LaVell Edwards Stadium
1700 North Canyon Road Provo UT 84604
BYU drops home opener 21-18 to Cal
PROVO, Utah – Despite forcing three California turnovers, the BYU football team fell 21-18 to Cal in its home opener at Lavell Edwards Stadium Saturday night.
"I was proud of how hard they played," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "We made way too many mistakes and we didn’t have time to fix them by the end of the game. Congratulations to Cal, they deserved to win that game. We didn’t help ourselves by making some errors and having some drive killers. We just have to be better."
After forcing zero turnovers last week against Arizona, BYU’s defense and special teams came up with three takeaways on the night. Senior Butch Pau’u forced a fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by Dayan Ghanwoloku for a 36-yard touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter, Isaiah Kaufusi caught his first career interception and Ghanwoloku recovered another fumble on a muffed Cal punt return.
Senior Zayne Anderson recorded a new career high in tackles with 12 after switching from safety to linebacker this season. Nine of his tackles were solo, including his first career tackle for loss.
On the offensive side, BYU once again showed off its variety of talent with 11 different players catching passes and five of them recording more than 20 yards. The group was led by tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau with 56 yards on five grabs. Freshman Gunner Romney had two receptions for 29 yards.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum threw for 192 yards on 22 of 41 passing on the night. Running back Squally Canada added 49 yards rushing.
Despite a promising 46-yard opening drive, the Cougars fell short of the end zone with a turnover on downs five minutes into the game. BYU employed three running backs in the opening effort, including Beau Hoge, who the Cougars ran as both a wildcat quarterback and a running back.
BYU’s defense was able to force the Golden Bears to a three-and-out on their first drive, but allowed a touchdown on their second when Chase Garbers found Patrick Laird for a 25-yard pass, giving Cal a 7-0 lead to end the first quarter.
First career tackle for loss by Zayne Anderson
Matt Bushman catches a pass in 15th-consecutive game
The Cougars put together another solid drive to open the second quarter, going 67 yards in just over six minutes. Freshman Skyler Southam capped off the drive with his first career field goal on a 36-yard attempt.
Freshman wide receiver Gunner Romney caught an 18-yard pass, his first reception as a Cougar, to spark another BYU offensive stand just before the half. The drive came to an abrupt end, however, when the Golden Bears’ defense sacked Tanner Mangum on 4th down for their first of the game.
First career field goal for Skyler Southam (36 yards)
First career reception for Gunner Romney (18 yards)
Cal extended its lead early in the second half with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kanawai Noa, capping off a 79-yard drive in the opening minutes of the third quarter. The Cougars’ offense was unable to respond, going three-and-out on the next drive, but a big defensive play brought BYU back into the game. Butch Pau’u forced a fumble that was recovered and returned by Dayan Ghanwoloku for a 36-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 14-10 five minutes into the third quarter.
A pass interference call on the Cougars brought the Golden Bears to the BYU 38-yard line, but an interception by Isaiah Kaufusi immediately after put BYU back on offense and eliminated the potential Cal scoring threat. The Cougars failed to take advantage of the turnover, however, punting the ball away after three plays.
First career fumble recovery for touchdown for Dayan Ghanwoloku
First career interception for Isaiah Kaufusi
Zayne Anderson records single-game career-high 10th tackle (finished with 12)
An 11-play, 85-yard drive by the Golden Bears to end the third quarter and begin the fourth ended in a rushing touchdown by quarterback Brandon McIlwain. He was Cal’s leading rusher on the night, going for 56 yards on 10 attempts.
Ghanwoloku got his second fumble recovery of the night on a muffed Cal punt return early in the fourth quarter, giving BYU great field position on the 16-yard line. An offensive pass interference call, however, sent the Cougars back to the 27-yard line, followed by an interception by Traveon Beck to end a promising opportunity for BYU. This was the first turnover by the Cougar offense this season.
The eight-play, 44-yard drive that followed took five minutes off the clock, putting the ball back in BYU’s hands with just under six minutes to come back from a 21-10 deficit. The Cougars were able to string together a series of plays to travel 73 yards and find Brayden El-Bakri in the endzone for a touchdown. Micah Simon then caught a pass on a two-point conversion to bring BYU within three, 21-18, with under a minute to go.
