BYU Football needs to fix issues before Notre Dame

Sep 29, 2022; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Kody Epps (0) catches a ball and runs it in for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Utah State Aggies at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight game, BYU Football appeared to struggle in the first half.

BYU has failed to cover the under/over for three straight weeks after closer than expected home games against Wyoming and Utah State and a tough Oregon squad on the road. When this happens once, or even twice, many of the issues can be thrown into the anomaly pile.  After three straight games, it starts to become a trend.

Below are four bad trends that BYU Football has been showing the last few weeks, and a possible solution to each problem.

Undisciplined Play/Penalties

Throughout the game, and particularly in the first half, the Cougars have not play disciplined football. Whether it was Max Tooley throwing the shoe, the three offsides penalties, or terribly taken angles on tackle attempts, it was clear that the Cougars were not playing disciplined football.

The offense had its issues as well. On the trick play that worked flawlessly against Baylor, the Cougars once again had a wall of blockers ahead of Hall that should have had no issue getting to the goal line. This same kind of issue appeared against Wyoming when BYU continually ran short routes and missed blocks.

How to fix the issue: The solution needs to come from the coaches. Coaches need to expect and demand more discipline. In a rivalry game there is going to be some emotion, but the same will be true against Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Boise State. The kind of mistakes that were made against Utah State hurt the scoreboard, but not the ending result. Against other teams, it very well could cost the game.

Field Goals

Jake Oldroyd has only made one of his last six field goal attempts. Ironically, the make was on a 45 yarder from the hash that was probably the most difficult kick during the six kick span. Oldroyd has also struggled to hit PAT’s right down the middle, but that is somewhat insignificant as long as the kicks do go through.

Oldroyd had a similar stretch to end the 2019 season when he missed four out of five kicks over a five game span.

How to fix the issue: Oldroyd has made some amazing kicks during his career including game winners. However, for the good of the team needs to head in a new direction and give someone else a chance. There is going to be at least one more game this year where the game will be decided by field goals. Oldroyd, we love you, but there simply isn’t time to try to get your confidence back right now.

Starting Out Fast

BYU Football has actually started off fast initially a few times this season on offense. Against USF and Utah State, the Cougars scored in less one minute and against Baylor they made a field goal on the first drive. Overall however, the Cougars have been outscored 51-38 in the first half in the last three games. On the flip side, BYU is outscoring their opponents 58-40 in the second half in those same games.

Particularly in the Utah State game, outside of the first two play drive, BYU had a very difficult time getting off the field on defense and staying on the field while on offense. Against the 115th ranked rushing defense (and that’s saying a lot given who they’ve played) BYU was -21 in rush yards going into halftime.

How to fix this issue: The team captains and coaches need to get the teams ready to play from the first snap. The play calling has to change to allow for a big sack, long run, or sustained drive. I’ve noticed that when BYU gets one big stop, they tend to play better the next few plays. Calling a play that allows for this (blitzing), could help to get the defense going.

Also, never, ever overlook the opponent.

Stopping the Run

After a phenomenal game against Baylor, BYU has given up 181 yards per game the last three contests.  That is an average of 4.2 yards per carry. On the surface that doesn’t seem terrible, but when you throw out sacks and a 22 yard backwards lateral, the number is much closer to five yards per carry.

Teams have been able to run on first down and consistently have a 2nd and 4 or better. For an offense, it opens up the entire playbook, and for a defense, it can be a near impossible task to get a stop while still playing good coverage.

How to fix the problem: BYU needs to load the box a bit more. Notre Dame and Arkansas both run first style offenses. If the Cougars struggle against those two teams the same way they have against Wyoming and Utah State, a 300 yard rushing night is very possible.

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There are plenty of positives that can be talked about. Jaren Hall has been elite and the receivers have been everything we could have hoped for.

At the end of the day, BYU Football is 4-1 and has no terrible losses. That is something that many other teams like Miami, Texas A&M, Texas, and Utah can not say.