Across the Field: Questions With the BYU Cougars

We checked in with Publisher Jake Hatch to get the inside story on BYU, its offensive problems and the upcoming matchup with West Virginia on Saturday.

Hatch is the publisher of TotalBlueSports, covering all things BYU. He took some time out to run through our three questions concerning the Cougars and Saturday's upcoming D.C. clash with West Virginia.

Q: Is there serious consideration being given to pulling Taysom Hill? Judging from head coach Kalani Stiake's comments after the BYU game, he's not averse to doing so in the middle of a game. Could you see that happening this week?

Hatch: The coaching staff did give consideration to benching Taysom Hill at halftime of the UCLA game but head coach Kalani Sitake said during his press conference this week that he was glad they didn't pull the trigger. I think with the newfound vote of confidence from the coaching staff, Hill will have a longer leash this week but if the offense continues to sputter, the calls for Tanner Mangum to replace Hill will be louder and louder.

Q: Other than quarterback play, what have been the biggest reasons for the lack of scoring from the offense? Are these problems fixable with the current roster?

Hatch: Outside of the quarterback play, there have been issues with the wide receiving corps and offensive line. The issues with the wide receivers are issues getting off the line against press coverage and a bevy of drops in critical situations. With regards to the offensive line, the Cougars are down three of their top linemen. Ului Lapuaho has been banged up throughout fall camp and should be considered a game time decision for Saturday. The other two, Kyle Johnson and Brad Wilcox, are not on the active roster at the moment and their status going forward is unknown. BYU has tried to make do with their line but talent is talent and they are relying on underclassmen and a pair of graduate transfers from Southern Utah (Andrew Eide and Keyan Norman) to fill the spots left by Lapuaho, Johnson, and Wilcox.

Q: Are you surprised with the defensive prowess that the Cougars have shown thus far? Other than Butch Pau'u, who have been the keys for BYU's early defensive success?

Hatch: BYU's defense was left in a good place by former head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff. They left talent for Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki to utilize in their scheme and they have made moves to get players into new positions to highlight their strengths. The prowess displayed early on is not exactly surprising but their performance has been impressive considering the caliber of opponents they have faced through the first three games of the season. Pau'u has been the star in the early going this season, but Francis Bernard, Harvey Langi, and Kai Nacua have also been standouts for the Cougars. BYU has been without their best defensive tackle in Travis Tuiloma (Lisfranc injury) but he is getting closer to getting back on the field and there's an outside chance he could suit up this Saturday.


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