BYU coach says change needed for struggling offense
PROVO, Utah (AP) BYU coach Kalani Sitake would be feeling better about his offense right now if he was seeing glimpses of what made the coaching staff so optimistic about the unit in fall camp.
Instead, he’s talking about making changes after just two games, including one of the worst outings in recent Cougars history. No. 12 LSU beat BYU 27-0 last weekend for the Cougars’ third shutout loss since 1976.
”I know I’m coming down hard on the offense, but let’s be honest, that was the issue,” Sitake said. ”More of a disappointment was we’re way better than what we’ve shown the last two weeks. We’ve been talking about that for a while now and no one’s seen it. Until it shows up, it’ll just be all of us that knows it.”
BYU was held to negative-5 yards rushing and 102 passing yards against the Tigers on Saturday night and never crossed midfield. Quarterback Tanner Mangum completed just 50 percent of his passes and added an interception.
LSU was simply more talented than BYU but the Cougars weren’t exactly rolling in the season opener against Portland State. The passing game was choppy again then and 97 of 194 passing yards came on three of the 27 pass attempts. BYU still has just 19 first downs in 120 minutes of football.
”You have to change it,” Sitake said. ”There’s no staying the course when it’s not working well. And Ty (Detmer, offensive coordinator) knows that. We didn’t stay the course from Week 1 to Week 2. Maybe we need to change things up more. If you want something to change, you have to do it in the staff room and as a coaching staff.”
Coaches and players pointed out a multitude of issues with the offense.
Sitake is concerned about the minimal gains on first and second down that leave the unit in third-and-long too often. Detmer didn’t have a problem with the 20-6 win over FCS Portland State, but thought his players struggled with the speed of the game against LSU. Mangum pointed to the execution of each individual.
The bottom line is, very little is running smoothly when BYU has the ball.
When any offense struggles, the play of the quarterback is always questioned. Sitake said he couldn’t honestly discuss those things with the media, but added they’ve been addressed with Mangum.
”A lot of it is my overall pocket awareness,” Mangum said. ”On Saturday, particularly, I was a little bit jumpy, a little bit rushed and hurried. When your mind is hurried, then your feet are hurried, then throws are inaccurate. That’s a big thing I’m working on, staying calm in the pocket, having calm feet, calm mind and making sure I’m going through my reads the way I know how.”
The BYU faithful had been waiting for Mangum to take over after setting school freshman records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2015. That was after he had been one of the top quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school.
Detmer said the sky-high expectations are unfair.
”Even though he played a year, he sat out a year and it’s a new offense,” Detmer said. ”He doesn’t have (former receiver) Mitch Mathews and 6-foot-5 receivers that he can throw it up to and bail him out of a play. The expectations people had were way high and not fair to him to have to settle in and run a different offense with a different group of receivers around you that are young and experienced as well.”
The coaching staff was optimistic about those receivers during fall camp, but they’ve yet to show they can consistently get open or make plays after a catch. Replacing all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams was always going to be a challenge. BYU ran for 171 yards against Portland State, but was completely overwhelmed against its first FBS team.
It won’t get any easier against a traditionally strong Utah defense this week. BYU hosts the Utes on Saturday night.
”When he (Mangum) has time, he’s pretty dangerous,” Utah safety Chase Hansen said. ”He’s a good quarterback. I know people say he hasn’t had his best games the first two, but you’ve got to look at the fact that he’s a good quarterback and he can hurt you in a lot of big ways.”
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