From this BYU fan’s perspective it’s kind of hard to tell where to start with this past weekend’s rivalry game. So much went wrong.
Let me first start out by saying that we’re all happy Jamaal Williams has been released from the hospital and that he’s recovering from his concussion. There’s really no reason for him to be playing this upcoming game on Friday night, so he should just rest and recover for two weeks. It does serve as a reminder how violent and dangerous this game that we love so much really is.
The offensive play calling was abysmal. It lacked both creativity and aggressiveness. Robert Anae is back to his old self calling for two runs up the middle on first and second downs, then a pass play on 3rd down. The few times he dared to get crazy and throw on first down or run a screen pass the plays were successful! Why wouldn’t he continue mixing up the play calls? At one point close to halftime a BYU fan behind me shouted “Just take a knee and put me out of my misery!” It’s a sad, but true, story.
5 times the Cougars were able to get inside the Ute’s 20 yard line, and came away with only 1 touchdown. The play calling by Robert Anae once inside the 20 got even more conservative, which I didn’t think was possible. Anae was relieved of his Offensive Coordinator position once, and it was for a good reason. Why he’s back at all is a mystery.
As bad as the play calling is, though, it doesn’t seem like Taysom Hill is getting any better as an actual quarterback. 18 completions on 48 attempts is bad. Many of his passes are high or completely off target, and he still stares down the receiver he wants to throw to without looking anywhere else. He’s a brilliant runner, but doesn’t seem to posses the other qualities typically associated with the quarterback position.
The defense played well enough by holding Utah to only 20 points, but you can tell that they’re fading down the stretch. The offense isn’t holding onto the ball long enough for them to get any kind of rest on the sideline, and it’s taking a toll.
Utah wanted it more – plain and simple. You could tell in their body language, in their enthusiasm, and most importantly in how they played and executed during the game. I’m not saying there weren’t signs of life from BYU’s players at certain points – but for most of the time they seemed to be sleepwalking through the game. Gone was the fire and enthusiasm from 2 weeks ago against Texas. I won’t go so far as to call the execution lazy, but it certainly bordered on it. I don’t know if it’s a failure of the coaching staff, but let’s face it: this was the Utes! It shouldn’t be too hard to get the team up for the game.
Here’s what I think: Bronco’s lack of passion is bleeding over to the team. He’s too passive/bland/boring, and that attitude is having an effect on the team. He’s the coaching equivalent of white Wonder Bread. I’m not commenting on him as a person, but football is a game of passion and excitement, and Bronco lacks both of these qualities as a coach.
Let me be VERY clear: I am in no way blaming the refs. BYU had their chances and found almost every conceivable way to blow them. That said, though, the officiating in this game was beyond absurd. It was bad both ways, against both teams, so at least there was that. It was ridiculous that Bronco had to challenge a pass interference penalty by making them look at the video to see that the intended pass was tipped – which negates pass interference. This was the same crew that was reprimanded for screwing up the Wisconsin/Arizona St. game the previous week. Perhaps these guys need a refresher course on the rules of the game.
BYU’s Bowl Chances
They don’t look good, do they? If things don’t get fixed, and soon, BYU could be sitting at home come December. It’s getting difficult to tell where 6 wins are going to come from:
- Mid Tennessee – This will be a win and push BYU’s record to 2-2.
- Utah St – This is looking like a loss unless something changes. Record will be 2-3.
- Georgia Tech – A tossup. At home I’ll give the Cougars the benefit of the doubt. 3-3.
- @Houston – Our defense will keep us in the game, but there’s too much offensive firepower in Houston. BYU will drop to 3-4.
- Boise St – Another tossup, and optimism reigns supreme. 4-4.
- @#23 Wisconsin – LOL…you’ve got to be kidding, right? 4-5.
- Idaho St – Another laugher, just in the other direction. 5-5.
- @#22 Notre Dame – I just don’t see BYU pulling it out playing the way they are currently. 5-6.
- @Nevada – This should be winnable, but Nevada proved last year they’re not to be taken lightly. BYU will be playing for a chance to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It’s possible that the Cougars can improve to 6-6 and go bowling in December. It’s also just as likely that they drop this road game and do no better than 5-7.
Of course I still have hope that the offense can figure things out, and that the defense can continue to perform at the elite level they have been and we know them to be capable of. That’s what being a fan is all about. My hope now just comes a bit more guarded than it did a week ago.