For the fourth week in a row BYU will take on a Power 5 program in West Virginia University. The Cougars are 1-2 in their previous three match-ups (Arizona,Utah, UCLA), but their record isn't indicative of how well-coached they are and how competitive those games were, as BYU beat Arizona 18-16, fell to Utah 20-19 and lost to UCLA 17-14 last week. BYU is very close to being 3-0, and head coach Kalani Sitake discussed what his team needs to do going forward to turn those losses into wins.
"We just need to see more consistency from every position," Sitake said. "Because when we're clicking it works well."
Sitake also discussed the need for BYU's offense to find an identity going forward, as they have yet to score 20 points in a game. The Cougars average of 17 points per contest pits them at No.119 out of 128 teams in Division 1. Part of that could be the new system that offensive coordinator Ty Detmer has brought in, but regardless of what the problem is, the Cougars are looking to fix it sooner rather than later.
"We just need to find our identity in every phase and something to hang our hat on," Sitake said. "Right now, offensively, we don't have that. When you need a big play you usually go to your go to plays for certain situations and we're still trying to find that, and it's way too late going into game four. We have to establish that and find our identity and go with it. The new system has been in place for a while now it's time to start executing and mastering some of these plays and schemes."
While the Cougars have certainly struggled on offense in their first three games, their defense has been more than adequate, holding opponents to 17.7 points per game and holding opponents to 349 yards per game. Sitake knows, however, that Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia offense is a little bit different than what he has seen against Arizona, Utah and UCLA, and discussed the challenges that the Mountaineers offense will pose.
"(West Virginia) is a well coached team. They have some momentum and they're coming off of a bye week," Sitake said. "They have the ability to score and they have a bunch of athletes and we have seen great athletes the first three games and (West Virginia) is no different. We were excited for the schedule and now we're looking at it saying 'let's go.' It's another challenge and they have a high powered offense. Rich (Rodriguez) has his footprint there obviously so there are some familiar things that we have seen but there are also some things that they do differently with their skill and their talent. It's going to be a good challenge, but I think we're going to be in a good position, especially if we play our type of ball."
West Virginia likes to spread the field out, go at an up-tempo pace, get the ball to its athletes in space and run sweeps and power plays with starting quarterback Skyler Howard, so there are some similarities between Holgorsen and Rodriguez's style of play, but this offensive product will be quite different from any of the three previous systems that BYU has defended against. The Mountaineer offense is rooted in Hal Mumme's "air-raid" philosophy, and that is something that Sitake is very familiar with, going back to his playing days at BYU.
"I have been a big fan and followed (Dana Holgorsen)," Sitake said. "I remember when Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and all of those guys used to be here and (Holgorsen) comes from that tree. (Mumme and Leach) used to come here in spring when I was playing so I have kind of followed them a little bit as they have branched out and went different places. There are a lot of things in the route progression that are familiar, but (Holgorsen) is a great coach and he does a great job with his program and he has is own style to it. The foundation is there."