Final Thoughts Before BYU Football Kicks Off
The off preseason has been long but it is about to end.
The last memory that we have of BYU Football is the dominant second half that the Cougars had in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. We remember that the final score was 49-18 and that Zach Wilson ended the game 18-18 and even Tanner Mangum did well not missing a throw. It was exactly what the Cougars needed to finish off their roller coaster season.
Since then it has been 250 days since then and a lot has changed, but not in a bad way.
Sure there were a few good players lost including Squally Canada, Corbin Kaufusi and Sione Takitaki but most of the team is back with some additions that will make an immediate impact.
These are my final thoughts on BYU Football before the season gets underway.
Most of the talent from the bowl game is back, plus some
Yes, I know Dylan Collie and Sione Takitaki played out of their minds in the last game of the season last year, but quite honestly, Dylan Collie could have been any receiver. Collie had one really nice catch but the rest were so accurate and open that anyone would have made those plays. Sione Takitaki had a lot of tackles, but quite a few of those weren't him making a play, but rather doing his responsibility and making the tackle.
Matt Hadley, Squally Canada, Corbn Kaufusi and Butch Pau'u all didn't play in that game meaning that the Cougars were fine without them. Not to say they won't be missed, but they played okay without them.
Other players that were out/not on the team that will play this year include Lopini Katoa, Zayne Anderson, Moroni Laulu-Pututau, Ty'Son Williams, Emmanuel Esukpa and Isaiah Kaufusi. I don't want to say that any one player is better than Corbin Kaufusi or Dylan Collie, but the combination of the players that missed last season should more than make up for the talent lost coming into this season.
Add all of them to Zach Wilson, Dayan Ghanwoloku, Kyhris Tonga, Matt Bushman and others and this team would have probably beat Western Michigan 70-7.
The off season has been motivating, possibly more than 2009
Playing Portland State, Idaho Tech or Alaska A&M is not very motivating for fans, players or even... coaches. How could it be? If you are expected to beat a team by 45+ in the first game how motivating can that be on July 10th when there are no coaches watching you train. If the game is against a team like Arizona or Nebraska the motivation is much higher, especially during Spring and Fall Camp. But again, when it is the middle of the summer or early winter the game seems so far away things can relaxed a little bit.
Playing Utah has been different. It feels like it did in 2009 when the Cougars opened up their season against #3 Oklahoma, if not even more motivating. The way that Utah beat BYU in the second to last game of the season has motivated ever single player to work hard every single day. Throw in the fact that the Utes are ranked #14 in the nation and Lee Corso has them in the National Championship game and the motivation may be at an all time high, second only to 1984 when the Cougars played #3 Pittsburgh.
The only danger in this is emotions. If the Cougars come out so ready to score and win and then throw an early interception or give up a 60 yard run that could turn bad real quick.
2019 is going to define Kalani Sitake and it will all depend on the rivalry games
If BYU beats Utah Sitake will probably sign a contract extension before he even makes it to the locker room. If he loses, he has to do a few things to keep his seat from getting really warm or even hot. The Cougars absolutely can not go 0-3 or even 1-2 against their rivals this year unless the one win is against Utah.
Quite honestly, I think fans would even accept a 5-7 season if it means going 3-0 against rivals. Obviously that won't happen since they will almost certainly beat UMass, Liberty and Idaho State, but the point is the same. Fans are tired REALLY TIRED of losing to the three schools up north.
Either way, at the end of the season fans are either going to be embracing Kalani for years to come or calling for his job, I just don't see very many ways where it is a mixed feeling.
Zach Wilson has done his homework, now it's time for the test
Whether it was getting his surgery rehab done quickly, watching film all hours of the night or constantly pushing to go harder at practice, Zach Wilson has put in the work to have a special season. Obviously studying and practicing is different than actually playing in a game, but Wilson has done all he can to prepare himself.
Again, so much may come down to what happens in the first drive. If Wilson throws a pick-six on the first play of the game, it will be like studying 10 hours for a test and getting to question one and realizing you don't have the slightest idea of what the answer is. It can be demoralizing, frustrating and a game changer. Hopefully, when adversity does come his way, he has also prepared himself mentally to put it aside and keep performing well. But from what I've seen and heard, he is ready and I'd have no other quarterback behind center based off of what I've seen.
I'm ready for some football, let's get this started!