BYU receivers coach Fesi Sitake has had nothing but bad medical news all season.
He’s like a guy shopping for soldiers in a war zone tent and after he gets the casualty list he says, “Frankly, I’ll be just fine with what’s mine.”
Jaren Hall remains BYU’s most consistent weapon thus far, but on Saturday night in LaVell Edwards Stadium, BYU’s receivers coach had to do a little flexing in the postgame celebration of a 38-24 Cougars win over Wyoming.
BYU entered the season with talk that Sitake had created, assembled and trained the deepest, most talented receiving corps in school history.
It has to be true.
In a week that Gunner Romney continued to stalk the sidelines and Puka Nacua gingerly made it back in a game before painfully walking off the field in the fourth quarter after a catch, the Cougars lost their third-leading receiver when tight end Dallin Holker quit for a greener pasture. Then freshman sensation Chase Roberts missed the Wyoming game with an undisclosed injury.
In short, the upper echelon of BYU’s deep receiving corps was either missing in action, banged up or AWOL against the Cowboys.
And yet, Sitake got a career night out of fifth-year junior Brayden Cosper, a steady journeyman’s effort and career game out of Keanu Hill, and another sensational performance from freshman Kody Epps.
“Jaren makes a lot of people look good,” said head coach Kalani Sitake.
“It was time for some other guys to step up and they did,” said Hall.
Cosper got his first career TD catch and finished with four catches for 58 yards. Hill’s catch of a 68-yard fourth-quarter bomb in which he dragged Wyoming’s cornerback the final 22 yards to the end zone highlighted his five-reception, 160-yard night. Epps had four catches for 13 yards and a touchdown.
“I’ve just tried to increase my weight,” said Hill of his packing the Wyoming player. “... I’ve tried to get stronger and up my game.”
Cosper, Hill and Epps now have more receiving statistics (catches/yards/TDs) than Romney, Nacua and Holker.
Repeat: These one-time second- and third-stringers are the cornerstone of BYU’s offense right now.
Who’d have imagined this kind of hearsay back in August?
Even back last spring?
Because of this assembly line of pass catchers, the Cougars were able to basically ignore its struggling running attack.
Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick came out bent on finding some answers to his running game Saturday night. He gave Lopini Katoa more touches, and later in the game, introduced Miles Davis after wearing Wyoming down. Davis looked nails with 131 yards on 13 carries, a 10.1-yard per-carry average.
But don’t forget how this game began with Roderick’s experiment.
BYU’s offense began with two three-and-outs. Nada.
Roderick had seen enough.
He turned Hall loose on Wyoming’s secondary. To do so he needed his depth to deliver.
And, boy, did they ever.
Hall only threw six incomplete passes on the night.
This was by far one of the most explosive games of his career, certainly of this young season heading into a game with Utah State this week.
Hall completed an impressive 26 of 32 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns, and finished with a pass efficiency rating of 211.
This game began competitively until Hall found his rhythm.
BYU led 35-17 in the fourth but had a Davis TD called back on a penalty. Wyoming scored two touchdowns after a series of BYU penalties that gave the Cowboys a short field twice in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t that close of a contest, really.
But it was BYU vs. Wyoming.
There’s a generation of BYU fans who are not used to witnessing a BYU-Wyoming game but after four decades of covering them, this one was just like many — very physical, folks getting hurt, lots of emotion, and a BYU win, the ninth straight in the series.