COUGAR TRACKS

What Have We Learned About BYU Through Four Games?

Sep 24, 2019, 12:58 AM
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Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey

PROVO, Utah – The gauntlet of Power Five teams is over for BYU. The schedule for the Cougars doesn’t ease up anytime soon, but facing opposition that has greater resources, support staffs, and budgets are now in the rearview mirror.

With a record of 2-2 overall, it’s nothing to scoff at when you consider BYU is the only team to play three ranked teams in the first four weeks. The Cougars are also the only team in the country to open with four Power Five programs.

It’s a record that leaves BYU in a situation to show progress as a program this fall by improving their win total from a year ago, and that’s all they can ask for after the toughest opening stretch in the country.

So what have we learned about this BYU squad through one-third of the season?

Here is what I have learned.

Depth is better than years past but injuries still play big role in BYU’s success

Injuries are huge to any college football team, but it takes on a greater significance for BYU as the Cougars look to play as many Power Five opponents as possible without the luxuries of Power Five resources.

Losing running back Ty’Son Williams and safety Zayne Anderson to season-ending injuries are big setbacks for BYU on both sides of the ball. The impact of those losses was noticeable in the Cougars loss against Washington last week.

Other players battling injuries include Moroni Laulu-Pututau, Keenan Pili, Chris Wilcox, Troy Warner, Carter Wheat, Alema Pilimai, and a list of players like Isaiah Kaufusi and Chaz Ah You who are battling through pain.

BYU has little to no margin for error against Power Five teams

When BYU takes on a Power Five opponent, the Cougars have no room for mistakes. Turnovers and administrative penalties sink any hopes of BYU coming away victorious against Power Five opposition. That was apparent in the first four weeks of the season.

BYU is a team that needs to execute well and limit the mistakes if they hope to come away with a victory in a game where they are an underdog. Against Tennessee and USC, zero turnovers and it resulted in two wins. Against Utah and Washington, six turnovers and two losses.

Zach Wilson is a special player who is only getting better

Through four weeks, BYU’s sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson has thrown for 997 passing yards and is averaging nearly 250 yards through the air per game. Wilson is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback and every opposing head coach has given high praise to BYU’s young star at quarterback.

Now with Power Five opponents behind him this season and with the season-ending injury to Williams, Wilson needs to put the BYU offense on his back and lead the Cougars both with his arm and his legs in the running game.

BYU’s coaching staff has improved

BYU outcoached Tennessee and USC. That might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a positive for a staff that’s looking to secure long-term job security after this season. Now the challenge for the staff will be continuing to shape identity and consistency from this BYU team.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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What Have We Learned About BYU Through Four Games?