We wanted to keep the ball moving in hands of our playmakers, keeping the drives going. I feel like we sustained some drives. But just couldn't finish. That's on us, we have to be able to convert on third and fourth down in some instances. —BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum
STARKVILLE, Miss. — BYU tried to use a ball control attack and minimize mistakes against Mississippi State but it backfired early in the 35-10 loss in SEC country Saturday in Davis Wade Stadium.
Trailing 7-0 with a game plan to dink and dunk the ball at Mississippi State, part of the game plan melted when running back Trey Dye left the game with a high ankle sprain, freshman running back Ula Tolutau fumbled and lost it for the third time in four halves of football and BYU's line could not get much of a push against the Bulldogs.
Tanner Mangum (16 of 26 for 145, one TD, one interception) used a series of quick outs and short tosses in bubble screen sets while trying to run the ball. But failures multiple times on third and short doomed the Cougar offense, limiting production to just 46 plays compared to MSU's 84.
"We adjusted to it," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen of BYU's attempt to throw screens at his defense.
"They hadn't shown that a lot coming into the game. Their quarterback is a little bit banged up. They wanted to help him out early in the game by getting the ball out of his hands and get us mixed up. I thought Todd (Grantham) and the staff, in addition to the players, did a really nice job adjusting to that defensively."
It didn't help that Mangum had receivers drop passes early and a lineman was ruled downfield on a play that receiver Micah Simon earned a pass interference call on that would have set up BYU's offense inside MSU's 15 in the first half.
"We wanted to keep the ball moving in hands of our playmakers, keeping the drives going. I feel like we sustained some drives," said Mangum. "But just couldn't finish. That's on us, we have to be able to convert on third and fourth down in some instances."
SMU averaged 6.5 yards per play compared to 3.8 for the Cougars and had 35 first downs, 20 by halftime, to just eight for the Cougars on an 86-to-46 plays run advantage.
Mangum's 27-yard touchdown pass to Aleva Hifo to cut MSU's lead to 28-10 in the third quarter was his biggest scoring play of the season.