Provo • Graduate transfer Dylan Collie hasn’t been more involved than usual in BYU’s game plan this week as the Cougars prepared to take on his former team, Hawaii, on Saturday night.
But the 5-foot-10, 180-pound receiver has served as a consultant, of sorts, regarding what kind of fire the surprising Rainbow Warriors (6-1) will bring to LaVell Edwards Stadium for the 8:15 p.m. rematch of BYU’s 30-20 win last year in Oahu.
“It means a lot [to Hawaii],” said Collie, who caught six passes for 103 yards against BYU last November in what turned out to be his final game for the Mountain West team. “It is a very, very big game for them. It is just as big of a game for us. But over there, it is a rivalry game. There is bad blood between BYU and Hawaii and it has been that way for a very long time.
“So, the passion that they have for it and from what I was able to see and kind of develop a feel for, it is a big, big deal,” he continued.
Collie has said several times throughout BYU’s 3-3 start that he doesn’t regret returning to the place where he started his college football career, but he’s not even close to putting up the kind of numbers he put up last year. The brother of one of the top receivers in BYU history, Austin Collie, has caught just eight passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, with a long of 22.
He caught 56 passes for 636 yards while wearing green in 2017, and left the Islands with 118 career catches for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons.
“We need to go into [Saturday’s game] with a certain mentality that kind of gets us out of the funk that we may be in right now,” Collie said after the Cougars were outscored 80-27 in successive losses to Washington and Utah State, another Mountain West foe that views BYU as one of its biggest rivals. “It is a great opportunity to do it during this game. Hawaii is a very good football team.”
That said, Collie’s preparation, mentality, mindset and anticipation won’t change just because he will be ultra-familiar with the guys on the other side of the ball, he said.
“I love those guys and am grateful for the experiences that I had there,” he said. “They are like brothers to me. But it is a football game, and if you change too much, that definitely affects the way you go into Saturday.”
High-scoring Hawaii’s biggest weapon is almost as familiar with BYU as Collie is with Hawaii. Redshirt junior receiver John Ursua moved from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, to Utah County prior to his sophomore year in high school and played for Westlake and Cedar high schools. Ursua has caught 55 passes for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns already.
“I love him,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said of Ursua. “I coached his older brother at Southern Utah and his older brother and [BYU receivers coach] Fesi Sitake are best friends. I know the family really well. Great player. He is scary, so we have to defend him.”
BYU defensive end Corbin Kaufusi called Ursua “dangerous” and seemingly always open.
“He is good at finding places to get the ball, and they are good at getting him the ball,” Kaufusi said.
Collie and Ursua provide intriguing storylines, but the bulk of the pregame focus has centered on the quarterbacks.
BYU coaches plan to give freshman Zach Wilson his first start after senior Tanner Mangum struggled with turnovers in the 45-20 loss to Utah State, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald, a 6-4 sophomore with flowing hair and a rifle arm, didn’t play in last week’s 17-13 win over Wyoming to do an undisclosed injury, but is expected to play against the Cougars. McDonald is second in the country in passing yards (2,100) and passing touchdowns (24) and told reporters Monday that he expects to play.
“I’m back,” he said, later adding that “it would mean something special” if Hawaii could win for the first time ever in Provo, having gone 0-9 at BYU’s home in the past.
“We’re going to go out there and execute our assignments and play great football and come back with that win, so it is going to mean a lot to us,” McDonald said.
HAWAII AT BYU
At LaVell Edwards Stadium
Kickoff • Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
Radio • KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Records • BYU 3-3, Hawaii 6-1
Series history • BYU leads, 22-8
Last meeting • BYU 30, Hawaii 20 (Nov. 25, 2017)
About the Rainbow Warriors • They are coming off a 17-13 win over Wyoming at Aloha Stadium in which freshman quarterback Chevan Cordeiro threw a game-winning 38-yard touchdown pass to JoJo Ward with 1:26 remaining. … Cordeiro was filling in for QB Cole McDonald, who is expected to return from an undisclosed injury against BYU. … McDonald has thrown for 2,100 yards and 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions. … Redshirt junior John Ursua, a Cedar High product, has caught 55 passes for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns.
About the Cougars • They are trying to avoid their first three-game losing skid since dropping seven-straight last season. … Freshman Zach Wilson is expected to start at quarterback and would become the eighth true freshman in school history to start at QB. … Leading rusher Squally Canada is doubtful after suffering a concussion in the loss to Utah State. … LB Matt Hadley has moved back to running back, a position he started the season playing. … They are 124th in the country in total offense, averaging just 306 yards per game.