No. 19 BYU football looks to correct its course against Wyoming

For the first time in 2022, BYU’s “love and learn” football program is sitting down to learn.

Last week’s 41-20 loss to Oregon was a reality check for the Cougars. Everyone knows how high BYU’s ceiling can be, but the Ducks showed that Kalani Sitake’s squad still has plenty of red flags to resolve before its potential becomes a consistent reality.

“After watching the film and talking with some of the boys, we’re just trying to stay positive and fallback on what we know; love and learn,” linebacker Keenan Pili said. “We’re going to try to learn from those situations, move-on and hopefully correct them this week.”

To be fair, it’s a safe assumption that most BYU fans would have been thrilled in the preseason to know the Cougars would be 2-1 and ranked in the nation’s top-20 at this point in 2022. There shouldn’t be any shame in losing on the road to a ranked Oregon team — but for BYU to lose the way it did, there is. It was “a missed opportunity,” as Sitake called it.

Fortunately for BYU, it has a two week homestand to adjust, bounce back and save its “special season,” starting Saturday against Wyoming.

“It’s important that we learn and improve from last week to this week against Wyoming,” Sitake said. “It will be a great matchup for us, especially after what happened over this last weekend.”

The Cougars are 22.5-point favorites over Wyoming, but the Cowboys are no slouch. They’re 3-1 thus far — swiping a late, tight victory over Air Force last week — but more importantly, they’re programed with a hatred of BYU going back to their shared days as WAC and Mountain West conference foes.

“It’s a legendary rivalry,” tight end Isaac Rex said. “Wyoming has always been a key game for us. They’re going to be tough, they’re going to be gritty. Wyoming’s a good team, so we have to be really prepared.”

Wyoming’s offensive attack has been led by the three-headed rushing monster of running backs Titus Swen, Dawaiian McNeely and dual threat quarterback Andrew Peasley, who have combined for 577 yards on the ground at more than five yards a pop.

“If you look at their game, they build a lot off of their run game,” Sitake said. “They’re having success for a reason. The variety of things they can do on offense causes problems for defenses.”

The Cowboys ran for 180 yards against Air Force and average 163.5 yards on nearly 40 carries per game this season. BYU’s run defense has had bipolar results thus far, having suffocated Baylor and then been carved up by Oregon, and how the Cougars fare against Wyoming will go a long way in establishing BYU’s long-term defensive identity.

“We have to execute our assignments better. That’s our plan for this week,” Pili said. “We need to execute the plan we’re given and play our one-eleventh.”

The Cougars and Cowboys kick off Saturday at 8:15 p.m. in Provo. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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