khaner | Posted: 7 Nov 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Homestand begins with first-time matchup against Southern Utah Saturday

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PROVO, Utah – To start a three-game home stretch to end the regular season, BYU football hosts Southern Utah on Saturday at 1 p.m. MST on BYUtv and simulcast on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN App.

BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage of the matchup, beginning with Countdown to Kickoff starting at noon MST. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game on BYUtv.

Live coverage from LaVell Edwards Stadium will be on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can also be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and IMG’s radio coverage will begin at 11 a.m. MST.

BYU (5-4) vs. Southern Utah (5-4, 4-3 Big Sky)
Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016
Kickoff: 1 p.m. MST
LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470)

BYU Game Notes


SERIES HISTORY. Despite being played in the same state, BYU and Southern Utah have never met in football. 

FCS FOES. BYU is 7-0 the last 10 seasons against the FCS. The average score has been 54-8 in those seven games. Last year, the Cougars defeated Wagner 70-6 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. 

BOWL ELIGIBILITY. With a win, BYU will be bowl eligibile for a 12th consecutive season. The Cougars went to a record 17 consecutive bowl games from 1978 to 1994. Entering the season, there were 11 teams that could potentially qualify for a bowl game for the 12th consecutive year, including BYU. Seven others have done it already including Alabama, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. BYU, Georgia and LSU all have a chance to do it this weekend.

TOUGH SCHEDULE. BYU's 2016 schedule ranks 27th in the Jeff Sagarin USA Today rankings. The Cougars have played six Power 5 teams, going 3-3 against them. Three of the four losses have come at the hands of teams currently ranked in the top 25 (No. 10/11 WVU, No. 12/13 Utah and No. 24 Boise State). Those three losses were by a combined five points. 

FORMER T-BIRDS. BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb was the head coach at Southern Utah last season, spending eight seasons at the helm of the program. He led SUU to its first two FCS postseason berths in school history. Along with Lamb, Kalani SitakeSteve Clark and Jernaro Gilford all spent time on the coaching staff at SUU at different times. Ilaisa Tuiaki played for the T-Birds. Two of BYU's starting offensive linemen, Andrew Eide and Keyan Norman also graduated from SUU and played for the T-Birds last year before enrolling in graduate programs at BYU. 

FORMER COUGARS. Southern Utah quarterback McCoy Hill was at BYU last year before transferring to SUU. Several BYU players have moved on to SUU and found success, including Ammon Olsen and Brad Sorensen, two of the most succcessful Thunderbird QBs in the program's history.

1,000 RUSHING YARDS CLUB. Jamaal Williams became just the fourth player in BYU history to have multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons now with 1,034 this season. He went for 1,233 in 2013 allowing him to join Harvey Unga, Curtis Brown and Jamal Willis as the only players to accomplish the feat. His 1,000-yard season is the 15th  at BYU, spread out among 10 different players.

ACADEMICS. Taysom Hill was named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy in addition to being named one of 12 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes. With a 3.45 GPA in Finance, Hill graduated in the spring and will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship. The winner of the Campbell Trophy will be announced Dec. 6 in New York. Wide receiver Nick Kurtz and defensive lineman Logan Taele were also both named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team.

NOVEMBER GAMES. The Cougars are 32-6 in the month of November over the past 10 seasons including last week's win over Cincinnati. The team is also a perfect 16-0 at home in November during that time span. BYU has not lost a November home game since Nov. 19, 2005 when the Cougars fell to Utah 41-34 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. 


Head coach Kalani Sitake
Thoughts on Cincinnati film
There were a lot of good things in all three phases on film. I’m really happy with the team win. It was a good environment, a good day and a good opponent. I thought our guys controlled the game for the most part on offense and defense. You get used to what they’re doing and what they’re trying to establish on offense and defense. Once we were able to figure that out, I thought we were able to roll and control the game.  

One game away from bowl eligibility 
We have to continue the trend that Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall and his staff started here. We’re one game away and we have an opportunity to get that game this weekend. Our goal is to win the sixth one. Then we can start making plans for the bowl game. Until then, we have to go and get it.

How will approach change playing an FCS team?
Our approach won’t change at all. I’ve talked before about respecting our opponents—look at what Southern Utah did last year and having guys go on to the next level. Knowing (Ed Lamb) was mostly responsible for that and having him on our staff is a huge benefit. I’ve coached at that level before too and there are a lot of great players and coaches there. We’re planning on giving our best shot. I know we’ll get theirs.

Injury updates
It’s unfortunate, but Austin McChesney will require surgery. He’s playing great football and had a pick. It’s an unfortunate injury that happened. He won’t be back this year. We plan on having Squally (Canada) back this weekend. There are some other guys that are still “wait and see.”

