BYU football: 3 things the Cougars must do against SUU

The BYU football team returns to Provo to host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds on Saturday, Nov. 12. Here are three things the Cougars need to do against SUU.

We’ve finally reached the lackluster portion of BYU football’s schedule. After weeks of tough games against big name opponents, the Cougars will spend the next three weeks in Provo to take on SUU, UMass and Utah State.

Those teams certainly aren’t a murderer’s row, but that’s a good thing for BYU football right now. The Cougars have some things to work on, and now they have the better part of a month to get going before they head to the Poinsettia Bowl against a Mountain West opponent.

1. Get Tanner Mangum some playing time

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At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is under center for BYU football. Whether Hill or Mangum, BYU will likely win out these last three games.

The same might not be true for the first nine games, but there’s no sense in reliving what-might-have-been scenarios.

Still, while the Cougars might not need to have Mangum at the helm to close out the year, Ty Detmer and Kalani Sitake have to get him some playing time.

Mangum will undoubtedly be the starting quarterback for the next two seasons, and while reports suggest he’s had trouble grasping the reads of the offense, he needs to get some valuable in-game action under his belt.

I still think that his skill set is perfect for what BYU football wants to do offensively, and I’m a little disappointed we haven’t seen him on the field thus far. But, at the very least he should get about a half in this week’s game to give a preview of next season.

2. Get the wide receivers going

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It’s no secret that the BYU football receivers have left a lot to be desired. The group hasn’t been able to consistently make plays and have played soft.

I think that – at least in part – it’s because they haven’t been able to get into any rhythm. Last season the Cougars were slinging the ball all around. They averaged 39.8 passing attempts per game. This season that number has dipped to 33.2 – including 31.7 in their last three games.

When balls aren’t coming your way as frequently, it’s probably tough to get a feel for the game. Couple that with the dip in completions (23 last season to 19 this season), and it’s not really surprising the receivers have had a number of miscommunications with the signal caller.

That’s not to say it’s acceptable. You have to run hard every play, work to get open, and most importantly, you have to catch the ball.

Fortunately for the Cougars, these next three games should come with an opportunity to get the passing game going. I know I’m more bullish on the idea of momentum than most, but if Nick Kurtz, Colby Pearson and Mitchell Juergens can go into the bowl game with three-straight really productive games under their belts, I would imagine that gives them a mental edge.

That all starts this week against the Thunderbirds.

3. Stay healthy

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No. More. Injuries.

BYU football has already lost Travis Tuiloma. Jamaal Williams has missed time. Ului Lapuaho still hasn’t returned. Butch Pau’u and Troy Warner missed time. Austin McChesney left the game against Cincinnati.

No more. Stay healthy.

Especially in a game like this, where BYU should put it away by halftime, you can’t have more injuries.

With rumors that Williams’ ankle still isn’t 100 percent, I would expect plenty of Squally Canada against the Thunderbirds. I also don’t think Detmer will call up any QB keepers. He won’t want Hill getting hit in unnecessary situations.

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The Cougars and Thunderbirds kick off on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. MST.

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