The BYU Defense Deserves Better
BYU showed the country Thursday night in its 7-6 loss at Boise State that it has one of the best defenses in all of college football. Unfortunately, it also demonstrated that it may currently have the worst offense in the land as well.
Despite five turnovers by the offense, including one at its own one-yard line, the BYU defense kept the traditionally high-powered Broncos out of the end zone and without a single offensive point.
The highlight of the performance was stopping Boise State on four straight downs after running back Michael Alisa fumbled the ball on the BYU one in the third quarter. It was one of the most impressive goal-line stands in school history.
The Cougar D smothered the BSU offense all night, limiting the Broncos to 261 yards of total offense and just 13 first downs. It was the 10th-consecutive game that BYU has held an opposing offense to less than 300 yards.
However, all that the BYU offense could muster in return on the smurf turf was 200 total yards, with 95 of those coming on the team’s last offensive drive of the game.
Starter Riley Nelson turned in one of the all-time worst performances by a BYU quarterback, completing just four passes for 19 yards and getting picked off three times, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Boise nose tackle Mike Atkinson, before being benched in favor of true freshman Taysom Hill with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Still, the Cougars had a chance to send the game into overtime when Hill drove the Cougars the length of the field and scored a touchdown on a four-yard run late in the game. The Cougars however missed the ensuing two-point conversion when Hill’s passed was tipped away in the end zone by a BSU defender.
The reality is that this Cougar defense deserves better and it’s an outright crime that it has been tethered to such an impotent offense. It’s also a crime that its head coach made such a huge mistake in judgement by going for two after Hill had led BYU down the field and scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown with 4:26 left in the game.
BYU had momentum on its side at that point and a defense that was pitching a shut out of the Boise offense. The Broncos are also struggling once again this year in the kicking game and place kicker Michael Frina had already missed a field goal earlier in the game.
The correct and proper thing to do was to send the game into overtime, rather putting the game on a true freshman quarterback who didn’t have a full grasp of the offense. The call was also a slap in the face of a BYU defense that had earned the right to have the game placed back into its hands.
Bronco Mendenhall is risking losing his players on defense if things keep going in the direction they are currently headed.
A Disconnect With Reality?
After the game, Mendenhall said that he had determined that he would go for two once his offense reached the 20-yard line. He also defended his decision to eschew kicking a game-tying extra point, saying that if he had it to do over again, he would make the same decision.
“We had momentum for the first time in the game, moving the ball offensively,” Mendenhall said. “We wanted to capitalize on it. I’d do it again.”
Mendenhall also seemed to indicate to the media that he still considers Riley Nelson to be his starting quarterback. “Riley is our quarterback,” Mendenhall explained. “I want him to be healthy and I want him to be able to look me in the eye and tell me, ‘Coach, I am absolutely ready.’ I don’t have any different feelings about him than I did going into this game.”
Memo to Bronco: Nelson should not see the field again, whether healthy or not.