Moroni Laulu-Pututau records season-high 24-yard reception
Second career receiving touchdown for Brayden El-Bakri
The Cougars travel to No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 2:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised on ABC. Audio broadcasts can be heard on BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143) and KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM).
BYU hosts Cal on Saturday in home opener
PROVO, Utah – BYU is set to take on the California Golden Bears at 8:15 p.m. MDT on Saturday, Sept. 8 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
Live radio coverage can be found on the BYU Sports Network two hours prior to kickoff with Greg Wrubell, which will be broadcast on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYUCougars.com/LiveRadio, BYURadio.org and on the BYU Cougars app, BYU Radio app and KSL app.
BYU (1-0) vs. Cal (1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. MDT (8:20 p.m. MDT kick)
LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470)
WHITEOUT. The home opener is going to be a "whiteout" with the Cougars in their white jerseys and white pants. Fans are encouraged to wear white to the game. For more information on tickets, visit BYUtickets.com
SERIES NOTES. BYU and California are meeting for the fifth time overall and the second time at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars defeated the Golden Bears 42-35 on the road in the regular-season finale in 2014. In Cal's only other visit to Provo, BYU topped the Golden Bears 38-28 in 1999.
HOME OPENERS. BYU is 7-3 in home openers over the past 10 seasons, with wins over Power 5 teams Texas, Washington State and Washington. Last season, BYU defeated Portland State 20-6 in the opener at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
BOUNCE BACK LIKE LAVELL. Head coach Kalani Sitake and the Cougars are hoping to bounce back in 2018 similar to how LaVell Edwards and company did after his second season at the helm of the program. Edwards' second season (1973) was his only losing season of his 29-year career as the head coach. In season three of Edwards' tenure, the 1974 squad turned around from 5-6 the year before to 7-4-1, a WAC championship and a Fiesta Bowl appearance – the first bowl appearance in program history. BYU looks to follow in the hall of famers' footsteps.
NEW PLACES, NEW AND FAMILIAR FACES. BYU had several changes on the coaching staff in the offseason. Jeff Grimes is the new offensive coordinator. Grimes spent the last four seasons as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at LSU and brings 25 years of coaching experience to his second stint as a Cougar. Grimes was BYU's offensive line coach from 2004-2006. Passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick played at BYU in the late 90s and spent three years as a graduate assistant with the Cougars. Two other offensive coaches joined the program, Fesi Sitake and AJ Steward. Sitake was most recently the offensive coordinator at Weber State and Steward coached running backs at Rice. On the defensive side, Preston Hadley is the new safeties coach after coaching defensive backs at Weber State. Hadley played cornerback for BYU in 2011-12.
CALIFORNIA NATIVES. BYU has 25 players on the roster from California, second-most next to Utah. Offensive lineman Kieffer Longson is from San Ramon about 30 minutes from Berkeley, while fellow lineman Austin Hoyt is about two hours away in Ione. Wideout Dylan Collie is from a more inland El Dorado Hills while Squally Canada grew up about 20 minutes from Berkeley. Linebacker Riggs Powell is from Aptos, south of San Jose.
The following quotes are from Monday's press conference.
Head Coach Kalani Sitake
On the Arizona game
“I think we hit on the points that we needed to improve on and the film confirmed it. It was a good learning opportunity for us and the fact that we got a win is a huge positive. I was really pleased with the players’ effort. We had a lot of young guys contribute in this win and I think we’re going to keep adding young guys as we go along. All the hard work paid off but we’re also just getting started. There are some things we can learn from but we have to move on and get ready for Cal.”
On offensive performance at Arizona
“I’ve been really happy with the blocking down the field. It’s not just guys looking to get the ball all the time, they care about the team. They understand their roles. Tanner Mangum did a great job of dishing the ball out, handing off the jet sweeps and seeing any changes that he needed to make along the way. They executed well and didn’t turn the ball over. We had a lot of guys on the field. We rotated a lot of players on offense and defense. It’s just nice that they relish their roles and love being part of the team.”
