Tom Holmoe Is The Real MVP Of BYU Football & Other Midseason Awards
PROVO, Utah – BYU’s 2020 season is at the midway point with the Cougars ranked just outside the top 10, undefeated, and they have a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Zach Wilson.
Not only are they undefeated but the schedule BYU is facing has just three original opponents on the schedule due to COVID-19 and there was a time when the Cougars had only two games on the schedule with weeks before the start of the season.
Games were getting canceled and postponed but BYU kept pushing forward adding Navy on Labor Day night, a pair of Texas teams, Troy, Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky and then being able to retain San Diego State and Boise State to bolster the schedule.
None of that could have been done without the extremely hard work from athletics director Tom Holmoe. That is why KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell feels Holmoe should be given some sort of award – perhaps the MVP of BYU football – for being able to form a schedule that had just two games to one that now has 10 and maybe even one more.
“The fact that he’s been able to lose a schedule, just kind of be obliterated and then gain a schedule and then gain a respectable schedule during the season. Adding the San Diego State and adding Boise State,” Mitchell said. “At this point, it’s a home run by Tom Holmoe, because in a time when this pandemic has shut so much down and just created all of this doubt and lack of season.”
“The Big Ten, the Pac-12 haven’t played yet. And here we are at midseason awards for BYU. It’s truly remarkable what the athletic department and Tom Holme have done.”
This schedule may not be full of Power 5 teams but it has worked out well. BYU has been the only team out West for the first seven weeks of the season and they have been getting national attention with dominating wins.
These wins have propelled BYU into the national conversation with pundits saying a New Year’s Six and maybe even a College Football Playoff spot could be in the Cougars’ future.
KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry wonders if an undefeated BYU would be in a better position than a 7-0 Pac-12 team.
“If BYU can have an 11th game on November 28 and then you’ve got a Pac -12 team that might be 7-0, maybe,” Kirry said. “Then you’ve got an 11-0 and BYU team, they might be able to have that argument with four extra games that they’ve played and being undefeated. They might be able to be in that discussion.”
This will be the College Football Playoff committee’s toughest year to pick teams that played few if any, non-conference games, and then a higher than normal discrepancy of the total games that teams will have played.
Player Awards Are Obvious
As for player awards, it is no question that the offensive MVP belongs to quarterback Zach Wilson. He is off to one of the best starts in BYU football history.
“I mean, it’s a boring pick because it’s so obvious, but it’s remarkable how Zach Wilson has taken such a tremendous step from a year ago to right now,” Mitchell said.
Despite the offensive MVP being obvious, it is still amazing to see Wilson currently completing at 78.7 percent; at that rate would be an NCAA record. His overall numbers are among the best in college football with the second pass passer rating and yards per attempt, only trailing Alabama’s Mac Jones. He is also top five in total touchdowns.
The defensive MVP at the halfway point is not as clear cut but the answer is still fairly obvious in Khyiris Tonga who has been harassing opponents’ backfields at an alarming rate. Teams have tried to double him and adjust their scheme and Tonga does have a pair of sacks and tackles for losses.
Those double teams have allowed for others to make plays on that BYU defense but when Tonga is able to break through to the backfield the results are marvelous.
Tonga missed the Houston game this past weekend due to an illness and Kirry points out the difference with him not in the lineup and how Houston had no need to pay extra attention to his backup.
“This is a guy who every game that he plays, every team he plays against, has to double team him, has to. When last week that was not the case, Houston didn’t have to double team the backup nose guard. They were really able to handle BYU on that front,” Kirry said. “So him missing last week really made it apparent this is a guy who has NFL level talent and could have gone to the draft this past year.”
Best Moment Of The Year
There are a lot of great moments this year for BYU that include deep passes to wide receiver Dax Milne, the second half dominance against Houston, or the opener against Navy.
Mitchell goes with that season-opening game against Navy. The Cougars were the big game that weekend playing in the Monday Night Football slot on Labor Day, they had ESPN’s top crew on the call, and then BYU went out and dominated by winning 55-3.
“I really think it’s the first win against Navy. That was such a surprise. I really do. I think it was the biggest moment in the sense that it really got the discussion going quickly for BYU on a national stage,” Mitchell said. “BYU looked so they looked so good. Most teams, when they come out their first game of the season, it takes a week or two. You just don’t look that polished. They looked liked they were in midseason form.”
Kirry says his best moment was the second half against Houston which saw BYU score 29 second-half points to beat its best opponent all year while coming back from behind to improve to 5-0.
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