The long weekend post-mortem on BYU and Utah is heaped with negativity, criticisms and plenty of nasty stuff from those with degrees from Debbie Downer University.
But was there any good? None, say some, and that’s acceptable if muck and mire is your lair.
But there were good things if you want to put it in a positive spin and look upward instead of down at potholes.
Utah was a 17.5-point underdog at Washington, yet played inspired, hard-fought football for almost all of that late Saturday night showdown in Seattle.
Tyler Huntley was spectacular, the story of the night until the final minute. He was poised, accurate and made big plays. He had productive tosses to put the Utes in a position to win against one the Pac-12's toughest defenses, a Husky unit that is one of the best defenses in the country.
Huntley’s 10.7 yards per attempt was better than Jake Browning’s 10.1. His 19 of 27 for 293 yards was good enough.
Utah was not expected to win this one after the turnover-infested loss the week before, yet took UW down to the wire. Zack Moss proved productive and you have to love the playmaking and skills of Ute receivers Raelon Singleton, Siaosi Wilson and Demari Simpkins. That Darren Carrington II is healthy for the finale with Colorado is a big deal.
Kyle Whittingham's aggression (fake punt, the onside kick) was attacking and throwing the sink at Chris Peterson's Huskies.
I liked it.
For BYU, freshman QB Joe Critchlow had a nightmare game against UMass, suffering seven sacks and throwing four interceptions. But his accuracy on some deep passes was something rare, not seen in BYU’s program since Max Hall was QB. He also showed passion, leadership, moxie, emotion and a good semblance of that alpha-dog mentality BYU’s offense so sorely needs.
The Minutemen blitzed Critchlow mercilessly on Saturday, believing they could confuse the rookie. It worked.
But his almost TD pass to Matt Bushman that went through Bushman's hands for a pick and the fourth-and-27-yard pass to Micah Simon that went for 26 late in the game were big-time throws.
The pressure on Critchlow last Saturday was enormous. His game prep, his attempt to master nuances of a game plan more complex than the one against UNLV put a lot on his plate — even against a team like UMass – and it was also Senior Day. His mantle as a starter and leader was colossal. He got hit, chased and dumped. But he never backed down.
After halftime, UMass drove the length of the field and scored. Critchlow trotted on the field to answer. Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer called a play. Critchlow looked at his wrist. He’d left his wristband in the locker room at halftime. BYU had to burn a timeout to get him a new one. It was symbolic of what happens when you start over as an offense — inexperience, life coming at you fast.
This holiday week began with disappointment, a recovery from a weekend of a pair painful losses for BYU and Utah. Is there hope? Are there positives to be discovered? Is there anything to grasp at as Turkey Day approaches?
Look hard. There’s good stuff.
In the meantime, hearty congratulations are in order to head coach Jay Hill at Weber State and his counterpart Demario Warren at SUU for earning a share of the Big Sky title.
This is SUU’s second Big Sky title in three seasons. By virtue of a win over Weber State, SUU (9-2, 7-1) earned the automatic berth in the FCS playoffs. Weber State hosts Western Illinois Saturday at 2 p.m. The winner will face No. 8 seed SUU Dec. 2.
SUU has been solid in all three phases all season long, a credit to hard work by Warren whose team has been consistent and on point.
The Wildcats have been explosive and productive all season. Hill has done a great job and he and his staff deserve credit for Weber's first championship in nine years.
Football is almost over locally, maybe a month left to enjoy it. The Aggies are going bowling and there are warm fuzzies in Logan. That is a good thing, plus the enjoyment of a new stadium for Matt Wells and crew.
I’m grateful for football, love it.
Nobody works hard to lose.
May the remote and drumsticks go hand-in-hand this week and good things come to the in-state programs. Good luck to Kyle Whittingham and Kalani Sitake this holiday weekend. It may feel good for the disheartened to unload frustrations, but it is far better to put it in a box this week and revisit it in seven days — if we have to.
For just a few days — just a measly 72-hour break — can we remember the words of former Auburn coach Gene Chizik:
"Everybody who enters the coaching profession knows the deal. Produce, or get fired. It’s just that simple. But for all fans who hide behind keyboards and smear coaches, you’re not just ripping coaches apart. You’re ripping wives and children apart, too."
That is my Pollyanna take on this wonderful, beautiful sort-of-sunny day. The Utes have a big home game while BYU’s last fight is in sunny Hawaii. Black Friday is just around the corner and I have a few Jacksons in the clip. My family is in town. If I had a tee time, it would be perfect.
But I'm thankful.