COMMENTARY – After watching what was the most de-energized BYU game of the past couple decades last Saturday, it has been assumed by the masses that the Cougars have absolutely no chance to really compete or beat Utah at home this Saturday.
And who can blame us?
The Cougars have given no signs of life otherwise. It has been virtually painful to watch the start of this 2017 season and I will cover some of that briefly from my Armchair Quarterback spot. I don’t not want to be harsh and I am only mainly talking about one game against a really talented top 10 caliber team (LSU). But honestly, and as an alumnus, former BYU player and writer of this weekly BYU article, it is really tough to watch the program right now. I know that seems harsh, but the reason I take it to that level is because of much higher expectations for this team and the new staff.
This is a solid program with a ton of potential but, BYU needs to rise up and earn some respect right now.
At first, I wasn’t sure if BYU stepped into a twilight zone last Saturday in New Orleans or if LSU was that good and BYU played that bad. But one thing has stood out early in this season – I have never seen such a lack of overall energy from the coaches, sidelines, staff and especially the players on the field. If you don’t believe me, re-watch the LSU game and tell me when and where you see anyone from the BYU program bouncing around with emotion and excitement, guys trying to pick each other up, or any type of confident attitude for that huge stage.
BYU has always been known for its attitude and confidence and those who truly watch the team know that. Thinking back on any season, key players that were spark plugs of energy, attitude and emotion stand out. No, I am not just talking about the talent of the individuals, but the actual leadership and energy of players in recent years. Players like Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams, Bronson Kaufusi, Mitch Mathews, Kyle Van Noy, etc., all stand out, and that seems to be missing. Who on the current roster will be that for this team and stand up this week? Some leadership needs to arise and give the program an identity to carry on.
BYU’s defense looks like it is fundamentally tough and has solid potential all the way around. But LSU exposed the Cougars and their inability to stop the run game. That can be fixed and I am sure it will be handled eventually, but Utah can run the ball so they better be ready.
With the defense seeming to be on par to an overall degree, what is still up in the air is Ty Detmer’s offense, led by former Hail Mary legend Tanner Mangum. The current lack of execution and overall attitude against LSU and even Portland State has me worried for the offense and Utah has a solid defense again this year.
Only time will tell if Kalani Sitake and the BYU program can get itself on track this year. No, it’s not all bad sitting at 1-1 and it’s not time to throw in the towel on this season, but a few things (like energy, attitude, execution of plays called, being physically dominant) need to come out soon or this will be a really long and painful year.
I’m not trying to be a downer here, so before I turn a 180, I promise you this much about college football – it’s not necessarily how you start the game, or season, it’s how you finish it!
BYU still has the opportunity to do some great things this season, but it starts this week. It starts with the next play, and bringing a can-do attitude.
One thing you can guarantee about the old rivalry vs. Utah is this, it will get the pulse of life back to the players. There isn’t a player or coach on the field this weekend that doesn’t recognize the true meaning of this game, so you can bet that both teams show up.
How else could BYU finally get a jump-start that it so badly needs, if it’s not getting up for the Utah-BYU game on Saturday? I can’t answer that myself other than the potential spark of this rivalry. With such a lackluster offensive start to its season, BYU could erase all of that with a hard-nosed, competitive game this week.
Vegas odds makers do not even know what to think about this matchup because it seems to be split down the middle. Some bookings are giving BYU one point, and others are giving Utah one point. I guess that’s why it’s called a rivalry – because teams step up and rise to the occasion.
Home field advantage is nice, but it doesn’t mean anything if the Cougars don’t come in prepared, energized and with the mind set that they can win. They have to earn it.
And BYU needs to earn this win so it can drastically change the program moving forward. It can erase a bad start to 2017 and get the season back on track toward having a great year.
BYU will show up this week, and for those who don’t think they have a chance, relax. The last few years have really been fun to watch and competitive. Most of the games the last decade (minus one or two) have actually been a toss-up, but Utah earned the wins they came away with.
It’s time BYU does the same.
Blue Blood is a sports column written by former BYU lineman and captain Scott Young. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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