BYU football picked up a big 37-7 victory over in-state opponent Southern Utah University on Saturday, Nov. 12. It was the first time BYU scored 30 points or more since Oct. 8, and the T-Birds’ seven points represented the fewest the Cougars have allowed all season.
BYU became bowl eligible with the victory, and athletic director Tom Holmoe accepted an official invitation to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl immediately following the win.
“It’s good to be bowl eligible and get it done early so we can make plans,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’ve never been in this position where we know this early where we’re going, so it’s a bit of a relief.”
The Cougars decimated the Thunderbirds, racking up 596 total yards for their highest output of the season. Putting the game away early allowed Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer to give backup quarterback Tanner Mangum some playing time.
Mangum entered the contest in the second quarter and quickly completed a 12-yard pass to Brayden El-Bakri. His next two throws fell incomplete, but Mangum eventually settled down.
“I was a little bit amped up with a couple of those throws, those two incompletions,” Mangum said. “I put too much on it, but then I was able to settle in and just play. Overall, it was just good to get in there.”
He certainly settled in, completing each of his next 10 passes.
Mangum finished the day completing 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards. He also ran for 42 yards.
While Mangum played well, there’s no guarantee of when he’ll next see the field. But he said he’s not worried.
“I’ll always be ready to go. We’ll take it game by game. It’s nice having good communication between Coach Detmer and Taysom (Hill) in the quarterback room. We all get along really well and we’re all in it together,” Mangum said. “We have a selfless group. It’s nice being able to come off the field and celebrate with them. They’re the first ones out there to celebrate and it means a lot. I think just as it’s been all year, we’re in it together and we’re not going to worry about playing time or who goes in when. We’re going to go out there, have fun and celebrate together as a team.”
Mangum wasn’t the only BYU quarterback to have a good day against SUU.
Hill had his best game of the 2016 season, completing 22 of 29 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown.
It was Hill’s fourth career 300-yard passing game, the first since throwing for 308 yards in the 2014 season opener against UConn. His rushing touchdown was the 31st of his career, tying Curtis Brown for fifth all-time at BYU. He is also No. 6 on BYU’s list of all-time rushers.
Hill and Mangum combined to throw for 441 yards, marking the first 400-plus passing yards game for BYU since Wagner came to Provo last season.
“I think when we’re on the same page, (the passing game) goes well,” Sitake said. “We sped up the tempo earlier in the game and that’s something we need to look at more. These guys are used to the high tempo being their comfort area.”
Next up for the Cougars is a matchup with the UMass Minutemen. The Minutemen are just 2-8 on the season and are coming off a 52-31 shellacking at the hands of Troy two weeks ago. Their two victories have come over Florida International and Wagner.
But the Cougars maintain they still have work to do.
“The one problem we had (against SUU) was missed tackles,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “We’ll continue to work on that. Our main point of focus we need to work on is missed tackles.”
El-Bakri emphasized Cougars won’t be overlooking the Minutemen.
“Every game is important,” El-Bakri said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a hard game, a win or a loss.”
BYU hosts UMass on Saturday, Nov. 19. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. MST and the game will be broadcasted on BYUtv.