Playmakers needed: BYU’s offense needs a few more guys to step up if the Cougars are to thrive this season

BYU's Micah Simon catches a pass as Utah defensive back Jaylon Johnson (1) defends in the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday Nov. 24, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

BYU receiver Micah Simon says he doesn’t have any personal goals of yards or touchdowns for his senior year, he just wants to be as good of an outlet for quarterback Zach Wilson as he can.

“I want to be that consistent target for him so he can get comfortable as a quarterback and know we are going to be there for him,” Simon said.

Simon was speaking for himself, but his goal addresses what the rest of the offense needs to do, as well, to improve from their opening-week loss to Utah.

The Cougars, who play at Tennessee on Saturday, had trouble getting their offense in a flow against the Utes. The turnovers are memorable, but penalties and poor decision making stopped other drives. The Cougars also had trouble getting their running game going, with newcomer Ty’Son Williams getting only seven carries for 45 yards.

Tight end Matt Bushman had six catches for 62 yards, but none in the second half.


BYU’s key offensive stats from Thursday’s season opener vs. Utah:

Zach Wilson, QB • 21-of-33, 2 INTs

Ty’son Williams, RB • 7 carries, 48 yards

Matt Bushman, TE • 6 catches, 62 yards

Aleva Hifo, WR • 4 catches, 40 yards

Micah Simon, WR • 3 catches, 35 yards

Gunner Romney, WR • 3 catches, 33 yards

Totals • 208 yards passing, 92 yards rushing, 300 total yards

Give Utah credit for limiting BYU’s touches in the second half, but the offense needs to be more productive, BYU coach Kalani Sitake acknowledged.

“Our offense didn’t do enough to get more first downs or more plays in the second half,” he said of the Utah game.

Last year the Cougars ranked just 79th nationally in scoring offense, averaging just 27.2 points a game.

Breaking in a new quarterback surely had something to do with the lack of production, but now that the Cougars know who their quarterback is and how he plays, it’s time for the offense to step up its game overall, Simon said.

“For [Wilson] to be successful, he has to know the receivers, tight ends, running backs are all there for him so he can play his game,” he said. “We have to improve from Game 1. We made strides in the offseason and we have a lot more trust in each other, but we have to get more points.”

The Cougars feel like they have beefed up the running game with the addition of Williams, the transfer from South Carolina, but the receiver group is still young and evolving.

The depth at that position was hurt with the absence of junior Neil Pau’u, who is redshirting this year after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence during the summer.

But they do have some up and coming talent such as sophomore Gunner Romney and freshman Keanu Hill, who had a good fall camp despite battling some nagging injuries.

The Cougars have other experienced receivers to go along with Simon in senior Talon Shumway, who started 10 games last year and had 22 catches for 337 yards, and Aleva Hifo, who started eight games last year and led the team with 545 all-purpose yards.

“What I like is we are versatile,” Simon said. “We don’t have guys who can play just X or Z but you might play anywhere.”

Overall the Cougars feel they have the talent needed, they just need to be more productive. Finding playmakers is key, but so too is making improvements on the basics from Game 1 to Game 2.

“Execution and being smooth overall is what we need to focus on,” Wilson said. “There was a lot of confusion throughout the game on who should be lined up where, do what and clock management. I think now that we have had this first game, we should be a lot better in overall execution.”


When • Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT