Loyal Cougars

After a third year of rebirth, congratulations: It’s still a Cougar

Expecting something new, BYU fans experienced similar events and emotions in the season opener.

I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m taking the loss to Virginia pretty hard. I tried taking a walk to calm down last night and only ended up rewriting 100-year old sports poems:

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere there’s lights aglow.
But there is no joy in Provo – BYU – Well, BYU sure can’t throw.

I feel for the situation the offensive coaches have been put in. All five of the new offensive coaches are walking into a situation where they have little time this year really as a result of the last three. Coming from the JC ranks, new offensive line coach Garrett Tujague readily acknowledged the speed needed. He told the Deseret News: “I’m used to situations like this where I have guys for two years, but really just for one year to teach a new system and bring them up to speed.”

Let’s review: After 2010, Robert Anae’s offense unexpectedly struggled; the keys were handed to Brandon Doman. He had recruited BYU’s quarterback of the future and had been on the staff with the solid offenses produced from 2005-2009, so for eight months, many were hoping this would fix the problems seen in BYU’s last year in the Mountain West.

2011 began with offensive ineptitude at Ole Miss, followed by offensive ineptitude at Texas, followed with a massive implosion against Utah filled with turnovers and snapping the ball into our own endzone. Changes were made and the schedule got easier. The offense got a little better and BYU fans were left to hope for a second rebirth.

But then there was 2012. Things started well in game one, but once BYU’s quarterback had a broken back and BYU elected to stay with him, we were kind of back to losing games because of turnovers and snapping the ball into our own endzone.

Which, for 2013, is what lead us to the last eight months of hoping for a third rebirth is an many years. My favorite preview of 2013 called BYU’s last season “one big pile of frustration;” Frustration caused mostly by poor offense and untimely turnovers.

Out of the gate for 2013, what do we have? After three straight off seasons of Remember The Titans “Change Everything” speeches, the Virginia game looked awfully familiar.

Bronco’s defense is amazing and fun. Sadly, Bronco’s defense is so good it generally leaves BYU with two options to lose games: give up special teams plays, like a blocked punt against Virginia or punt returns against Utah, or give up offensive points, like a pick-6 to a nose tackle or an interception in front of your own goal line with 3:00 to go.

For the BYU marketing team and some BYU fans, the last three offseasons now feel like a spouse spending 24 of the last 36 months saying, “No, really, honey. I’m going to change.” Football programs have to be able to sell hope. Seeing the same problems that caused last year’s massive pile of frustration doesn’t bode well, but there’s 11 or 12 more games left fix it.

Most casinos had BYU’s 2013 win total pegged at 8.5, which means only the highly irrational were looking at undefeated season a likelihood. Losses with this team were going to happen. It seems the best-case scenario is for fans to hope that like 2006 or 2007, years where early losses turned into great runs, the coaches and players can still put together an effective, memorable team.

Most BYU fans, I think, had priorities for this season along the lines of: beat Utah, at least split with Texas and Boise State, and don’t get tripped up too much otherwise. After yesterday’s loss, it looks like the goals still are: beat Utah, at least split with Texas and Boise State, and don’t get tripped up too much otherwise.

That’s still achievable with this team. I feel for the added pressure on Anae, Tujague, and everyone else. The driving forces of BYU’s offense are a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore running back. There’s still a lot of great games to be played and each of those big games will be a chance to show that the offense issues can be sorted out and there’s hope for the future.


  1. Sanpete

    September 2, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Disappointing, of course, but still early. Glad to see the defense still working well. Surprising Hill had as much trouble as he did with accuracy, and that there were so many drops, but I’m still hopeful that and the offensive line (less surprising they had trouble) will improve. The fact that everyone seemed to be playing hard generally makes it hard for me to feel too badly. Hope Hoffman’s hamstring is good by this weekend!

  2. Pingback: Five reasons not to panic about BYU — yet - Loyal Cougars

  3. Ben (RFS_detmer14) Burt

    September 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I wasn’t going into that game with great expectations, but I still ended up feeling quite disappointed. I thought we would win by ~14pts. We should have. Our defense wasn’t quite as good as it was in 2012. They had more difficulty with the passing game. But the defense still gave the offense plenty of opportunities to win the game. It felt like 2012 all over again.

    I expected more variety of plays from Robert Anae. I don’t remember the TEs ever being thrown to. I didn’t see curl or comeback routes. This of course could have been due to Taysom Hill never having time to make reads and check down to other receivers. The only times he ever had time to throw were on roll out plays, which Virginia caught on to.

    The entire game, I wondered why we would keep running the ball up the middle ineffectively and then never run a play action. In the 4th quarter, I finally saw some play action with worked! Imagine that! But without a deep threat WR, play action is only so effective.

    The O-line play was absolutely abysmal. I watched the TCU/LSU game later that night and saw some amazing blocking by the LSU line allowing their RBs some fun runs. I think we would have gotten more out of the RBs not named Willis if the O line could have blocked even semi decently. I think a LOT of this stems from the need to play 11 guys on the line due to the hurry up offense. When you are swapping in and out players, it means that the less-talented linemen play more downs and have more opportunities to make mistakes, which seemed to be on most plays during the Virginia game. Sure, as the season progresses, they’ll get better. But maybe it was wrong to come out of the gate running fast ALL OF THE TIME.

    Also, the purpose of the hurry up offense was void after the lightning delay. The virginia defense had over 2hrs of rest. And then a 10min halftime. They did not wear down as much as they may have if there had been no delay. I wonder if Anae should make adjustments throughout the game as conditions arise that may render the hurry up offense less effective. Such as keeping the starting linemen in a bit more, allowing a little more time for observation on some plays. Again, just my thoughts.

    If things aren’t turned around quickly, I see us easily going 6-6 for the season. I see it being extremely difficult to beat the likes of Texas, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Boise State, USU, and Utah. Even Georgia Tech could hand us a loss. If we lose all of those, that’s a 4-8 season. *shudders*. So 6-6 is a definite possibility. If things get turned around, maybe we do as well as 7-5, but 8-4 (my original hope) seems to be slipping out of grasp. Yes, I know it’s only one game, but this one game showed such huge inadequacies, that it’s hard to hope for much more.