Head Coach Kalani Sitake’s Brief History is filled with a BYU football team sleepwalking by an opponent and taking an “L” in the process.
And the Cougars threatened to add Texas-San Antonio to that list on Saturday afternoon.
But then a funny thing happened: BYU won. Of course, the Cougars didn’t look like the Associated Press’s No.15 Top 25 team and Zach Wilson didn’t look like the first-round pick in the NFL Draft that some expected him to be. potentially. In many ways, Saturday’s win was a clunker.
But the Cougars won this clunker.
So when BYU linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi says the Cougars didn’t feel like celebrating a 27-20 win over UTSA immediately after the game, it’s understandable why Sitake made them all stand up and do a dance. online.
“After a game like this,” Kaufusi said, “we just started to think about how we could have done better and played to the best of our ability. ”
But winning college football games is tough – and no one knows it more than the Cougars. So even when your high power attack fails you don’t cover the gap, and the pass is more “under” than even “pushed”, it’s important to celebrate victory.
From the outside, much of BYU’s victory over the Roadrunner was a failure: a low of 470 yards, a record seven penalties for 55 yards and the scoreless first quarter of the 2020 season.
But the first goal of every game is to win. Style points are an afterthought, even though you are ranked in the Top 25 AP at the highest point since 2009.
“Obviously there are some things we need to fix and I wish we could have done a little better in a lot of different areas,” Sitake said. “But you can’t disrespect this game and celebrate the wins. I was proud of the team for competing. ”
Barely three years after a disastrous 4-9 season and back-to-back 7-6 campaigns, the Cougars know you can’t take a win for granted.
Heck, they know better than taking any game for granted in 2020, said Wilson, who threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, surpassing 5,000 career yards in his career. three years at BYU.
Just ask next week’s opponent: Houston had five games called off before finally starting on Thursday, retiring to a 49-31 win over Tulane. Nothing is guaranteed this season, as even eligibility doesn’t count for the majority of college football players trying to save a season amid bizarre guidelines designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve fallen for the hype at all,” Wilson said. “The guys knew we had a team coming out here ready to play. Thanks to these guys (at UTSA) for coming and getting ready. You can’t take these games for granted. They fly and the ones you hope to comfortably win sometimes don’t happen.
“BYU, of course, knows this in the past. We’ve had games in the past that didn’t work this way. So we have to play one game at a time. ”
Part of the reasons the Cougars felt so depressed in what could have been a jubilant locker room just by winning a football game is because they’ve been in those difficult positions before. They lost these games that they shouldn’t have lost.
Saturday was about to be one of those losses. BYU should have won this game, and big, by the predicted 34.5-point margin of victory predicted by several smart people in the southern Nevada desert.
But they didn’t.
“I think the veterans were able to lead the team because in the past we’ve seen games where we’ve played teams that we should have beaten. We knew it was in the back of our head, ”said Dax Milne, who had a game-high seven catches for 102 yards. “We just didn’t want this to happen again. Everyone was able to build on the veterans, focus and play.
Personally, I hate to lose more than I like to win. We were able to be mature with this game and a victory is a victory.
It wasn’t bad either.
The Cougars had a UTSA team that averaged 209.2 yards per game for just 72 yards rushing. Lead runner Sincere McCormick, who averaged 131.75 yards in the first four games, had just 41 yards on 11 carries.
Stopping the race was a clear goal of the BYU defense. For all of their weaknesses in other areas, the mission was accomplished in this one, even as UTSA quarterback Lowell Narcisse completed 17 of 20 passes for 229 yards and two scores.
“We did a really good job and when Frank (Harris) came out and Lowell came in they really found something there,” Kaufusi said. “They adjusted very well at the end of half-time. I don’t think we played our best in the second half.
“We stopped the race and that was one of our goals. But we had to stop the pass.
The Cougars will head to the movie theater on Monday, when every penalty, bad read, and bad drive is dissected and examined.
Until then, they’ll be enjoying the taste of Saturday’s victory – as sour as that taste may be.
“If there’s a silver lining to that it’s that we may have been a little uncomfortable,” Sitake said. “I told the team that we had been in this position before and that we had lost these types of games. It felt good to get this victory.
“It feels good to be 4-0 and learn from it. I think we will perform much better next time.
BYU (4-0) at Houston (1-0)
Friday October 16
Start: 19h30 MT
Radio: Radio BYU, Radio KSL