KJ Hall, elbow brace and all, breaks through the line and outsprints everyone for a score? Micah Simon and Matt Bushman haul in TD strikes from Tanner Mangum? Aleva Hifo and Jonah Trinnaman snag long receptions?
It was a day of confidence building for BYU in a 41-20 win over lowly San Jose State on Saturday. And that counts big for Kalani Sitake, who has been point man on recon through Valley Ugly that’s led to nothing but the bitter taste of defeat for seven straight weeks.
Some will pooh-pooh this win because the Spartans are so bad, the NCAA’s worst turnover machine. They wanted to see more style points. Saturday wasn’t about style points — it was about making plays and scoring and feeling something different.
Saturday’s win set up a week where the Cougars will play the only remaining team on their schedule with a winning record — Fresno State.
The truth is, Mangum will need to be 30 percent better in Fresno. Hall, who had 112 yards on 10 carries and caught passes for 44 in just under a half of play, will need to bounce back from a shoulder injury. If he can. Ditto for the team’s best player, linebacker Fred Warner, who left the game early with an injured ankle.
This team is still on a mission to improve. And next week, style points will matter.
But why not let Mangum and his mates be merry for the next 48. A win is a win. And wins are hard to come by. Heck, he was like 3 for 4 on big-time bomb plays of 41, 45 and 45 yards. Let it sink in.
Confidence and momentum are so important in football. In fact, they are everything. Ask Utah, now on a four-game losing streak.
Sure, it was SJSU. But confidence-building demands all kinds of ingredients.
What has playing ECU and SJSU done?
It has Mangum and his receivers believing a little more. It’s hatched out end zone celebrations. It’s fired up the sidelines. And that led to BYU’s banged up defense holding SJSU, a decent, albeit leaky offense, to just two field goals for most of the game. BYU’s defense has been begging for the offense to race ahead for once. And the offense has spent seven straight games playing from behind, tight, stressed and doubting.
BYU now has 2,716 yards total offense this season; 1,019 of it, or 37.6 percent, has come against the last two opponents.
Mangum has now thrown for 1,377 yards after missing the Wisconsin and Utah State game. Of that total, 602 yards or 43.7 percent has come the past two weeks. And that’s sad but OK.
Confidence. It’s something you catch and ride. If you don’t have it, you play with anchors around shoelaces.
A win over hapless SJSU?
Let the guys celebrate.
Sitake should put that jaw-rattling kick return hit by Brayden El-Bakri in the locker room and Student Athlete Building on loop.
🎥: This Brayden El-Bakri forced fumble and recovery set up BYU's second TD and an early 14-0 lead over San Jose State pic.twitter.com/GWkPSUV3hR— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 28, 2017
Let it roll until Monday at noon. Let it be a symbol of some kind, a rallying call. It was a season highlight kind of hit. Make it symbolic, the advent of November Nasty.
Then get on to Fresno State.