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PK: BYU Football ‘Couldn’t Produce Enough Big Plays’ In Big 12 Opener

Sep 23, 2023, 6:07 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 2:27 pm

LAWRENCE, Kan. – And here we thought, the BYU men’s basketball team would have a tough time initially finding any success on the campus of Kansas.

BYU loses Big 12 Opener

Probably just like the hoopsters, who will need many more reinforcements to compete with Kansas’ perennial national championship contenders, it’s going to take more for BYU to beat the Jayhawks on their home turf. Check back in two years now at the least, there’s no other choice.

The Story: Big Plays

Hanging in for a while, and at times their own worst enemy, the Cougars couldn’t produce enough big plays in the program’s inaugural Big 12 game. Kansas, which was picked ninth in the preseason poll – only two spots ahead of BYU – emphatically had the momentum-changing plays to win 38-27 Saturday afternoon at the aged David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“Big plays by them,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “We didn’t make enough plays to counter it.”

The first Big 12 game, no matter the circumstances, was guaranteed to rank among the most notable in modern BYU football history. For the men in blue, minus the Kansas red, too bad the memory will go down as bitter.

Since leaving the Mountain West after the 2010 season, which was the correct decision financially at the time, the Cougars drifted into the sometimes wasteland of independence. The Big 12 invitation was exactly the lifeline the program needed to provide far more meaning and purpose to each individual season.

Over the last decade-plus the first loss, which almost always came in September, cast a pall over the BYU program. Once the inevitable came, it called into question the point for the rest of the season.

Not anymore, though. At 3-1, 0-1, the Cougars can still rally around believing they have a chance to win the Big 12. At this point, with probably more losses to come, it really doesn’t matter if the hope is based on false pretense.

“We can play in this conference,” said Sitake. “You talk to Kansas, they’ll tell you that.”

No doubt, though, the Cougars have to improve on many facets of the game. And it better come immediately, starting next Friday at home against Cincinnati.

For starters, ball security tops the list. Spotting any team 14 points in this conference likely will lead to the obvious result.

No point in claiming BYU blew the game given two crucial turnovers that directly resulted in Kansas touchdowns, each of which came on the offense’s first possession of the game and second half. Even still, the Jayhawks made plenty of outstanding plays to deserve all the credit for winning the game.

“It’s frustrating,” said quarterback Kedon Slovis. “It’s never a good feeling knowing you could have come away with a better output.”

Without much of a running game, Slovis was forced to attempt 51 passes. One of those throws was tipped twice, resulting in Kenny Logan’s 30-yard touchdown return to Kansas the lead for good early in the third quarter.

On BYU’s first possession of the game, last week’s star in the win over Arkansas, Parker Kingston, fumbled the ball away on a hard hit by Cobee Bryant. The cornerback returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.

“I don’t want to blame the offense, but we pride ourselves in taking care of the ball,” Sitake said.

Considering the devastating turnovers, BYU should retain plenty of hope going forward. More than likely, the Cougars won’t face a more elusive quarterback than Kansas’ Jalon Daniels, who was voted the conference’s preseason offensive player of the year.

RELATED: Lassiter Family Wears Split BYU/Kansas Football Uniforms For Support

At 4-0, with two Power 5 wins in the bank (they beat Illinois two weeks ago), the Jayhawks might be better than the preseason prognostications. BYU had better hope so, anyway.

“Credit to Kansas,” Sitake said. “They’re really a talented team. We’ve been saying it all week.”

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PK: BYU Football ‘Couldn’t Produce Enough Big Plays’ In Big 12 Opener