Make no bones about it, BYU’s road win Friday night against UConn was ugly. But the train wreck that was 15 penalties for 150 yards could turn into a positive for the Cougars going forward. Here’s why.
Beating up on an inferior opponent–and make no mistake, UConn was a vastly inferior team–can mask a team’s weaknesses. That’s why Bronco Mendenhall said after the game that getting the win in sloppy fashion may actually be a good thing; it gives the team clear areas to work on without going home with loss. And BYU has plenty of room for improvement, especially in the penalties department.
After going up quickly in the first quarter, BYU seemed to lack a second level of intensity, but that might be largely due to the conservative play calling. It was clear fairly early in the game that BYU would get the W, so Robert Anae felt no need to show the full playbook. To be sure, Anae is not known for his flea flickers and reverses, but Coach Anae clearly made a conscious decision to hold his cards close to the vest, and that could pay dividends next week in Austin. A lot can be said for the element of surprise.
Some of BYU’s biggest playmakers didn’t play on Friday, and that could also be to BYU’s advantage. Texas will have precious little film to study on new playmakers like Devon Blackmon, and junior phenom Jamaal Williams will have fresh legs going into next week’s matchup. BYU’s backup DBs played admirably Friday night, but Texas will have to gameplan for BYU’s starting cornerbacks, Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel, who did not travel to UConn because of disciplinary issues. In short, the Longhorns aren’t really sure who they are facing next week, and some of BYU’s best players will be well rested before heading to Texas.
All this being said, BYU has a lot of work to do if they want to beat the Longhorns. For starters, they will have to clean up the penalties, improve the power running game, and figure out how to kick the football. But when it’s all said and done, BYU might look at the ugly win against UConn as a blessing in disguise.