Unfortunately, I have been in this situation before, where we’re losing more than we’re winning. I’ve tried to help Kalani realize that these times are the times when we learn the most. —BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb
PROVO — Ed Lamb wears lots of hats on BYU’s coaching staff.
He’s the assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach. Lamb is also the only assistant coach on Kalani Sitake’s staff that has been a college head coach, having guided Southern Utah from 2008-2015.
In his current role, Lamb draws upon his experiences that relate to what is going on now with the Cougars.
What is going on now is BYU’s first six-game losing streak, and first 1-6 start, since 1968 — before most of the coaches were born.
“Unfortunately, I have been in this situation before, where we’re losing more than we’re winning. I’ve tried to help Kalani realize that these times are the times when we learn the most,” Lamb said. “We borrowed a phrase from the military and it was one of our slogans at Southern Utah — 'Embrace the Suck.’ Meaning that when all things in battle, for example, have gone as poorly as they can go, and it’s at the very worst moment, those are the moments later that turn out to be the pivotal moments for wins and losses. At this point, we have to take full advantage of these opportunities and make sure we’re on top of all the chances we have to learn right now.”
The Cougars are hoping their learning experiences will help lead to a victory Saturday (5 p.m., MDT, CBSSN) at East Carolina.
Many outside the program have presented and debated reasons or explanations for BYU’s futility this season, including poor coaching and poor execution from the players.
On the Coordinators’ Corner radio program Monday, Lamb placed the blame for the losing streak squarely on the coaches.
“Quite simply, we’ve failed as coaches to prepare our players to be ready to win in the fashion that we should be winning,” he said. “The circumstances are, we’ve failed so far.”
When Lamb was asked Tuesday to elaborate, he said, “It’s a bottom-line business. We’re tasked with helping the players find a way to win. If we’re not winning, it’s on us. When our players win, we share in that victory. When we lose, we share in that defeat. We’re failing at this point in leading them to where they need to be.”
The Cougars can still qualify for a bowl game if they win their final six contests. Does Lamb believe the season can be salvaged?
“Of course. That’s the great thing about being in-season in football,” he said. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to dwell on the previous games and previous disappointments. There’s a new opponent and a new opportunity and we’re working as hard as we can toward that right now.”
The approach, Lamb said, is to focus on winning every remaining game while building a strong foundation for the future.
“In a season like this, some of the veteran players will want to play for every game, every repetition and enjoy the game of football. Sometimes some of the veteran players get discouraged and wonder if it’s all worth it. At the same time, some younger players realize this might be an opportunity for them to set the table for good experience in the future — more playing time. We as coaches have to do a great job of evaluating the mentality each day of every player and making sure that we’re rewarding the guys who want to win, still, just for the sake of winning each week.”
A group of freshmen — like tight end Matt Bushman, running back Ula Tolutau and defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga — have received opportunities to play and show potential. Bushman is BYU’s leading receiver and Tolutau is the team’s leading rusher.
“Typically, we would want to have the type of veteran players and healthy roster that we would not have to play too many freshmen,” Lamb said. “But if a freshman gives us the best opportunity to win, then that’s a good indication of where we’re at and where it can be in the future and the strength of the team.”
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Cougars on the air
at East Carolina (1-6)
Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT Dowdy-Ficklin Stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM