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Five BYU Football Players To Watch For During Washington State Game

Oct 22, 2021, 10:21 PM
BYU vs Baylor, Jaren Hall...
BYU vs Baylor renews again in Provo for the first time since 1984 tonight as the future Big 12 foes square off as Top 25 teams. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

PULLMAN, Washington – Will BYU football get back in the win column after back-to-back losses the previous two weeks?

To get back on track, they’ll have to take down a Washington State team on a three-game winning streak. Also, add that the Cougs from the Palouse will likely be playing with a lot of emotion as this will be their first game back in action after the dismissal of former head coach Nick Rolovich.

This will be BYU’s first-ever visit to the Palouse. In addition, it’s the last venue in the Pac-12 Conference that BYU has yet to play at in their history.

BYU football will need some big performances from individual players to make the game a memorable one that ends with a victory.

Here are five players from BYU that you need to watch for heading into this All-Cougar matchup.

Jaren Hall, Quarterback

There’s a vocal minority of individuals that have disparaged Jaren Hall. The slander needs to stop.

For the past two weeks, Hall has put up career-high performances through the air. The problem is that both of those games came in losses.

He’s still a young quarterback with only seven starts under his belt. And only four of those starts has he completed the game. Nevertheless, the flashes he’s shown already are reasons for optimism for BYU in the future.

One thing we’ve learned about BYU football so far this season is that they have a high-powered offense through the air with Hall in control.

Along with the passing attack, Hall believes he has made strides in his ball security this season as QB1. That will be important on Saturday against a Washington State team that is opportunistic in forcing turnovers.

Hall will need to put together his best performance to date if BYU wants to get back on the winning side of things and come out of a Pac-12 venue with a victory.

Seeing Hall pop off that big TD run last week against Baylor showed that despite not being at 100%, he still can pop off a big play on the ground at a moment’s notice.

Joe Tukuafu, OL

BYU gains at least one of its starting offensive linemen back this week in guard Joe Tukuafu. Tukuafu missed the past two weeks due to an injury.

BYU OC Aaron Roderick said this week that Tukuafu was back and he practiced throughout the week.

This season, the former East High product has been one of the most improved players on BYU’s offense.

Kalani Sitake wants his team to regain the physicality they displayed earlier in the season. So let’s see if Tukuafu’s return can help bring that physical presence along the offensive front.

Puka Nacua, WR

After a career-high 168-yard performance in a loss at Baylor, what’s the follow-up act for BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua?

Nacua is currently third in the nation at 22.2 yards per reception. He’s also been a nice contributor on the ground in jet sweeps, averaging 8.8 yards per carry.

The sophomore Nacua is familiar with inclement weather in the state of Washington as he began his college career in the Evergreen State with the Washington Huskies.

Payton Wilgar, LB

Since Keenan Pili suffered a season-ending injury during the win over Arizona State, the Cougars have lacked a leader on the defense.

BYU linebacker Payton Wilgar is one of the top players on the defense, as evidenced by the interception he grabbed against Baylor last week. But now, after Kalani Sitake mentioned a need for leaders to step up, this is a week for Wilgar to take that stage.

Ryan Rehkow, Punter

BYU’s top specialist returns home. Rehkow grew up in nearby Spokane and attended a few Washington State games when he started to show interest in college football.

Coming out of high school, BYU associate head coach Ed Lamb wanted to bring Rehkow on as a defensive end because of his athleticism. Rehkow was willing to do that if needed, but he was set on being a punter.

It’s worked out nicely for BYU as Rehkow is a weapon for the Cougars in the game’s third phase. If BYU’s offense has drives that stall, Rehkow can flip the field position in favor of the Cougars in blue. In tossup games, special teams can always play a significant role.

BYU takes on Washington State on Saturday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. (MT). The game will be televised on FS1 and heard on KSL NewsRadio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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