Saturday’s win showed BYU has work to do and short week to prepare for Houston

BYU coach Kalani Sitake speaks with officials during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Louisiana Tech on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

“Love them up.”

That’s the mentality the BYU football team is focusing on moving forward.

The 14th-ranked Cougars know they didn’t give their best effort against UTSA on Saturday. In fact, most of BYU’s mistakes were self inflicted. But at the end of the day, the Cougars still came out with a win.

And that’s what is centering the team as it prepares during a shortened week for the game at Houston on Friday.

“I think a big thing with our team this year, [coach] Kalani [Sitake] always says we’re going to face adversity — each game we’re going to have adversity,” offensive lineman Brady Christensen said. “The main way to overcome that is just with extreme effort and loving each other up. I always try, with our guys, just try to [say] ‘hey, forget about last quarter, last series or whatever and let’s just go play our hardest next series.’ Just loving each other up, whoever makes the next play, just love them up. That’s kind of how we deal with adversity when it strikes.”

However, the grind-it-out win against UTSA did humble the Cougars.

While the team has been trying to avoid the hype that’s come its way in terms of national recognition and rankings, there’s no denying BYU found itself in a much different position four games into the 2020 season than a year prior.

The Cougars faced four straight Power Five opponents to start the season in 2019 and went into the games as the underdog. Now, BYU is seen as the Goliath to opponents' David.

But the Cougars' recent game showed they can’t get too high.

“I think we’re seeing it in a positive light,” junior wide receiver Gunner Romney said. “I think everybody is playing, at least this week, is feeling like we have a little chip on our shoulder again. It wasn’t necessarily a wake-up call because we did get the win and we are moving forward, but I think everyone is ready to go.”

With less than a week to prepare for Houston, the Cougars started reviewing film on Sunday. Although BYU has played four games to this point, Houston just started its season last Thursday — meaning the Cougars only had one game’s worth of film to watch.

After Monday’s practice, and reviewing their own game film, Sitake said they have been able to figure out what the team needs to work on. Luckily, it’s all fixable, he said.

Sitake is expecting Houston to bring a physical matchup on both sides of the ball, with plenty of experience and depth from returning players.

Now it’s just a matter of time — BYU has just days to fix its mistakes.

And the Cougars' national ranking adds a bigger target to their backs.

“You saw it with UTSA, they wanted to come in here and get after it,” Sitake said. “They had a mission in mind. They wanted to see how they match up. We’ve been in that position as well. We’ve faced teams that are ranked and been the underdog. For this position, it’s not really focused on being the hunted anymore, it’s just a matter of we can’t stop hunting ourselves. We still have a lot of things to prove.”

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