Forgive BYU football coach Kalani Sitake for not getting overly excited about facing TCU on Saturday because Frogs starting quarterback Chandler Morris is reportedly out with a left knee injury.

“They are going to have a capable guy. The last guy they had that was a backup took them all the way to the championship game. So I am not worried about who they are going to have back there because I know that (coach) Sonny (Dykes) and his staff do a great job preparing the quarterback and every position.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake

Look no further than last year, Sitake said during his weekly press briefing Monday, to discover that TCU will have a more-than-capable backup ready to lead one of the Big 12’s best programs to a successful season.

Morris suffered a similar injury in Week 1 last year at Colorado, and Max Duggan — now on the Los Angeles Chargers practice squad — stepped in and led the Frogs to the College Football Playoff championship game.

“They are going to have a capable guy,” Sitake said. “The last guy they had that was a backup took them all the way to the championship game. So I am not worried about who they are going to have back there because I know that (coach) Sonny (Dykes) and his staff do a great job preparing the quarterback and every position.”

Redshirt freshman Josh Hoover filled in after Morris was hurt in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 27-14 loss at Iowa State, and is a “safe bet” to get the start against the Cougars, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday.

Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. MDT at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Sitake said regardless of who is calling the signals and taking the snaps, the Frogs have a talented team with plenty of players back who took part in that title-game run.

“They have tons of speed, and that is at every position. They have big, physical, explosive athletes, and so yeah, it is a tough matchup,” Sitake said. “We have had an extra week to watch their film and see them in a game over the weekend. They are a very talented team. Well-coached. Tons of athleticism and speed. So we will have to be ready for that.”

As for BYU, which hasn’t played since upsetting Cincinnati 35-27 on Sept. 29 in Provo, the Cougars’ quarterback situation is solid: Pitt transfer Kedon Slovis is off to a strong start in Provo, despite not having much of a rushing attack to rely on.

BYU safety Crew Wakley said the Cougars looked at TCU’s schemes and playing style last week while they were idle, but not a lot of time was spent on specific personnel.

“We were more preparing for just a scheme, and a team and how they play, rather than one individual,” Wakley said. “So it is unfortunate for him, but it doesn’t really change much for us. They can have anybody out there and we are going to have our game plan and execute it. Yeah, it hasn’t really been too big of a deal for us.”

Well-rested BYU could be facing a shorthanded TCU team Saturday in Fort Worth
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BYU defensive end Isaiah Bagnah said for an edge rusher such as himself it does matter who the QB is, but he echoed Sitake’s sentiments in saying that TCU will have a solid player back there taking snaps.

“From a defensive standpoint, our plan is solid and great,” Bagnah said. “I feel like we can still work off what we have.”

That TCU (1-2, 3-3) played in last season’s national championship game, a 65-7 loss to Georgia, brings the Frogs instant credibility, Bagnah said.

“Regardless of what their record is, they were still in the national championship last year,” he said. “So it is the same mentality we have with every other team. We understand that they are talented. They have some dogs on their team, as we do. … We are going to come out with the same mindset and try to stay humble and keep working hard and the rest will play out.”

Regarding BYU’s collective health after the early bye week, Sitake was vague when asked whether the Cougars will be close to full strength in their first return to Fort Worth since a 31-3 loss in 2010, their final season in the Mountain West Conference.

In 2011, independent BYU lost 38-28 to TCU, but that game was played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“We are still evaluating,” Sitake said. “All of our players would love to play. … It is hard to play guys that don’t practice. If they are cleared for practice and they are able to do that, go through the right protocols this week, and today, they will have a better chance of playing this weekend.”

Leading tackler Ben Bywater suffered some sort of shoulder injury in the 38-27 loss at Kansas on Sept. 23 and missed the Cincinnati game the following week. During a weekly, paid interview on KSL Sports Zone’s “DJ & PK Show” he said he is feeling “much better, much, much better,” and plans to be “out there against TCU.”

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Oregon transfer Harrison Taggart filled in for Bywater against the Bearcats and made 10 tackles.

Cougars on the air

BYU (1-1, 4-1)
at TCU (1-2, 3-3)
Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m. MDT
Amon G. Carter Stadium
(Capacity: 50,000)
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

The Cougars are also hoping to get back starters such as running back Aidan Robbins, safety Talan Alfrey and receiver Kody Epps. Cornerback Eddie Heckard has battled a sprained ankle but hasn’t missed any games.

The bye week “was a really good time for us to reflect on how we did things as a whole, as a complete team, in all three phases. We made some adjustments. How that plays out, I don’t know. We will see how it plays out,” Sitake said. “I would just like to see more points on the board, more stops on defense, and I would like to find ways to take care of the ball and at the same time I want to find ways to get the win.

“That’s what it is all about for us and I think the stats and all that stuff will work out if we keep that focus.”

TCU quarterback Josh Hoover lines up to receive the snap during game against Nicholls State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. Hoover entered the Frogs game against Iowa State in the third quarter when starter Chandler Morris was lost to injury. Hoover, a redshirt freshman, will likely be under center when the Cougars face TCU Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth. | Gareth Patterson, Associated Press
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