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BYU football: Sitake discloses what his team's offensive identity should be

PROVO — The production of BYU tight end Matt Bushman was pretty good during BYU's 24-7 loss to Boise State, at a glance. The freshman tight end recorded a team-high seven receptions for 65 yards on the night, proving to be quarterback Tanner Mangum's favorite target throughout.

But stats can be deceiving.

Bushman's overall production on paper doesn't speak to the bevy of targets he received, with several of those targets resulting in incompletions or much worse, interceptions. Both of Mangum's interceptions came when trying to force the ball to his favorite target, when the opening simply wasn't there.

"In the second half they kind of had a linebacker drop back into the area I was going and then the safety up top," Bushman explained. "… Even if they're bracketing us, we should still be able to find openings and make plays."

The big problem is no one really is making those plays, at least not with any degree of consistency.

Granted the offense had to make do without leading wideout Talon Shumway, who left the game early due to undisclosed reasons, but receivers stepping up in place of Bushman, or even Shumway, didn't happen.

Speedster Jonah Trinnaman finished with three catches for 21 yards, but the paltry 21 yards perhaps underscored another problem. The former four-star junior college transfer was seen several times running behind the secondary, with Mangum simply not looking in his direction or not targeting him with enough accuracy for the big gains Trinnaman appears primed for.

"We weren't consistent in our execution. We couldn't finish drives, and a lot of that just falls on me," Mangum said. "I've got to be more consistent with taking care of the ball and driving the ball down the field."

The Cougars failed to eclipse 200 yards passing yet again, which is not the least bit shocking when considering the program's rich history of throwing for big gains.

But perhaps the answer to more consistency on offense shouldn't be looked for in the passing game.

When asked for the continual search for an offensive identity, BYU coach Kalani Sitake provided a specific answer.

"We need to have someone we can hang our hat on, and I think his name is Ula Tolutau," Sitake said.

Tolutau, like the rest of the offense, proved very productive starting out, before trailing off significantly. The 250-pound bruiser was especially effective during short-yardage situations, pushing forward for two positive gains in third-and-short situations, and then scoring off-tackle on a 3-yard run, which put BYU up 7-0 early.

The freshman from East finished the game with just 38 yards on nine carries, however, with a total of 9 yards gained on two carries during the second half. Sitake wouldn't disclose if Tolutau was banged up, although game flow, with BYU playing from behind, likely contributed to his lack of touches.

Getting the ball more to Tolutau, coupled with receivers other than Bushman receiving more targets are steps in the right direction with an offense that has proved historically bad through the first six games this season.

"Everything. That's the easiest way to answer that question," responded Sitake when asked what needs to be fixed on the offense. "Right now, it's consistency, and whatever the reason is, we need to fix it."