BYU wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake wants the Cougar receivers to not feel less pressure

March 21, 2019

As you think back over the 2018 BYU football season, it’s probably not hard to remember some of those key moments when the Cougar offense appeared to be in prime position to make a big play in the passing game — only to have the ball slip through someone’s hands and fall to the turf.

BYU wide receiver coach Fesi Sitake talked after practice Tuesday how he thought a lot of those miscues were caused by players tensing up in those moments.

“Last year I felt that a lot of pressure was applied on them,” Sitake said. “A lot of that was self-inflicted, while some of it might have been how I came off. When those big plays came, they felt that there might not be another one so they put all this pressure on themselves. There are a couple of plays that stick out to me where we missed an explosive play. The fans might think the player just didn’t focus on the ball but wouldn’t know some external things that were happening and pressures that were applied.”

His solution? Let his guys go out and just play the game.

“Here in spring ball with the mindset of just letting it fly, the guys are playing a lot more loose,” Sitake said. “I think because of that, you are seeing them play at a higher level, especially in terms of explosive plays.”

Sitake said that he felt personally responsible for putting some added stress on the receivers.

“I was so focused as a coach on making sure they knew every detail of the offense,” Sitake said. “But doing that can train a player to put that pressure on himself, that when the ball comes your way it’s your only chance. I want guys to have the right mentality without the pressure. They are going to get a lot of opportunities, so when they come just make the play. It’s been a learning experience for me.”

He believes there has been some symbiotic growth for him as a coach and for the receivers who have now been through an entire college football cycle with him.

“Their growth has been exponential in two main areas,” Sitake said. “No. 1 in how they have improved in their position, from understanding the finer details of the game. No. 2 has been the relationship. They’ve gotten to know a lot about me and my expectations as a coach. I’ve gotten to know a lot more about them at a personal level. Knowing each other and having a year under our belt has been as big a factor as their overall improvement at the position.”

At this point in fall camp, he feels like the top returners — guys like Micah Simon, Talon Shumway, Dax Milne, Gunner Romney and Neil Pau’u — have all gotten better and will prove it on the field.

“We have a five or six guys who are ready to play tomorrow,” Sitake said. “They are picking up the playbook, anything we throw at them. They are getting faster and stronger, improving in every way. I’m really pleased with how they have performed.”

But he knows there are more opportunities available and he has other players striving to take advantage of those.

“We have maybe 10 guys who are fighting to get into fall camp or become a rotational guy,” Sitake said. “We’re at the point in spring ball where I’m not sure yet but I’m starting to get an idea of who those might be.”

BYU fans will get a chance to see some of the development of the wide receivers and evaluate the progress for themselves at the spring scrimmage, which is scheduled to take place Saturday at west campus field (the former Provo High School football stadium) starting at 1 p.m.