BYU has had a long tradition of having a good offense… well, they did up until after Max Hall graduated, since, not so much. The Cougar offense is a maligned unit coming into Saturday’s game at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, but they do have some good pieces to work with.
Starting at QB with Tanner Mangum, the former Elite 11 MVP had a very nice true freshman season, but has struggled thus far this season. Frankly, he’s struggled against good defenses his entire career. He has the makings of a good QB, but he just hasn’t put it all together at this point. He has a canon for an arm, but he’s yet to prove he can beat good DBs with a well placed ball. As long as Utah can guard against his arm punts down field, they’ll have success. His confidence isn’t high right now, so Utah needs to capitalized on that.
At running back, BYU is searching for answers like crazy. BYU hasn’t been able to find a No. 1 guy, and have struggled in the running game. The lead guy for BYU, to now, is Squally Canada. You’ll remember Canada as the guy who fumbled on his first career carry for BYU in the Vegas Bowl a couple of years ago. After him, it’s just a lump of names that they’re working through.
Wide receiver is another group of unproven names. Jonah Trinnaman is one that fans have been waiting for to break out, but he’s had a hard time since joining BYU from Snow, and only has the one catch on the season. He is a burner though, so Utah needs to be on their guard with him.
The primary receiving threat for BYU comes from the tight end position. Matt Bushman is the go to guy for Mangum. He’s big and catches everything around him. If Utah brackets him and slows him down, they don’t have a lot of other options. Talon Shumway is another name that Utah has to keep their eye on at tight end. He’s a chain mover that could be a pain.
At offensive line, the Cougars have been inconsistent, which is probably the core issue, after Mangum, for the offense. Obviously, LSU manhandled BYU in the trenches, but Portland State was giving the tackles for the BYU o-line all they could handle. If Portland State and LSU gave the o-line issues, I can only imagine what Kylie Fitts, Lowell Lotulelei and crew can do to them.
I want to see the DBs man up on BYU’s wideouts and tight ends, and don’t give Mangum big windows to make throws. Not yet in his career has he proven he can beat tight coverage. Then I believe Utah can generate pressure with four guys, and on occasion bring an extra guy. They do need to be careful, because I think Ty Detmer is going to throw the kitchen sink at the Utes, because BYU has been so bad on offense. Watch for trick plays, and I’d expect some shots downfield to try and build some confidence and momentum.
Utah should control BYU on defense, and if they do their job, they will put Utah’s offense in great position throughout the game.