Written by: Zak Hicken. Follow him on Twitter: @zakhicken
There is a recurring theme being repeated that BYU’s 2014 season is lost and there is nothing to play for after they lost their two recent games to Utah State and UCF. But is that really the case?
We as fans got something that we don’t normally experience which is a 4-0 start through what was considered the toughest stretch of the schedule, including blowout a win at Texas. After that, talk of an undefeated season and potential NY6 bowl berth took off at full speed.
Unfortunately, those hopes came crashing down in dramatic fashion in a rare home-loss to Utah State. Taysom Hill, who had started to receive recognition as a Heisman trophy candidate suffered a season-ending broken leg, and all at once, BYU dropped out of the national conversation.
BYU fans are quick to forget that the goal coming into the season was to get double-digit wins and to garner some national attention heading into what is expected to be an incredibly tough 2015 schedule. Next year the Cougars face prominent programs such as
Nebraska, Michigan, and UCLA. Expectations this year were that BYU would finish the regular season 10-2, with likely losses at both Texas and UCF, catapulting the experienced team into next year’s schedule.
Getting to double-digits in the win column is still possible for BYU. With 7 games remaining, including the bowl game, the team has a chance to finish at 11-2 which would surely be enough to reenter the top-25 at seasons end. With an experienced team coming back for 2015, led by Taysom and Jamaal, BYU is going to be getting plenty of national attention.
Part of BYU’s 4-0 start could be attributed to good luck when it came to injuries, but since that time a number of key players have missed significant time due to injury. Starting with Utah State, BYU has lost Brock Stringham, Taysom Hill, Alani Fua, Michael Alisa, Dallin Leavitt, Terenn Houk, Brayden Kearsley, Jamaal Williams, Jordan Johnson, Craig Bills, and Adam Hine. That’s 11 players who played a key role in BYU’s success this season.
Another thing that BYU has to play for is development for the future. The 2014 freshman class has already had one of the most immediate impacts in recent memory. BYU has started two true freshman on the O-line in Ului Lapuaho and Tejan Koroma and also received significant contributions from Sione Takitaki and Fred Warner on the defensive side of the ball. Also stepping up in place of injured players has been Harvey Langi, Jordan Preator, Mike Davis, and most recently Kai Nacua. With the number of players that BYU graduates this season, it is key that so many of these underclassmen are getting a significant amount of playing time.
So while BYU may no longer have a shot at an undefeated season, there is still plenty that BYU has left to accomplish during the 2014 season. With every remaining game winnable, and the opportunity to develop young talent, and the chance to finish the season ranked, BYU fans have plenty to root for and can consider this season a stepping stone to an unforgettable 2015 season.