BYU at Mississippi State Game Notes


The following notes are from BYU's 35-10 loss at Mississippi State. 

TEAM FLAGS: Creed Richardson (RB), Riggs Powell (LB), Mitch Harris (LS), Nate Sampson (TE)
ALUMNI FLAG BEARERS: Greg Kite (Basketball, 1979-83), Nathan Gibbs (OL 1989, 91-94), Chad Lewis (TE 1993-96), Lee Johnson (P, 1980-84)


With the loss, BYU and Mississippi State are an even 2-2 in the series now. Both teams are 1-1 on the road.

BYU drops to 1-6 with the first six-game losing streak since 1968. The Cougars lost seven in a row that season, finishing 2-8 on the year.

Power 5 winning streak at risk
The Cougars no longer have any Power 5 teams on the remainder of the schedule. Unless the team makes a bowl and defeats a Power 5 opponent, BYU’s streak of 11 consecutive seasons with a win over a Power 5 opponent will come to an end.

Dayan Ghanwoloku
With two interceptions and 105 return yards, he is now at 218 interception return yards, No. 5 in career interception return yards at BYU. Last season he had returns of 50, 49 and 14 in his freshman campaign to go along with today’s 67-yard career high and 38-yarder later on. It was also his first career two-pick game.

El-Bakri Backfield
Brothers Brayden El-Bakri and Bracken El-Bakri lined up for the first time together in the backfield with Brayden as a running back and Bracken at fullback. Brayden ran for two career highs with five carries and 20 yards.

Aleva Hifo
Hifo caught a career-best 43-yard reception in the first half. He also grabbed his first touchdown on a 27-yard strike from Tanner Mangum. His 77 yards and five receptions set new career highs.

CAREER HIGHS and FIRSTS (Notable career highs and firsts from today’s game)
Rushing yards:
Brayden El-Bakri (20)
Rushing attempts: Brayden El-Bakri (5)
Receiving yards: Aleva Hifo (77)
Receptions: Aleva Hifo (5)
Touchdown: Aleva Hifo (1)

Interceptions: Dayan Ghanwoloku (2)
Interception return yards: Dayan Ghanwoloku (105)
Forced fumble: Andrew Mikkelsen (1)
Fumble recovery: Akile Davis (1)
Tackles: Sione Takitaki (10), Zayne Anderson (9 - tied), Corbin Kaufusi (9)

Long Field goal: Rhett Almond (38 yards)

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
To start, congratulations to Mississippi State, it was a good win for them, and obviously I am not happy with the results on our side. There were some positives, but not enough. If it did not feel like our backs are up against a wall before, it does now. We head east next week, and we have to be ready for East Carolina. Hopefully we can get things fixed and perform better by then.

On being surprised by defensive struggle
“There were definitely some run issues, especially when you have to defend nearly fifty plays within the first half. If we were looking at play discrepancy, they had 84 plays when we only had 46. It is tough to play defense when you are out there quite a bit. We gave them leads, long drives, and the one play where Ula Tolutau fumbled the ball, it becomes tough to defend when we are not doing much on the other side. Not to make excuses for our defense because there was mistakes there. I believe we handled the upfront better on runs, but they also put it to us upfront. We need to play more stout upfront in order to have the chance to succeed, and stop the run. Third downs seemed to be the biggest struggle, and that is something I need to fix.

On what was the encouraging factor coming into this game
We beat them last year and we are familiar with them, there were a few changes, but for the most part everyone is just a bit older now. Fitzgerald is a good player and last year we were able to contain him, but this game he got away with things like QB run. It was not a secret that Fitzgerald could run and that is what we practiced for. Although, when you know what is coming, but you are not able to stop it, it becomes discouraging.

On message to team after game
We have to make sure to focus on the little details in order to get things done. I did not sugar coat anything because these seniors want to go to a bowl game. We have to win the next game; you do not win them all until you win the one. Now the focus is to get a win next week. The coaches, players, and everyone involved need to be creative in how we are going to score points, and as for defense, we have to stop the run.