PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – This was not the BYU team we saw the the first three games.
The Cougars came into Saturday’s game against UTSA averaging 49 points, and giving up just eight.
But against the Roadrunners, BYU struggled to a 27-20 victory, committing seven penalties and giving up 359 yards to UTSA.
But perhaps this is the kind of game that can refocus the 14th-ranked Cougars.
“I think we’re seeing it in a positive light,” said wide receiver Gunner Romney. “I think everybody is kind of playing with a little chip on our shoulder again. It was not necessarily a wake-up call because we did get the win. But, I think everyone is ready to go.”
“From what we saw from last week and from Saturday’s game, these things are fixable,” added head coach Kalani Sitake. “I don’t care anything about hype. It doesn’t really matter about the rankings. I just want to play our best.”
“We’ve got a lot of urgency,” said offensive lineman Brady Christensen. “We’ve got one day less to prepare, so we’re really urgent. We started to prepare even yesterday watching film on them, and we’re excited. We need to be ready to go and excited for the challenge.”
After having its first three games postponed because of the COVID-19 virus, Houston finally played its first game of the season on Saturday against Tulane. Despite committing five turnovers and giving up two defensive touchdowns, the Cougars still won handily, 49-31.
“The turnovers that they had, they weren’t really even shook from that,” said defensive back Troy Warner, who had his second career interception against UTSA. “It seemed like they didn’t dwell on it at all. They knew that they could bounce back and put up a good amount of points.”
“That’s indicative of a veteran group and an experienced group,” said Sitake. “That was the first game of the year, and a lot improvement happens from week one to week two. So we have to anticipate them being way better than what we saw in week one.”
For the first time all year, BYU will play in front of a crowd, as Houston will allow roughly 10,000 fans, or 25 percent of its stadium capacity, to watch the game in person.
“I don’t think you could even tell a difference between home and away games from the first four because there were no fans in all four of them,” said Sitake.
“Especially for families who haven’t had the opportunity to see us,” said Romney. “We’ve had to create our own energy on the field these last couple games. So just that noise and competitiveness that the crowd brings, I think the whole entire team is really excited to have that.”
BYU (4-0) and Houston (1-0) will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.