Are you numb to it yet?
The losing? The constant mistakes? The injuries? The mediocrity?
Fans are invested to different degrees. Most former players or the families of current players, for instance, stick with the team through thick or thin. Others spend the whole game whinging (look it up, it’s a word) about the coaching and players — heck, every single play, some guys — swearing off ever going to another game or caring again when BYU loses yet another game to a mid-level program.
The Cougars’ 27-24 loss to South Florida sent many a keyboard warrior into a postgame frenzy, calling for the heads of everyone from Kalani Sitake to the waterboy.
It almost seems like piling on after the whistle at this point. BYU went into the South Florida game without its top running back (Ty’Son Williams), starting quarterback (Zach Wilson) and best defensive player (Zayne Anderson) because of injuries. Another top defender, cornerback Dayan Ghanwoloku, made the trip but didn’t play due to injury. The Cougars were already down Tristan Hoge and Keiffer Longson on the offensive line and during the game several others fell, including Thomas Shoaff twice.
For the second straight week, it was up to a backup quarterback to try and win the game on the final drive.
This team is so beat up, physically and mentally, after losing three straight games, it’s just sad.
Intelligent BYU fans don’t want much. Nobody believes that it’s still the 1980s. The Cougars aren’t cruising through a bunch of mid-major stiffs, winning a bowl game and claiming western dominance. Any fan who truly understands college football knows times have changed and so has the Cougars schedule.
So what do BYU fans want?
The first expectation would be that the team be competitive, whoever they play. For the most part, the Cougars have done that this season. Utah and Washington were double-digit losses but BYU was in the game at the half. Second, fans expect to get a few wins against Power 5 opponents. That’s happened, as well.
BYU fans also expect to be able to beat the Group of 5 teams on the schedule, and that’s really been Sitake’s Achilles heel. Bronco Mendenhall lost his fair share of games to P5 programs but always seemed to beat the teams the Cougars were expected to beat. In his four seasons at the helm, Sitake has really ugly losses to UMass, Fresno State, East Carolina, Northern Illinois, Toledo and now South Florida.
Another “want” by fans is that the Cougars look like they are getting better. Perhaps it’s unfair to judge this category because of all the injuries, but regression seems to be the key word here. The offense hasn’t scored more than 27 points in regulation of any game this season. On Saturday — despite advantages in first downs, yards, time of possession and turnovers — the Cougars managed just 23 and left plenty of points on the field. This stunning statistic — 14 drives of 10 plays or more this season, no touchdowns — is really unbelievable.
Defensively, BYU started well but failed miserably against the run the longer the game went on. USF had 18 rushing yards in the first quarter, 47 in the second, 90 in the third and 88 in the fourth. This is the worst Cougar run defense in years.
Which brings us to the final BYU fan want: Wins. The Cougars (2-4) need four wins in the final six game to reach a bowl game, and that is going to be a real struggle with Boise State, Utah State and San Diego State still on the schedule. Sitake’s contract runs out after the 2020 season and there is a growing movement that this thing is not going to turn around.
OK, so we’re talking about the fans, who generally don’t block, tackle or score touchdowns. But their input is important to the overall health of the football program. The more BYU loses, the more they want to pull the plug on their support.
Fans make a difference in a program with their wallets and their voices. Those voices are fading off into the distance right now, turning to other forms of entertainment (hello, college basketball) to occupy their time.
It’s all kind of a toxic haze that BYU’s athletic brass simply can’t ignore.
Do you realize it’s been a month since the Cougar faithful saw a BYU win?
Feels like years, doesn’t it?