BYU Football struggled to slow down the rushing attack of South Florida.
BYU Football’s philosophy is bend but don’t break. On Saturday however, the bending got to the point where it was so bent it completed a full 360 degree circle and was ineffective. While there is argument to be made that a 9:30 second drive is actually a positive thing as it shows that the defense isn’t giving up the big play, I don’t buy that narrative.
While it is understandable that Tuiaki probably looked at the clock and realized that the playstyle of South Florida likely wasn’t going to result in them having enough time to make a comeback, the final result was a depleted, injured and confidence lacking defense.
The injuries however are what stick out the most.
All off season, the coaches were touting about the depth that they had on defense. While true, that depth is quickly becoming smaller and smaller. Even though a few of the players who went down early in the game came back, it is hard to imagine they were back at full strength.
There were points on Saturday where I honestly did not recognize who was on the field due to the Cougars having to go to their third and fourth string players. Players like Nick Nethercott, Alden Tofa, and Blake Mangleson were coming up with tackles, which is great, but in a two score game those are not the guys who BYU wants to have out there.
Blessing in Disguise?
One of the more memorable quotes by Corbin Kaufusi is was when he said “Everyone’s body is injured, it’s about managing the injuries and doing what you can.” Essentially what he was saying that until you get a BYE week or an off season, everyone is playing hurt.
BYU was hurting on Saturday night.
With at least four starters out from the start of the season, the Cougars were forced to play with less rotation. Guys who in the past played maybe six out of ten snaps were now playing eight or nine.
When USF continued to pound the ball and BYU wasn’t rotating, guys started to go down. Most got up on their own, which shows that the injuries were likely more wear and tear as opposed to more serious injuries like an ACL or meniscus.
In all likelihood, most of the players who went down will be back on Friday night with the addition of Keenan Ellis, Tyler Batty, Atunaisa Mahe and possibly Isaiah Herron.
Having those guys back will likely mean the rotation of players will look somewhat normal. On even a brighter side however, if the COugars get into another situation where guys are starting to go down, at least the third and fourth stringers can now say they’ve got some game action behind them.