Afterthoughts of BYU’s Tough Loss to LSU

BYU vs LSU 2
Michael DeMocker – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BYU had a rough game. I suppose you didn’t need me to tell you that after the drubbing they took at the hands of LSU this past weekend.

In case you didn’t read my initial blog article a couple of weeks ago about my prediction of BYU going 10-3 this year, I’m here to confess that I was completely wrong. After a suspect game against Portland St., I was hopeful it was just a case of first-game jitters, and BYU would make adjustments and work on some of the areas where they were deficient.

My hope is lost that the Cougars will even sniff at a 10-3 record after what I saw on Saturday. In fact, I’m not even going to start out writing about what I saw, but rather what I didn’t see.

For starters, I didn’t see an offense. I mean that literally and figuratively. BYU wasn’t on the field for two-thirds of the game. LSU had the ball for 41 minutes and 54 seconds while BYU had it 18 minutes and 6 seconds. When BYU did have the ball, they didn’t do anything worth noting. In fact, they never once crossed into their opponent’s territory.

I didn’t see a running game. Squally Canada, BYU’s starting running back, rushed the ball five times for 8 yards. He was the leading rusher for BYU. The Cougars had -5 yards rushing on the day. BYU finished the day with 97 total yards of offense.

I didn’t see much of an offensive line. Because of the lack in the running game, LSU’s defense pinned their ears back and put a ton of pressure on Tanner Mangum. The offensive line barely put up a fight while blocking for their QB. Mangum was on his heels most of the night.

Speaking of the QB, I didn’t see the sharp passing by Tanner Mangum that I’m used to. He seemed like a shell of the quarterback he was two seasons ago when he looked like the second coming of Ty Detmer. He didn’t show he could scramble very well or make an accurate pass down field. He seemed to have regressed.

Did I mention Ty Detmer? You know, the guy that was supposed to bring in a bona-fide offensive scheme to fix the one Robert Anae had. Yep, I didn’t see it either. BYU didn’t show it had any dynamic plays offensively. I thought the vanilla play-calling against Portland St. was a ruse to keep LSU from scouting the real play-calling. It turns out that BYU just doesn’t have any good plays in their playbook. It was predictable and boring.

In the end, I didn’t see the heart of a champion on the field. I didn’t see leadership from any of the players or coaches. I didn’t see passion or much desire to fight. I blame the coaches for that.

Here’s what I did see:

A defense that did their best against a very stout offensive team. If someone would have told me before the game that LSU would only score 27 points, I would have thought BYU had a chance to win.

Derrius Guice was everything I imagined him to be as a running back. He literally pounded the rock, bowling over defenders at every turn. Rarely could one defender bring him down. It took many players to tackle him, but often only after gaining positive yardage. He’s going to be a handful for most teams in the SEC. Fortunately for BYU, they probably won’t face another running back like Guice this year.

I foresee a long season ahead for the Cougars. The dream of going 10-3 this year is over. I  believe I have a greater chance of winning the lottery at this point than that. Realistically, I see them going 6-7, or 7-6.

I see grumbling from Cougars fans about coaching and people calling for coaching changes.

I see another loss at the hands of the team up north.

I see some hope in the latter part of the season against some lesser talent.

I see BYU going to another mid to lower-tiered bowl game this year.

I see that Utah’s inclusion in the PAC-12 has made them a much better program while BYU has seemingly gotten worse.

Coach Sitake has already called out the offense, or rather, the lack of offense. I believe that is a good thing. I also think BYU needs to look for a new OC, and soon. I love Ty Detmer, but he doesn’t have the experience needed to compete in the FBS as a coordinator. It would be wise to bring in a co-offensive coordinator to help Detmer, similar to what Utah did a couple of years ago.

I see many fans wishing BYU had never left the MWC.

And finally, I see hope for better years ahead. BYU will recover and give fans something to cheer about the second half of the season. Down seasons happen to all teams at some point. I remember USC, Florida St., LSU, and Alabama having bad years too.  They have survived just fine. So will BYU.

–Troy Thayne

 

 

BYU Football: Week 1 Impressions

BYU vs PSU 17
Isaac Hale – Daily Herald

Last Week I predicted BYU would win the first game of the season against Portland St. 51-10.

If I were just looking at the score I’d say BYU’s defense was a little better than I had projected, and the offense was much worse than I had projected.

But I’m not.

Both sides of the ball were not what I envisioned—at all. Allow me to elaborate.

Offense:

I thought Tanner Mangum would come out big in this game. He didn’t look bad, but he didn’t look great either. Good? Maybe, but not great. I love his passing form and trajectory. To me, it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, and I suspect he will turn out to be one of BYU’s best passers of all time. However, with all his talent, he didn’t live up to expectations. He went 16/27 for 194 yards and a TD. Normally I’d say that wasn’t necessarily a bad game, but this is against a team that he should have had a 300 yard passing game with 3-4 touchdown passes until his back-up came in in the 4th quarter. Tanner will have to do much better in the weeks to come.

The receiving game was questionable too. I wasn’t at the game, so it’s difficult to tell if the receivers were getting open. I’m curious as to why Coach Detmer didn’t pass the ball more than 27 times. Let’s hope that was just the game plan this week; but it will be critical for BYU’s success to unleash Tanner’s gun-slinging talent against more talented teams.

Squally Canada ran the ball 16 times for 98 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry While Kavika Fonua looked good going 7 carries for 59 yards. Not bad, but again, it was Portland St. I’ll hold off on any criticism in the run game until next week.

Defense:

As a whole, the defense wasn’t bad. If it weren’t for the defensive effort, BYU could have easily lost this game; that, and PSU looked horrible offensively. Let’s see how they do against Derrius Guice and the LSU offense this week. But holding any college team to 6 points is notable, and it gives me hope that the defense is on the right track.

