BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki’s role changes, but Kalani Sitake says there will be no in-season firings

Sitake will take over defensive play calling for the rest of the season.

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki at the school's annual spring football scrimmage in Provo, Saturday March 25, 2017.

BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki’s role has changed, raising more questions about what his future looks like.

But head coach Kalani Sitake says Tuiaki has not been demoted, nor are there any plans to fire any coaches despite the team’s recent struggles on the field.

On Monday, Sitake said his long-time defensive coordinator is focusing “full-time” on the defensive line for the rest of the season. Sitake will continue to call plays and set up the game plan.

When asked if Tuiaki has been officially “demoted” from the defensive coordinator position, Sitake said no. However, Sitake went on to say that all the normal duties associated with the defensive coordinator role will be handled by him the rest of the way.

“At the end of the day, I am coming up with the [play] menu and deciding on the plays and deciding on the personnel,” Sitake said. “When we do that, I will call the plays in the game.”

Sitake indicated that his defensive coordinator is still giving him input early in the week about game planning and scheme. So, too, are associate head coach Ed Lamb and the rest of the defensive staff.

Sitake said he would not fire anybody on his staff in the middle of the season.

“I’ve never done in-season dismissals,” Sitake said. “We need all hands on deck. I know that I have a responsibility here as a head coach, that is keeping in mind what our fans want and what our players need. What I am really focused on right now is the adversity that is happening and what we can get from it. We can become better because of this.

“We are going through some tough times right now. With tough times, it exposes a lot of things. Not all of it is negative. There is some good things we can build off and also some things we can eliminate. ... My goal is to make everybody happy and that is what I am trying to get done.”

After BYU allowed 52 points and 644 yards to Arkansas two weeks ago, Sitake officially took away playcalling duties from his seven-year defensive coordinator. Against Liberty last week, Tuiaki was moved down to the field to coach the defensive line and Sitake handled the plays.

However, BYU still allowed 41 points and 547 yards of offense. It led to questions of whether more drastic mid-season changes on the defensive staff would happen. Sitake told The Tribune he would use the rest of the season as a “filter” to see who will be on the staff next year.

“I’m going to ask the guys to coach their positions better, hold everybody accountable,” Sitake said. “I’m going to ask the players to hold each other accountable. I look forward to seeing who wants to come out of this mess. It is an easy filter for me to see who wants to join the fight and who wants to not be a part of it.”

Sitake, in the last few days, has shifted his tone to be more critical of the players rather than the staff. He has harped on players not being able to make tackles even when the scheme puts them in the right position.

Sitake seemed to publicly call out his players again on Monday, where he said the execution of the scheme is the main problem.

“I think if we tackle better and play fundamentally sound” the defense will get stops, Sitake said. “The problem we have had is just a breakdown in execution. That falls on the coaches demanding it and getting the right players to do it.”