DICKSON: Cougars are showing higher levels of consistency
After BYU beat No. 19 Arizona State 27-17 on Saturday, I was reminded of something a co-worker once said in a corporate training during a discussion about consistency.
“We’re not talking about thickness.”
It was funnier when he said it, which was in the context of a bunch of corporate big wigs conducting the meeting and it broke the tension. But here’s the point: The art of consistency has eluded plenty of BYU football teams and consistency is one of the hallmarks of success in college football, especially in conference play.
You may have heard that the Cougars will be joining the Big 12 in 2023. One of the unique aspects of scheduling during the independence era is that most of BYU’s toughest games have come at the beginning. At the end of the season the Cougars are playing lots of Group of Five and FCS opponents.
That changes in conference play. BYU will likely play three or four non-conference games before heading into, say nine Big 12 games in ten weeks.
That requires the kind of depth, focus and consistency that the program has displayed in starting the 2021 season 3-0.
And not just any 3-0. We’re talking 3-0 against the Pac-12, whose presidents have looked down their noses at BYU every time the prospect of realignment has been discussed. It’s a league that at the moment, with the exception of Oregon, is the very definition of a dumpster fire. Maybe if the Cougars beat Washington State Oct. 23 and USC Nov. 27 they can petition to play Oregon for the Pac-12 title.
For the first time in program history the Cougars have started the season 3-0 against Power Five opponents.
For sure, 3-0 looks awfully good on BYU.
Those three wins against Arizona, Utah and Arizona State have been by eight, nine and ten points, hardly dominating. All three wins have followed a similar pattern; The Cougars take a two-score lead, the other team rallies but eventually BYU finishes strong for the win.
But they are wins and in Power Five conference play, you take the victory and move on.
Saturday night’s win had many heroes, not the least of which was running back Tyler Allgeier. In the third quarter, he made what has to be considered one of the plays of the year when chasing down Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robinson – a former BYU recruit – and forcing a fumble that probably saved the game for the Cougars.
It’s a video that will be used by coaches in every corner of the country and in every sports to demonstrate perseverance. BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he won’t mind have Allgeier represent what it means to be a Cougar.
Allgeier’s nickname is “Psycho T,” which runs counter to his soft-spoken attitude off the field. BYU fans need to come up with a name for the play. Superhero Punch? Tyler’s Punch Out? The Allgeier Tomahawk?
In addition, Allgeier came up big down the stretch for BYU. Before the final offensive drive of the game, the junior running back had just 15 carries for 41 yards. He had 28 yards on six carries in the final minutes of the game and also had his helmet ripped off by an Arizona State defender for another 15 yards to keep the drive alive.
As for Sitake, it wasn’t too long ago that BYU was having real issues winning at home. At one point, the Cougars were just 11-10 at LaVell Edwards Stadium with losses to San Jose State, UMass, Utah State and Northern Illinois, hardly a powerhouse lineup.
Now, BYU has won 12 games in a row in Provo, another good sign that the program is ready for conference play again. You HAVE to own your home field if you want to play with the big boys and succeed.
Against Power Five teams in 2021 the Cougars have given up 17 points or less in all three games. I can’t think of a more impressive start to a season for the BYU defense, which has its faults but resiliency isn’t one of them.
If this consistency is sustainable, 2021 could get very interesting in when bowl and playoff season comes around.
Evan Cobb, Daily HeraldDarnell Dickson
Jaren Wilkey/BYU BYU football coach Kalani Sitake celebrates on the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium after a 27-17 victory against Arizona State on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)