COMMENTARY — Sometimes in football, you need an old-fashioned tail-whupping to get things headed in the right direction.
BYU, from start to finish, was completely dominant over the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech last Saturday. It is always an impressive feat for a west coast football team to travel back to the east coast and fly home with a dominating victory.
The Cougars held the No. 3-ranked rushing team in the nation to 157 total offensive yards. If it wasn’t for a pick-six and a kickoff return for a touchdown, Georgia Tech might not have scored a touchdown against BYU.
The defense was once again solid, the caliber of a top-10 ranked program. Only this time, the Cougars offense was great as well. True freshman Jamaal Williams was brilliant with four touchdowns and 107 yards on the ground. Cody Hoffman was Riley Nelson’s go-to receiver once again and had 69 yards. Another bright offensive note was that JD Falslev had 182 all-purpose yards for his new career high. All in all it went better than most people expected and the Cougars are back to their winning ways heading into this week’s bye.
As a player, I always had mixed emotions about bye weeks during the long seasons. At first, you look at it as about the midway point of the entire season and a great opportunity to recover a little and watch other teams play all weekend.
The years where I was on a team that was struggling, it was tough. A coaching staff feeling pressure to rack up a few more wins before the end of the season, may feel the need to overwork players with long practices, thus making players feel burnt out. If your team was in great position with a winning record, the coaching staff was more likely to give the players some well-needed time off.
Either way, it’s a good time for us to take a look at the entire season to date. A 5-4record is not usually something to be happy with heading into the bye week. Losing 3 games to ranked opponents (two of which are in the top 10) by less than a combined total of 7 points is tough to stomach. Having a defense in the top 10 in every category is a great feat, but doesn’t really matter if the team falls short of victory.
I personally am feeling OK about where BYU is at this season. I would have loved for the Cougars to have knocked off Notre Dame, Utah, Boise State and Oregon State. But none of these teams are slouches and BYU put up a fight in every contest. There has not been once ounce of give-up for even one second this season. These players are tough and giving it their all. Again, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I would love to see BYU undefeated and heading into the possibilities of a huge bowl game, but the ball has not bounced their way in 2012. These games were decided by just a play or two and unfortunately there were some inconsistencies with the team this year. The Cougars should use this as a growing experience to move forward and finish strong.
Some Key Notes at the Bye week:
- BYU has a very young true freshman running back in Jamaal Williams who has the potential to be the best running back BYU has seen since Luke Staley.
- BYU also has a freshman QB in Taysom Hill who although he is recovering from a knee injury, should be as great leader for BYU for years to come. It was nice to get a chance to watch him play this season.
- The Cougars have a great receiving corps that should be around for another year or two (including Cody Hoffman, JD Falslev, Ross Apo, and Kaneakua Friel).
- This team’s defense is arguably the best BYU has ever had and is ranked in the top 10 in virtually every single statistical category.
- BYU has a couple of star defensive players that will be back next year in Daniel Sorenson and Kyle Van Noy.
- With BYU having a very weak schedule from here on out, the Cougars will likely finish 8-4, qualifying them for a bowl game (The Poinsettia in San Diego) the chance to end this season at 9-4. How can even the most cynical BYU fans complain about that considering how difficult the schedule was this year.
I am excited to see how the rest of this 2012 season pans out. The Cougars have three games left: Idaho, San Jose State, and New Mexico State. These are all games that BYU should come out with a victory.