For those of you who are first-time readers, welcome! Here is a link explaining my process of how I recap BYU games while paying respect to the rich historical tradition of the BYU Cougars I love.
-It Was Over When: The final nail in the coffin was when BYU closed it to 18 points and they kicked it away to Oregon, instead of trying an onside kick to give themselves another shot at an offensive possession. Much to Oregon’s delight, they were able to run the ball and the clock and crush any momentum or hope BYU had left, and put their foot back on the gas pedal for the win. If doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity then BYU was insane to just kick the ball straight back to an offense that had been grinding them down all day. The Cougars had shown no inclination to be able to do what they were asked to do when there was still a smidge of hope left.
-BYU’s Identity: BYU is a physical team. Even to their own demise like today. In the Sitake Era, it has been a problem for BYU that they don’t have the ability to just go to the air attack when stopped on the ground. They didn’t throw a deep ball until there was less than 0:30 left in the 3rd quarter of a game in which they trailed 38-7 at one point. It’s extremely hard to have a team that when one facet of offense is being stopped can rely on the other for victory, and to have an offense that when its defense is a now show, that can dictate the game, score points, and help the defense out by keeping them off the field or at least in the game.
-The Defense: BYU did not get off the field in the first half. That problem was why Coach Sitake went for it on 4th down in the 3rd quarter deep inside their own territory. The defense did not force their first punt until there was only 5:52 left in the 3rd quarter. Their inability to stop Oregon was prevalent in many stats. Oregon had 10 possessions in the entire game and scored on their first 6, and got 5 touchdowns and 1 field goal on those 6. The Ducks were 7 of 7 in the red zone (2 field goals, 5 touchdowns). They were 3 of 3 on 4th down. Those are just gutting stats for a defense to face and have to swallow.
-The Offense: The offense didn’t help the defense any. For the second straight week, the offense was inconsistent at best and couldn’t run the football. This wore out the BYU defense. The defense was able to dig deep to beat Baylor but used up all they had in the tank and were worn out going into the Oregon game. The Cougars’ offensive woes just made the defense that much more tired and ineffectual. A big part of BYU’s struggles offensively come from their offensive line’s inability to open up running lanes. These guys were supposed to be a big strength of this BYU team and so far this has not been the case. 61 yards on 24 carries is not acceptable to these guys. They’d be the first ones to tell you they expect better than that.
-The Coaches: When your opponent makes you one dimensional it is on the coaches to find ways to get that back or execute the facet of the game that is left to you in a way that allows you to win. It felt like the who team was defeated when Oregon stopped the BYU run early. That’s something that shouldn’t happen with this capable and veteran group of coaches. When BYU got the ball back after Ben Bywater’s interception, they had very poor clock management. Down 38-14 in the 4th quarter, there was no excuse for huddling and letting the play clock drain the game clock when you show your first signs of life. Conventional wisdom has to be thrown out at times like the ones the Cougars faced being down by 31 with a third of the game left to play.
-Honor: One thing I am always happy with the coaches about is the class they show on the field and the honor they have and teach to the players. The tribute the Cougars paid to the late Oregon Duck Spencer Webb was awesome and goes above football. Spencer Webb passed away in a rock climbing accident and to show their love to him, his family, and his team the Cougars took the field carrying an Oregon flag with Spencer Webb’s name and number and it was carried by the transfer from Oregon and former teammate Kingsley Suamataia. The Cougars also placed flowers at the highlighted 4-yard line in Autzen Stadium in honor of Spencer Webb. That kind of love shown to an opponent as a fellow child of God is something we can all be happy about regardless of scores and wins and losses.
-The Special Teams: Poor Jake Oldroyd has the yips. Fortunately, it hasn’t cost him or his team a win and I am confident he’ll right the ship before it does. When Oldroyd hits his next field goal I’ll cheer as if it is a game-winner even if the kick does not affect the game it’s in. Oldroyd has been solid for BYU for a long time and I will be happy to see him get back into the form he is capable of and expects from himself.
-The Team: Something that can’t happen when you go into a place like Oregon is giving them help with penalties. BYU had 8 penalties for 64 yards. There are some things you can’t control and some you can, and one of those you can is your discipline. This game wasn’t as close as its 41-20 score indicated. It was a complete team loss. It was the worst game BYU has played since their 45-19 home loss to the Washington Huskies in 2019. Interestingly enough that lopsided loss came after two huge overtime wins against Tennessee and USC and this came after an overtime win against Baylor. It shows that it is difficult to play with the same passion and fire back-to-back like that, but it’s still something the Cougars need to do. I do not doubt that the program is aware of this and will work on it and reach that goal as it continues to raise the bar of how good they want to be.
-The Ducks: Oregon chanting “F*** the Mormons.” really disgusted me. I can honestly say I’ll root for the Ducks to drop one at home at some point this year. Win like you’ve been there before Ducks. Because we know you’ve been on the losing side like this too.
-The BYU Faithful: It’s okay to be mad at this loss. It’s okay to question the performance of the team and the coaches. It’s okay to expect and want better from them. Remember though that no one expects or wants better from them more than they do. Don’t be the reactionary fan who wants to make drastic changes, and don’t be the fan who is content and is just happy that the team tries. But most of all let’s just love our guys!
-Resume watch: No playoff for BYU in this football season. Without being in the Big 12 the Cougars would need to be perfect to get into the playoff. That won’t happen this year.
-Rise and Shout Again: Next week the Wyoming Cowboys come to town and this is a game the Cougars can not take lightly. BYU faces an old WAC and Mountain West foe in the Wyoming Cowboys. A team that is just an 8-hour drive away from Provo that has a ton of history with BYU and is on a 3-game winning streak is coming to Provo. The Cowboys lost their opener to a resurgent Illinois but have rattle off 3 straight wins since, including wins over Tulsa in double overtime, FCS power Northern Colorado, and division rival Air Force. Wyoming is a power-running team that will want to get into a knife fight with BYU and keep it close and give themselves a chance to win at the end.
-Hearts of Lions: As much as a win like the one over Baylor can define a season, a loss like this one to Oregon can define a season but in the other direction. The heart I’ve seen this program display in 2020 and 2021 is still there within these mountain lions! This offensive line will start to open up rushing lanes and the talented backs will find them! This defense will play more as they did against Baylor than they did against Oregon. BYU has an elite quarterback who isn’t going to quit after one loss. Brooks and Katoa will get this rushing attack going behind Freeland, Barrington, and Company. Jaren Hall will continue to find Roberts and Epps and soon Nacua and Romney as well. Rex will continue to catch touchdowns. Wake will keep hurdling defenders. Tooley will keep hitting ball carriers. Bywater will fly to the ball. Coach Sitake, Coach Roderick, and the staff will get this team back on the right track. They have plenty of football left to play and big-time games left to win. I still truly believe this team could finish the regular season 11-1 and be up for a New Years’ Six Bowl Game. The sky is still the limit for our guys. They will be playing hungry and with an edge after this because that’s who this program is and it’s who they have worked to be. I’ve been hard on them here, but make no mistake they will bounce back, they will improve, and they will win and compete on an elite level again. I believe in these guys from head coach to kicker, from star quarterback to the last walk-on! Go Cougars!
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