The BYU football team lost its homecoming game to Boise State 24-7 on Friday night and fell to 1-5 on the season.
Even with the return of starting quarterback Tanner Mangum, the Cougars couldn’t catch a break on offense.
The loss marked BYU’s worst start to a season since 1973.
“We probably sound like a broken record by now,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “We need to go back and reevaluate everything. It may sound crazy midway through the season, but we need to find an identity; something to hang our hats on.”
Excitement for BYU fans came early, when newcomer Grant Jones intercepted a pass on Boise State’s opening drive, giving Mangum a chance to prove himself early on.
The BYU quarterback came out firing, completing all five of his passes and bringing the team all the way to the 3-yard line.
Breakout running back Ula Tolutau finished the job, leaping into the end zone to put the Cougars up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Broncos responded in the second quarter, with Alexander Mattison running the ball in to level the score.
Boise State began to put intense pressure on Mangum during the second quarter, trying to end his near-perfect passing early on.
He was able to handle it at first, maneuvering in the pocket to dodge defenders, but then it soon proved to be too much as he threw three incompletions in a row followed by an interception.
The Broncos managed to get the ball back down to the goal line on the following drive, but BYU’s defense held them to a field goal.
The passing woes continued for Mangum as he gave the ball back to Boise State with a little under two minutes to go in the half.
Quarterback Brett Rypien quickly took the ball down the field and found Sean Modster for the 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Broncos up 17-7 at the half.
The third quarter was largely a back and forth affair, with neither time gaining much ground.
BYU running back Squally Canada went down hard on a run during the quarter and did not return to the game.
The Broncos started off the fourth quarter with another touchdown, as Alexander Mattison found the end zone for the second time.
Mattison ended the night with 118 total rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The last three quarters of the game served as a microcosm of the Cougars’ season thus far. With an inexperienced offense, BYU lacked the dangerous threats and playmakers needed to get back in the game.
The Cougars put together a last-ditch effort in the second half of the final quarter, but Boise State intercepted a pass on fourth down to end any comeback hopes for BYU.
Both Sitake and Tanner Mangum talked about the need to improve the running game, which will, in turn, open up more opportunities for passing and a more consistent offense.
“It’s not a matter of effort, it’s not a matter of heart, it’s just a matter of execution,” Mangum said. “We need to be able to put drives together to put points on the board.”
When asked about what caused the offensive stagnation and lack of production, Sitake said, “I don’t know. If I knew I would’ve changed it three weeks ago.”
Though frustration and disappointment were shared by all, the confidence and belief in what this team can achieve have not wavered.
“We’re confident, we’re not giving up,” said tight end Matt Bushman. “Our leaders are stepping up and saying stuff to keep us motivated and positive.”
The Cougars will travel to SEC country to face Mississippi State on Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. MDT.
“I believe in our guys,” said Mangum. “I know we can get this thing going.”
With 13 games on the schedule, BYU can only afford one more loss this season to avoid a losing record and missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004.