Any good feeling that resulted in the rare successful outcome last week for BYU was promptly flushed down the drain in another miserable performance Saturday.
In a season of lows, the Cougars hit rock bottom against Massachusetts in the final game at LaVell Edwards Stadiums this year. Against a team that started playing at the FBS level for only six years ago and began this season 0-6, BYU suffered an embarrassing 16-10 loss to fall to a highly disappointing 3-9.
“I understand a lot of people are disappointed and upset,” said coach Kalani Sitake.
One week ago, the Cougars were riding high after dominating UNLV in Las Vegas in the first start for quarterback Joe Critchlow. The encore performance was abysmal, as the freshman threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times.
For all the injuries BYU has suffered this season, and there have been many, still it is hard to justify losing to a program the caliber of Massachusetts. The program’s numbers – a combined a 11-48 since 2012 – are nothing short of atrocious.
The excuses in this case don’t fly. No matter the circumstance, BYU should not lose to this team. Doing deeper, there is no excuse of this season.
“Not making excuses, we have to compete,” Sitake said. “I think we’re good enough to beat this team.”
For sure, the season-ending injuries to Tanner Mangum and Beau Hoge have played a significant factor to this season’s misery. No team forced to play a third-string quarterback, in this case barely removed from serving a church mission in his first season of college football, is set up for success in these circumstances.
But this goes deeper than injuries, even if up to 40 players have been sidelined at some during the season. Right from the start, with one game left at Hawaii next week, this team has greatly underachieved.
Remember the Portland State game? In the season-opener, the Cougars managed to score only 20 points against an FBS team that is winless. Playing the comparison-score game is always tricky, but last week Weber State hung 63 points on Portland State.
Remember the LSU game? BYU’s offense never got beyond the 50-yard line against the mighty Tigers, who lost to Troy three weeks later.
And nobody can forget the loss to East Carolina in a game featuring two 1-7 teams. Without a doubt, this year’s BYU team is historically bad.
Remember the 1992 season. BYU used several quarterbacks that season – against competition that rivals some of this season’s schedule – and still won eight games.
Most definitely, the program needs significant changes. To stay the same and expect different results is the definition of insanity.
“We can do better,” Critchlow said.
Obviously, the offense needs to a different look. Under second-year coordinator Ty Detmer, the offense has gone nowhere repeatedly. With even an average offense, BYU probably would have won the necessary seven games to reach bowl eligibility this season.
You know it’s bad for Detmer when Sitake is openly questioning the play-calling during his postgame remarks. Against a team that gives up about 200 yards a game on the ground, Critchlow attempted 45 passes.
“Probably threw the ball too much,” Sitake said.
“I’m actually not entirely sure on why we ran the ball less this game,” Critchlow said. “I would say that just the way that the game played itself out and the way that the defense adjusted led us to pass the ball more.
“I felt like there were obviously a lot more throws this game than last. I could have taken responsibility and made better reads (and) better throws, but I failed to do so.”
Last week against UNLV, Squally Canada gained 213 yards on 25 attempts. Canada had 11 carries for 51 yards on Saturday.
And this is just the beginning. The list of problems goes on and on, mirroring the number of losses BYU has had this season.