Provo • The sputtering offense was a collective effort.
The spotlight, though, was all on Taysom Hill.
In the wake of BYU's 20-13 loss to Utah Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the primary storyline will be about how the Cougar offense couldn't get started, left points on the board deep in Utah territory and could never find a balance needed to beat a Utah scheme designed to make Hill throw the ball over the top of the defense.
The numbers were ugly. Hill, a sophomore, was just 18 of 48 through the air and tossed an interception. Yes, his running numbers were good, with 99 yards on the ground in 20 attempts. But this was a game that needed to be won with his arm.
He couldn't do it.
"I need to be better," Hill said. "I thought we did what we had to in order to get into scoring position. But we didn't finish a lot of drives."
Two weeks after running over, through and around Texas in what was an eye-opening win at the time, BYU again faces major questions about its offense. BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae cited a number of factors that led to his team mustering just two field goals through three quarters.
The offensive line failed to get a push in the running game and failed to adequately pass protect. The wide receivers outside of Cody Hoffman made a number of key drops. Hill, despite his ability to run the ball, was sacked five times.
"We got beat in the trenches tonight," Anae said. "That's where Utah was better. I'm not saying that one group was at fault. We have to get better everywhere. We have to improve. A great thing about Taysom is how good he is to work with. When you look at the numbers, it's a sign of a young team and that's what we have."
Statistically, the Cougars were good. They had more first downs than Utah. They had more total yards and more rushing yards. But BYU was only 5 of 21 on third down and lost the turnover battle. In five redzone chances, the Cougars came away with just three scores and Hill's interception deep in the fourth quarter was significant.
It all added up to an offense that will be under pressure to perform on Friday against Middle Tennessee.
on twitter: @tjonessltrib
Taysom Hill went 18 of 48 with one interception. He threw for a career-high 260 yards
Hill's completion percentage through three games is 34.7 percent
BYU punted eight times in a 20-13 loss to Utah