No. 13 BYU will need to fix defensive mistakes before taking on Utah State

The Aggies are averaging 533.2 yards per game, while ranking 13th in passing offense and 25th in rushing offense.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (2) tries to pull in a pass in game action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the South Florida Bulls at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Step one: Review the film.

Step two: Evaluate.

Step three: Make adjustments.

If winning can be frustrating, that’s what happened to BYU against South Florida last weekend. Now the No. 13 BYU coaching staff has already completed step one and step two, but will have a shortened week to accomplish step three before traveling to Utah State on Friday.

Most of the adjustments needed are on the defense as the Cougars allowed the Bulls to get back in the game on Saturday and score 14 unanswered points to close out the game.

On Monday, BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he’s actually excited after watching his team’s film.

“Even though there were a lot of mistakes made, I was really excited because the effort and energy was there,” Sitake said. “I saw a lot of guys just pressing — trying to do too much. And when the moment came their way, certain guys made mistakes, but it’s a very fixable thing. So, I’m excited to get to work today, get to practice and get those things fixed.”

The issue is even more pressing considering Utah State could play two quarterbacks.

Utah State starter Logan Bonner has thrown for 959 yards and seven touchdowns, and has been picked off five times, while completing 60.34% of his passes. Backup quarterback Andrew Peasley has thrown for 320 yards and three touchdowns while completing 54.05% of passes.

“I think they can do a lot of things, too, like do a little bit of a QB run game,” Sitake said. “They have two quarterbacks that give them unique skillset, so you have to be ready for both of them.”

And that’s just one part of a Utah State offense that is ranked 10th in the nation in total offense. The Aggies are averaging 533.2 yards per game. Utah State also ranks 13th in passing offense (319.8 ypg) and 25th in rushing offense (213.5 ypg).

The Aggies average 319.75 passing yards per game and 213.5 rushing yards per game, making them a well balanced offense.

“I’ve been really impressed with how they utilize their talents and their strengths,” Sitake said. “They have a physical, big O-line and actually can really run the ball downhill and can create space, and they have some really athletic, explosive athletes at wideout and at tight end. So it’s a difficult matchup.”

Wide receiver Neil Pau’u said the issue BYU struggled with Saturday must be addressed by the entire team. Pau’u believes the Cougars let up after jumping out to a 21-0 lead so early against the Bulls. Each player still needs to take accountability for their role and not take anything for granted, he said.

Defensive lineman Gabe Summers agrees and hopes the Cougars can instead maintain a high level of intensity throughout a complete game.

“I feel like the most important thing is to just get another W in the win column,” Summers said.