BYU football vs. Western Kentucky 13

The BYU football team huddles up before the 41-10 Cougar win over Western Kentucky at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head as we approach Election Day 2020 … and I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot poll. This isn’t that kind of column.

Be grateful I’ve been covering BYU football since the mid-1990s and it never ceases to amaze me how negative some Cougar fans can get, even in victories.

Back then, before Twitter and social media, it was discussed around the watercooler at work, or on the radio call-in show with LaVell Edwards after the game.

“Why didn’t you run the ball more?”

“I think you should have changed quarterbacks at halftime.”

Can you imagine today’s fans — emboldened keyboard warriors who hide behind aliases online — calling into a coach’s show on the radio right after an emotional win or loss?

“Kalani, why did you make the offense kneel in the final seconds inside the 10-yard line? Don’t you know we have to score more points to get noticed?”

“Kalani, how come Zach Wilson threw so many incomplete passes?”

“Why are you still employed?”

BYU trudged through a 41-10 victory against Western Kentucky on Saturday, scoring on its first five possessions and coasting the rest of the way. The only touchdown it surrendered was after Zach Wilson threw his first interception in 184 attempts and the Hilltoppers had the ball at the 3-yard line.

I get it. In college football, image is everything. Style points matter. How you do something is almost more important than the end result.

But how about a little gratitude for your 7-0 Cougars?

It reminds me of a George Carlin bit about how a guy who won a Porsche on a game show and complained, “Oh, man, we already have a small car.”

There are a number of reasons the game was kind of … blah, especially in the second half.

As the head coach, Kalani Sitake is focused on two things: winning the game and keeping his stars healthy. The game was pretty much won in the first half, so check that one off early. As for his team’s health, the Hilltoppers were a bunch of headhunters. Two players were ejected for targeting, Eli Brown ripped Tyler Allgeier’s helmet off near the goal line and there were numerous other dumb personal fouls. BYU sat their stars for good reason.

As far as Sitake was concerned, mission accomplished.

BYU fans, however, want so much more.

They want dominance, even by the second and third stringers. They want a flashy score to impress the pollsters. They want no mistakes, touchdowns on every down and sacks, sacks, sacks.

It’s funny to me that a 31-point win garners so much vitriol.

It was curious to watch Western Kentucky’s approach to the game after falling behind in a big way. Trailing 35-3 at halftime, the Hilltoppers came out in the third quarter content to run the ball and take as much time as they could off the play clock, just as they had in the first half.

I understand that you can’t go completely away from your game plan when you fall behind but their goal in the second half obviously wasn’t to win the game. It was to score a couple times and build a little confidence.

BYU defensive coaches were perfectly happy to play coverage and keep everything in front of them as the Hilltoppers slogged through a 20-play, 10-minute drive that eventually failed to yield any points.

It wasn’t until the Cougars subbed their second and third string guys in the fourth quarter that WKU began to attack downfield more.

C’mon, don’t they know BYU fans want a turnover or a punt so Wilson and the offense can get the ball back and show off?

The BYU defense, especially in the second half, was so vanilla the Creamery should name a flavor after them.

If you want to quibble (and I know you do) the offense wasn’t sharp. Wilson had as many incomplete passes in the first half as he had in the first three games (11). There were several drops by receivers that would have helped him out.

Defensively, the WKU offensive line locked up and pushed the BYU defensive line off the ball a surprising amount, which allowed the Hilltoppers to run effectively and convert a lot of third downs. Aside from the hit and fumble recovery by linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi in the first half, the defense didn’t rise up and win a lot of individual battles. They only caused one 3-and-out all night and that wasn’t until the second half.

Still, Western Kentucky’s longest play from scrimmage was a 23-yard scramble by quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome. His longest pass play was just 14 yards.

And, of course, the Hilltoppers managed just 10 points.

In the end, all the hand wringing and complaining by Cougar fans was for nothing. BYU is 7-0 for first time since 2001 and on Sunday learned it was a Top 10 team in the Associated Press poll (No. 9).

On Friday, the Cougars go to the Smurf Turf of No. 21 Boise State. BYU has never won a game in Boise (0-5). In addition, the NCAA has mandated no team activities on Election Day Tuesday. BYU doesn’t practice on Sunday so basically it has Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the Broncos.

Will they have to play better? Of course. The Cougars have to be able to get off the field defensively against Boise State. But you can bet there will be complaints either way.

An idea from a faithful readerBYU fan Henry Whiffen, who was actually portrayed Cougar mascot Cosmo in 1956 and 1957, had a suggestion to nominate Boise State for the Sportsmanship Disingenuous Award for not only having a blue colored field but for wearing uniforms that match the field.

He said it could also be known and the Faux-Hospitality Award, or the Sneak-Hospitality Award.

Whiffen also mentioned Hawaii, who likes to hold home football games as late as possible so teams from the other times zones get messed up body clocks.

I like how you think, Henry. Every home team looks for every advantage they can get. Didn’t somebody once paint the visiting locker room pink, a non-aggressive color?

Another sequelI fully expect new Jazz owner and BYU alum Ryan Smith to be the next billionaire to buy an island and put dinosaurs on it. I mean, how else will we get Jurassic Universe: The Sixth One?

Moving upFormer BYU basketball standout Yoeli Childs is starting to turn some heads in the NBA. It’s a bit of a different deal this fall because the league isn’t allowed to work out individual athletes. Childs and others who are auditioning have to send video of their workouts. Both the Knicks and the Celtics have expressed interest in Childs, who could eventually work himself into a late first round situation.

He’s tested very well, posting a 38.5-inch vertical. On a video interview, Childs said he’s more athletic than he’s given credit for.

That’s true, but he also has a great personality and is an impressive young man who will be a very good influence in the locker room.

Lights outThis week, the eminently quotable Mark Pope said of his BYU basketball team: “I would bet right now that our roster from top to bottom goes to bed earlier than any roster in the country. I am super-confident of that. These 6 a.m. (practices) wear on you, man. You start to get scared.”

That’s all for today, but for this: Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road to life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make up their minds.

Appropriate for Election Day, right? Mask up, vote your conscience and stay safe.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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