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BYU football: Beau Hoge shows good and bad signs in his first start at QB

PROVO — It's not an easy task receiving your first collegiate start at quarterback four games into a season, particularly when it's against the No. 10-ranked team in the country.

BYU called upon sophomore quarterback Beau Hoge to start in place of injured starter Tanner Mangum on Saturday, in the Cougars' 40-6 loss to Wisconsin. Mangum's specific injury hasn't been disclosed by BYU, yet the junior starter was seen taking the field with his left leg in a boot while utillizing a scooter.

Hoge finished the game throwing for 111 yards on 11-20 passing with two interceptions. He also rushed the ball six times for another three yards, although he did provide a couple of positive runs to keep the BYU offense moving, particularly early on during the contest.

As paltry as Hoge's stats read on paper, he did provide some spark to the offense, after throwing an interception on his first attempted pass of the afternoon.

“It wasn’t great, but I thought he did well to begin with,” assessed BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “But the turnovers, I’m not happy with. That’s something we can’t do.”

The 6-foot-1, 205 pound quarterback from Fort Thomas, KY. picked himself right up on his next series, engineering a 14-play, 61-yard drive that chewed almost a full seven minutes off the clock. The drive ended with a field goal, although Hoge completed both of his passes and had three rushes for 24 combined yards.

“I think he did pretty well,” said BYU freshman tight end Matt Bushman. “Like I said, he showed glimpses of greatness and did a great job.”

That second drive of the game accounted for almost one-third of BYU's total yardage and half of its scoring, however, as the team failed to convert on too many third-down situations, along with committing two turnovers.

“There’s times to just throw the dang ball away,” Sitake said. “We’ve just got to sustain drives and we weren’t even able to get any momentum going…It wasn’t just how I pictured our offense today.”

What did provide a pretty picture was the initial run game execution, with freshman running back Ula Tolutau providing the type of gains the ground game hasn't seen since the first game of the season. The 6-foot-1, 250 pound East product galloped for 36 yards on five carries, as the Cougar offense appeared potent and physical, initially.

But then it all bogged down, as Wisconsin's defense made proper adjustments, with the Cougar offense unable to answer, providing just 192 yards and six points for the afternoon.

The coaches and players will now have two weeks to figure out the continuing offensive woes, with a bye week coming before a game at Utah State. Should Hoge start again, players are confident in him making improvements, while recognizing it's not all on him.

“There’s things to get better at for all of us, but I think he’s trying his best to do what the coaches told him to do,” Bushman said. “We all mess up a few times, but there’s no one to blame. We just need to get better these next two weeks.”