Seattle • Three times in an eight-minute interview session after BYU was “manhandled” in a 35-7 loss at Washington Saturday night, coach Kalani Sitake mentioned that the Cougars now face a short week against a tough instate opponent coming off a bye, Utah State.
“We don’t have time to sulk,” he said. “We don’t have time to think about this one that much.”
Doing so would probably wreck the Cougars’ self-esteem.
Aside from a decent drive launched midway through the first quarter and into the second that ultimately ended with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, the Cougars were overmatched in every way imaginable by the Huskies.
A lot of those positive vibes the program generated from the upset of Wisconsin vanished on the shores of Lake Washington in front of more than 70,000 fans.
“They got everything rolling, and we were on our heels the entire game,” Sitake said. “That’s what great teams do when you make mistakes.”
Sitake said the Cougars “knew coming into this game we would have to play as disciplined and well as we possibly can.”
Then they went out and did the opposite. They committed five penalties in the aforementioned drive alone and finished with eight, after having just four penalties the entire game at Wisconsin. Some of those penalties negated big plays.
“It comes down to us concentrating,” BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum said. “It comes down to focus and discipline, and we didn’t have it. That’s frustrating, because that’s not who we are. We really pride ourselves on being smart and taking care of the football and not killing ourselves with penalties, and we didn’t do that.”
Actually, the Cougars probably would have still lost by a big margin if they had played a clean game with no turnovers or penalties. Washington (4-1) was just that much better than them, on both sides of the ball.
BYU couldn’t match the Huskies physicality or their speed and quickness. The Cougars picked up just seven first downs and 194 total yards.
“We didn’t play tough enough,” Mangum said. “We weren’t able to execute the way we wanted to. They out-executed us tonight. You gotta give credit where credit is due.”
• BYU still cannot put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Washington quarterback Jake Browning had so much time to throw that it was almost comical, and the Huskies’ receivers were just too quick and fast for BYU’s injury depleted secondary to handle. He was sacked once, by Corbin Kaufusi, but otherwise was barely touched.
“Well, I think you have to stop the run first and make them throw,” Sitake said. “We need to hang our hat on stopping the run, and we didn’t do that well enough.”
• The Cougars’ lack of speed and depth at linebacker and safety was exposed. Playing without injured defensive stars Dayan Ghanwoloku and Zayne Anderson, BYU had no answers for UW’s outstanding corps of speedy receivers.
“We definitely missed them,” Kaufusi said. “They are great players. But we have guys in there that are capable of doing it. We have other guys who bring speed as well. Everyone has to do their job at the right time.”
Sitake said he is “more hopeful” that the players can return to action this coming week than he was last week.
• Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes continues to add new wrinkles to BYU’s attack. The Cougars brought the shovel pass — not seen since the days of Jamaal Williams — back to their offense, with considerable success. Lopini Katoa caught seven passes for 66 yards and was Mangum’s most reliable receiver.
“We got to learn from this,” Mangum said. “We definitely got to be better. But we are going to work hard to show our resilience and show who we are as a group and not let this effect the rest of the season.”
Player of the game
• Washington quarterback Jake Browning. The four-year starter became UW’s all-time passing yardage leader and hurt the Cougars with his arm and his legs. He completed 23 of 25 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a touchdown.
Play of the game
• Katoa’s fumble with 22 seconds remaining in the second quarter. It’s a huge stretch to say one play deflated the Cougars in a 28-point loss, but instead of going into halftime trailing just 14-0, the Cougars trailed 21-0 because Washington scored three plays after recovering the fumble.
“Any turnover sucks, but definitely right before the half is less than ideal,” Mangum said. “To put the defense out there with a short field in that situation was a big blow that we weren’t happy about.”
BYU debuts and firsts
Safety Austin Lee posted a career-high seven tackles and forced a fumble. Freshman defensive end Devin Kaufusi made his first career start and freshman Dax Milne made his first career reception. Long snapper Mitch Harris recovered the fumbled punt that led to BYU’s only touchdown.
As Sitake mentioned several times, the Cougars will be at a distinct disadvantage Friday against rested and ready Utah State (3-1), which will try to win consecutive games against BYU (3-2) for the first time since winning four in a row from 1971-74.
The Aggies are averaging 51.5 points per game and feature a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Jordan Love. The Cougars are banged up after facing four Power Five opponents in September. Cache Valley native Moroni Laulu-Pututau suffered a left knee injury early in the game and will have an MRI Monday to determine the extent of the injury, Sitake said.
“I am sure they will be ready for us,” Sitake said. “We will be ready for them, too. We just can’t let this loss affect next week’s game.”
Utah State at BYU, 7 p.m.