BYU Football: Essential Changes for a Successful Future
The past week has been, perhaps, one of the most disappointing in the history of Cougar football.
No, it is not that they lost on the road to two very good teams, but how they lost each game that makes it so frustrating.
Against Utah last week, BYU's offensive line gave up nine sacks and poor play-calling led to a 24-21 loss. On Thursday against Boise State, the Cougs lost 7-6 after Riley Nelson single-handedly committed four turnovers and Bronco Mendenhall unsuccessfully took the risk of going for two with a few minutes left.
Do you see similarities in these two games?
A few people or units made mistakes that had a hand in leading to each loss. If the Cougars truly want to become a great—not a good—team, a few changes need to be made at these four coaching and playing positions.
When your starting quarterback throws three picks—one to a lineman, none the less—and fumbles once in a single game, you have to make a change.
That kind of play by Riley Nelson will not lead to W's on the schedule. Riley has thrown a combined eight interceptions in the four biggest games he has played in as a starter (TCU and Tulsa last year, Utah and BSU this year), along with only six touchdowns.
Perhaps he should have been benched earlier on. We will never know. Besides, he has thrown the same amount of touchdowns this year as he has picks. As Taysom Hill was the one that gave BYU's offense a new hope against Boise, Hill deserves to own the starting spot.
Change that needs to be made: Bench Riley Nelson, start Taysom Hill
Offensive Line Coach
Despite poor performances from Riley Nelson this season, the offensive line is definitely the Achilles' heel of the Cougar offense. With starter Houston Reynolds out for the season with an injury, the line is even more shallow than it was before.
In the Utah game, nine false starts were called on them. They simply weren't prepared for the frequent shifting of the Ute linemen, and when it comes to lack of preparation, the fault is on the coach.
Since arriving at BYU, Mark Weber has done a great job with the lineman, but with the way that they are playing this year, they need to make a change.
Nothing against Weber; it is just that he has not done quite what he needed to do thus far this season.
Lance Reynolds, the current tight ends coach, has been with the Cougars for 29 years and played as a tackle at BYU and in the NFL. I often ask myself the question: if you have such a veteran coach that's a former lineman and the line is playing less-than-well, why do you have the guy as a TE coach?
Change needed: Fire Mark Weber, hire Lance Reynolds as O-Line coach
Since gaining the role of offensive coordinator last season, I think we can agree that Brandon Doman has not met our expectations.
He isn't experienced enough to give BYU national attention, and his play-calling is proof of that. For example, Doman insists on constantly running an option to the weak side that, aside from a short Jamaal Williams touchdown last week, has not helped BYU at all.
He's the kind of guy that wants to get things right, and if the players don't execute something well, he will continue to run the play until they get it right. I respect him for striving for flawlessness, but in college football, you have to take care of that in practice.
BYU has a staff member perfectly capable of the role, and the current Varsity Club Director, Robbie Bosco, is that person.
Change needed: Fire Brandon Doman, hire Robbie Bosco as OC
In the Cougars' most recent game against Boise State, the offense was able to put together a 95-yard touchdown drive with a few minutes left to tie the game.
Afterwards, when it seemed obvious to kick a PAT and send the game to overtime, head coach Bronco Mendenhall decided to go for two and cost BYU the game. Afterwards, this is what he said (via ESPN):
"I wanted to win. We had momentum for the first time in the game, moving the ball offensively. We wanted to capitalize on it. I'd do it again."
As a head coach, Mendenhall needs to realize that calling a gutsy play like that was not the right thing to do and admit that he was wrong, not say "I'd do it again."
If he really wants to give BYU exposure and become a national power, he can't make those kinds of mistakes.
There is no doubt that Bronco Mendenhall does a great job as defensive coordinator, but there is a certain man in Philly right now that could do a better job as head coach.
Changes needed: Denote Mendenhall to defensive coordinator, hire Andy Reid as head coach