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PROVO — Coming off a bye week, it is clear that the time off was not wasted as BYU seeks to improve upon its No. 18 AP poll ranking and 4-0 record heading into Friday night’s game with in-state rival Utah State.
The BYU coaches and players all expressed that despite their early season success the season is still a long way from being over, with eight games still remaining, and there is still more this team must improve upon to achieve its ultimate goals.
This bye week may have come at the perfect time to provide some reflection and rededication as the team enters October, facing quality opponents both at home and on the road.
“There’s great discovery after four games. Whether it’s a bye week or not, you do a pretty good inventory of yourself and you kind of find out who you are and who you’re not,” offensive coordinator Robert Anae said when asked about the season so far.
“Within four games you have a pretty good track record, not a complete one, but a pretty good idea of what guys do well,” he continued.
Taking an inventory of the team is one of the main areas of improvement from a year ago and comes in the performance of this year’s offensive line. Anae and offensive line coach Garett Tujague said that they like what they’ve seen through four games from this unit.
“There’s been some good stuff and there’s been some things we need to work on. I think the mindset and being able to get after it has been a lot better this year so far,” said Tujague.
“Four games, it’s been fun and it’s been good, but there’s a lot more left to go,” he finished.
Anae knows the play of the offensive line must be sharp and it must let Taysom Hill be the game changer he can be.
“I think our guys have rose to the challenge because a more productive Taysom Hill starts with the offensive line. Whether some believe it or not, it is our opinion that Taysom has gotten better, and a huge part of that is a direct result of the offensive line,” said Anae.
The coaches will continue to push the offensive line to greater heights but the players also recognize the need for not being satisfied with their performance so far this season.
“(We) can never be satisfied, (we) can never be content with where we’re at. We can always get better and we can always work on the little things, technique, knowing where to be, and trusting each other, so no, we’re not content, we’re always fighting to get better,” said senior offensive lineman De’ondre Wesley.
In addition to the offensive line continuing its growth, another key to the next part of the season will be health. The Cougars thus far have had some injuries but no major ones, and reports today indicate that all of the previously injured players will be back and ready for action in the Utah State game.
“(That’s) part of the product of a bye week that you get guys like that rested another week,” said Anae.
Added depth at wide receiver will come in the form of the health of Jordan Leslie, who suffered an ankle injury against Virginia, and Nick Kurtz, who injured his foot and needed surgery in fall camp. The offensive line will welcome back Brayden Kearsley and Ryker Mathews, and running back Algernon Brown will return to the running back corps. Defensively, Bronson Kaufusi will rejoin the linebackers.
With the improved depth from returning players along with a week of what many coaches and player have called a week of hard and physical practices, BYU is ready to get back on the playing field starting with Utah State.
“What more can you ask for, you’re playing Utah State on national TV, your rival, and you’re nationally ranked and they’re coming down here to try and knock the blue off your shirt, it’s going to be a great day,” said wide receivers coach Guy Holliday.
There are still questions about whether Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton will play, but senior linebacker Alani Fua feels the defense will be ready for whatever Utah State brings offensively.
“Either way we have a pretty good idea of what both quarterbacks are going to do if either one of them is in,” said Fua.