On Squally Canada's performance at Arizona
“He’s played a lot of football. He’s a senior and he got to learn from Jamaal Williams for a couple years. I think Squally is in a position now where he’s really doing a good job of leading the position group. I’ve been really impressed with the little things like the pass protection and the blitz pickup that he had. He had opportunities to pick up on blitzes and had a pass thrown to him and he did a great job at it. We knew he could do this last year and he’s worked hard this year and our offense really trusts him.”
On facing Cal this week
”I’m familiar with Coach Wilcox and what he does on defense. It’s a different opponent so we’ll have to scout them and see where we match up and where we can have some success. They’ll be ready, they’re a sound team. They’re tough and they played really well last week so it’ll be a good challenge for us. We’re going to look for opportunities to make some big plays and get turnovers this week on defense. We’re excited for it. The goal is to work harder this week and get us in a position where we can be 2-0. That’s what we’re trying to get done.”
Linebacker Butch Pau’u
On winning first game of the season
"That’s what we wanted. We’ve worked so hard for that first win. When you have a team that’s doing 600 up-downs as a punishment and then run stadiums right after it’s tough and it’s a grind. We’re just thankful that all of our hard work paid off and the energy right for the team is at a high. Everyone showcased that we’re a great team and can play with anyone. We just hope to keep the wins rolling."
On offense putting together longer drives
"It allows us to relax for a little bit. It was great to see the offense continue to get first downs and keep the ball moving. When that happens it allows us to get rest. Some guys need it to fix their equipment or get treatment before they get back onto the field. We’re really thankful that they were able to do their thing and we were able to come out with full energy right after and play our game."
On facing Cal
"We know that Cal is a great team. They have a great defense and we have a great offense so that’s going to be a battle. For us as a defense we need to handle our side of the ball. They’re very explosive, they have a great quarterback that can put the ball anywhere. We need to keep our assignments sound and stay relaxed, especially when we’re playing in our home stadium for the first time this year."
On first home game of the year
"We went over to the freshman orientation and those guys are excited. What we’re expecting is to see that excitement from the rest of the crowd. There’s been a lot of doubt of about this team and we’ve proven that we can play. We expect a lot of excitement, a lot of energy and for 65,000 people there to cheer us on. It’s a big game so it’s important to do our job in those kinds of moments. We’re playing for our brothers, we’re playing for each other and we’re playing at home. We’ll be relaxed and play our game."
Tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau
On being able to playing again
"I’m just humbled and grateful. It’s been a long journey. It was the 2016 season that I last played. There have been so many ups and downs getting back. I very grateful to Heavenly Father, teammates and the staff, not just me but the whole team has worked so hard so I’m just happy to be back out there."
On the ball being spread across wide receivers and tight ends
"It’s great for each individual because it is hard for anyone to key on you. When you have an offense so balanced and there are so many weapons it makes opportunities for you so much great. So, I love it."
On how quickly the offense got going was clicking and being prepared
"I feel like a lot of people were doubting us but on the offense we weren’t doubting. You could tell we had the confidence that we knew we were prepared. So, I don’t think that we were surprised, I think we were happy about quickly it happened. I think we know and trusted the system enough."
Offensive lineman Austin Hoyt
On how satisfying the game was
"It was great. I think we have put in a lot of work, meeting and film during the off season. There were a lot of repetitions and trying to get everything right, whether its scheme and technique wise and to see all that come together last Saturday night was nice for us. It was a great night and we are hoping to just get better from here."
On dominating the opposition
"That was the number one key to this game, to physically dominate at every position. It is something that Coach Pugh talks about every day, the importance of being physical and violent and manhandling people. I think that was something that we thought about going into the game and I’m glad we were able to do that."
On the difference it made doing a lot of live reps during fall camp
"I think it was great. I can honestly remember at times during fall camp when I was more tired than I was in the actual game. I think a lot of that was just the physicality of camp and when we got to the game we were playing at a high physical level because we had done that all through fall camp."