Defense and more defense was talk of the rivalry game last week, a 6-3 BYU win over Utah State.
It doesn’t really a matter how you get the win. In my book, a win is a win. BYU kept the Old Wagon Wheel in Provo for another year. It was not the fastest game that was played over the weekend and, at times, had me questioning how BYU’s offense be so up and down. Just remember, Utah State is no slouch and has an excellent team. They had only lost one game prior to BYU and it was to Wisconsin on the road. Plus,with a rivalry game, it seems like it always goes down to the wire.
So why isn’t BYU putting up more points this year?
That’s a great question and I can’t quite put my finger on what’s going on. At times, it seems like the play calling. How many QB draws can the Cougars run in one game?
At other times, the little things like turnovers and penalties really seem to be the key components in the offense’s inconsistency.
Whatever the main problem is, it all comes down to that word: inconsistency. BYU needs to be more consistent to get back to the national power it once was as an offense. Less penalties, more accurate passes, better running, smarter play-calling and better blocking are all needed.
Don’t take me the wrong way. I am not saying they need to focus less on defense and more on offense. I love what Bronco Mendenhall has done with his defenses over his years at BYU. The Cougars defense is one of the best in the entire NCAA. In fact, they are ranked third nationally on the defensive side of the ball with 8.8 points scored on them per game. I just want them to pick an offensive direction and go with it.
Let’s face it, BYU has no offensive identity. It feels as if BYU is trying to become a running team. Usually, if teams don’t stack the run right away, BYU will do it all game long. In years of old, BYU was a pass-first, then mix in a little run team. Sadly, those days seem to be gone.
Saying all of this in a week where the Cougars will be forced to go back to using Riley Nelson is even harder. Taysom Hill’s knee injury means he is lost for the rest of the season. Hill injured his knee (LCL) and hamstring late in the win over Utah State. What an ironic twist that is, for Nelson to be relieving an injured Hill. On a positive note, Nelson played and defeated Oregon State last year. He played well against the Beavers in a 38-28 BYU victory.
My hope for the rest of this year in general is that Nelson took a hard look at what he wants out of the rest of his playing career. He should have had some time to self-evaluate and realize that his No. 1 goal as a QB is to protect the football at all times, something he has failed to do very well this year. If he can limit how he forces the ball into tight spots and throws off-balance, he will give the Cougars a chance. If he continues to play out of control, this season will get ugly. Along with a tough game vs. Oregon State this weekend, there are teams down the road like Notre Dame and Georgia Tech still to play.
Saturday (1:30 p.m.) BYU has its Homecoming against No. 10-ranked Oregon State. This is going to be a huge opportunity for BYU to knock off another Pac-12 team as well as a nationally-ranked program. The rumor is that Oregon State has also lost its starting QB, Sean Mannion, to an injury, so this could be another defensive battle. The Beavers will be starting their backup, QB Cody Vaz.
This season, OSU has picked people apart through the air with great receivers like Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. The Beavers have a decent ground game as well with Storm Woods leading the way.
Oregon State is not exactly a powerhouse, though, averaging 23.5 points per games and giving up 17 points per game on defense. The bottom line is the Beavers just keep winning football games. There’s something to said for a team that just finds ways to win.
The Beavers are coming off of a 19-6 win over Washington State. We all know BYU had no problem beating up on Washington State a couple of weeks ago, so I really see this as an evenly matched game on both sides of the ball.
If the Cougars protect the football and continue to play tough, hard-nosed defense, Oregon State will run into some issues. Nelson has played in this game before and has the ability to win it again. OSU’s backup QB, Vaz, will have a very tough time doing much against this Cougar defense. This is not at team I would like to face in my first collegiate start.
The wild, wild west? Not so much this week. We could be in store for another 6-3 game.
Scott Young is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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