The close loss at home to Utah makes it four in a row for the Utes over the Cougars, with two more years of bragging rights during the hiatus. BYU dropped to 1-2, while the Utes improved to 3-1. The margin of victory was 7 points, 20-13 being the final score.
BYU has lost 7 games total between last season and this season, 6 of those 7 games have been by 7 points or less. BYU barely loses to the best opponents on their schedule. This is a positive thing for BYU. This indicates that BYU is very close to seeing real success.
Here's a breakdown of the margin of victory of each of the 6 BYU losses last season and this season so far:
2012- Lost to Utah by 3, Boise St. by 1 (finished season at 11-2), Notre Dame by 3 (finished at 12-1), and San Jose St. by 6 (finished 11-2). The average margin of victory being 3.3 points.
2013- So far BYU lost to Virginia by 3 and Utah by 7. The average margin of victory being 5 points.
The average margin of victory of the 6 losses together is 3.8 points. Every one of those losses was within one TD of a win, some of which were against 11 and 12 win teams.
All of these games have a common theme, BYU's defense played phenomenal. It is one of the elite group of players in the nation. The fact that BYU is within a single touchdown of beating any and every opponent on their schedule is something to be proud of as a BYU fan. If you believe in moral victories then consider that a major one.
These facts tell us one thing, that BYU is so very close to breaking into the elite category, the top 10 team Bronco talks about wanting to be.
Let's play "what if" for a second. If BYU had a better offense working with the defense we've sported the last 2 years, BYU would have went 11-1 last season, maybe an at-large bid into a BCS game, and 3-0 this season.
Heck, if BYU had even half as good of an offense now as it had from '06-'09 (the Beck and Hall years), BYU would've won those 6 games.
The offense is so close to being good enough to get BYU 10+ wins, even on a tough schedule. But offense is just not there yet.
The glaring weakness is BYU's passing game. Taysom Hill is 40 for 114 on the season, completing the ball 35.1% of the time. He has 1 TD throw and 3 INT's through three games.
The one small positive that can be drawn from Taysom's passing performances is that his completion percentage has improved from game to game this season from 32.5%, 34.6%, to 37.5%. It's a very small improvement, but improvement nonetheless. He improved 2.1% from game one to game two, and 2.9% from game two to game three. If Hill continues at the same rate of improvement, Hill will post a 41.2% completion pct. against Middle Tennesse St. By mid-season to the back half Hill could be in the 50-60% per game range where BYU fans expected him to be.
Taysom Hill is only a Sophmore. He's still young and has tremendous upside. He is an elite runner already, he just needs to shore up his passing accuracy and mechanics and he could still be the QB Jim Harbaugh recruited him to be.
BYU is a couple changes away from coming away as the winner of the close games their defense gives them. It's only a matter of time that Bronco finds the right pieces, or Anae finds the right scheme or personel choices to give BYU a good enough offense for them to win a lot of games, even against great opponents.
Remember, the reason Bronco brought in Anae and an entire new offensive coaching staff is to do just that, to end up on the winning end of the close games.
One touchdown more per game is the difference between BYU being mediocre and BYU standing out.
For this simple reason, BYU fans should be optimistic.