COMMENTARY — In BYU’s fall-apart loss vs. Boise State last Thursday night, the Cougars defense carried the entire weight of the team. In fact this entire season as a whole has been that way. BYU is incredibly fortunate not to have lost by more than just 7-6 to Boise State.
The Cougars are now faced with the reality of back-to-back heartbreaking losses, with this latest coming from an offensive nightmare and defensive dream. What makes these losses especially hard is that they were so close to being wins, BYU could almost taste the victory. Going for a two-point conversion after scoring their only touchdown, the Cougars went for the glory. The two-point conversion was stopped and they ran out of time for a second chance.
Boise State never really did get any offense going at home. In fact, the Broncos never even scored an offensive point. For BYU’s defense to go on the road and accomplish that, well, my hat’s off to them. The Cougars defense is better than we have ever seen them and it’s a sad day to see the offense not giving them the help they should be. The defense is continually backed up against the wall with far too many turnovers and offensive penalties creating difficult situations for the D. At one point, BYU’s offense turned the ball over on its own 1-yard line and the defense still held the Broncos out of the end zone and off the scoreboard. This was a huge feat in itself, so great job, defense!
On the other side of the ball, it wasn’t just a let down , it was a disaster. I haven’t seen BYU’s offense turn the ball over like this since the BYU vs. Utah game in 2011. The penalties were a show of the offense’s lack of discipline. At one point in the game, BYU had accumulated five turnovers, five penalties, and only five first downs. Boise was sitting with NO turnovers and zero penalties. How can BYU compete if they go on the road to play a Top 25 opponent and make huge mistake after mistake? I know one thing, back in my playing days we ran sprints for every offside and false start penalty we had. The same mistakes were made the previous week against Utah and none of those mistakes were corrected this week. Either the offense is really running a lot of wind sprints after practice or the coaching staff is turning their heads to these mistakes.
From my personal experience, false starts are very hard to avoid in very loud stadiums, especially when you are a passing team. Speaking from my O-line days, the other teams’ defense just gets a quicker start than you do most of the time due to the crowd noise and trying to listen for the snap count. It is just a lot easier to watch the ball snap, like the defensive lineman do. I really don’t know why BYU was not using a silent snap count. Last week I mentioned that I thought BYU would probably try to move to a silent count to help the offense deal with the loud crowd. Well they did not and it was a mistake on their part. It was sad to see that, after all of the false starts in the Utah game, this game vs. Boise State had the same costly errors time after time.
The quarterback play by Riley Nelson was something that resembled his last year’s performances. He really does show great energy and effort on the field, but he did not protect the football and this is your No. 1 job as a QB. You cannot force throws into tight spots or float passes down field without precision. He threw three interceptions in the first half and fumbled the ball on another series while not holding the ball properly as he ran out of the pocket. This is Division 1 football and not Pop Warner. I would be surprised to see BYU not make the decision to let Taysom Hill take the reigns. Taysom Hill was a spark that led BYU to its only touchdown of the game. He is going to be a special player for the Cougars for years to come. I don’t see why Bronco would wait any longer to give him the starting QB position and give him the experience he will need to lead this team for the next four years.
This week, BYU plays Hawaii Friday night at home (6 p.m.). Hawaii is always a fun opponent and match-up for the Cougars. Hawaii hired Norm Chow, BYU’s long-time offensive coordinator, as its head coach. This was an excellent pick up for them, but probably won’t help them much in this year’s game with BYU. He is very familiar with playing in Provo and will have his team prepared. But the Cougars have won eight straight home games vs. Hawaii and BYU beat the Warriors in Honolulu last year by the score 41-20.
Keep in mind that BYU has never lost to Hawaii in Provo and I don’t believe they will this year, either. The Warriors have a 1-2 record with losses to both USC and Nevada. This should be a great game to watch and we might finally see some offense from the Cougars. If BYU can refrain from turning the ball over, it should be a great win and a chance to get back on track.
Scott Young is a sports commentator and the opinions expressed are his and not necessarily those of St. George News.
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