After the offense struggled again in the team's most recent loss to Utah, many BYU fans appear ready to give up on the season.
Here are 10 reasons why not to:
Landon Walters is a history and political science major at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no doubt that Kyle Van Noy is a game changer. His impact on games can be found throughout his career so far. Based on his past accomplishments, fans expect him to block a kick, intercept a pass or cause a fumble at any time to change the momentum of a game.
Van Noy’s leadership and play on the field will allow BYU to keep any remaining games on the schedule close. Even though he has been constantly double-teamed this year, he has still racked up stats and is second on the team in total tackles. With only nine games (or possibly 10 if BYU makes a bowl game) left for Van Noy in Provo, BYU fans should sit back and enjoy watching one of the best defensive players to ever wear a Cougar uniform.
After last year's defense put up one of the best performances in school history, many expected this year’s version to be good but not great. The rush defense is again stout, and the passing defense hasn’t been as bad as many fans expected after the injuries suffered in the defensive backfield.
Granted, there have been some defensive breakdowns — as evidenced by the big plays given up to the Utah offense in their last game — but the defense is still only allowing an average of 20 points per game.
As long as the offense can start scoring points, the defense will keep BYU in most games. Plus, suspended linebacker Spencer Hadley should return to the team in time for the stretch run as the Cougars work toward bowl eligibility.
The offensive line has had ups and downs through three games this season. It looked abysmal for much of the game during the loss to Virginia, and after some changes leading up to the Texas game, the line looked like it would be able to block anyone en route to school-record rushing yardage.
The line came back to earth a bit in the loss to the Utes, but the true capability of the offensive line is probably somewhere in the middle. If the line can find a happy medium between the good and the bad, it should help the offense improve. If it can consistently be at the level it played at during the Texas win, the offense should have no problems at all.
While most fans will point to the offense as the main reason for the two losses so far this year — and they would be right — this offense has shown the capability to be explosive.
The new offense that Robert Anae has installed is undoubtedly fast, which may or may not be leading to some of the problems early this season. The offense also has shown that moving the ball shouldn’t be a problem if it can cut down on the self-imposed miscues such as dropped passes and penalties.
Against Virginia, the offense’s first touchdown was scored on a 68-yard drive that only took 1:26 off the clock. Later in the same game, the offense drove 92 yards in just over two minutes to take the lead. The Texas game followed with an amazing offensive output against some talented athletes, even if the Longhorn defense is suspect so far this season. Even against Utah, the offense seemed ready to break out at any time.
The Cougars have traditionally been known as a passing offense, but so far this year, the rushing game has been one of the bright spots on the offensive side of the ball. Currently, the rushing offense is ranked eighth overall, with an average of more than 305 yards per game.
The Cougars are also currently on pace to have two rushers eclipse the 1,000 yard mark, which hasn’t ever happened at BYU before. It may not be what the fans are used to, but it could still be an exciting offense to watch if it can continue to rack up huge chunks of yardage.
The 18-year-old sophomore has shown that he can be the focal point of any offense, whether carrying the ball or catching it out of the backfield.
Assuming that Williams is able to return to the field after his horrific injury scare that happened in the second half of the Utah game, Williams’ combination of speed, size and explosiveness will help the offense score points and keep opposing defenses guessing.
If Williams is on the field, it will require defensive coordinators to game plan for his skill set, which should allow the BYU offense to find other plays that should allow others players to contribute and move the ball better as the season continues.
Taysom Hill has struggled passing the ball so far this season, completing only 35 percent of his pass attempts for 564 yards (188 yards per game average). BYU quarterbacks in the past have been known to throw that many yards in one quarter.
However, Hill isn’t as bad as his stats so far this season appear. The first games at Virginia and at home against Texas were marred by torrential rainstorms — which is not to make excuses for the bad passing stats — but he has shown the ability to get the ball downfield with his arm strength. He also is one of the best athletes on the team and can either scramble to gain yards or extend the play when opposing defenses apply pressure.
If Hill can get a little better accuracy on some of his throws, the offense should start to click sooner than later. If he can move his accuracy to even just 50 percent completions, the offense will be fine. In addition to Hill being more accurate, he will benefit from fewer dropped passes and better blocking from the offensive line.
So far this season, the kicking game has been pretty consistent compared to last year. Place-kicker Justin Sorenson appears healthy after missing some game time last season due to injury. Sorensen’s mechanics on both kickoffs and field goals also look better so far this season.
He did miss his first field goal of the season in the loss to Utah; other than that, he has been perfect on both field goal attempts and PATs. Junior punter Scott Arellano has had a decent season so far as well. With the exception of the one blocked punt against Virginia, he has provided help in the field position battle with seven of his punts inside the 20-yard line and an average of 42 yards per punt.
An even better thing about the kicking game this season is that both of the kickers appear to have the confidence of the coaching staff, which couldn’t be said for the majority of last season.
Even with the struggles so far this season, the roster is filled with proven playmakers. Some of these players include the previously mentioned Hill, Van Noy and Williams. Others include Cody Hoffman, JD Falslev and Adam Hine.
Hoffman has been hampered by a hamstring injury but is still the leading receiver on the team. Falslev and Hine haven’t been featured as much on offense but have impacted games on special teams, including long kickoff returns in every game that have been negated by penalties.
Both players almost changed the outcome of the game against Utah last week on special teams; Hine returned a kickoff for a touchdown that was called back due to yet another penalty and Falslev returned a punt deep into Utah territory that the offense wasn’t able to capitalize on.
If the Cougars can stop getting penalties on these special teams plays, one of these plays could really turn around a game or the season in general.
This item on the list will be the one that is probably the most argued by the fan base. Judging by some fans’ reactions on social media and message boards after the loss to Utah, the coaches are one of the main problems with this team. Complaints ranging from play calling to some of the specific coaches on the staff have been questioned this season.
However, I think that while the coaching hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, it also hasn’t been overly terrible either. The defensive side has been pretty good overall under Mendenhall and Nick Howell. If the offensive coaches can continue to work with the players and make adjustments to tailor the offense to Hill’s strengths and gave him confidence with short passes before opening up the playbook for more complex schemes, this team could still have a pretty good season that could potentially include some big wins for the program and another bowl game.