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BYU moving on from heartbreaking loss at Coastal to prepare for San Diego State

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, center, walks on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Coastal Carolina Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Conway, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Redemption.

That’s what No. 14 BYU will be looking for this week following a heartbreaking loss at No. 11 Coastal Carolina last Saturday. It’s also what the Cougars hope to accomplish against an opponent that prevented them from getting in the end zone a year prior.

In what is currently considered the regular-season finale (BYU still has an opening the weekend of Dec. 19), the Cougars will host San Diego State Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake is expecting to see a very similar squad to that of last year, but that could always change with the ongoing pandemic. Still, the fifth-year coach is expecting to see an aggressive style of defense, just like last year.

“This is going to be another challenge where maybe we can have a little bit of redemption against last year, also against what happened this week for us,” Sitake said. “I like the fact that we get to play another game. And if there’s another way to play on [Dec.] 19 and a bowl game, we would love to do that, too.”

Regardless of what happened over the weekend, the BYU coaching staff and players don’t regret taking on the Coastal game on such short notice.

It provided a huge opportunity — a Top-20 matchup featured on ESPN’s College GameDay — but the Cougars fell short.

“It hurts,” junior wide receiver Dax Milne said. “I think that happening honestly just put a chip on our shoulder, that we’re not done yet. We’ve got a lot more to say and we’d like any opportunity we can to just go prove ourselves.”

Instead of focusing on the negatives going into the San Diego State game, the Cougars will instead focus on the seniors in what could be the final home game of the season.

However, the recent loss has left the team feeling a mixed bag of emotions — angry, frustrated, sad and more. But the Cougars will use that as a chip on their shoulder to move forward.

And they are still appreciative of the chance to play at all.

So now the Cougars will try to use those emotions, and look at how to improve from last year’s performance against the Aztecs.

BYU was able to get to the red zone a few times, but unable to score a touchdown. The Cougars scored on a field goal in the first quarter, but missed two other field goals. Quarterback Zach Wilson also gave up a fumble and was picked off twice.

The Cougars will need to be locked in on all fronts to bounce back from last weekend’s performance.

“We’re just all going to channel that and go work our butts off, because that’s all we can do right now,” junior offensive lineman Brady Christensen said. “We had a hard loss and now we got to move forward and still be grateful. That was our 10th game, we’re going to play our 11th game — we’re grateful that we get to play during this COVID year. Just to kind of channel all those emotions and just to give it our all here at LaVell Edwards one more time is what it’s about.”

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