Where does BYU football go from here?

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Dani Jardine
Fred Warner makes a tackle against Utah State on Sept. 29, 2017. Warner ended the game with a career-high three tackles for loss. (Dani Jardine)

It looked like the Cougars’ offense finally figured things out in the second quarter against Utah State, Friday evening in Logan.

Beau Hoge threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Beau Tanner, who somehow got his foot down before the rest of his body to make the spectacular catch; Ula Tolutau was on his way to the Cougars’ first 100-yard rushing performance of the season and the team had put up more than 20 points for the first time since the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21, 2016.

Then, Hoge threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and left the game injured on the following drive.

Beau Tanner and Tanner Balderree look at Beau Hoge, who left the game with an injury after this play. (Dani Jardine)

The Cougars self-imploded from there.

BYU finished the game with seven turnovers: Hoge threw one interception, Koy Detmer Jr. added three more and the running game lost three fumbles.

“We had way too many errors for us to overcome and have a chance to win this game,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “We’re going to evaluate everything again. The only choice we have is to go back to square one and try to find a way to win games and try to get this win against Boise State next week.”

BYU is 1-4 for the first time since 2010, which was the team’s final season in the Mountain West Conference.

This was also the first time since 2010 that BYU lost to Utah State in Logan.

The Cougars finished that season 7-6 after defeating UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, then proceded to finish 8-5 for the next three seasons and 9-4 each of the last two years.

BYU needs to win six of its final eight games this season to extend its bowl game-appearance streak to 13 years.

Offensive woes continue

Heading into this week’s matchup against Boise State, Cougar fans will have to wait and see who is physically able to lead the offense on Friday.

Presumably, it will be either Mangum or Hoge. Both players have suffered non-season ending injuries, and their status for Friday is unknown as the team does not give updates on injured players unless they suffer a season ending injury.

Regardless of who comes out of the tunnel on Friday, the offense continues to struggle.

BYU ranks 126th nationally in points per game (12.6) and 129th in offensive yards per game (257).

Broken down, the Cougars rank 118th in passing yards (152.6) and 116th in rushing yards (104).

The Cougars also lead the nation with 10 turnovers.

During Monday’s media interview, Sitake said, “After reviewing the film, we saw that turnovers were a glaring negative, but there were also some mistakes we couldn’t overcome. There were bad penalties that took points off the board and even administrative penalties that made it harder for us to gain first downs and hurt our drives.”

Defensive positives

The defense has continued to fight this season. Despite six turnovers through the first three quarters, BYU found itself down just six points until the first play of the fourth quarter.

Fred Warner had a career-high three tackles for loss against the Aggies and Sione Takitaki and Zayne Anderson each had a career-high nine tackles.

Micah Hannemann recorded the Cougars’ first defensive touchdown since last season’s win against Utah State with his 46-yard interception return for a touchdown.

BYU also had a season-high three sacks as a team and Corbin Kaufusi blocked a Utah State field goal attempt—his third as a Cougar and the team’s first of the season.

Despite another difficult loss, junior defensive lineman, Sione Takitaki said both the offense and defense are one. “We’re always united. We’ve always been united.” Takitaki said on Monday. “We’re always going to have the offense’s backs and they’re going to have our backs. We’re not pointing fingers. We’re always a team.”

“Defensively, the guys played hard.” Sitake added. “We put them in some bad spots, and I don’t know if they could have done anything differently. I’m pleased overall with the adjustments made from injuries.”

Boise State preview

Boise State will visit Provo for an 8:15 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Oct.6, that will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Broncos lead the all-time series 5-2 and won last year’s game in Boise, 28-27.

The home team has won the last six games in the series— BYU won the 2015 game in Provo 35-24.

Boise State is 2-2 on the season, having defeated Troy in its first game before losing at No. 20 Washington State in 3OT the following week.

Troy upset No. 25 LSU at Death Valley last weekend while Washington State upset No. 5 USC in Pullman, Washington.

The Broncos are averaging nearly 30 points per game compared to BYU’s 12.6 and their defense allows 29 points compared to the Cougars’ 26.4.

Sitake knows the Broncos will be ready on Friday night. “Boise State has a quarterback with a lot of experience.” Sitake said. “They are coming off a bye week, so when they come out and play in our stadium, it’ll be exciting. I feel good about our matchup with them.”

Tolutau, who had two fumbles against Utah State, said he’s focused on holding onto the ball. “I’m going to have the ball with me at practice at all times. Just to get into that rhythm of always having two hands on the ball, especially during contact.” Tolutau said. “So that’s one of the things I’m trying to work on this week. Players, and even the trainers are trying to rip the ball out of my hands. It’s fun, but it’s serious.”

The Cougars seriously need a win on Friday.  If they lose, it will mark the first 1-5 start since 1973 when the team finished the season 5-6.