COUGAR TRACKS

BYU vs. Southern Utah: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Sep 8, 2023, 10:40 PM | Updated: Sep 9, 2023, 1:05 am

PROVO, Utah – BYU vs Southern Utah is taking place for only the second meeting all time. The first meeting occurred in Kalani Sitake’s first season as BYU’s head coach in 2016.

Sitake has a strong history with the T-Birds. He began his full-time coaching career in Cedar City and his oldest daughter was born there.

BYU will have another meeting with SUU in 2025.

After BYU’s offense underperformed, this in-state matchup between the Cougars and T-Birds has intriguing storylines.

BYU vs Southern 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.)

It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week two matchup against Southern Utah.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. Important game for the offense to bounce back

The theme this week has been focused on BYU’s offense. It surprised everyone last week how poorly they performed against Sam Houston a week ago, by only putting up 14 points.

BYU’s offense shined in fall camp. Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick felt they upgraded at nearly every position this season and had a “wash” at quarterback. They didn’t live up to that last week. As ten consecutive weeks against Power Five opponents loom, beginning next week, it’s time to see the high praise for the offense play out in a game.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis took a lot of heat last week for his mediocre play. Even he was upset with the way he performed last week. Slovis is the right guy to lead BYU’s offense. I would expect BYU to call more deep shots for Slovis to run.

But more important than the passing game, establish the line of scrimmage and run the football. Aidan Robbins remains BYU’s starting running back. Out of everyone, look for Robbins to bounce back. He and LJ Martin are an excellent one-two punch in the backfield for BYU’s offense.

2. Offensive Line needs to dominate for four quarters

BYU’s offensive line struggled in the first half against Sam Houston last week. They were uncharacteristic mistakes and penalties from BYU’s offensive front.

Today against Southern Utah is an opportunity for the offensive line to put together a complete four quarters against a defensive line that they should be able to push back at the line of scrimmage.

3. Follow-up act for the defense

BYU’s defense was outstanding last week in the win over Sam Houston. The Cougars produced their first shutout since 2014. But SUU’s offense might be better than Sam Houston’s.

Jay Hill’s group will be ready. Hill had success against Southern Utah during his time as the Weber State head coach when the Wildcats and Thunderbirds were in the Big Sky together. He was 6-2 against the T-Birds and the last meeting between the two schools saw Hill’s defense shutout SUU 62-0.

BYU’s cornerback unit with Jakob Robinson, Eddie Heckard, and Kamden Garrett was a strength last week, and it will be a strength of the defense today.

Two BYU vs Southern Utah Questions

1. How many sacks will the defense get against SUU?

Jay Hill wasn’t satisfied with getting only one sack in last week’s win over Sam Houston. The defense applied pressure and was excellent at setting the edge against the Bearkats, there should be more opportunities for sacks against SUU.

T-Birds QB Justin Miller is a veteran but isn’t as mobile as last week’s Sam Houston QB Keedan Shoemaker.

Look for Tyler Batty, Isaiah Bagnah, Blake Mangelson, and Eddie Heckard as some notable players who could come up with sacks today.

2. Will the BYU offense dominate in the first quarter?

The attention from most media and fans will be centered on the BYU offense. A strong start could do wonders for this group. If they struggle through the first 15 minutes, people might become restless and want changes.

BYU wide receiver Keanu Hill is day-to-day on the injury front, along with Kody Epps. Hill is moving closer to a return than Epps at this point, who is dealing with a hamstring injury. If Hill can play, that would be another nice option for Kedon Slovis to throw the ball to.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Southern Utah

BYU gets back on track today against Southern Utah.

I’m calling for BYU to have a big offensive output against the T-Birds. Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said SUU has a defense that is just as good as Sam Houston’s. I don’t see the speed in SUU’s personnel as Sam Houston had in their defense.

This is the perfect opportunity for QB Kedon Slovis and the BYU offense to get right before ten consecutive weeks against P5 opponents.

BYU rolls to a comfortable win over the T-Birds.

BYU 51, SUU 7

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 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 vs. Southern Utah: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction