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BYU football defenders frustrated with themselves because of opponent success

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | Oct 17, 2017
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BYU makes a tackle during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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BYU running back Ula Toluta'u dives forward during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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BYU players leave the field after the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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BYU makes a tackle during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki talks to his players during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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BYU wide receiver Aleva Hifo celebrates scoring a touchdown during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

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The BYU defensive line gets ready for a play during the 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.

BYU junior linebacker Butch Pau’u said Monday that he heard from everyone in his family — his father, his mother, his brother, his entire family — about his mistakes in Saturday’s 35-10 Cougar loss at Mississippi State.

But there was no hesitation when he was asked who came down on him the hardest:

“Me, for sure,” Pau’u said.

The BYU captain said he started watching film on the plane ride back to Provo.

“I kind of stopped watching it because I was sick and tired of the way that I was playing,” he said. “I missed a couple of tackles, broke my coverage and didn’t do my assignment. It’s tough to see that. The coaches don’t have to write it. You just put it on yourself.”

Pau’u wasn’t alone in seeing the errors and mistakes that allowed the Bulldogs to rack up 306 yards rushing and hold the ball for nearly 37 minutes.

“It’s not like the defense has been great in every game, but that was definitely a game where we fell short in our assignments and our technique,” Cougar junior defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi said. “We’ve got to be more stout, particularly against the run. We’ve got to fill those gaps so they don’t feel like they can get a run game.”

Kaufusi added, however, that he views the critique from previous games as necessary in order to progress.

“It’s good, to be honest, even though sometimes you’re cringing when you watch certain plays,” Kaufusi said. “Everything helps. If we didn’t look at the film, then we would never get better. This was a week where we look back and we let the offense down. There is so much we could have done on defense. We need to take it upon ourselves to be much better than that.”

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said a lot of what he saw looking at the film was breakdowns in technique.

“You can’t just make one comment and have it cover all 11 players,” Sitake said. “When you have a lot of new bodies in there, you are kind of limited in what you can do. They tested our depth and got a lot of plays in the first half, but we just have to play a lot better.”

One area Sitake pointed out as an area of emphasis for his unit is its third-down success rate.

“Third downs cost us quite a bit and that’s on the defense,” Sitake said. “If they want to get out of drives and not play so many plays, then they’ve got to get out of third downs. That was somewhat disappointing when we had third-and-middle-distance or third-and-long that we couldn’t get out of.”

There is a chain of interlocking events that increase a team’s odds of being able to get off the field. When teams have success on first and second down, their third-down performance is generally better.

The Cougars hope to be able to force opponents into more long-yardage situations so they can have time to get into the back field.

“The games where we have done our best have been where we have stuffed the run early,” Kaufusi said. “Then — instead of those quick passes where it is hard to get a pass rush because it is out so fast — they feel like they have to hold it and get longer yards.”

Some goals are for the defense as a whole and some are more about each individual.

“I’ve set the expectation to play better and be 100 percent in my assignments,” Pau’u said. “I think the guys expect that from me as well. If we do that, then more opportunities will present themselves and we’ll make those plays that we need to.”

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