The Good, The Bad, & The Future Of BYU Football

Dec 20, 2018, 12:36 AM
BYU's Zach Wilson competes in the Blue-White Game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, A...
BYU's Zach Wilson competes in the Blue-White Game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, April 7, 2018. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU true freshman quarterback Zach Wilson summed it up best when asked to describe the Cougars’ 2018 regular season – “A roller coaster.”

A roller coaster indeed.

Rises, falls, highs, lows, curves, dips, loops, ills, and thrills. It’s enough to give the average BYU football fan a case of emotional whiplash.

How will it finish? We’ll find out this Friday when BYU faces Western Michigan in the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Let’s recap…

First, the good.

BYU is back in the college football bowl scene after a brief and highly scrutinized one-year absence. The absence prompted an offensive staff overhaul last December. The Cougars have now qualified for a bowl game in 13 of the last 14 years.

BYU’s 6-win regular season featured a late September stint in the AP Top 25. Do you all remember when BYU was ranked 20th in that poll, nationally relevant, plus owned a 3-1 record with road victories at Arizona and No. 6 Wisconsin?

Too long ago? Then perhaps you’ll remember the recent bias of a Cougar defense that surrenders just 21.7 points per game (ranked 27th nationally out of 129 teams) and currently ranked 18th in total defense. The full 12-game study resonates a little better.

Now the bad.

For a second straight season, BYU will not finish with a winning record at home. (2-4 in 2017 and 3-3 in 2018). The Cougars are a combined 5-7 at LaVell Edwards Stadium over the last two home campaigns.

For a program that features a pillar of “Protect LaVell’s House,” there is clearly a need for a new security system at LES.

Then there’s the fact that BYU dropped 5 of the final 8 games after their quick start – including a 45-20 rivalry blowout loss to Utah State (instigating a quarterback change), and an 0-3 overall record against rivals of note.

Another annual pillar that went begging? “Win the rivalries.”

Apologists point to injury-plagued depth. On defense, linebackers Zayne Anderson and Isaiah Kaufusi had their seasons cut short, as did BYU’s sack leader, Corbin Kaufusi.

On offense, the Cougars had a myriad of injuries in the running back position.

Starter Squally Canada missed multiple games. So did his back-up, Lopini Katoa.

Third string RB Matt Hadley was exciting Cougar Nation until breaking his leg against Utah. BYU had a 20 point lead at Rice-Eccles in the 3rd quarter, and then lost after Hadley went out.

The Future:

Here’s where BYU fans can hang their hope. Quarterback Zach Wilson will have a 7-game head start on his career as the signal caller in Provo. Seven invaluable, albeit unexpected, starts as a true freshman.

His flashes of brilliance have even the most pessimistic BYU fans hopeful for big things ahead.

Friday’s bowl game presents Wilson and the Cougars with a shot at finishing 2018 in the black with a winning record. A 7-6 record sounds a LOT better than 6-7.

A bowl game win would also inject some needed program-wide enthusiasm with another intense independent schedule on the horizon for 2019.

Keep in mind, this offseason builds up to a season opener against a rival (Utah) in LaVell’s house. Another shot at those two program pillars!

First things first – beat the (other) Broncos on the Smurf Turf in Boise – where they have never won.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

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The Good, The Bad, & The Future Of BYU Football