The offensive and defensive lines were not great either. They should have blown over the lesser talent, but didn’t. The verdict is still out for now on whether or not there are problems. I am, however, very concerned.

Summary:

I know a lot of fans were disappointed with the outcome of this game, and so was I. If BYU were a glass of water, I’d say they are half full, not half empty. My suspicion is that Sitaki and Detmer went pure vanilla against PSU (or at least I hope so). Why show their cards and why use all their ammunition against an inferior team in the first game of the season? That’s definitely something to think about.

Keep your heads up, BYU fans. I believe Detmer used this game to set up something much bigger against an unsuspecting LSU team. I still think BYU will lose that game, but I think fans will be happier losing a good fought game against a great team than winning an awfully fought game against a bad team.

If there are any doubts about who this BYU team is, then certainly we will know who they are by Saturday night when Coach Sitake and Coach Detmer lay all their cards on the table. Let’s just hope they’re not bluffing.

–Troy Thayne

BYU Football: The Best Time of the Year!

Tanner Mangum
Photo Credit – Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

It has been a loooong off-season for college football. Like most of you, I have been anxiously awaiting the season to start. In the malaise of summer, I resorted to watching some of the games I recorded last year, and the year before that to fill the void.

Remember two years ago when Tanner Mangum took over for Taysom Hill against Nebraska? How about the very next game against Boise St.? Yeah, I watched those games a few times this year too.

I also remember last year, wondering if Taysom Hill could regain his former athleticism and bring glory to BYU as in years gone by.

The answer for me was no. But that was then, and this is now. Taysom is playing, at least for the time being, for the Green Bay Packers, and the Cougars’ team now belongs to Tanner Mangum.

So what can we expect from the Cougars this year? It’s difficult to say. The front end of the year is brutal, and I mean brutal! With the exception of Portland St., BYU has its hands full to say the least.

So let’s have some fun and gaze into the crystal ball…

Portland St.— This should be a warm-up game for the Coogs. I won’t waste anyone’s time by delving into this one, so I’ll just make a prediction that BYU will easily win this one 51-10

#12 LSU—Now this is where things get dicey. The Tigers come in as the #12 team in the Coaches Poll. Danny Etling, the LSU QB is coming off a sub-par year in 2016 averaging only 138 passing yards per game. How much of that anemic passing game was due to Leonard Fournette and the running game is hard to tell. Now some of you might think Fournette’s departure helps the BYU’s cause, and you could be correct; however, LSU has reloaded at running back with Derrius Guice. Who is Derrius Guice you might ask? Well, for one, he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate, and two, he averaged 9.0 yards per carry last year. The question that surrounds LSU is their defensive front seven. LSU lost a handful of defensive players to the NFL. But knowing the SEC, they probably have plenty of talent to fill the void. LSU’s secondary should be their strength, so BYU needs to be able to match up well in the passing game, or have a back-up plan to run the ball.

Prediction: LSU 31-21

byu vs utah

Utah— Is this the year BYU finally pulls out a win against their arch rival? Utah won in a squeaker last year, 20-19. This year’s game is at home, so that should help. With Joe and Jamaal Williams both gone to the NFL, who is going to step up in the running game on both sides? I don’t see either team racking up great numbers running the ball, so passing and play selection are key to success in this game.

It was just announced that sophomore QB Tyler Huntley was named the starter for Utah. This was surprising because everyone automatically assumed that last year’s starter, Troy Williams was a lock. So there is a big question mark about Utah’s passing game right out of the gate. Before that announcement I had envisioned a Utah victory; but now I have to give the edge to BYU.

Prediction: BYU 24-20

#9 Wisconsin— This Wisconsin team is sort of an enigma this year. They are projected as the Big10 favorite. Both of Wisconsin’s running backs from last year are gone, but when one factors in the huge offensive lineman averaging around 330 pounds, it probably doesn’t matter so much who runs the ball. The QB position is questionable this year, so expect a heavy dose of the run from the Badgers. Their top 10 defense is sure to cause problems for Tanner and the gang.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27-17

Utah St.– This is always an interesting match-up because of the rivalry factor. With most rivalry games, anything can happen, but I believe the Cougars will be battle-tested coming in to this game at Logan.

Prediction: BYU 38-14

byu vs bsu

Boise St— If there’s one game I dread this year, it’s this one. BSU always comes in ready to play, and they always bring with them a ton of talent. QB Brett Rypien is a formidable opponent for any defense out there. BYU will have their hands full trying to keep him under control. BYU has had success against BSU at home in recent years, but BSU will be ready this time around.

Prediction: BSU 35-31

Mississippi St— Even with the Davy O’Brien watch-list quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, I see the Bulldogs beatable at home this year if BYU brings its ‘A’ game. It is quite possible that MSU with all of its SEC size could wear down the Cougars if they aren’t healthy.

Prediction: BYU 27-24

The rest of the schedule is downhill from there. I would be cautious if I were BYU because an East Carolina or San Jose could surprise us. If the Cougars can maintain focus and remain healthy, they should finish the season strong going 6-0.

Season Prediction 10-3

A 10-3 record with a tough schedule might get BYU into a bigger bowl game this year if the cards fall into place. Ah, the possibilities!

If BYU somehow can’t get it together the first half of the season, which is still possible, even finishing the season with a winning record and a trip to a mid-tier bowl game, it will be a disappointment.

I hope next year I’ll be watching some new recordings on the DVR of wins at LSU, against Wisconsin, and Boise St. I doubt it, but then again, it’s just part of being a BYU fan I suppose, and I can dream, can’t I?

-Troy Thayne