The saying that “a team’s biggest improvement comes between week one and week two” has never been more true than when comparing BYU’s week one and week two performances. I wasn’t sure I was watching the same team! Here are my top ten thoughts about the game.
1) Another weather delay, but what I was surprised at was how well the field held up after receiving that much rain. The field at Scott Stadium in Virginia turned into a muddy disaster, while the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium was wet, but never turned into a mud bowl. Having been at both games, I can tell you the amount of rain seemed the same to me. Major congratulations go to the staff at BYU who designed, installed and maintain the field. Well done!
2) Taysom Hill looked more comfortable with the offense. He’s still staring down his receiver before throwing the ball, and needs to learn to look off the defenders and/or go through his progression. His passing accuracy seemed better than in week one, but it was still erratic. He was the victim of a few dropped passes that were on target, but he still throws short of his intended receiver, especially when rolling to his right. No receiver had more than two catches all night. Just 9 for 26 is not an acceptable outing for a quarterback at any level.
3) Taysom Hill is fast, very fast. You can’t teach speed, and he has plenty to spare.
4) We’re one play away from losing Taysom Hill again. Slide, Taysom!
5) The defense obviously picked up right where it left off last year. The stops on 3rd and 4th downs were the types of plays that can give a team confidence moving forward for the rest of the year. There are still too many big plays given up through the air, but we knew that the banged up secondary was going to be the weak spot on this defense. Continued pressure by the front seven on the opposing quarterback is the key to helping the defensive backs. If Bronco Mendenhall were to ask my opinion on one aspect of the defense, I would tell him “Pressure, pressure, pressure.” Don’t let the quarterback sit back in the pocket and get comfortable. This defense will keep us in every game we play this year.
6) The playcalling was much improved. Running plays were varied in nature (read-option, draw plays, designed QB keepers, etc…). Passing plays were better executed. I’d still like to see a better passing game, and probably a lot more play action once the running game has been established. I’m still not sold on Anae, but I’m not hating him as much this week.
7) The offensive line changes were brilliant. No sacks surrendered. I couldn’t remember any, but thought perhaps my memory was faulty and went to go look it up. Zero sacks by Texas. That’s amazing given the complete overhaul the O-Line was given between weeks one and two.
8) The aftermath: Texas fired their Defensive Coordinator. Most everything I’ve read about the game mentions how poorly Texas played instead of how well BYU played. Texas didn’t suddenly become a bad team overnight. Perhaps they thought they would show up in Provo and walk all over us. Maybe they were looking past the Cougars to next week’s matchup with Ole Miss. All I know is that team wasn’t ready on offense or defense to play against the Cougars, but Texas is not a bad team.
9) BYU can’t let this one go to their heads. It’s my belief that Texas wasn’t ready partly because there wasn’t a whole lot of game film on Taysom, or our O-Line. You can be sure that Utah and every other school we play for the rest of the year is going to key on Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams. We’re not taking anyone by surprise anymore.
10) There’s still work to do, obviously, but I’m so much more (cautiously) optimistic about the season. We’ve proven we can play with the big boys of college football. I’m not saying bring on Alabama, but I’m excited to see how the coaching staff will continue to improve this team and get them ready for each game.