BYU Fans Should Temper Expectations, Despite Tennessee Win

Sep 11, 2019, 11:36 AM | Updated: 11:49 am
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson...
BYU quarterback, #1 Zach Wilson. Courtesy of BYU Photo.

PROVO, Utah – BYU’s win over Tennessee in overtime was a much-needed victory after the loss to Utah. Cougar fans should enjoy that win, but temper their excitement heading into the game against USC, according to Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry of KSL’s UnRivaled.

There are plenty of positives and also some negatives to look at after the win against the Vols. Fans who are looking toward an upset against number 24 USC at LaVell Edwards Stadium this Saturday may want to pump the brakes and critically think about what a win against 0-2 Tennessee really means for the team.

The Volunteers are not a good football team and are seemingly in a free-fall after those two games, the duo pointed out. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt is comparing the team to the Titanic and two players left the program after their opening season loss to Georgia State.

A win is a win for BYU and getting the victory against a Power 5 team is even better. A loss to the Vols could have caused this Cougars team to nose-dive as they head into a tough part of their schedule against USC and Washington.

The victory did, at the very least, help the Cougars avoid an o-4 start, according to Mitchell and Kirry.

Running Game Potential

One of the biggest positives for the Cougars team this year is the emergence of running back Ty’Son Williams. Williams emerged as the starter over Lopini Katoa and in two games has 137 yards and three touchdowns. However, in the game in Knoxville, the offense was not giving him the ball consistently until the second half and overtime.

He will be remembered for his game-winning score in overtime where he dragged seemingly half of the Tennessee defense to the checkered endzone.

Cougars offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes gave Williams the ball 17 times in the game and two of the five drives he didn’t touch the ball during the first half. Perhaps, it was to keep him fresh but he averaged 5.4 yards per carry.

BYU wants to be a passing team with Zach Wilson but the receiving corp has not stood out for two games, according to Mitchell, so maybe the running game should be what leads the offense and the passing game can be a compliment to that.

Williams has shown to be a better back in the second half. He had seven of his carries in the first half for only 21 yards. He got better in the second half and overtime with both touchdowns and 10 carries for an additional 71 yards.

Mitchell had optimism about this Cougars win and sees potential in the team. Wilson can easily provide the team with a few wins per season based on his talent alone.

“Before the season started, I said ‘Zach Wilson with his ability will help this team win a few games you should not win.’ This is a perfect example of this. Tennessee is poorly coached… but they have good athletes on this team,” Mitchell said on KSL’s UnRivaled. “Zach Wilson is a guy that will get two or three wins against teams that maybe are more talented and an equalizer.”


Mitchell went to explain a silver lining for the future of BYU football. Zach Wilson’s youth is a huge benefit for the Cougars this year.

“What no one seems to remember is that Zach Wilson is still in his first year of playing and it is like he is still a freshman,” Mitchell said. “He has only played seven games, and those seven games before this games this season where essentially against easy opponents… and Utah was not at full strength.”

This win in Knoxville was impressive because Wilson went into an environment of over 90,000 fans, which can be a shock to a young player.

“He has to go on the road to a quality opponent in probably one of the most hostile environments you can get into. He is experiencing this for the first time in his life, he is from Sandy, Utah,” Mitchell said. “When you go through it the first time there is a process and you can just see Zach just unsure of himself and part of it is being new to this experience. This is something every new quarterback goes through and it does not make him a bad player. He was a different player in overtime and made some good throws.”

Offense Must Improve

Do not be fooled by those 29 points the Cougars put up since 13 of them came in the overtime periods. BYU had just three points in the first half of the game. The Wilson to Micah Simon 64-yard pass had a little bit of chaos to it even if it did set up the game-tying touchdown, according to UnRivaled.

After three quarters, the offense was not moving the ball at all and had just 152 yards of total offense. For the game, they were only 5 of 13 on third downs which stalled out multiple drives.

Alex Kirry was at the game and said it was not a clean contest, which is another reason not to buy the Cougar hype. Winning can hide a lot of errors.

“That win over Tennesse, I just want to say that BYU fans can forget that if you were watching this game at all and I was watching it from the press box and the entire time everyone was saying, ‘this is an ugly football game,'” Kirry said. “It is two teams who don’t seem to be put well together and are playing OK defense, but for three-quarters of this game and I was not impressed by BYU and I think there is so much to button up before USC.”

“A win is good but the way they did it makes you forget a lot, but to me, there is still a lot wrong with this BYU’s offense.”

BYU’s offense will get a chance to prove itself and show that the Volunteers win was not a fluke as they host USC this weekend. The Trojans are ranked 24th in the country but they are not exactly a defensive power, according to the duo. They are in the bottom third of the FBS in yards per play allowed and are allowing 21.5 points per game.

The game will be broadcast on ABC. You can find more information on how to watch, stream or attend the game here.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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