Has BYU Peaked as an 8-Win Team?

A couple of thoughts after BYU’s humiliation at the hands of the Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan Wolverines…

But first, this Hail Mary play vs. Nebraska was amazing.

byu hail mary vs nebraska

3 consecutive 8-5 seasons: Is that good enough for BYU fans?

  • The last double-digit win season was 4 seasons ago in 2011 with 10 wins.
  • If BYU is to be considered a top team, it has to consistently win in the double digits and suffer maybe 2 losses maximum (see: Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Baylor, TCU, Michigan State).
  • Counterpoint: BYU sports is an extension of the academic mission of BYU, so it won’t receive the same amount as investment as say, Alabama football.
  • Many programs would do almost anything to reach 8 wins and be bowl-eligible every year AND have the independent schedule and contract with ESPN.

Independent schedule has tougher road games, easier home schedule

  • 2015 at Michigan: LOSS 31-0
  • 2015 at UCLA: LOSS 24-23
  • 2015 at Nebraska: WIN 33-28
  • 2014 at Wisconsin: LOSS 27-17
  • 2014 at Notre Dame: LOSS 23-17
  • 2014 at Texas: WIN 41-7
  • Home schedule was not challenging, featured the likes of Nevada, Savannah State, UNLV (2014) and Middle Tennessee State and Idaho State (2013).

Injuries have crippled and ended promising seasons

  • Taysom Hill’s injuries ended promising seasons and he was a dark horse Heisman candidate.
  • However, injuries don’t solely target BYU.
    • Example: University of Maryland’s 2012 season where 4 QBs went down with injuries and they started a backup LB as their QB in Shawn Petty. Cry me a river, BYU fans.

Robert Anae’s play-calling

  • Where do you start? Run instead of passing, passing instead of running the ball?
    • But I see some consistencies over the years at BYU and with their offensive line.
  • What do I see? Bad offensive line splits with huge gaps between offensive linemen. It helps with pass protection, but it inhibits the run game by requiring linemen to move more laterally. BYU’s offensive linemen aren’t exactly the fleetest of foot.
    • Also, lack of big, tall WRs and TEs who will go and “high point” the ball. Or, in other words, no receiver who will go up and get the 50-50 ball in the air. There isn’t another Cody Hoffman-type big guy who can consistently grab red zone TD passes thrown toward him.

Well, if you do push Bronco out at BYU (which is almost a 0% chance), who do you replace him with?

  • Beware of up-and-coming NFL coordinators like Gary Crowton (h/t Paul Sabin).
  • My choice? Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
    • Why? Everyone remembers that one play in the Super Bowl, but he’s made 2 Super Bowls and won one of them.
      • Pete Carroll backed Bevell up, said he wanted to preserve the clock as they were out of timeouts and shied away from a run call for that reason.
      • Malcolm Butler made a play of the year in jumping that pick route and timed it perfectly.
      • Also, Marshawn Lynch struggled on short-yardage situations in the red zone, although Sporting News still blasts Bevell’s play call.
    • He’s run an efficient, run-heavy offense in the NFL.
    • He’s developed Russell Wilson, a third-round QB draft pick and who was undersized, into a franchise QB. Wilson, by the way, just signed an offseason deal worth $87 million over 4 years.

Honor Code and Recruiting

  • Honor Code inhibits recruiting with abstinence from premarital sex and use of alcohol and drugs. This will continue to be BYU’s policy and it is non-negotiable.
  • Bronco relies a lot on JUCO transfers and it can be hard to develop JUCO talent at times.
  • The mission effect: Older athletes may have lost a step or two as conditioning is not a top priority for some missionaries.

Why not shift to the spread?

  • Even Nick Saban doesn’t like the spread as a defensive genius and it is hard to stop, as TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech have shown with their prolific offenses.
    • Saban was quoted as saying, “is this what we want football to be?” by AL.com.
    • He hired offensive genius Lane Kiffin a year ago to open up the Alabama offense and put more spread-type plays into the playbook.
  • Baylor and other inferior teams succeed with short, quick passes, less hits on the QB and can beat teams with tempo. Lower-tiered teams like Bowling Green has successfully adopted the spread offense. BYU can succeed and go back to the offensive masterpieces of old and hide their inferior talent and lack of depth.

Any thoughts? Reactions?


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About Spencer Irvine

Fun loving, D.C. area sports fan, which means I'm frustrated and still can't get a grip on what a win truly means (or a championship for that matter).

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