Thoughts on BYU heading into the Washington Game

BYU Field Storming Over USC

Thoughts on BYU heading into the Washington Game


The excitement of the past two weeks has created the kind of buzz the BYU Football program has not experienced in many years. There have been some big wins over the past 8 years or so of independence but never two in a row over Power 5 teams, and in such dramatic fashion.

It remains to be seen if the Cougs have some magic left for Washington tomorrow. Can they line up and go toe-to-toe with a team that pounded them 35-7 last year? If BYU were to win tomorrow, they would most certainly climb into the top-25 rankings and BYU fans along the Wasatch Front and throughout the country would be absolutely delirious.

I have attended each of the first 3 BYU games. The atmosphere at Lavell Edwards stadium to start the Utah game was electric. That obviously faded in the 2nd half. The showing of 13,000 BYU fans in Tennessee was amazing and was a great reminder of two things: 1) BYU really does have a national fan base and 2) Wasatch Front BYU fans are crazy about their team and are willing to spend time and money to follow them. While in Tennessee, I met several die-hard fans from both categories. As for the field storming and excitement in the win over USC, it was basically the fan base releasing pent up frustration and relishing the idea that the team really has turned the corner. BYU is relevant once ago. Nobody cares if USC ends up not being any good. BYU beat a blue blood, at home, on national TV and that was cause to celebrate.

Aside from the winning, it should be noted that the enthusiasm of Head Coach, Kalani Sitake is absolutely infectious and the fan base is feeding off it. He has the team and the fan base believing. He fully embraces the expectations of the program, the mission of the school, and the history and legend of Lavell Edwards.

Another part of the excitement is that BYU fans are starting to see what we all had thought could happen at the quarterback position – Zach Wilson is proving to be a bonafide star. The offense has been so bad for the past 3 seasons and moving the ball was such a struggle. Fans are starting to believe that the team can string scoring drives together and score touchdowns, led by Wilson. If this continues – look out – BYU will win several more games this year and set themselves up for a big run in 2020.

As they have been for the past 3 or 4 years, the BYU defense is quite good again this year. They have really carried the team for the past 2 seasons. They have been fortunate not to lose anyone to season ending injury yet. That is bound to happen at some point and it will be interesting if they can continue the same level of success. The 3 man defensive front they run has bewildered fans but when one of those three, is Khyiris Tonga, you can pull it off. He is an absolute mauler.

Graduate transfer running back, Ty’son Williams from South Carolina has been huge for BYU. He provides a true running game. If anything, the BYU coaching staff has under-utilized him in the first 3 games. Ty’son Williams is reminding many fans of the highly productive year that a former graduate transfer had – Jordan Leslie from UTEP.

With the unique challenges BYU faces in recruiting, the grad transfer route would be a fantastic way to bring in quality players, especially in the skill positions. You’ve gotta think BYU will work like crazy to find another Ty’son Williams at the end of this year, or potentially a big, speedy wide receiver. If BYU can continue to win, their marketing pitch to grad transfers could be quite compelling: we have a solid defense, a very good offensive line, a Jr. pro potential QB returning for his 3rd year and we simply need to plug in a few more play-makers. And our roster is not full of 4 and 5 stars guys so you have a great chance to come in and contribute here more than most other places.

So, it’s on to Washington, with another highly visible 1:30 kickoff on ABC. Not guaranteeing  a win, but unlike last year, BYU fans have a legitimate expectation that their offense and entire team will show up and compete. Should be a great atmosphere again.

Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


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