COUGAR TRACKS

Is South Florida Loss A Turning Point For BYU Football Program?

Oct 16, 2019, 6:02 PM | Updated: 6:27 pm

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake leads his team in singing the Cougar fight song to a large crowd of BY...

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake leads his team in singing the Cougar fight song to a large crowd of BYU fans gathered at the end of the game against USF in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (Robert W. Grover, For the Deseret News)

(Robert W. Grover, For the Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – It’s easy for everyone to pile dirt on BYU football right now after a disappointing setback last week against USF in Tampa. The positive that came out of BYU’s loss at USF was that it was the turning point of the season and potentially the future of the program.

For better or worse, a lot is on the line for Cougar Football going forward.

Being at a turning point, BYU has to make changes in order to show improvements for the final six guaranteed games of the season. Especially if they want to avoid missing out on the bowl season for the second time in three years.

Here are some things that this BYU football team could happen and reasons for optimism in the back half of the regular season.

Coordinator Responsibilities

This week has seen one theme emerge from the BYU coaching staff. They are looking inward and placing the blame for this team’s struggles on them. Head Coach Kalani Sitake has been vocal this week that the blame goes to him and he has to get things fixed.

The fixing could come with Kalani Sitake becoming more involved with play-calling duties, especially on the defensive side. BYU’s defense is currently in the bottom 10 nationally in stopping the run. BYU opponents have rushed for over 1,300 yards through six games this season.

Sitake noted this week he’s hands-on with everything. Hands-on needs to become a full-fledged takeover with playcalling this Saturday against a nationally-ranked Boise State team that BYU hasn’t defeated in four years.

After a week where BYU’s defense could only muster up one tackle for loss and zero sacks against subpar USF offensive line a change might inject life into a defense that has enough talent to perform better than what they are showing right now.

Players Still Believe In Sitake

When a team goes on a losing streak it could be easy for a roster to become fractured. That hasn’t been the case. Linebacker Chaz Ah You and defensive lineman Bracken El-Bakri have vocally expressed their support for Sitake.

Sitake has preached a family atmosphere since he became the head coach of the Cougars. Families have tough stretches, but the good ones don’t give up on each other. This BYU team doesn’t appear to be bailing on Sitake and their teammates at the moment.

Key players could be returning soon from injuries

Quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to return at some point in November before the end of the regular season. Defensive backs Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox have been participating in practice again and Dayan Ghanwoloku is working his way to get back this weekend against Boise State.

These players returning at some point in the last six games of this season will give BYU better odds of coming away with victories.

Winnable Games

In the final six contests of the season, there are three games that BYU will likely be a sizable favorite. Liberty, Idaho State, and UMass are a trio of teams ranked sub-120 in Sagarin ratings. BYU is currently 79th in Sagarin.

Can BYU pull off at least one win against either Boise State, Utah State, or San Diego State? All three of those teams are currently ranked higher than BYU.

****

Does that give you a little more optimism for the rest of the season?

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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Is South Florida Loss A Turning Point For BYU Football Program?