PROVO — BYU’s defense was without a few starters Saturday against McNeese State.
But that didn’t stop the Cougars from keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone and limiting them to 207 yards of total offense in a 30-3 win at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Linebacker Zayne Anderson and safety Dayan Ghanwoloku were sidelined due to injuries. Linebacker Butch Pau’u saw limited action as he is also dealing with an injury.
Coach Kalani Sitake was pleased with the way their replacements performed, including linebackers Riggs Powell and Adam Pulsipher.
“Not having Dayan was rough. Every week, guys are going to compete. Guys are banged up and they’re not as good as the guy that’s healthy,” Sitake said. “You have to practice in order to play. It would be nice to get guys healthy, especially our starters. I was pleased with what I saw from Riggs Powell and Adam Pulsipher and others that rotated in there.”
Backup safety Tanner Jacobson recorded a key interception in the second quarter, the first of his career.
All four of BYU's Kaufusis — brothers Corbin and Devin (sons of Steve) and brothers Jackson and Isaiah (sons of Jeff) played. Three were on the field at the same time.
On offense, fullback Brayden El-Bakri was out with an injury while running back Squally Canada, who gained 57 yards, was limited due to an ankle injury. Lopini Katoa rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
“Squally is a little banged up with his ankle bothering him a little bit and it was nice to be able to rely on Lopini to get in there,” said Sitake.
Meanwhile, because the game was lopsided in the fourth quarter, Sitake was able to empty his bench.
True freshman quarterback Zach Wilson made his debut late in the fourth quarter, and he completed 1 of 2 passes for 12 yards.
“It seemed like a good time to take a time out and get the young guys in there,” Sitake said. “We had a good handle on the game.”
Quarterback Tanner Mangum enjoyed seeing his seldom-used teammates get playing time.
“Even though it wasn’t pretty, we’re not going to complain with a win. To be able to get those guys in and get some work is always fun,” he said. “We work together as a team. We’re together all year round for moments like this. Anytime you can get guys on the field that you may not see as much, it’s fun. They work just as hard as any of us.”
BYU VS. FCS: BYU improved to 12-0 over the last 30 years against FCS opponents, including 2-0 under Sitake.
EXTRA POINTS: Mitch Jones recorded his first career punt attempt, a 38-yarder that pinned McNeese State's 16-yard line. For the native of Australia, it was Jones’ first punt in a football game. … Corbin Kaufusi recorded his fourth career blocked kick. … Skyler Southam's 47-yard field goal in the third quarter was BYU's longest since Mitch Payne drilled a 48-yarder against UNLV in 2010. … Mangum completed his 500th career pass in the third quarter with a 16-yard pass to tight end Matt Bushman.