Consistency Is Key In Turning Around BYU’s Home Woes
PROVO, Utah – The BYU Cougars are not playing well. The team knows it. The coaches know it. The fans know it and are showing their disdain where it hurts – attendance.
Just 51,084 fans were reported in attendance for Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois – 13,000 below maximum capacity for LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars fell to 4-4 on the season while the offense only mustered six points.
It’s a sharp descent from a team who once held one of the best home field advantages in college football, but they are now just 3-6 at home against FBS opponents in the last two seasons.
Sure, some of those losses came against ranked opponents like California and Utah, but then there are the losses to UMass and Northern Illinois – complete head scratchers that shouldn’t happen.
Especially when one of the program’s goals is to “Protect LaVell’s House” – two consecutive seasons without a winning record at home isn’t that.
Any number of excuses can be used. Injuries have played a factor, BYU was down to its third-string quarterback in last year’s loss against UMass. In 2018, Youth has had its role as the Cougars have played 25 freshmen while starting 10.
For head coach Kalani Sitake, he shouldered the blame.
“Our team hasn’t been consistent. That’s kind of the biggest issue right now, it’s not the fault of the players, it’s on me,” said Sitake. “The inconsistency is my fault. As the head coach, I need to find a way to make get them more consistent.”
Sitake Vows Change
“We have really good players. They do everything we ask and they work hard. I need to do a better job at making sure our team, our program and our results are more consistent on the field to give us a better chance at success,” Sitake added.
Fans aren’t happy with the results and it shows in the attendance. The “loyal, strong, and true” crowd is the third lowest since LaVell Edwards Stadium expanded in 1982, trailing last year’s game against San Jose State (46,451) and 2001’s game against Tulane (49,008).
“I understand frustrations that are out there from fans and their expectations – they’re valid,” he said.
Despite the low attendance numbers, Sitake says he and the team appreciate the support the fans who attend games continue to bring.
“I love the fans,” said Sitake. “We have great support. We need to do better on the field and I’d like to see all our fans happy. I’m disappointed we haven’t had success at home and I look forward to changing that,” he added.
If the Cougars want more support, they need to improve their play at home. With one game remaining at home against New Mexico State (2-7), they likely won’t find it this year.
There is hope for the 2019 season, with a young core returning and a promising home schedule that includes Utah, USC, Washington, Boise State, Liberty, and Idaho State, fans will come out for the big games. But the Cougars can do one thing to bring fans back.
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