Apparently, 10 straight wins is all the Cougars are allowed to get over the Aggies. They’ve done it twice now, and followed each string with a loss. Those losses, in 1993 and 2010, both came after BYU started 1-3. Well, if Utah State can”t beat BYU when they’re down, when could they? I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see this coming. I was pretty sure BYU would win, and I was hopeful they would win big. There was a part of me that feared a loss. Now that that fear is a reality, let’s take a look at the damage.
Keys to the game
Jake Heaps and the Receivers. Heaps had another long night of passing, which amounted to a lot of attempts (55), about half as many completions (27), and no touchdowns (0). Of dropped passes there were 9 (special thanks to Dick Harmon for counting them). It sure felt like more than that. It seemed like every series the balls were hitting our receivers hands and falling to the ground. In fact, if the BYU wide receivers were cornerbacks, they’d have had a great night.
Road Jitters. Well, a good portion of the Aggie student section was already seated an hour before game time, when most of the stadium was still empty. The USU fan base is very excited about their football team, and more-so when it comes to playing BYU. I remember a few second down plays where the crowd was already as loud as normal road crowds on third down. The Aggie faithful were a factor in the game.
Team Identity. In LDS General Conference today, Elder Uchtdorf talked about Vince Lombardi, and how he would open his training camps by saying, “This is a football…this is a football field,” he would explain the size and dimensions of them. He got back to basics. The Cougars need to get back to basics. BYU fired defensive coordinator Jaime Hill today. Bronco Mendenhall used to take on the DC responsibilities along with those of head coach, and it has been indicated that he will do so again. Time to get back to basics, back to Bronco/Cougar football. The offense and defense both have a lot of improving to do. BYU is averaging around 15 points on offense, and giving up around 30 on defense. You can’t win many games with either of those stats. All signs point to time being the key for the offense to get better. Evidently the defense required a new direction altogether – a fundamental direction which hopefully includes tackling practice.
Side note on offensive play calling (familiar, right?). I played football at a small high school in eastern Iowa. I began playing my sophomore year, and I really couldn’t wrap my mind around play memorization, and I was large in girth but not so much in stature, so I became a defensive lineman. I still have trouble recognizing play formations. However, when I watch BYU, I almost immediately recognize what is coming. If I can, so can the opposing team. Coach Anae, please forget about the “intent to deceive” penalty! You no longer have the talent to execute plays the other team anticipates. It’s time to disguise your intent.
It’s a Trap. Forget a trap game, is this a trap season? Were we all caught looking forward to independence? Were the BYU players and coaches caught looking forward to…to what? I don’t know, but the Cougars are caught in a trap right now, and the escape may not be that easy.
What we know about Utah State
Utah State is now 2-3, with wins over Idaho State and, ahem, lowly BYU. They are moving along into the thick of their WAC schedule, and will do so on the road next week at Louisiana Tech, who at this time are, 1-3.
What we know about BYU
BYU is now 1-4. They have SDSU at home next week, but follow that up with a trip to TCU. If they can’t find some fundamentals, direction, execution, etc., it will be a very long season, mercifully ended without a bowl game. SDSU mind you, is the team that blew out Utah State 41-7 a week ago. Yikes. But do you know who really sucks? Washington.