BYU Faces Challenge Of SUU Knowing Cougs Scheme On Offense

Sep 6, 2023, 9:22 PM

PROVO, Utah – When BYU football was the defending national champions in 1985, they had a shocking loss that season. It was against winless UTEP.

BYU was a 36-point favorite in that game and somehow lost to the lowly Miners 23-16.

Immediately after that game, rumors began floating that UTEP tapped into BYU’s booth and knew the play calls. I’m not sure the stories were ever proven true, but that rumor has permanently been attached to that disaster of a loss nearly four decades later.

Fast forward to 2023, the lackluster BYU offense that underwhelmed with a 14-point performance in a win over Sam Houston faces a Southern Utah team that knows what BYU does offensively.

No, the T-Birds from the FCS ranks haven’t tapped into BYU’s team meeting rooms. They just used to run BYU’s exact offense. So the Thunderbird defense knows what is coming on Saturday when the two programs square off Saturday for only the second meeting.

Last year, SUU hired DeLane Fitzgerald as head coach. Fitzgerald revamped the staff and hired former BYU offensive analyst Blair Peterson as his offensive coordinator.

Peterson worked side-by-side with BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick in the quarterback room from 2019 to 2021. He took BYU’s offense to Cedar City for the 2022 season.

After one year as the SUU offensive coordinator, Peterson joined Ed Lamb’s staff at Northern Colorado with the same title.

SUU knows the BYU offense

Southern Utah brought in former Eastern New Mexico head coach Tye Hiatt to replace Peterson as the Thunderbirds’ new play caller. But what BYU runs offensively remains familiar to SUU defensive personnel and staff.

“They know our offense inside and out because they run the exact same offense word for word, same everything; same signals, same everything,” said BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. “One of our analysts was the OC down there. So, there are some logistical challenges for us this week with how we operate on offense. That’s a challenge, but it’s going to be fun.”

BYU tight end and SUU transfer Mata’ava Ta’ase earned the No. 2 tight end spot behind Isaac Rex because of his immediate understanding of BYU’s offense.

Ta’ase played through tragedy last week. Hours before the season opener, Ta’ase learned of the sudden passing of his father from a heart attack. The former T-Bird is expected to play against his old team this Saturday, but Roderick noted, “Everything is his choice.”

BYU is looking to bounce back from last week’s “pretty sloppy” performance against Sam Houston, which produced only 257 yards of offense. That total was the third-fewest in the Big 12 after week one. They will have to put together that improved play against an SUU defense that held future Big 12 foe Arizona State to 24 points in a near upset last week in Tempe.

“We didn’t play well at all [last week], and we need to play better for sure. We will,” Roderick said. “We’re going to be a really good offense this year. It was not a good day and we had a pretty heavy day leading up to the game and then we looked pretty sluggish out there, pretty sloppy. But we’re working to correct our mistakes. We have a lot of good players out here; we’ll play better.”

BYU vs. Southern Utah

Date: Saturday, September 9, 2023

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Provo, Utah)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM); Extended pregame begins at 9 a.m.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Faces Challenge Of SUU Knowing Cougs Scheme On Offense