Courtesy BYU Photo
BYU linebacker Butch Pau'u tackles Mississippi State running back Aeris Williams during game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Pau'u said he and his teammates were caught out of position and missed tackles against the Bulldogs, and will need to be better against East Carolina on Saturday.

GREENVILLE, N.C. — BYU’s defense turned in a poor overall performance last week at Mississippi State.

The Cougars gave up 306 yards rushing and 546 yards of total offense. MSU became the first team to run for more than 300 yards against BYU since Air Force did so in 2010.

“This is a week where we let the offense down,” said defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi. “There’s so much more we could have done on defense. We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to be much better than that.”

Linebacker and team captain Butch Pau’u said he and his teammates made a bunch of mistakes against the Bulldogs. They were caught out of position, missed tackles and just failed to make plays.

“We just didn’t do our job,” Pau’u said. “If you don’t do your assignment, you’ve got to get off the field. I’ve set the expectation to play better and be 100 percent in my assignments. I think the guys expect that of themselves. If we do that, we’ll make the plays that we need to.”

BYU is looking for a better effort Saturday against East Carolina.

“There were a lot of breakdowns in technique, more than anything,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “We just have to play a lot better.”

TOUGH LOVE: Sitake fosters a loving atmosphere in the program and around the football office.

But Sitake said he knows there’s time for tough love. Especially when his team has lost six consecutive games.

“We’re always evaluating. Everywhere I’ve worked I’ve been friends with people. Business is business,” Sitake said. “Put it on the coaches because the players give it everything they have. I get frustrated at a lot of the players and some of the things that happen. But it’s not because of a lack of effort or because they haven’t bought in.

"I always go back to the coaches first. They’re big boys. They can handle it. Whether I’m friendly or not, the bottom line is production and getting the job done. They’re all my guys. I love them all. But we can criticize each other. I’m open to it as a head coach, too. It’s something we should be humble enough to accept. It’s been that way.

"Everything is always evaluated in the program. I do a lot of self-evaluation. I’m open to criticism and positive things. I’m OK with it. That’s part of growth. We just have to grow real quick right now and see more production. We just need to do what we’re capable of as a team. Once we get that going, we’ll get the ball rolling a little bit.”

MEANWHILE, ON THE OFFENSIVE SIDE: Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer also knows the offense must play a lot better this week.

The Cougars scored only one touchdown and had just 147 yards of offense last week at East Carolina.

“We were able to make a couple of plays but a couple don’t win you a game,” Detmer said.

MISERY LOVES COMPANY: Both BYU and East Carolina are 1-6 this season.

Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery said he can understand the Cougars’ struggles.

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“You look at what they’re going through and they have been hit with a ton of injuries on offense and defense,” he said. “It’s a team that traditionally has great depth and they have been hit quite a bit with injuries moving to this point. They’ve also played a ridiculously tough schedule. They’ve played Wisconsin, LSU — big time opponents — Mississippi State, you name it.”

PAT STREAK: BYU placekicker Rhett Almond has connected on 47 consecutive PATs, dating back to last season. Almond missed his first career PAT last year and he’s been perfect since. The school record for PAT makes is 70 by Justin Sorensen.