O.K., here we go again on what could be a long roller coaster ride of a season.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the thrills and excitement of a good roller coaster these days, but not in BYU’s football team again. The first two weeks, I saw what looked like a very polished team. This week I stopped counting the flags thrown on BYU at 9. These were not all little flags, either. Most of them directly resulted in major loss of field position and momentum. A false start on a fourth and one, for example, or a false start that forced the Cougars to change their play, ultimately causing a lost snap over Riley’s head and seven points for Utah. For lack of a better word, it was sloppy.
BYU needs to take a long look in the mirror – but not with admiration, with humility. The team just took a 180-degree turn from the last couple of weeks of progress. This was not what was expected of what was a top 25-ranked BYU offense. I don’t remember a single game since Bronco Mendenhall took over that was this undisciplined, from players as well coaches.
The Cougars defense, on the other hand, played very well. They shut most of Utah’s offense down and if it wasn’t for the lost snap that Utah converted to a fumble return for a touchdown, the Utes would have had less than 20 points, a total good enough for a win in most games. They made stops when they needed to, but the offense did not pull its weight.
But it was a great game. There was not a person out there that didn’t expect this game to go down to the wire. That is just how a rivalry game should go.
Too little, too late, is how I would best describe the game from my perspective as a former BYU player. You can’t give excuses. You just plain lost. You hate to leave the fate of any game in the hands (or feet, in this case) of a kicker. Unfortunately, the Cougars did just that, missing a 37-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. Kickers always seem to miss when you need it most, don’t they? That’s why you never leave the game up to a kicker. If you count on those points from kickers, you as a team will lose more than you will win.
Case in point: My senior year at BYU (2004), we lost to Boise State by a last second field goal. We were moving the ball great and had plenty of time to spare, but the coaching staff elected to move the ball in to the middle of the field for an easy three points from our All-American kicker, Matt Payne. It was a 38-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go. You may remember the game on ESPN at Boise State. I don’t blame Payne. The coaches should have tried to score a touchdown instead of running the time down and settling for a field goal attempt. Coincidently enough, we have a rematch with Boise State this week and I am wanting some revenge.
In this week’s game vs. Boise State (tonight on ESPN), BYU has the opportunity to make a national impression on the big stage. Boise State has a 1-1 record and is ranked #24 in the AP poll. The Broncos lost to Michigan State 17-13 in week one and last week they beat Miami (Ohio) 39-12.
Boise is still full of talent as usual. Broncos QB Joe Southwick is having a solid start to his season, throwing for over 300 yards last week. D.J. Harper is a very versatile running back and is coming off of his personal best game with 162 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The game is up in Boise and I have firsthand knowledge of how loud this stadium is with its great fan support. It is one of the loudest outdoor games I have ever played in during my playing career. BYU’s offense better be prepared to move to a silent snap count and that is worrisome, especially after all the countless false starts last week at Utah. A silent count is when the play is started on a head movement of the center, usually after the QB signals the center with a leg lift or tap on his leg. This could really help BYU out this week, so I hope to see it in action.
BYU’s defense should have another solid performance and has all of the talent to stop Boise State’s rushing and passing attack. I put this game in the hands of the play calling by offensive coordinator Brnadon Doman and QB Riley Nelson. If they can come out and control the clock, it will be a great game. It should be another down-to-the-wire dogfight.
Scott Young is a sports commentator and the views expressed here are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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