PROVO — How will BYU react to its two-game losing skid when No. 10 Wisconsin visits Provo on Saturday?
Well, tough guys don’t quit, bellyache or complain, and good teams don’t point fingers and play the blame game. What you do is bear down and try harder — that’s all you’ve got.
For fans who need to be talked away from the edge of the cliff, a reality check might be in good order. This team’s win-loss record is about where it should be in September. Portland State was a 90-10 percent win, scheduled so. Back in January, certainly in July through August, the LSU game was always going to be a 30 (BYU)-70 percent chance of winning. BYU-Utah was going to be a 50-50 to 40-60 type chance for a win.
BYU looks like it has only a 10-20 percent chance of beating Wisconsin, but that has been the case all year long.
You mix it up against elite defensive talent, an offense missing two of the top four rushers in school history, a revamped offense with inexperienced receivers and backs, and you get what you’ve got — one of the lowest scoring offenses since 1974.
That shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
What is unsettling and even surprising to this coaching staff is that during August camp, this offense showed a lot of potential, some real firepower and big plays. That has never surfaced so far in three games.
And there are reasons.
As BYU coach Kalani Sitake told reporters Monday, there’s a lot of work to do. His team needs to find an identity, something “to hang its hat on,” as everyone is asked to “trust the process” and “keep improving.”
A few things impacted BYU’s August that made September tougher. First, visions of using a double tight end formation with Matt Bushman and Moroni Laulu-Putupou went out the window when MLP hurt his foot. BYU had to switch from personnel groups that inserted Talon Shumway as a kind of inside receiver. That grouping, plus the need for extra protection schemes, has limited the use of Micah Simon as a slot receiver in a four-receiver set.
Second, the camp injury to freshman Ula Tolutau set back BYU’s run threat for a month. Now listed at 100 percent healthy, Tolutau showed what he brings to the run game by scoring one of two BYU touchdowns against Utah.
Third, as a receiver and running back group, BYU’s offense has struggled to make the…