BYU and Kyle Van Noy gave Poinsettia Bowl viewers quite the show on Dec. 20 in their win over San Diego State to finish their 8-5 season.
That's not exactly the amount of losses head coach Bronco Mendenhall would have liked to had this year but he has to feel good about 2012 overall.
The losses to San Jose State and Utah were not ideal outcomes but the team lost by just three points to No. 1 ranked Notre Dame back on Oct. 20. When your team was a touchdown away from beating one of the BCS National Championship contenders, that's not the worst loss in the world.
With Van Noy and other defensive players like Brandon Ogletree, this BYU team boasted a defense that never surrendered more than 20 points to opponents in any of its victories.
The Cougars are not a team that was going to be fighting for a BCS title shot this year and that's not news to even the most faithful of fans. When you look at the fact Van Noy could return for his senior season to anchor what was at times a very stingy defense and a bowl win, that's a solid year of work.
Yes, the team had more victories back in 2011 but compare the two schedules before calling this season a failure.
Last year, BYU played just one nationally ranked team in Texas and lost that contest. The year before that in 2010, the team also played just one nationally ranked opponent in TCU.
This season, the Cougars played three nationally ranked schools, losing to Boise State, Notre Dame and Oregon State. In the losses to the Fighting Irish and Broncos, BYU fell by just a total of four points.
Regardless of the overall record, Mendenhall's team made some real strides in terms of finding an identity and learning how to play good teams close. Next year's focus will likely center around winning those close games against tough opponents but 2012 provided some solid building blocks.
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