COMMENTARY — In what could have been a great weekend for college football in the state of Utah, it turned into a complete letdown across the board as BYU, Utah and Utah State all get upset in close games on the road (notably, Southern Utah and Dixie State all lost, making Utah’s four-year schools 0-5 for the weekend).
Each game had its own clear meaning and implication for the individual programs, but shortcomings led to each loss. Utah lost a double overtime game to unranked Arizona, 37-30 and can say goodbye to any thoughts of making the college football playoff or of any big bowl game appearance while dropping to No. 18.
Utah State lost on the road at Air force 35-28, keeping the Aggies a win away from being bowl eligible. The loss also knocks USU out of the MWC title contention.
BYU also dropped the ball by losing to the SEC’s Missouri Tigers, 20-16. The defeat will keep the Cougars out of the Top 25 and end their five-game winning streak. SUU took a 24-23 loss to Portland State and Dixie State fell 34-28 to Central Washington. It was not a good day for football in Utah last Saturday.
As far as the Cougars are concerned, the offense was once again poor. BYU just couldn’t move the ball. Fortunately, the Cougs held it together on defense yet again, keeping the game close.
There was a lot of criticism of the play calling this week among fans, but I think Coach Robert Anae’s gameplan was just fine. The biggest problem was that there was just no spark against the Tigers solid defense. Even the players admitted that the offense took forever to get going.
“Man, I don’t know. They were obviously a good defense, but it just seemed like we were hesitant,” tight end Remington Peck said. “I do not know the reason for that, but it seemed like we turned it on a little bit in the second half. We just need to start faster. It sucks to fall short like that when you know you are capable of winning a game like that to an opponent like Missouri.”
QB Tanner Mangum also felt the frustration of a the slow start.
“In the beginning of the game, we were a little bit hesitant coming out and playing against a tough team,” he said. “Maybe we did not come out firing like we should have. I thought we picked that up later in the game. I think we could improve in that aspect, starting out with a better mind set, with a more fierce mentality.”
The last two weeks, BYU is averaging just 16.5 points per game. That’s not going to win football games.
Anyway, with last week in the rear view mirror, the Cougars will face Fresno State this Saturday at 1 p.m. for the final home game of 2015 and their senior day. It will be the last game some really good BYU seniors like Mitch Mathews, Bronson Kaufusi, Adam Hine, Devon Blackmon, and many others have the opportunity to play in front of their home crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
It is yet to be clarified and determined whether senior Taysom Hill will medical redshirt and return for another year. There are several local seniors out of Washington County that need a St George news congratulations including; Hine from Snow Canyon High School, Kurt Hendersen from Snow Canyon High School and Nate Carter out of Dixie High School.
As a former BYU player reflecting back on senior day, I know it will be an emotional time for a lot of those guys. These players will have their senior ceremony before the start to the game with some of their families involved, so it will soften up the toughest guys around for a minute or two.
Imagine, after years and years of dedicated, (literally) blood, sweat and tears to the Brigham Young football program, you know it’s really coming to an end.
There would be really nothing worse than losing to a beatable opponent for your grand finale as a senior. The (3-7) Bulldogs will be a soft opponent, letting these Cougar seniors go out on a great note at home while maintaining their current home winning streak.
Shocking I know, but BYU is a 26-point favorite. That means there is a good opportunity for some younger guys to get some playing time as well.
With two games left on the regular season schedule, including an instate rivalry game up in Logan next week, you may think BYU has their eyes and game prep on Utah State a little here, too. There is still a great chance for the (7-3) Cougars to break their eight total season wins streak with a win over Fresno and USU.
Including their bowl game, the Cougars still have the potential to win 10 games this season. A blowout win this Saturday with a little rest for some starters would be well deserved and it would set BYU up for a chance at sweet revenge on the Aggies after last years 35-20 home loss.
Saturday is senior day at LaVell Edwards Stadium and here is a complete list of the 17 BYU seniors:
Michael Wadsworth from Orem
Logan Taele from Columbus, Ohio
Trevor Sampson from Fresno, Calif.
Graham Rowley from Waialua, Hawaii
Manoa Pikula from South Jordan
Remington Peck from South Jordan
Ryker Mathews from American Fork
Mitch Mathews from Beaverton, Ore.
Jherremya Leuta-Douyere from Garden Grove, Calif.
Teu Kautai from Arlington, Texas
Bronson Kaufusi from Provo
Terenn Houk from Ione, Calif.
Adam Hine from Santa Clara, Utah
Taysom Hill from Pocatello, Idaho
Kurt Hendersen from St George
Nate Carter from St George
Devon Blackmon from Fontana, Calif.
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