PROVO — No matter how you look at them, the numbers produced by BYU's offense aren't pretty.

Through three games this season, the Cougars have scored a total of 40 points, including 10 in each of the last two contests. This week's NCAA statistics confirm what has become quite obvious — BYU's offense is, once again, one of the country's worst.

Here's where the Cougars rank nationally in the following offensive categories among the 117 Division I-A teams:

Rushing offense: No. 116 (30 yards per game).

Scoring offense: No. 103 (13.3 points per game).

Total offense: No. 100 (278.3 yards per game).

Turnovers lost: No. 116 (a total of 13).

That's not what coach Gary Crowton was counting on after bringing in a host of new receivers and enjoying more experience at the quarterback position.

Still, he says the scant production from his offense is "not a major concern yet" because of the tough opponents his team has faced. Notre Dame and Southern California boast strong front-sevens, he said, and Stanford returned nine defensive starters from a year ago.

This week's foe, No. 21 Boise State, which happens to be No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense (averaging 55 points per contest), saw its defense surrender 31 points in last weekend's victory over UTEP.

Translation? If the Cougars have any hope of springing an upset Friday (8 p.m., ESPN) at Bronco Stadium, they must find their way into the end zone early and often.

"We need to score more than 10, I promise you that," Crowton said. "Our offense needs to pick it up. We need to play well in this game. I think we're very capable of doing that."

To be successful, BYU also will have to eliminate turnovers. The Cougars had three interceptions and a fumble in their 42-10 loss to No. 1 USC last Saturday.

"When you turn the ball over that much, it's going to be tough to win," said quarterback John Beck.

A shoulder injury suffered by Beck has hindered the offense's ability to establish consistency, according to BYU linebacker Brady Poppinga. "When they get their rhythm and continuity back, they're as good as anybody, I do believe," he said.

Crowton said there were some encouraging signs amid the USC defeat.

"Our offense showed spurts at times. It was good to see John finish a game," Crowton said, pointing out it was the first time Beck had played an entire contest since last season's 44-36 win at San Diego State. "I liked the look in his eye and the competitive nature he had at the end of the game."

Beck connected with wide receiver Todd Watkins for a 69-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. It's a big-play combination Crowton wants to see continue.

"We're going to be able to go to that more," he said. "I think you'll see those guys developing more as the season goes on."

BYU's running game remains ineffective. The Cougars garnered just 27 yards on the ground against the Trojans as running backs Fahu Tahi and Curtis Brown struggled. "We have a chance to run the ball against (Boise State), if we elect to," Crowton said.

BEWARE THE BLUE TURF: Boise State's Bronco Stadium features the nation's only blue Astro Turf, which matches its players' all-blue home uniforms. The school is the first to have its entire field created in a special color.

Crowton said he spoke to Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey about the Yellow Jackets' experience in Boise during last season's Humanitarian Bowl. "He thought (the blue turf) was a very difficult thing because you can't see everybody sometimes," Crowton said. "They get lost because of the color."

Bronco Stadium poses other challenges, Crowton added. "It is a unique place to play. It's very noisy. (For a 30,000-seat stadium), the way the seats are right on top of that turf, it's a loud stadium. This will be much louder than it was at Stanford."

PAYNE HONORED AGAIN : BYU punter/placekicker Matt Payne was named Mountain West Conference special teams player of the week for the second time in three weeks. Payne recorded a 46-yard field goal and booted a conference-record 79-yard punt (one yard shy of the school record) against USC.

"Matt did a real good job," Crowton said. "He continues to get better. He'll help us in a lot of ways with field position."

Payne, who is third on BYU's all-time scoring list, has also made 27 straight PAT attempts. The senior from North Ogden ranks third nationally in punting with a 47-yard average. Nine of Payne's 20 punts this year have been downed inside the 20-yard line.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com