Written by: Zak Hicken. Follow him on Twitter: @zakhicken
There’s a team down in Provo that is lost. If found, there could be a great reward in a trip to Miami for a bowl game. But as of right now, things are looking bleak, this team hasn’t been seen for nearly a month, and to be honest it’s possible that they may not be seen again for another two weeks.
After a 4-0 start (the programs best since starting 6-0 in 2008), all certainty was that BYU would be able to get to the minimum requirement of 6 wins to go to a bowl game. The Cougars were picked as the most likely team to finish the season undefeated by ESPN’s experts.
Cougar fans were excited, the team was getting the national attention that they had hoped for since leaving the Mountain West for Independent status in 2010. They were led by a quarterback who was being recognized as a potential Heisman trophy candidate (which he should be awarded posthumously for being able to lead this team to a 4-0 start), a national ranking, and were being recognized of the best non-P5 school in the nation.
It quickly became a dream turned nightmare.
That team is now gone, disappeared, like a David Copperfield magic trick (or the attendance at LES). They’ve been replaced by a team that honestly, does not play with the same level of intensity that did to start the season.
October was an embarrassing month for this team going 0-4 with each loss being worse than the one before. BYU came into the annual rivalry game against Utah State as a 21 point favorite. Just before halftime, as BYU was marching down the field to potentially tie up the score at 21-21, Taysom Hill suffered a season ending injury.
Since that time, BYU has yet to get back in the win column.
So what has changed that has caused such drastic differences between the first four games and the last four games? Most would point to this injury in being the difference, which has left BYU fans asking, “What if?”
What if Taysom was still healthy?
Would he have been able to inspire the defense to have better performances?
He does seem to have a knack to make people around him play better. Taysom was without-a-doubt the leader of BYU’s team. He became the spokesperson of the program, organized offseason workouts, and was constantly recognized as the hardest working player on the team.
With his injury, BYU has lost their leader and their overall identity and no one has stepped in to his place to take over the reigns. This team looks like it doesn’t care, there is a lack of excitement in their play. Gone is the same fire and passion that they had to start the season, and to be honest, most of them look like they’re still out in the mission field rather than on the football field.
Coaches are trying their best to inspire the team, but there is only so much they can do. It is obvious that anyone on the coaching staff has been able to step up as a leader of BYU’s team and they are out of answers.
That job has now become the players, they have to inspire one another.
This means holding extra film sessions, calling out other players if they make a mistake, holding a players only meeting. These players need to inspire each other to build up a new identity so they can be found.
Someone needs to step up and find this team’s identity and what will motivate them to win if BYU wants to be able to make a bowl game, a task which is more daunting than it seemed a month ago.