BYU looks to fix offense in preparation for No. 10 Wisconsin

Savannah Hopkinson
Tanner Mangum looks downfield after scrambling against Utah. (Savannah Hopkinson)

BYU’s loss to Utah on Saturday night stung on many levels – yet again.

The Utes have now won seven consecutive games against BYU, and it will be a minimum of 10 years between home rivalry wins for the Cougars because the next game in Provo between the schools will be in 2019.

Despite another woeful showing from the offense, the Cougars had a chance to mount a late comeback.

Utah punted after BYU’s defense held the Utes’ offense and BYU would have to march 91 yards in 94 seconds to try and win the game.

Just four plays later, the Cougars turned the ball over on downs and the game was over.

Here are some key moments and stats that led BYU up to that point on Saturday.

  • The Cougars had just two passing plays go for 15+ yards. Utah had eight.
  • Penalties came at bad times for BYU. An offensive pass interference call against Aleva Hifo took a Talon Shumway touchdown off the board and Rhett Almond missed a 28-yard field goal after that. In the third quarter, an offside call on third and two gave Utah a fresh set of downs that led to another field goal.
  • BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum threw three interceptions and entering the fourth quarter, his quarterback rating had dropped as low as 65.3.
  • The Cougars finished with under 200 passing yards and under 100 rushing yards.

Looking back, BYU’s defense has done its part in keeping the Cougars in the last two games.

  • The defense ranks 39th nationally in points allowed per game at 17.3 and ranks 64th in yards allowed per game at 210.3.
  • Individually, Fred Warner is tied for eighth nationally with 16 total tackles this year.

However, the offense’s woes have cost BYU on the field. Three games into the season, things do not look good on Ty Detmer’s side of the ball.

  • BYU’s offense ranks 124th out of 129 FBS teams with an average of 232 yards per game.
  • The Cougars also find themselves at No. 124 nationally with an average of 11 points per game.
  • Mangum is ranked 105th in completion percentage. The junior quarterback is 49-for-90 this season with two touchdowns, four interceptions, seven sacks and a rating of 96.4.
  • With an extra game played compared to the majority of FBS teams, BYU ranks 106th in total first downs and third down completion percentage.

In the offense’s poor showing against Utah, there were some positives to build on.

Running back Ula Tolutau impressed on the five carries he had, picking up 25 yards and a touchdown.

Tolutau was injured during fall camp, but after the game said he feels 100 percent right now.

Tight end Matt Bushman also had a strong showing, averaging over eight yards per catch.

Up next: Wisconsin

No. 10 Wisconsin comes to Provo on Saturday for a 1 p.m. MDT kickoff on ABC. If major improvements aren’t made by the offense this week, it could be a long afternoon for BYU.

Wisconsin is 2-0 with home wins over Utah State and Florida Atlantic. This will be the Badgers’ first road game of the year.

Wisconsin is heavily favored to win the Big Ten West as they avoid Ohio State and Michigan State in conference play this year. The toughest conference test for the Badgers will come on Nov. 18 when Michigan visits Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin has been known in the past for its running game. Current running back Jonathan Taylor is averaging 155 yards per game.

In addition, quarterback Alex Hornibrook has balanced the Badgers’ attack with four touchdowns and 445 passing yards in two games.

Altogether, the Badgers are averaging 45 points and 521 yards per game this season, meaning the Warner brothers and the BYU defense will be in for another tough battle.

However, Wisconsin has six players that have registered a sack this year. Mangum has already been sacked seven times this year. The offensive line will need to protect Mangum long enough for him to get his throws off.

The Cougars will also need to prepare for linebackers Chris Orr and T.J. Edwards, who lead Wisconsin’s defense with 15 and 13 total tackles.

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