On Jamaal Williams
I thought he was close to 100 percent. And then he had a couple issues with that leg. We’ll work with it and see how he progresses. He wasn’t feeling as great as he should on Monday. But maybe he’ll be ready by the time we hit Thursday or Friday. He is going to have to practice in order for us to play him.

Does the SUU game have any extra meaning as a former Thunderbird coach?
There is a connection there, but we want to win the game. It just happens to be against an opponent where we know people there. My oldest child was born in Cedar City. I coached Ilaisa Tuiaki down there at Southern Utah. There is a connection and there are a lot of people on that team that we know and I know personally. It’s going to be another game and we happen to know the people on the other side. We’ll be friends before and we’ll be friends afterwards. The game is about the young men on the field and doing what we can to get our sixth win as a BYU football team.

Tuiaki as a player
He was really good as a player. I think he’ll tell you he was better than he really was. He did everything we asked: he played tailback, fullback and he started for us there. He was a captain and a great leader. I’ve known him since we were kids. I was bossing him around when we were little kids, so it fit. He’s great and we loved our time down there in Cedar City. We appreciate having that in our football background.

What he liked most from the defense 
I liked controlling the game run game. I think the first drive was hard, but we got out of it and forced a field goal. Even on that field goal, I think Micah (Hannemann) had a chance to block it. The guys played well. We just had to get out a couple of third downs. They settled down and played really effective defense, meaning assignment-sound defense. They didn’t make too many mistakes and tackled well. The D-line performed really well. To have them control the run game is huge for us.

Senior WR Mitchell Juergens
Receivers’ play 
After the (Boise State) game, we had some things to work on. We had some dropped balls and that’s not something that settles well with receivers. We came together and recognized a big opportunity to step up. I think everybody did. It was a good game for us in building confidence and getting back to where we want to be. 

Extra work by receivers putting in during bye week
We were out there daily with the quarterbacks, getting extra reps, catching balls and doing our best to get ready for the game mentally and physically. We took advantage of the off week. We took it upon ourselves to step up our game. We did put in a little bit of extra work. 

Bowl eligibility 
It would mean a lot, especially as a senior. You love to go out in your last year to have a good time in a bowl game and come away with a victory. It does mean a lot, so I think it does put a lot of emphasis on this game ahead of us. We have a chance to get our sixth win, so we’re going to come out fighting hard. We’re anxious and eager to get that win, and hopefully it’s this week.

Team steadily improving this season
I think we’re improving every week. There are certain matchups certain weeks where we felt we didn’t play as well as before. But every week, we’re working on things. And I think that’s the beauty of this team. After each week, we’re going to make mistakes, even in a great win. But those things give us opportunities to learn and grow. I think we have taken that to heart. Each week we become stronger and more together as a team. I think we’ve absolutely improved every single week. And we’re looking to carry that forward each week ahead of us.

Junior DB Micah Hannemann
Defense against Cincinnati
I felt like we were loose, had more fun, and trusted more people. The corners balled out. The D-line had one of their better games of the season. I felt like we were only covering people for a few seconds before the quarterback either had to throw it or make bad decisions before he was sacked.

Playing his brother on Southern Utah
He is my older brother, so I’ve always kind of looked up to him. Hopefully they will let me play receiver for a couple of plays because we both play the same position. I already told him that if we go up against each other, he better watch his back. I hope we are on the field at the same time for a couple of plays.

On approach to Southern Utah
We definitely respect SUU. I was at their first game against Utah, and they battled. We definitely have a lot of respect for them. We are treating them like any other team.

True freshmen at corner
Corner is a really hard position to play. The only thing they can do is get better from here on out, so that’s exciting. It is easier to play safety when you have trust in your corner.

Sophomore LB Francis Bernard
Defense at Cincinnati
A lot of us kind of had the jitters from the bye week, trying to get our feet back in it. That first drive kind of killed us, but we picked it up after that and fixed it.

Getting ready for Southern Utah
We approach it like any other week. We see SUU like any other opponent we face. If we play that way, we will come out the exact same, maybe even better, as any other game. Hopefully we have a good turnout.

Three home games
I’m excited. It has been an interesting year being on the road for most of the year so far. Being at home is nice, not just for football but for school and everything else too.

Defensive improvements
If you go back and look at our film, each and every game we are getting better. The group that is really getting it right now is the D-line. Once they get it, the rest of the defense just flows. We get better as they get better.

Utah connections in the game
A lot of us know a lot of the players on the other team. There has already been a little bit of talking before the season, even this week. We can expect to hear from our family members and close friends. It is just going to be another game, but it will be fun.

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