COMMENTARY– BYU’s 20-14 loss to San Jose State leaves me wrestling with one big question: Who in the BYU organization wanted to send an early Christmas present to San Jose State?
If this loss had been like some of their other defeats, when the Cougars fought valiantly but came up short against a great team (Boise State, Oregon State, Notre Dame) I would just be disappointed again. But this was not the case. There are definitely issues in the BYU program. What the issues are and to what level is the question here.
It has really been a tough season for the Cougars for one reason or another. It seems like over the length of this season, they have just ran out of spark in Provo. Let’s just face it, if it wasn’t for a really solid defense, it would be a horrible season. The defense is at least keeping them in most of their games and there has not been one blowout loss.
But even the defense struggled in the first half against the Spartans, giving up 20 points before intermission. This defense should not be getting walked on like that against anyone. Maybe it was a great offensive game plan that San Jose State’s offensive staff put together. Fortunately for BYU, the D did not get scored on in the second half or it could have been ugly. The Cougars did attempt to make a comeback, but the offense was just riddled with turnovers and not able to put the ball in the end zone with all of the opportunities.
My prediction for this years team was 10 total wins including the bowl game. This game vs. San Jose State just made me look like I do not have a clue when it comes to BYU football. Frankly, maybe I don’t know as much about what is going on in Provo. In my experience with seasons like this year for BYU, there is typically a lot of finger-pointing. It reminds me of my senior year (2004) at BYU – with all of the penalties, bad play-calling, QB problems and off-field issues.
My senior year, we did play a much tougher schedule than 2012’s team, including three teams that went undefeated and to BCS bowl games. These teams included Boise State, Utah and USC (which won the National Championship), not to mention Notre Dame, Stanford and a few other tough teams.
This year’s roster was built very similar to the 2004 Cougars and there are other similarities between these two teams. Here is just a short list:
* Players getting kicked out of school for off-field violations
* Playing a tough schedule
* Injuries to key players
* Losing to Boise State by a point on their home field, a game BYU should have won
* Losing to Utah at Rice-Eccles
* Extensive turnover issues
* No offensive identity and poor offensive play calling
* QB related issues
My senior year was Coach Gary Crowton’s final season as the BYU head coach. By no means am I implying anything about Bronco Mendenhall here, but there are obviously some coaching decisions that need to be evaluated. BYU’s offensive woes can be traced directly to the coaching. Suspect play-calling, turnovers and silly penalties all point to an undisciplined offense. Hopefully there is some accountability taken in Provo. I don’t understand how this proud program went from being known for its high-powered offense and great players to this year’s team,which was 73rd in the NCAA in scoring and scored two touchdowns or less in four of its 11 games. Look at the skilled players at running back and receiver. BYU has more talent at running back, tight end and wide receiver than the program has had in years.
This week, BYU plays at a really bad (1-9) New Mexico State team (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.). NMSU has been getting thumped all season by sub-par programs, so this should be completely one-sided. To be honest I do not know if I will even be watching. That sounds like a fair weather fan statement, but at this point in the season, I might be to busy eating leftover Turkey, stuffing, and mash potatoes with a little pumpkin pie on the side. The Cougars should be able to pull off the feat of beating a team that has only won one game, but then again I have felt this way five other time with grave disappointment.
The next time you will hear from me will be a season wrap-up and then the week of the Poinsettia Bowl in December. For BYU fans, this has been a year of ups and downs, but still gives us promise that there is a lot of great young talent to be excited for in the next couple years.
On another note, it is still going to be sweet to watch BYU and Utah State both playing in bowl games, unlike another team in the state. I guess the Pac-10 needed to add a couple of speed bumps to the conference, didn’t they?
And finally, a couple of positive notes for BYU: Senior punter Riley Stephenson, from Pine View High here in the STG, earned the FBS player of the week honor for Special Teams. He had five punts last week for a 50.0-yard average. He is also a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award (which recognizes the nation’s best punter). Also, Ezekiel “Ziggy”Ansah was named a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy. This trophy honors the nations top player that started his career as a walk-on.
Scott Young is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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