|Ula Tolutau scores a touchdown against Boise State. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)|
"We need to have someone we can hang our hat on, and I think his name is Ula Tolutau," said BYU Cougars Head Coach Kalani Sitake after BYU's fifth straight loss last Friday.
Tolutau has been one of the few bright spots on the BYU offense this season. He leads the team with 49 rushes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Tolutau missed the first two games of the season, and played sparingly in the third, recovering from an injury he sustained during fall camp. When he finally saw the field in the second half of game three, it was a revelation.
BYU had been rotating Squally Canada and Kavika Fonua at running back, while sprinkling in Tre Dye and KJ Hall. All it took was two runs by Tolutau to make fans forget the other guys. It was easy to see why the running back factory Wisconsin offered Tolutau a scholarship in high school.
Tolutau has been BYU's leading rusher in each of the four games he has played. He even went over the century mark for the first time at Utah State (102).
Against Boise State, Tolutau had seven first half carries, and he scored BYU's only touchdown. In the second half, fans were left wondering: Tolutau, where art thou? The 6-foot-1, 250 pound bruiser carried the ball twice during BYU's first drive of the third quarter. He didn't touch the ball at all for the rest of the game.
BYU did trail by 17 points the entire fourth quarter, which necessitated a pass heavy approach. However, it does not require a team pass on every single play.
BYU had a 4th and 1 on its first drive of the fourth quarter. Getting the first down becomes the top priority in that situation. Giving the ball to Tolutau is how BYU would hang its hat on him.
The clock would have stopped for the chains to get set. The drive would have continued. The comeback would have still been possible.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum had his best game since the season opener, but he still hasn't fully recovered from his ankle injury. He also hasn't played at the same level as he did in 2015, even when healthy. It makes sense for BYU to rely on Tolutau to carry the load.
To carry the load, he needs to carry the ball consistently all game long.
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