BYU football: Three things we learned from Boise State

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports /

The BYU football team fell to the No. 14 Boise State Broncos 28-27 on Thursday night. The loss dropped the Cougars to 4-4 on the season. Here are three things we learned from yet another close loss.

The coaching staff is still learning

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

Two extremely weird calls tonight.

Fourth-and-19. From your own endzone.

And you go fake punt run?

That’s gutsy. And totally insane.

Sure, Jonny Linehan has a ton of rugby experience. And sure, Boise State certainly wasn’t expecting it. But my word, that’s crazy.

It’s especially crazy considering how good Linehan has been this season. He’s routinely pinned opponents deep in their own territory. So even though he was backed into his endzone, one would imagine that the Broncos would’ve started somewhere around the 45-yard line if they had punted.

I’m not sure who made the call – there was even some speculation right after it happened that Linehan made the call, but that was quickly dismissed – but whether it was Sitake or Lamb, hopefully they’ve learned their lesson.

Granted, it’s worth noting that not only did the Cougars force a field goal, but Boise State missed said field goal, meaning the gutsy call yielded zero points.

The second weird call? With 15 seconds remaining, Sitake elected to send Rhett Almond out for what would be a game-winning 44-yard field goal. It would be a career high, and no BYU kicker has made a field goal over 43 yards this season.

The kick was blocked. Why not take one more shot to the sidelines? Even if they just got five or six yards, you’re looking at a much more reasonable field goal. I still don’t understand why they didn’t try it.

Tale of two Taysoms comes to an end

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports /

For the vast majority of the season, Taysom Hill has been doing his best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impressions. In the first half, he’s struggled mightily. His timing is off, his accuracy is off, his pocket awareness is off. He doesn’t play like a 26-year-old captain should.

Then, in the second half, something clicks for him. I don’t know what Ty Detmer says to him, or what Hill does in the locker room, but it’s usually worked to great success.

That ran out against Boise State.

Hill completed 5-of-17 passes in the first half for just 48 yards. Things didn’t get much better in the final 24 minutes. Hill completed 16-of-25 passes, but he couldn’t make throws/plays when BYU needed him to. He also made a boneheaded decision to step up in the pocket and take a sack during the Cougars’ final drive. Throwing the ball away would have saved BYU its final timeout.

The receivers dropped so many passes that I lost count and the offensive line really struggled to pick up delayed BSU blitzes, so this poor performance is hardly just on Hill. But excuses can only go so far, and as the leader of the offense he naturally shoulders more of the blame than any other player. He finished the night completing 21-of-42 passes for just 187 yards with no touchdowns. It wasn’t enough to get the win, especially with the absence of the BYU football’s most explosive player.

The Cougars need Jamaal Williams

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

BYU football’s all-time leading rusher wasn’t on the field against Boise State as he nursed an ankle injury. And it showed. Big time.

It illustrated just how important Williams is to the Cougars. He isn’t a good player that plays in a good offense. He’s a great player in a mediocre offense. He’s one of the best BYU football players in history and he carries the offense. Without him, the offense isn’t inconsistent. It’s consistently bad. The offense scored just 13 points.

I don’t want to take anything away from Squally Canada, because I thought he played great (21 carries for 88 yards), but he’s no Williams. Williams is the type of talent that could turn a broken play into a 10 yard gain, or a three yard run into a touchdown. Canada just isn’t there yet.

Luckily for BYU football, the team is on a bye next week, so the team should be able to get healthy.