Real and rational thoughts on USF , the defense, and the next 5 games....
- We're 4-0!!!!
- Defense - I'm not a Tuiaki apologist by any stretch of the imagination...BUT what he's accomplished this year is nothing short of amazing. His defenses allowed 16.7 points per game against 3 P5 teams. He blitzed at the proper times, dropped 8 at the proper times, and basically called 3 great games. Going into halftime against USF, his defense had allowed 6 points.
Then the second half happened. And I get it, the long drives were frustrating and demoralizing.
- Injuries - There were several plays in the 4th quarter where we only had 3 guys on the field that weren't considered backups. We had 3rd and 4th stringers playing. Some of that was by choice and some wasn't. Injuries suck and they're a part of football. And you can say 'next man up' all day long, but there's a point at which they become too much...where there are too many backups playing, too many people playing different positions, too much chaos, that you can't succeed. We hit that threshold in the 3rd and 4th quarters on Saturday night. The 49ers hit it last year. BYU hit it in 2014 (I'll come back to 2014 in a second).
I'm so so sick of people ignoring this fact. Let me be super clear: our backups are not as good as USF's starters. Say it with me: our backups are not as good as USF's starters. This was not an FCS team. This is a team with skill position guys who transferred from high D1 programs, and a speedy QB. Our backups are not as good as USF's starters---and btw that's not an indictment of our recruiting--it's a simple fact with 85% of schools not named Alabama or Ohio State. There is a drop-off when your starters go down.
Don't be confused about what happened in the second half. Injuries happened. We were playing backups with no experienced leader on the field.
- Blitzing - I hear people lamenting that Tuiaki didn't turn up the pressure in the second half. You people don't know what you're talking about. With 8 backups in the game, and 1 starter playing out of position (Ah You) and the first game with your defensive captain out for the year and up by 3 scores...that's the WRONG time to start taking defensive risks. Make them take 9 minutes off the clock to score. You literally had a defense being held together with bailing wire and duct tape against a mobile QB...it would be insanity to start taking defensive risks and exposing our inexperienced backup cornerbacks.
People who say we should have blitzed more in the second half don't know anything about football.
It seemed that given the injuries AND given our lead, the philosophy was basically Whitt's philosophy against us in the Vegas Bowl when they had the 35-0 lead--just don't take risks and limit possessions. Who cares if we score 21 or even 28? There aren't enough possessions left to actually win.
You DON'T take defensive risks in that situation. To say we should is absurd.
- Next 5 Games - I think we're going into one of the most difficult 5 game stretches we've ever had. We have 3 P5 games in a row (I doubt we've had that many times in BYU history--one of the others being the first 3 this year), preceded by a Utah State team who has a good offense playing in their Super Bowl against us, AND a Boise team that has 2 one possession losses to UCF and OK State.
Write this down and don't forget it: we should consider ourselves blessed to win 3 of the next 5. Is it possible we win all 5? Yes. It's just as possible that the wheels come off and we lose 4 of the next 5. I think the injuries could continue to mount and suddenly we find ourselves in a really really bad defensive situation against some high powered offenses.
Do NOT be shocked if we lose at least 2 of these games.
- Remember 2014 - We beat UCONN, hammered Texas, beat Houston, beat UVA - We go into Utah State ranked 15th. Taysom gets hurt and we get HAMMERED. Then the O-line and defensive injuries started piling up and we lost 4 in a row (Utah State, UCF, Nevada, Boise). I'm not predicting a similar demise...but I'm uneasy about these 5 games.
I'll say it again...this may be the most difficult 5 game stretch in BYU history...where ALL of these teams are very very capable of beating us, especially if our defense falls apart due to injuries.
BUT, we are also capable of beating all of these teams, if we play well.
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Originally posted on Sep 27, 2021 at 9:18:48am
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