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BYU’s Offense Stalls At Texas, Sitake Remains Confident In Slovis

Oct 28, 2023, 6:57 PM

BYU Football, Kedon Slovis, Texas Longhorns...

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 28: Justice Finkley #1 of the Texas Longhorns hits Kedon Slovis #10 of the Brigham Young Cougars forcing a fumble in the second half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas – The BYU football offense will love putting October in the rearview mirror.

Saturday’s October finale at No. 7 Texas saw BYU score only six points and produce 292 yards of offense. Texas won 35-6, but there were opportunities, thanks to the BYU defense, for the offense to make this a closer game. BYU’s offense couldn’t get it done.

The inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference has challenged BYU to find its identity on offense. In recent years, it was an explosive attack with a violent ground game. That is nowhere to be seen as BYU turns the calendar to November.

BYU’s struggles were not helped by starting running back LJ Martin being sidelined with an undisclosed injury he suffered last week against Texas Tech.

That was amplified by the fact that BYU finished 2-of-13 on third downs. Their second third down conversion was midway through the fourth quarter.

The passing game finished with 197 yards. Senior quarterback Kedon Slovis had another tough outing, throwing two interceptions.

Kalani Sitake wants more protection for Kedon Slovis

It was the third consecutive week Slovis finished below 200 passing yards. As the offensive struggles continue, did Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick consider a change at quarterback to provide a spark?

“I think everybody thinks that the easy answer is just to get another quarterback in there. How about, let’s just protect for him first and give him a chance,” Sitake said.

Sitake continued, “So when he’s getting hit, that’s not his fault. That’s protection. We had issues and a protection breakdown. He was managing the game the way we wanted him to. We just weren’t converting on plays. Texas has a say in that. They’re a really good defense. And they made things difficult for us.”

BYU allowed two sacks and 12 tackles for loss to the Texas defense. There were many hits Slovis took and also passes he tossed out of bounds to avoid the pressure he was facing.

BYU football has struggled on offense in the Big 12

Sitake remains confident that the BYU offense can turn things around with Slovis as the starter at quarterback.

“I believe in our players, I believe in Kedon, and I believe in our guys. We just didn’t make enough plays. When people are looking for sparks and things like that, I think you lose your players. When you just start looking for sparks all over the place, you start doing that and you find nothing anywhere. And then you’ve lost the momentum and the things that you’ve built on.”

There could be questions about what BYU has built with this year’s offense.

In September, the passing attack had stretches of success despite being in a one-dimensional offense. But was that a byproduct of a weak schedule?

BYU hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record this season.

Entering the day, BYU was 122nd nationally in total offense. If there is an identity, it is a conservative one.

That conservative tendency was shown to close out the first half when they had the ball deep in their own territory. Last month against Cincinnati, BYU went on the attack and flipped the momentum in their favor.

Be aware of the mistakes

BYU showed more willingness to be aggressive against Texas, but the matchups didn’t favor them.

“I think to say, ‘Hey, let’s go and get a spark against a great powerhouse like Texas,’ as if we can impose our will, I think that is the wrong thing to do. Now, do I want to be aggressive? Of course. That’s why we went for it on fourth down and there were some times that it was going to be if we didn’t convert, even backed up, we were gonna go for it. I want to be aggressive that way.

The challenge is to turn it around and find some offensive success behind Slovis as they gear up for an east coast trip to West Virginia next week.

“I just want to be thoughtful and mindful of the mistakes that we’re making. If the offense isn’t progressing down the field and we’re not scoring points, it’s an 11-man problem. Not just one guy. It’s also a problem with us coaches getting our guys in the right spot. So address the issues and the deficiencies and let’s make it better and not make something up when it’s not even there.”

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 and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU’s Offense Stalls At Texas, Sitake Remains Confident In Slovis