Eye on the Y: The Cougars are beat up, and it shows

BYU has played seven-straight games and will have to play three more before it gets a much-needed bye week.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) South Florida Bulls defensive end Ryan Thaxton (99) pulls on Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Puka Nacua (12) in game action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the South Florida Bulls at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake isn’t using injuries as an excuse for his team’s losses to Boise State and Baylor.

“We’re midseason, so there’s guys that are banged up, guys that are playing through some injury, guys that aren’t 100%,” Sitake said this week. “That’s the game of football. We’re depending on depth and talent, but sometimes inexperience shows up a little bit, but it’s time to grow up and get better and toughen up.

“We’re not 100%, but neither is Washington State, and neither was Baylor.”

Injuries, however, are clearly hampering the Cougars at this point in the season.

Missing leading tackler Keenan Pili, among others, the defense allows opponents to stay on the field too long and successfully convert too many third downs, and has been thrown off by in-game adjustment by their opponents.

Offensively, BYU hasn’t been able to mount the type of running game it showed earlier this season. That could be a direct result of the offensive line getting pretty beat up and still not having all of its season starters back in the trenches.

The Cougars are banged up and look like a team in need of a break.

BYU has played seven straight games and has another three on deck before it will have a bye week. By that point, the Cougars will only have two games left in the season and, assuming they win one more game to become bowl eligible, a likely trip to the Independence Bowl.

But is a late bye week be an oasis or a mirage?

“Bye weeks usually help and get the team healthy,” Sitake said. “The hard part a lot of people don’t realize, the week of practice, we need to be physical and put the pads on and strike. So, it’s not like the week of practice is any easier, but I don’t know any other way to prep for teams and practice it. ... I don’t think taking it easy in practice is going to be the key.”

It’s going to be tough, but I’m interested to see how the Cougars manage over these next few weeks because that will show what the team is truly made of.

Quick hits

• Saturday’s loss at Baylor cost the Cougars their Top 25 ranking, which the Bears slid into.

• For those that missed the game, here’s what happened.

• Season starter Jaren Hall is “completely healthy” and Baylor Romney is back in practice.

Other voices

The Monty Show breaks down the Cougars’ season and poses the question: Was BYU’s 5-0 start a fluke?

• The BYU-Virginia game gets 8:15 p.m. kickoff time, per FanNation.

• There’s a chance Washington State coach Nick Rolovich loses his job before BYU makes it up there for Saturday’s game.