BYU (1-0) vs. Southern Utah (0-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT.
Venue: LaVell Edwards Stadium.
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Livestream: Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Radio: KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM/BYU Radio Sirius XM 143.
Series: BYU leads, 1-0.
Weather: Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-80s at kickoff. Less than a 2% chance of rain, but mildly breezy with gusts up to 7-8 mph.
For BYU: The Cougars defeated Sam Houston 14-0 last Saturday, but did not look good doing it, at least on offense. The defense pitched a shutout in the debut of new defensive coordinator Jay Hill, while the offense was held to fewer than 260 yards and crossed the 50-yard line only three times.
For Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds threw a major scare at the Pac-12’s Arizona State last Thursday before falling 24-21 in a weather-delayed affair in Tempe, Arizona. Trailing 21-7 at halftime before a two-and-a-half hour break for lightning in the area, SUU got a blocked punt for a touchdown with about seven minutes remaining to close within three.
What to watch for
For BYU: A week after all eyes were on Hill’s reconstructed defense and what it could do, the focus for BYU shifts to an offense that was punchless and flat for most of the game against Sam Houston, which was playing its first game at the FBS level. That means quarterback Kedon Slovis is looking for a bounce-back game after a mediocre debut in Provo in which he completed only 20 of 33 passes and failed to throw a touchdown pass. BYU’s offensive line and receivers also struggled, by their own admission, and it took freshman running back LJ Martin’s big second half to put the game away.
For Southern Utah: With six returning starters on offense and five starters back on defense, the second year of the DeLane Fitzgerald era started with optimism, and the T-Birds lived up to that with an outstanding defensive performance at ASU.
Quarterback Justin Miller is joined by some of his top receivers from last year in Tim Patrick, Isaiah Wooden and Ethan Bolingbroke. A sturdy offensive line impressed last week under the leadership of Lyle Santos.
Southern Utah is receiving $425,000 to play in Provo, and an additional $50,000 because it agreed to move this game from November to September when BYU was invited to the Big 12 and needed to clear its future November schedules. If BYU schedules SUU in the future, according to the game contract obtained by the Deseret News, the $50,000 would be applied toward the total payment of that future game.
Kedon Slovis, Sr., BYU quarterback: Having drawn rave reviews for his play in spring and fall camp, and the way he took on a leadership role and was elected a team captain, Slovis did not play particularly well in his first game wearing the Cougar blue. He misfired on at least five throws and was too slow on his delivery on others. He threw for only 145 yards.
He will need to step it up a notch against an SUU defense that offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick says is just as good, if not better, than what Sam Houston arrived with in Provo last week. It will help if Slovis gets a couple of his biggest weapons back this week — receivers Kody Epps and Keanu Hill did not play against SHU. Roderick said both are day-to-day and will be game-time decisions Saturday.
“Yeah, (Slovis) can play better, too. There is blame to go around, starting with me. But it is hard to play quarterback when you don’t have great execution going on around you. I thought that was the case the other night as we didn’t seem to have 11 guys all clicking on the same page very often in that game. We have been doing it all camp. We have been playing really good football all camp against our defense and we will put it on the field soon.”— BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick
“BYU alumni are in a little bit of a panic because of how they played Saturday night. We do not expect that team to show up against us on Saturday. They have good football coaches. Their offensive coaches will go in there and fix their ills on offense this week and they will play better. Their transfer quarterback will play better. … BYU is a lot better than Arizona State.”— Southern Utah coach DeLane Fitzgerald
BYU: at Arkansas on Sept. 16.
Southern Utah: at UC Davis on Sept. 16.
Aug. 31 — BYU 14, Sam Houston 0
Sept. 9 — vs. Southern Utah (1 p.m. MDT, ESPN+)
Sept. 16 — at Arkansas (5:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN2)
Sept. 23 — at Kansas (TBA)
Sept. 29 — vs. Cincinnati (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN)
Oct. 14 — at TCU (TBA)
Oct. 21 — vs. Texas Tech (TBA)
Oct. 28 — at Texas (TBA)
Nov. 4 — at West Virginia (TBA)
Nov. 11 — vs. Iowa State (TBA)
Nov. 18 — vs. Oklahoma (TBA)
Nov. 25 — at Oklahoma State (TBA)