitake using the word "consistent", "consistency" or "inconsistent" 18 times during Monday's 13 and a half minute interview.

"I think that's our theme right now. I could just bring out a banner and you guys could read it," Sitake said. "That's going to be the answer to every question you ask me."

Sitake didn't answer every question with his chosen word for the day, as it were, but it was close.

From questions regarding the seeming regression of offensive line production, to why his team can't seem to put two quality game performances together the response was largely the same.

"We need to be more consistent as a team and that's my job as a coach — to find a way to be consistent," Sitake said. "If you look at the season, we've played some really good games and we've played some really bad ones."

Indeed the 2018 season has been marked with several peaks and valleys, with last Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Huskies marking a big valley, particularly for the offense.

But the Cougars' lack of consistency isn't just comprised of game-to-game performances, according to Sitake. Case in point would be the sole seven points put up by Northern Illinois last week, which came on the opening drive of the second half, where the Cougars allowed 65 of the total 204 yards for the game, in what proved to be the game-winning points.

"Even in the games we've shown some really good drives and then it's just not consistent enough," Sitake said. "So what I need to do as a head coach is to find ways for our team to be consistent because we have really good players and they do everything we ask them to."

Sitake put the lack of consistency squarely on his shoulders for not devising effective schemes that exemplify what he believes his players are capable of.

"I need to find ways to give our guys what they deserve with how hard they work," Sitake said. "...We need to devise a scheme on offense and defense that highlight their strengths, if that makes sense."

Regarding the theme of being more aggressive that Sitake put forth right after Saturday's loss, he clarified those remarks on Monday.

"I think it's just (about having) an aggressive mindset in our approach and show more confidence in our guys," Sitake said. "There's probably a lot going into (those postgame comments.) I was emotional after the game. I still am now, but I think there's just so many things involved with that statement. I would just like to see more points on the board and more disruption on defense."

"Coach Sitake takes a lot of the blame on himself, but at the end of the day we're the ones out there playing," said receiver and team captain Micah Simon. "As captains, we take it upon ourselves. It's our team and we have to lead our guys and make sure the confidence is still high to play loose, play free and then make plays."

Simon insisted the way the team prepares doesn't vary from week-to-week whether coming off a big loss or a big win, which lends credence to Sitake's statements that the onus is on himself, his assistants and the schemes they devise during the week of preparation and the adjustments during the game. With just four games left in the 2018 season, the opportunities to show forth more consistency is compressed, starting with this Saturday's game at Boise State and then ending on Nov. 24 with what is sure to be an emotional game at Utah.