Kalani Sitake spent a lot of his postgame press conference late Saturday afternoon expressing his disappointment.
The BYU coach thought there were too many mistakes in a 27-20 win over UTSA at LaVell Edwards Stadium. He lamented a lost fumble on the game’s opening drive as the 15th-ranked Cougars were moving right down the field. Too many plays left on the field, too many penalties, not enough urgency.
Still, there were flashes of the high-octane, Zach Wilson-led BYU offense that has made the college football world sit up and take notice this fall.
Late in the third quarter, the Cougars (4-0) were nursing a 14-6 when Wilson took over on his own 10-yard line. On third-and-6, he hit Dax Milne on a slant route for 14 yards. With a new set of downs, Wilson got great protection from his offensive line, gave a slight pump fake and hit Gunner Romney in stride on a slant route across the middle of the field for a gain of 52 yards.
Wilson scored three plays later on a read-option keeper from four yards out for a 21-6 lead. The 90-yard drive took all of seven plays and 3:23, all of it a reminder as to how lethal Wilson and the BYU offense can be.
“I feel like we were back to where we were supposed to be,” said Wilson, who now has 1,241 passing yards on a completion percentage of 81.2% through four games. “Guys were making big-time plays, the O-line did a great job of giving me time in the pocket there.”
Added Sitake: “It’s a shame it came so late. I thought the first drive was nice until the fumble, and then it’s just the little things like being mindful of the football.”
Wilson’s day started quickly, hitting on his first three pass attempts for 62 yards. On the third completion, a 10-yarder along the right sideline to Neil Pau’u, the junior was stripped of the ball by Corey Mayfield Jr., who then recovered it.
There was a fumble later in the game, not to mention a shaky exchange or two along the way. Despite it all, BYU was in control all afternoon before holding on at the end.
Those types of miscues will do the Cougars no favors Friday night when they play at Houston, a game that has long been viewed as BYU’s first stern test. Houston finally opened its season Thursday night with a 49-31 win over Tulane at TDECU Stadium.
“We can’t make those mistakes,” Sitake said. “Give UTSA a lot of credit, but we didn’t help ourselves with some of these issues, things that we were able to do in the three previous games. A lot of that has to do with what UTSA was able to do, but as the head coach, I have to make sure our team is ready to play and perform their best every week.”