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BYU looks to rebound again after tough loss

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - The Cougars are trying to stay positive after Saturday's devastating loss to rival Utah, 20-13.
PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Most BYU fans are in a state of anger, shock and confusion these days. The Cougars looked bad in a loss at Virginia, looked great in a blowout win over Texas, and reverted back to its anemic ways in suffering its 4th straight loss to arch rival Utah Saturday night, 20-13.

The only bright spot from the latest loss to the Utes is that they have just six days to dwell on it instead of seven, as the Cougars host Middle Tennessee State Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"Our team was very disappointed after the loss and saddened," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "But I think the best medicine now is to have a game that is one day earlier than we normally play."

"I think a lot of people are ready to play again, and do things right," said wide receiver Ross Apo. "Not like how we played against Utah."

"It could be a blessing," added defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna. "We want to bury all that really fast, and this is another opportunity for us to show what we have."

The BYU offense didn't show much against Utah. Quarterback Taysom Hill continued his season-long slump by completing just 18 of 48 passes. Through three games, Hill has a 35 percent completion rate, and has thrown just one touchdown pass with three interceptions.

"It can only go up," said Mendenhall about the passing game.

BYU is going fast, as evidenced by running 27 more plays than Utah, but they weren't efficient with the ball, scoring just one touchdown in the red zone. Mendenhall says don't expect the tempo to slow down anytime soon.

"What I'm encouraging more than anything is for the pace to remain the same, and for the execution to catch up with it," Mendenhall said. "Our team earned more chances to score and win the game than our opponent. But we didn't take advantage of those chances."

Despite Hill's struggles passing the ball, the team still has confidence in him.

"He's the man," said Apo, who got injured during the first quarter against Utah and did not return. "We have to make him look good though. It's hard for him. He snaps the ball and he's kind of running for his life sometimes."

If the Cougars lose to Middle Tennessee State, BYU fans will be calling for Mendenhall's head. But he is staying the course, staying calm, and says three games is not a big enough sample to properly judge his team.

"We've been here before at 1-2," said Mendenhall. "I'm not sending any flares off nor am I hitting the panic button. We've been 1-4 before and have yet to be excluded from a bowl game. We always just find a way to be resilient."

As for the state of the program, Mendenhall still thinks of BYU as one of the nation's elite.

"I think we're one of the best in the country, at least if you consider top-25 consistently," he said. "I think we are a consistent winner, and I think we're a program and a head coach that is expanding scheme and strategy with the hope for return to be better than we've been. Three weeks is probably not early enough to say how well that's going to work."

Well, the Cougars better find better offensive consistency soon, or this season may get out of hand.


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