Sometimes winning isn't fun. #19 BYU struggled to pull away from Utah State in what was a massively up and down night for the Cougars. What can we pull away from it? What's up with the slow starts? Why can't BYU score 40+? Is BYU even good? Let's talk about it.
1. BYU's coaches are failing on weekdays
For the third-straight week, a coach told the media that their opponents came out with an offense that they weren’t expecting. Once is fine. Three games in a row is a trend. I don’t pretend to know anything about what it takes to be a football coach. They will forget more about football in the next five minutes than I will ever know, but from the untrained eye, the staff is either lazy in their preparation or they don’t know what they are doing, and I believe they know what they are doing.
We know that coaches haven’t gotten up for certain teams. They admitted as much about UAB. That mindset trickles down to the roster, leading to fundamental mistakes and bad penalties. That’s concerning. Hopefully that fixes itself once BYU moves to the Big 12, but they aren’t in the Big 12 yet. BYU still has an opportunity to do something special this year, but the last three performances by this staff are not going to cut it.
2. BYU is a part-time juggernaut
BYU has looked like a top 15 team this season, but only 50% of the time. Before a final touchdown on Thursday, BYU had out-gained Wyoming and Utah State 611-277 in the second half. The defense in particular posted 8 three-and-outs on 14 possessions. This is more in line with what we’ve expected from this BYU team so far this season, but alas, it’s only half of the time.
3. BYU is immune to scoring 40 points
BYU has scored 40+ points twice in their last 17 FBS games. BYU has not been good in the redzone this season and it’s severely limited BYU's ability to close out games. Between dropped touchdowns, missed field goals, penalties, and failing to convert on fourth downs, BYU has left a staggering 24 points on the field over the last two weeks. That’s the difference between a comfortable win and walking out of the stadium feeling like you lost.
4. BYU plays not to lose in the fourth quarter
BYU very clearly takes their foot off the gas the moment they lead by 18+ in the 4th quarter. On the final five drives of the last two games, BYU ran 13 plays. One was a fourth down pass behind the line of scrimmage, two were kneels, and 10 were runs. I get it. Kill the clock and win the game, but it’s frustrating to watch when BYU immediately goes into “try not to lose” mode when you have an NFL quarterback and style points matter.
5. Its time to re-evaluate BYU's running scheme
Chris Brooks had some angry runs in the fourth quarter and it was beautiful. It’s clear that the wide zone runs have not suited his skill set. Brooks is averaging 2.5 yards per carry on runs between the tackle and tight end, and 7.0 yards on all other carries. Brooks is a big, physical running back. Sliding the protection does not allow him to get a full head of steam and do what he does best: getting north and south and making a tackler make a play.
6. BYU hasn't lost to Notre Dame and Arkansas yet
It’s always frustrating when a win feels like a loss, but it’s still a win. These kinds of wins are frustrating because they make us feel like BYU might lose a game in the future, but BYU has not lost them yet. BYU has a golden opportunity the next two weeks to make a statement on the national stage. Win and no one will care about what happened on a Thursday night against Utah State.