Provo • Of BYU’s three wins this season, two were against ranked teams. Two of the three opponents were also Power Five teams.
Two of the Cougars’ losses were, somewhat understandably, against ranked, Power Five teams. But even if it was against bigger and tougher opponents, BYU was sloppy in all three phases of the ball in both those games. The other two losses were against teams the Cougars were expected to beat, but instead they weren’t able to finish and allowed Toledo and South Florida to make fourth-quarter comebacks.
With the Utah State game coming up, will the BYU team that upset Tennessee, USC and Boise State show up? Or will fans see the BYU team that struggled on all three phases of the ball against Utah, Washington, Toledo and USF?
BYU coach Kalani Sitake believes college football is all about consistency, but recognizes his team’s issues with it.
“I think every coach is trying to find a way to be great consistently and for us, to be at that level, it's taking some time,” Sitake said. “You're dealing with a lot of different factors that go into it. Right now, this moment, is what every football coach is talking about, trying to find a way to perform at a high level and do it over and over, week to week. That's kind of the battle. I think the teams that do it the best will be the ones at the end that have an opportunity to play for the championship.”
BYU AT UTAH STATE
When • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
The Cougars’ top 10, nationally ranked schedule has been one factor in the team’s lack of consistency, but Sitake also said it’s been a motivator. It has forced the players to get ready every week knowing they will face tough competition in each game.
“I know that the performance hasn’t been our best, and that’s considering the competition, but also all the other factors,” Sitake said. “I really don’t care about what anyone else says about our schedule, all I care about is beating Utah State right now. And that’s what our focus on this team’s got to be — focus on what we’ve got ahead of us.”
And what BYU has in front of it isn’t necessarily the same as what it has already faced.
Safety Dayan Ghanwoloku said the team can never prepare the same way for each opponent. The Aggies are not the same as the Cougars' most recent opponent, Boise State.
Each team has different schemes.
“So, we’re coming into the game focusing on what they’re good at and going to stop what they’re good at,” Ghanwoloku said. “And the offense is going to focus on what their defense is good at and they’re going to find a way to score on their defense. Every team’s different. The outcome might not be the same, but we’ve got to play to our strengths and what we do best against Utah State.”
One of the other main factors the Cougars have struggled with has been with their health.
Linebacker Zayne Anderson played in two games before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, an ongoing issue from what forced him to redshirt last season. Starting running back Ty’Son Williams suffered a torn ACL during the Washington game. On Monday, Sitake said Williams will most likely apply for a medical hardship so he can play one more season.
Then there's the quarterback situation. BYU has had three different quarterbacks start in the last three games.
Season starter Zach Wilson suffered a fractured right (throwing) thumb during the fourth quarter at Toledo. Jaren Hall, who came in for Wilson against the Rockets, started at South Florida, but walked off the field in the fourth quarter with concussion symptoms.
Baylor Romney got the start in the Cougars’ latest game, against Boise State, and played well, throwing for 294 yards on 21-of-36 passing, including two touchdowns.
The offense just might be the part of the roster that has the most depth.
“Lots of guys were able to step up and play well,” offensive lineman James Empey said. “Blake [Freeland] and Clark [Barrington] were kind of the newer guys to the group that was playing [against Boise State] and I thought they came out and they did their best and they played a good game. Moving forward, we’re just trying to keep getting that unit fit together just right and get everybody knowing what to do and how to do it the best that we can.”
The Cougars have also failed to finish drives, struggling to convert on third downs or being forced to attempt a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown, and the defense has had trouble stopping the opponent's running game.
However, the Cougars showed improvement against the Broncos, holding them to their second-lowest rushing total of the season.
Sitake now hopes to be able to continue to build off the team’s growth against Boise State.
“Winning is really hard, and it may be easy to a lot of different people that are out there, but when you’re functioning with getting a team ready and dealing with a lot of different factors that go into the variables of trying to get a win, that becomes hard,” Sitake said. “But that’s what we’re committed to do. I’m glad we got an extra week to prepare and try to be as consistent as we were against Boise State.”