PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU made too many mistakes and committed too many turnovers in a 38-27 loss to Kansas on Saturday.
But the best cure for a tough loss is to get right back on the field as soon as possible, and that’s what the Cougars will do in their Big 12 home opener Friday night against Cincinnati.
“Coming off a loss, it actually helps to get back on the field a day earlier,” said head coach Kalani Sitake. “We’re excited for this game being at home and getting the game on Friday.
As poorly as BYU played against the Jayhawks, committing three turnovers, two of which were turned into Kansas touchdowns, BYU is still feeling good about itself, knowing the Cougars can correct their mistakes.
“We’re 3-1 right now,” Sitake said. “So this isn’t a time to panic, but this is a time to have a high sense of urgency to make sure we’re performing at our best.”
The Cougars were not at their best against the Jayhawks. While Kedon Slovis threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns, he also threw two costly interceptions, as BYU lost the turnover battle 3-0.
“There is always things you can do differently,” Slovis said. “You can pick a handful of plays and say I could have done this better, make a better read or decision here. I think everyone could probably do that. But I think there were still a lot of good things, and I think we made progress in a lot of areas.”
Like they did against Arkansas, BYU rallied from an early deficit. But the key is to get off to better starts, beginning Friday against the Bearcats.
“I think we’ve got a really tough team here,” Slovis said. “We’ve battled through a lot of adversity already early in the season. While guys might not have been happy on the flight home, I thought guys were doing their best to keep their resolve and stay tough.”
One thing BYU has to improve upon in their running game. The Cougars had just nine total yards rushing against Kansas, led by LJ Martin with 28 yards. BYU does not want to become a one-dimensional offense, and they know they can pick up the ground game.
“I think we’ve had moments where we’ve had big bursts showing that we can run the ball,” said wide receiver Chase Roberts. “We have the linemen to run the ball. We have the running backs. Once we get that going, which we will, and hone in on this week, then we’re just going to go play ball.”
In the past, an early season loss would end any hopes of playing for a major bowl game, but not anymore. Being in the Big 12 Conference provides so many more opportunities to play for something special.
“We love being in this conference,” Sitake said. “We’re looking forward to having a lot more to play for this season., Bringing in Cincinnati to our home is going to be a lot of fun for us.”
“It’s such a big deal to the guys who have been here for so long,” added Slovis. “The community and the fan base have been waiting for over a decade for this opportunity. Even after the game last week, so many fans at the game were saying that they were looking forward to Friday night.”
BYU (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) and Cincinnati (2-2, 0-1) will kick off the first Big 12 Conference game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Friday at 8:15 p.m.