BYU football’s struggles could continue against red-hot Boise State

After Week 4 of the 2022 college football season, the BYU Cougars were solid 3-1, with a 41-20 loss to an Oregon team now ranked in the top 10 being the only blemish on their record.

The Boise State Broncos looked mediocre after a 27-10 loss at UTEP, which is now 4-5, and hurt 2-2.

Apparently, the fortunes of both the Intermountain region’s football programs have turned a dime in the past few weeks. The cases of Boise State (6-2) and BYU (4-5) illustrate how much teams change over the course of a month, let alone a season.

“We’re going to get back to work and keep fighting and getting ready for Boise next week. We’re obviously going through a losing streak here, and the only way to turn it around is to love one another, focus on one another, hold on to our core values ​​and our principles, and allow the culture to take over.” —BYU- Football Coach Kalani Sitake

The Broncos are now qualified for the Bowl, have won four straight games and are giving the beleaguered Cougars a big boost at Albertsons Stadium after beating Colorado State 49-10 on the blue turf last Saturday. BYU has lost four straight, will miss a bowl for the first time since 2017 if it can defeat Utah Tech and neither BSU nor Stanford in November, and it doesn’t look like an offense in the Football Bowl subdivision can stop it .

Given what happened in November after ending September with less-than-impressive wins over Wyoming and Utah State, the Cougars seem particularly vulnerable to Boise State and quarterback Taylen Green, who took the reins when Hank Bachmeier followed The transfer portal entered the transfer portal after the dismissal of offensive coordinator Tim Plow after the Week 4 loss at UTEP.

If there was one positive for the Cougars from Friday’s loss to ECU, it was that they played better on both sides of the ball than they did at Liberty.

“Some positive things happened,” said coach Kalani Sitake after Andrew Conrad’s line-drive-field goal ripped through the posts as time ran out to give the Pirates their sixth win. “Obviously some minuses. … But this is where the team culture is supposed to thrive best. So I feel really good about our team, our core values, our principles of the team and I think the players will get better from that and react well and be ready to go next week.

You better be, otherwise a Liberty-like embarrassment might be in store.

“We’re going to get back to work and keep fighting and getting ready for Boise next week,” Sitake said after the Cougars lost to ECU as a three-point favorite. “We’re obviously going through a losing streak here, and the only way to reverse that is to love one another, focus on one another, hold on to our core values ​​and our principles, and allow the culture to take over.”

Perhaps the biggest reason BYU and Boise State went in opposite directions in October was defense. The Cougars are now 106th in total defense, allowing 422.4 yards per game; The Broncos rank No. 2 in total defense, giving up just 232.2 yards per game.

BYU is 65th on offense overall while Boise State is 93rd. But those numbers are deceiving — the Cougars’ offense, which came without leading rusher Chris Brooks, leading receiver Kody Epps and senior gunner Romney against the Pirates, rallied just 388 yards Friday night and was 0-2 in critical fourth-down situations.

“I have to acknowledge and own my role as head coach and the decisions I made in the game,” Sitake said when asked why he didn’t choose to shoot a field goal when the score was 24-24 Early in the fourth quarter on the fourth and 2. “I think there are things that we can build on from last week to this week and things that we can improve and improve going forward. “

Defensive end Tyler Batty said the tone in the dressing room after the ECU loss was “completely different” than after the loss at Liberty.

“We’ve got a bunch of competitors, man,” Batty said. “You want to win. They want to do their part. … I think, if anything, this (losing streak) has only brought us closer as a team. We have a good group of guys. There is not a single slacker in our dressing room.”

When Boise State defeated Colorado State to go 12-0 all-time against the Rams, he tacked a season-high 514 yards per day after the Cougars lost 424 yards to East Carolina. Green, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound redshirt freshman from Lewisville, Texas, completed 24 of 30 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 13 yards for a TD.

Boise State recorded 30 first downs, the most since Florida State’s 38 in 2019.

Can a battered BYU defense that’s been pushed around by Arkansas, Liberty and ECU over the past three weeks slow this attack? Maybe in a blue moon. Free safety Malik Moore is out for the season with a broken hand, while starting Rover linebacker Payton Wilgar missed the Liberty and ECU games with a lower leg injury.

The Cougars brought back defenseman Blake Mangelson against the Pirates, but Sitake conceded after the game that several other Cougar defensemen left with injuries and did not return, including Chaz Ah You.

“I felt like (BYU players) just had a different sense of urgency tonight,” Sitake said. “… I think a lot of guys could have quit last week, you know? And this week you could see a lot of guys responding by playing on. And we’re floored. I mean, we had to play without a couple of guys again. And tonight, unfortunately, we had more injuries.”

Cougars in the air

BYU (4-5) in Boise State (6-2)

Saturday, TBA

Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho

Television: TBA

Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM


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