|Squally Canada carries the ball against Fresno State (Courtesy BYU Photo)|
BYU running back Squally Canada came into 2017 expecting to be the Cougars' feature back. He was the team's second leading rusher with 315 yards last year as Jamaal Williams' primary back up. Canada even started two games when Williams was sidelined with injury.
In the season opener, Canada was BYU's leading rusher carrying the ball 16 times for 98 yards. He also had BYU's only rushing touchdown, and tied for the longest run (34 yards). The next three games, Canada had a total of nine carries.
During that time, Cougar fans and coaches became enamored with Ula Tolutau. The big, freshman transfer from Wisconsin was finally healthy enough to play, and he made an immediate impact. Canada was a forgotten man.
He had a modest workload in game five against Utah State (12 carries for 69 yards). Besides having a higher yards per carry average (5.8 to 4.9) and better ball security, Canada was still behind Tolutau on the depth chart.
Tolutau is now unavailable, but Canada didn't get the call to start. Last week against San Jose State, KJ Hall was the starter. Canada didn't get any playing time until the second half--after Hall was injured.
In the second half last week, Canada ran with a purpose. He was instrumental in digging the Cougars out of a hole in the third quarter, and driving 95 yards for a touchdown.
With Hall and Tolutau out yesterday, Canada still wasn't BYU's first option at running back. He didn't get a single carry in the first quarter when two other Cougars carried the ball out of the backfield.
Canada's first chance to carry the ball came in the second quarter. He had an immediate impact. BYU's first two drives stalled because of an inability to run the ball in short yardage situations. Canada got the ball on 2nd and 2, and broke off an 11-yard gain. BYU had just five yards rushing the entire first quarter.
Later in the quarter when Tanner Mangum went out with injury, BYU coaches resigned to play it safe and run out the clock. There was just 1:19 to play, and the Cougars were still 69 yards away from the end zone. That gave Canada another opportunity to carry the ball. This time he got loose for 17 yards. That got the Cougar coaches to change strategy again. BYU ended up getting a field goal on the drive.
Canada continued to have the hot hand in the second half. He had a 22-yard burst on BYU's first play. He carried the ball five times for 38 yards on that 75-yard touchdown drive, including the final 11 yards. Canada's 4-yard touchdown run was his third of the season. He now leads the team in rushing touchdowns on the season.
He finished the game with 84 yards on 12 carries (7.0 yards per carry).
Canada is also the team's leading rusher with 333 yards on 67 carries. His 5.0 yards per carry average is up 0.7 yards from last year. At 205 pounds, Canada has the size to carry the ball 20 times a game.
With everything that has happened this year, it is hard to argue against Canada being BYU's primary ball carrier.
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