An interesting paradox began to form in the wake of BYU's win over Washington State. On the one hand, some took to Twitter singing the praises of their Beloved Blue Cougs and were chastised for getting ahead of themselves. After all, "it's just one game against an inferior team." On the other hand, those who tweeted concerns about BYU were scolded as being "ungrateful for the win." As the axiom goes: "You can't win for losing!"
Permit me to attempt to reconcile this.
BYU has won its last seven season openers, six of which were against BCS opponents (the exception was Northern Iowa). When you are a non-BCS school you aren't expected to beat a BCS school. When you do it in the first game of the season, it's easy to see why fans start thinking this may finally be the season BYU returns to glory. These are the fans who are chastised for "getting ahead of themselves."
Fast forward 2-3 weeks in any of these seven seasons and you'll find a BYU team that is no longer undefeated, and all hopes of BCS glory have died. The chinks in BYU's armor have been exposed. Fans chastise themselves for allowing themselves to get their hopes up. Next season these fans have made the transition from the first group to the second, and are trying to help others avoid the mistake of getting their hopes up too soon.
Both groups have legitimate reasons for their reactions, but is it possible to have a foot in both camps? Yes. In fact, the team provided us fans with an example of the ideal mindset.
As Bronco entered the locker room to congratulate his team on the win, they all responded that they can be better. They were grateful for a win but they weren't satisfied with what the scoreboard was telling them: they knew they had much more upon which to improve. The question is: do they really believe that, or did they merely tell Bronco what he wanted to hear? Over the next couple of weeks, we'll see how much the team actually believes it. It will be evident in their practices and their game-to-game improvement.
Here's my list of things I'd like to see them address. What's yours?
1. STEP ON THE GAS EARLY AND DON'T EVER LET UP. BYU played a great first half of offensive football, then it fell flat in the 2nd half. Yes, they were without Hoffman, but they still had plenty of remaining weapons and should've been able to get in the end zone. Teams like Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech won't roll over after one or two lackluster quarters.
2. WHERE'S THE PASS RUSH? WSU's quarterback had ALL DAY to throw. Heck, he would get three players on him and he still managed to escape and throw the ball. BYU has to get to the QB quicker or it's going to be a long, sad season.
3. BYU'S "BEND BUT DON'T BREAK"...IS BROKEN. This defensive philosophy is based on the assumption that eventually the opponent will make a mistake, so give up the short pass and wait for the mistake. This philosophy, it turns out, is a mistake. This worked when BYU was playing teams like New Mexico, but high-caliber teams don't make mistakes, that's how they became high-caliber teams. We need better coverage in the secondary, and we've got to stop allowing teams to make sure gains in the hopes that they'll screw up -- they won't. We need to cover every receiver tighter than a BYU co-ed covers the singles' ward Elders Quorum President.
For BYU to fix these issues will require wholehearted commitment to improvement and hard work to see it through. They've already told their coach they can do it -- time will tell whether they believe it.