BYU football at San Diego State 8

BYU players shake hands with fans after the 13-3 Cougar loss at San Diego State on Nov. 30, 2019.

Here’s what’s going in inside Darnell’s head. I’m gonna tell my kids BYU was good at football once (am I doing that meme right, Internet?)

College football is hard

Three points?

Yeah, that’s all BYU could muster in Saturday’s awful 13-3 loss at San Diego State. Special teams were atrocious. The defense played well enough to win but the offense couldn’t finish the deal despite over 400 yards of offense.

We haven’t seen this bad of an offensive performance since … last year’s 7-6 loss to Northern Illinois. BYU fans certainly hoped the Cougars had moved past such struggles.

Lots of blame to go around, but I was particularly perplexed watching the Aztecs drive for a touchdown late in the first half. BYU led 3-0 at the time and SDSU was obviously going into two-minute passing mode. The Cougars never once sent more than three rushers at freshman quarterback Carson Baker, who was making his first collegiate start. I understand the strategy of dropping into coverage and trying to confuse him, but it allowed Baker to throw in rhythm without any pressure whatsoever. Going into halftime down 7-3 is a big, big difference from going in up 3-0, and BYU never led again.

I know Zach Wilson is getting a lot of blame for the loss, and for sure, he wasn’t sharp. But I think BYU’s offensive coaching staff was no match for that wily old fox, Rocky Long, whose defense was relentless all night.

It’s hard to put a finger on the “why” but the Cougars didn’t look like a motivated team. I’m not talking about effort as much as urgency and intensity. That was pretty apparent during BYU’s last possession. Even the CBS Sports Network announcing team commented how it looked as if the Cougars weren’t that concerned about hurrying things along with the clock counting down and needing two scores.

And what the heck has happened to the kicking game?

BYU has four weeks to sit and stew on this poor performance in preparation for the Hawaii Bowl. Honolulu is a place that can be distracting if you aren’t properly motivated. Based on Saturday, I’m not holding my breath for a breakout game for the boys in blue. Another 7-6 season is a distinct possibility.

College football is hard, part deux

Think about this: Utah had two unbeaten seasons while a member of the Mountain West Conference and never got a sniff at competing for a national title. Fast forward to today. Even if Utah wins the Pac-12 championship game and goes 12-1 the Utes are in no way guaranteed a spot in the four-team NCAA playoffs.

What’s a Ute gotta do?

Yoeli is free

BYU fans are ready to see Yoeli Childs do something other than light up the Marriott Center in the pre-game introduction video.

Childs sat out the first nine games due to an NCAA suspension but he’ll be in uniform and ready to play on Wednesday at Utah. The Cougars were 6-3 while Yoeli was sitting, which exceeded my expectations. The Boise State loss was tough, but otherwise the Yoeli-less Cougars performed well. Those wins at Houston and in the Maui Invitational against UCLA and Virginia Tech will look pretty good on the resume.

I will be interested to see how Childs meshes with this group. He brings such a dynamic element to the group there will need to be adjustments. He’s obviously been practicing with them but they might need some game time together to really take off.

All good things …

What a fantastic season for the BYU women’s soccer team.

It ended on Friday at No. 1 Stanford. The Cardinal blitzed the Cougars (21-1-1) for four-first half goals in a 5-1 win. I was surprised BYU was beaten so soundly, and then I realized I’d seen this before.

Like last year when the Cougars were swept by, yep, Stanford in the women’s volleyball Final Four. Like in 2014 when women’s volleyball lost 3-0 in the national title match to Penn State. Like the BYU men’s volleyball team getting swept by Ohio State in two straight national championship matches. Numerous BYU men’s basketball teams getting handled by Gonzaga in WCC Tournament finals. Going back even further, a 7th-ranked BYU football team got worked at home in a big game against Florida State in 2009, and then later that year, by TCU.

My point is that getting to a big game or match is just part of the equation. Being able to rise to the occasion and match the excellence of your opponent is a lot harder.

Props to BYU cross country coach Ed Eyestone, who did that this year. Props to Cougar legend Carl McGown, who won NCAA volleyball titles in 1999 and 2001. Props to Tom Peterson, who did the same thing with men’s volleyball in 2004.

Winning a title is about so much more than talent. You have to be extremely mentally tough as well.

Going to the Lake

Mary Lake is one of the best to ever play volleyball at BYU and one of the top liberos in the world. Some Cougar fans have produced signs at games that she is the sixth Great Lake or that Utah Lake should be renamed Mary Lake.

Actually there is a Lake Mary in Utah, above Brighton Ski Resort near Salt Lake City. It’s a very pretty hike, rated “moderate” for those of us who aren’t professionals.

Perhaps some ambitious BYU fan can start a petition to get it changed to Mary Lake?

Thankful for ER’s

Had a fight with the sharp lid of a green bean can (and lost) on Thanksgiving Day and ended up at Orem Community Hospital's emergency room. Fortunately, it wasn’t too deep a cut so there was no tendon damage, but I still needed eight stitches. The staff was excited when I came in because they hadn’t treated a Thanksgiving Day-related injury all day. Glad I could help them out.

Thanks to Dr. Mike Osborne and his staff for taking good care of me.

Meanwhile, I’m buying pull-tab cans only from now on. Or a good left-handed can opener.

After I got my finger sewed up, we went to the home of some friends, Cory and Andrea Jensen, for Thanksgiving dinner. They put plastic utensils at my place setting.

Hardy, har, har, Jensens. You crack me up.

That’s all, but for this: Every stairway is a stairway to heaven if you're clumsy enough.

Be careful and have a great week.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at

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