COMMENTARY — It was not all doom and gloom in Provo last Saturday, even as BYU fans wore off their Halloween candy-induced hangovers. Even with spiked sugar levels, the Cougars hit the road and beat Middle Tennessee State 27-7. I do not personally think there is much to take away from the game very meaningful. It was just the Cougars playing a team that they should beat easily at this point — but a win is a win.
This week is BYU’s second bye week of this season, and could possibly help them get healthier to fight their way into a bowl game, and potentially another bowl win. The Cougars will not play again until the Nov. 15 when the UNLV Rebels visit Provo. The Cougars will be heavily favored to win their next couple games, so this week off could be a good time to work this team hard. BYU needs to get better and it will take some hard work to resolve this program’s issues.
Well past the midway point in this season, the Cougars will need to get some guys healthy and ready to compete for the next month. With plenty to work on with both sides of the ball needed to be done, I am sure there is some urgency in Provo this week from the coaching staff.
With UNLV, Savannah State (Nov. 22) and Cal (Nov. 29) left on the schedule, BYU needs to prove that it can finish this season strong and build some momentum for next year. Winning out could give them something to build upon and will send them to a bowl game.
College football is about winning games and BYU has a tradition of tremendous success.When the Cougars lose, regardless of why, it is unacceptable. Clearly injuries have put a major damper on the season, but that’s really just an excuse. Every team has injuries. Hey, past BYU teams have had injuries and still found ways to avoid long losing streaks. I guess that is why the last few weeks in Provo have been such a downer. BYU doesn’t have to win all its games every year, because that just won’t happen. But there have been so many issues with BYU’s team this year, resulting in a belly flop from four straight wins to four consecutive losses.
At least last week was a good change of pace from what’s become the norm over the last month. It brought a little energy back to Cougar players and fans watching BYU’s defense play well again. The Blue Raiders have a decent offense and hadn’t scored less than 17 points all season, so the Cougars holding them to seven was big.
Christian Stewart played well and had Jamaal Williams running hard behind him. With so many young players on the field for BYU, it was refreshing to see them actually compete and win together. BYU fans can hold their heads a little higher this week knowing this win snapped a four-game losing streak to beatable opponents.
Sadly, Williams is out for the season after getting nailed on a pass play. The junior running back made the catch for a big first down, but took a helmet shot to both knees as he turned up field. Williams, who had 49 rushing yards before the injury, passed Luke Staley to move into sixth all-time in BYU’s rushing list.
It’s been a rough year for Williams, who finishes the season with 515 yards rushing. He missed the season-opener after an undisclosed Honor Code violation. He then missed two games mid-season and now will miss the final three games. All this from a guy who rushed for more than 1,200 yards a year ago. Williams, who underwent surgery Tuesday, is expected back in 2015.
Even without Williams, BYU should win easily its next two games. But the season finale against Cal will be interesting. That game should be close and could be a chance at redemption for some of the earlier losses this season.
I honestly think BYU has the foundation of what it needs to start over in places, but there will need to be many changes to get this program on course to becoming a power 5 type team. Maybe the last three games of 2014 will be the beginning of something big.
Blue Blood is a weekly column written by former BYU captain Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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