BYU-Toledo fb Sitake stare

With early losses to Utah and Washington, it was pretty clear this wasn’t going to be a special season for BYU football.

You know, one of those undefeated regular season numbers pulled off by Hawaii a few years ago. Or even a one-loss regular season that would lead to a possible New Year’s bowl game.

The 2019 campaign still could have been a strong season with nine or ten wins, a season that would have Cougar fans believing that better things were on the way.

And then Saturday happened.

This BYU football team is headed down the path of indifferent mediocrity … again.

The 2-2 start was accepted because the games were all played against Power 5 opponents. Sure, wins at Tennessee and at home against USC are positive, but blowout losses to Utah and Washington, coupled with a road loss to a MAC team, pushes all optimism out the window.

This Cougar team is just not great. Five games show very clearly that BYU is just … dull. Not sharp, not promising, not exceptional in any way. Just … meh.

“Meh” isn’t a way to build your program. “Meh” doesn’t create any kind of forward momentum. “Meh” means a half-filled LaVell Edwards Stadium in November.

“Meh” gets people fired.

BYU fans want wins, but they also want to believe the Cougars are getting better.

Anybody believe that after Saturday?

The 28-21 loss to Toledo was a game that was there for the taking. It’s an embarrassing loss, not because the Rockets weren’t a worthy opponent but because the Cougars are playing so far below their potential and leaving so many opportunities unfinished.

The halftime adjustments by Toledo’s coaches on both sides of the ball seemed to be much, much better than the ones from the BYU sideline. The Cougars couldn’t covert field goal or third-and-shorts. They dropped passes and make critical mistakes on both sides of the ball.

It’s easy to criticize BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes for making bad play calls against Toledo, especially on third downs and in the red zone. But there are three parts to a successful play: The opponent’s defense, the offensive play that is called and the execution of said play. Fair to say both Grimes and his players share equally in the blame for the offensive woes. It’s a coach’s responsibility to get his players ready for a given game and this far into the season the execution should be a lot sharper. The Cougars had a season-high 455 yards but scored just 21 points.

The defense was certainly Jekyll and Hyde on Saturday. After a strong first half, the BYU D was awful in the second. Credit Toledo for attacking the edges and running its quarterback more, but it also makes you wonder what Cougar defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki was thinking going back to a three-man front against a run-heavy offense. The defense surrendered more than 200 yards on the ground for the third time in five games.

Scary thought: How close is BYU to being 0-5 right now?

The bye week comes at a time where it appears the Cougars need to break in a new starting quarterback. Zach Wilson injured the thumb on his throwing hand making a tackle on a late interception and redshirt freshman Jaren Hall handled the final BYU drive.

Hard to imagine the way the Cougars are playing that they can win in Logan against Utah State, or at home against Boise State.

There’s time for introspection and accountability from BYU players and coaches during the bye week.

They have a long way to go to convince Cougar fans that they are making any progress.

There is a lot of mediocrity in college football. It’s an elitist sport where money talks. Ten percent of the teams (if that) are serious contenders for the national title. BYU should fit into the group right below that ten percent.

Right now, they are swimming in the dregs of mediocrity.

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

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