and none are scheme or talent related.
As a coach I always try and temper my critique of other coaches, but the points below are examples of things I have seen throughout this season that relate directly to the mental/cultural makeup of a team and it is really beginning to bother me.
1-Hustle: This is not a comparison between Bronco and Kalani, but more a difference in mindset. On kickoffs teams under Bronco would run to the end zone on touchbacks and today I watch players on the cover team slow up and stop before even reaching the 25. Why bother running to the end zone you ask? It has absolutely no impact on a touchback, but it reflects a mental deficiency that coaches need to instill in players. Special teams more than anything set the tone of a game and they are the most important aspect of play by far. We have seen it already today be how neutered BYU's offense became in the 2nd quarter when starting inside the 20 into the wind. Overall our coverage has been pretty good this season, but again, it isn't about scheme it is about establishing that mindset of going hard all of the time and many of the guys on kickoff coverage get play time on offense or defense. It is subtle, but that mindset carries over!
2-Focus: Throughout the first half BYU's defense has had issues getting lined up, including a couple of gaffs on that last drive that set up the field goal attempt before halftime. That is inexcusable and has also happened throughout the season! The players should know immediately how to align to formation and it should be drilled into them all week and especially in the walkthrough. Even if you see a formation they haven't used for several games, the players should be prepared through film study and meetings and if it is a new formation, you revert to basic alignment principles. Some of this I think is due to the need Tuiaki feels to rotate so much, which sometimes happens late. You need to be either dialed in better to personnel matchup's to get your players on the field quicker or stick with a group that is playing well unless a player needs a blow. Just be prepared!
3-Finishing: It drives me nuts when I see UMass o-linemen running up to push their ball carrier when he gets stood up, while I count at least 3 occasions when the BYU line stood and watched the runner get driven back instead of attacking the pile, which is what "tip of the spear" should represent. This line has looked downright nasty at times and soft and undisciplined at others. Some of it is youth and experience and they have the talent to be really good, but we should be seeing more of the nasty and less of the other at this point of the season. They have had the time to gel, mature and eliminate the mental errors and should be better at this point.
4-Set the alarm: This team may be able to recover from the sleep walking that was the first 10 minutes of this game against UMass, but they can't against teams like Boise. Honestly if the team was ready at the start of last weeks game we wouldn't be talking about that last play still. It happened again today and the only time it really hasn't been an issue this season is against Hawaii. I don't know what the pre-game ritual is, but if you start work at 9 in RL and set your alarm to 9 you are going to be late and eventually lose your job. The first possession of each team sets the tone of the game and it makes your path to victory much harder when you are always letting the other team set it!
Bottom line is, these are just a few simple things that NEED to be hallmarks of BYU Football because we need an advantage in the mental and preparation aspects of the game that we will not have in raw talent. It is what it is and it has always been this way at BYU. Be innovative, be prepared and be mentally sound so you can play above your level (See Wisconsin) when needed and dominate at your level (See Hawaii) as you should.