BYU Plays on Emotion Which is Effective but not Dependable
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Against Tennessee, and throughout the Kalani Sitake era, BYU Football has performed best when emotional.
Tennnessee was on a 13 play 58 yard drive that had taken nearly 6:00 minutes off the clock when Devin Kaufusi got flagged with a targeting call at the same time as a late hit and a pass interference.
The Vols were suddenly at the 9 yard line with a first and goal and all of the momentum. But then something happened. The running play that had been run every other play by Tennessee successfully was stopped. Then Guarantano was forced out the pocket and was stopped and that was followed by another forced play that resulted in an incompletion. Tennessee had to kick a field goal that kept the game a one score game.
For the rest of the game, and the two overtimes, the BYU defense only allowed three first downs in five possessions. Before that moment they had allowed 17 first downs on seven possessions. Something clicked for the Cougars and it wasn't Kaufusi getting kicked out the game. It was emotion.
There is nothing else it could have been. The crowd was into the game, the Cougars were down a man and all the momentum was going towards Tennessee. The Vols were running the same plays that got them the first 58 yards and yet everything stopped. The only explanation is that the loss of a player emotionally energized the Cougar defense.
Playing Emotionally is Dangerous
There is no question that Kalani Sitake is emotional. In fact, he may be the most emotional head coach I have ever seen, but that doesn't always mean success. When thinking of the greatest coaches of all time, the names Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and Joe Paterno come to mind. Even Lavell Edwards and Bronco Mendenhall can be added to that list, and they were all very serious coaches that taught sound football no matter the situation, down or distance.
The problem with playing emotional is that often times assignments get missed or high anticipation turns into extreme disappointment. Quite honestly, had Tennessee pulled a trick play at any point from the targeting to the end of the game, there is a high chance it would have gone for six or at least a huge gain. Watching the replay now, players weren't running into their lanes or covering their areas very well, they were just bull dozing players over and breaking up the play.
It is sort of like running an all out blitz in Madden. If the offense doesn't pick it up it can go well, but one audible or correction and a huge play can be given up. I'm not sure why Tennessee didn't do that, but luckily they didn't and that worked in BYU's favor.
Don't get me wrong. Emotion is good in the game of football. But the team needs to learn how to play as well as they do when they are mad while not emotional. They need to be able to force more punts and interceptions without being mad. The targeting was a blessing in disguise and can't be counted on, or hoped for to get the team going against USC and other teams this year.
That isn't to say that an emotional coach can not win, but it is odd that the greatest coaches to ever lead their team were generally all very calm coaches. Maybe Kalani Sitake will change all of that, but only time will tell. In fact I would love that. Watching the team jump around against Wisconsin and seeing Kalani celebrate after big wins is fun to watch, but it is not proven the most effective. For now, we can enjoy the fact that at least for one game emotions did to help BYU pick up the big win against Tennessee.