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BYU football: Cougar offense hopes to aim high by staying low vs. Northern Illinois

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) gives the play in the huddle as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. BYU won 49-23.
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) gives the play in the huddle as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. BYU won 49-23.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — If BYU's offensive coaching staff is wondering if the players are getting the message they're conveying, they should refer to senior Austin Hoyt's interview during Monday's weekly press conference.

Coming off a much-welcomed bye week, the Cougars are back at it, preparing to take on Northern Illinois. For the offensive players, that means working to continue the effective blocking that produced 280 yards rushing the last time out in a 49-23 win over Hawaii.

How was the offense led by the offensive line able to do it? It all had to do with pad level, a fact Hoyt mentioned over and over when asked of a variety of topics on Monday.

"I think that was one of the main differences. Everyone was playing lower," Hoyt said. "I think that made guys play tougher and more physical as the game went on."

Pad level is all about getting lower than the opponent in an effort to create leverage and it's a concept talked about frequently by linemen on both sides of the football. But according to Hoyt, the offensive coaching staff challenged everyone to focus on the concept, with the relatively gaudy offensive numbers put up last week as perhaps evidence that they listened.

The goal as BYU prepares to take on a much-tougher defensive opponent in Northern Illinois, the hope is to maintain a low-pad level and perhaps strive to get even lower.

"Running the ball is going to be a huge emphasis this week, and then again, having a low pad level is really going to help us this week," Hoyt said. "If we get too high, then we'll have trouble."

TRANSFERS HAPPEN: A lot has been made of Utah four-star quarterback Jack Tuttle deciding to transfer midway through his first season, a decision that came this past week. Some have roundly criticized the decision, with a lot of people willing to offer an opinion, although few know everything about the decision.

For BYU coach Kalani Sitake, he understands transfers happen and are to be expected in this day and age.

"You want guys that want to be here and that want to represent the school the right way, on and off the field and in academics," Sitake said. "So I think attrition is part of football. No matter where you go there's always been movement and I think the important job of a coach is to be honest with the young man."

When asked about the difficulty of putting so much effort into recruiting a particular athlete, Sitake said, "What's harder is when a young man is there and doesn't really want to be. That's the way I see it."

BLOCKING OUT THE NIGHTTIME SUN: Sitake normally makes a comment during his press conferences that leaves everyone laughing and he had this nugget regarding how some of his players suit up for night games.

"When it's nighttime you don't have to worry about the sun being in your eyes and all that, but ... at 8 p.m, I'm sure we'll still have some guys with their faces painted," Sitake said regarding players who choose to apply black lines under their eyes to reduce glare from the sun. "You know, just in case the sun comes back up at 8:30."