The BYU Cougars traveled to San Jose to play the Spartans in a close match that the Cougars ultimately won in the final seconds with a score of 17-16.
The Cougars were without key starters on the offensive line as they battled the best-rated pass defense in the nation. Quarterback Tanner Mangum picked apart the defense with 293 passing yards but the run game gained only 36 yards on the ground.
“I think that showed up in terms of our inability to run the ball effectively,” said BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. “There were some critical holding penalties on the O-line and they got some pressure on us.”
The BYU offensive line was without junior Kyle Johnson and sophomore Ului Lapuhahu due to injuries. Sophomore Tejan Koroma was sidelined for the game for non-injury related reasons and Senior Ryker Matthews was limited during the game but saw some playing time.
The Cougars had to fill a big hole at center with Koroma out during the game. Koroma has started all 21 games of his BYU career.
“Tejan is a big-time player for us,” Mangum said on Monday. “He has proven game in and game out how much he does for us, both in the run game and protection-wise; you’re going to miss him when he’s not there. But the other guys did a great job stepping in and filling in for him. You definitely can’t complain with their effort.”
It is unknown when Johnson and Lapuhahu will return to the starting lineup, but Koroma is expected to be back at center against Missouri on Nov. 14.
The Cougars offense struggled throughout the night to get the run game started but the weakened BYU offensive line had a hard time opening running lanes. Running back Algernon Brown led all running backs with 41 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown.
Senior running back Adam Hine returned to the lineup against the Spartans. Hine totaled only nine yards on three carries behind a struggling offensive line.
The offensive line proved to be effective against the Spartan pass rush as Mangum tallied 293 yards through the air. Mangum tied the record for passing touchdowns by a freshman for BYU when he connected with Mitch Mathews for a touchdown in the first quarter. The San Jose State defense managed to steal an interception from Mangum that was returned for a touchdown.
Senior Remington Peck was recently added to the offense as a tight end. He added to the offensive line and helped bolster them, especially in the passing game. He recorded one reception for 18 yards.
The young and inexperienced players stepped up played well. Parker Dawe stepped in at center for the Cougars and had a great game snapping the football. He and the other players that stepped in showed that they can play in the big games.
“Football is about stepping in and performing,” wide receiver Devon Blackmon said following the game. “They all did a good job. They are young dudes and I’m proud how they stepped up in a big game.”
BYU travels to Kansas City next to face off against the Missouri Tigers. The Tigers are ranked nationally at No. 11 for total defense, No. 22 rushing defense and No. 14 for passing yards allowed per game. BYU will have a tough challenge if its offensive line isn’t healed as it goes against one of the best defenses in the country.
Koroma will return at center against the Tigers. He will lead the offensive line as the Cougars look to keep their bowl aspirations alive.