Wow, what a night after the absolute annihilation of the Navy football team by BYU — and it almost didn’t happen. I was so excited for this football season. We finally were seeing the type of schedule that was promised to us when it was announced that BYU was going independent. The slate of teams both coming into LaVell Edwards Stadium, as well as fun away games, really had me excited. Then COVID hit and teams started dropping off the schedule. All of this was made better, for me personally, when it was announced that the Cougars added Army and Navy. I love the service academies.
There was a lot to like last night, but I kept my key takeaways to 5 from BYU’s win over Navy.
I was really nervous when defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki came out publicly and said he had never seen the triple option before. I was still leery even after the first forced 3 and out. I thought maybe it was fluke. But no. The Cougar defense played very assignment sound and were extremely physical at the line of scrimmage and the linebackers were extremely aggressive. In passing situations, BYU was even able to come up with some pressure and finished with five sacks, which has been a problem for a couple seasons now.
After speaking to a few of my football coach friends, the physicality of the preparation for the season showed, but the Cougar defense does have to be commended for their aggression and taking the fight to the Navy offense. Now, the game against Army could be different as they crushed Middle Tennessee State 42-0 and their option game was fantastic.
The Offensive Line was as Good as Advertised
The offensive line play was incredible. Once again, some aspects can be attributed to training camp preparation, but on a line where four out of the five starters have NFL potential, they really looked the part. They were big and physical and really paved the way for the BYU running backs to find lanes and run all over a defense that is usually stout. Zach Wilson was also very comfortable and was able to make his checks due to the protection afforded him by the great offensive line play.
Zach Wilson Did His Job
While we are talking about Zach, I’ll mention how much he impressed me as well. He went 13-18 for 232 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Two of those incompletions were pretty bad drops by Gunner Romney. He looked poised and didn’t really try to force things into big plays like he has in the past. Even the one pick was kind of fluke, although the ball probably should not have been thrown there.
Still Room for Improvement
There are still some improvements to be had. I already mentioned the two drops by Romney. He still had a good game, but if BYU is going to have a reliable passing attack against good opponents, it likely has to be Romney to step up after the injury to Matt Bushman. I think he is up to the challenge and now that there is actual games happening, people can settle into their roles.
The BYU Coaching Staff was well Prepared
The last thing I wanted to mention was the preparation and coaching of the coaching staff. A few years ago I was part of a high school coaching staff that felt we were coaching for our jobs. That environment was so intense and really helped shape me into the coach I am now. I am not saying that this coaching staff is coaching for their jobs, but they are coaching as if they are. You could see how well thought out the game plan was. You could see where they identified places where they could take advantage of their opponents and really made sure to capitalize. When players made plays, the coaches looked joyful and celebrated their success. As Kalani said after the game, the coaching was all done before the game and he only had to watch the execution of the game. I felt they did a great job for this one and hopefully can maintain that intensity throughout the rest of the season.