by Daniel Olsen | Roadrunner almost always escapes from Wile E. Coyote in the popular Looney Tunes show. That wasn’t the case on Saturday afternoon when the wily Cougars eeked out a win over the UTSA Roadrunners.
The Cougars won with a final score of 27-20 in a game where they never really got the momentum going as they had in their first three games. They still advanced to 4-0 and continue to have a shot at a special undefeated season.
This is the longest streak BYU has started a season unbeaten since 2014. They have a special team and after the first quarter never trailed the rest of the way. Their season low point total and season high points allowed may have bumped them down in the offensive and defensive statistical rankings but they will still be among the nation’s elite.
The first possession for each team was bizarre as they both ended in turnovers. BYU opened their first drive with a fumble but UTSA wasn’t able to capitalize. On the very next play, the Roadrunners threw an interception. They were the only two giveaways of the game but set the tone for what was a hard fought contest.
BYU was shut out in the first quarter for the first time this season. That wasn’t the problem. While they did win, it was definitely a timely wake up call to a team that has cruised to wins in their first three games.
Football isn’t always supposed to be easy. Bodies are running into each other everywhere. Good football teams will try to rough up highly efficient teams like BYU and that’s exactly what the Roadrunners did.
BYU was undoubtedly the better team which is probably why the football powers that be let them win this one even on their worst performance of the season. The Cougars could easily have lost this game at the end.
While the Cougars did have a double digit lead late in the fourth quarter, it was quickly whittled to single digits after a wide-open touchdown pass from Lowell Narcisse to Brannon Dingle. They nearly recovered an onside kick after that. They did have a couple timeouts to make BYU go three and out with about 20 seconds left on the clock. A roughing the kicker penalty ruined their possibility to tie the game and possibly upset the #15 Cougars.
BYU dominated in almost every facet of the game. They doubled the rushing yards of a team that likes to run the ball. They were evenly matched in the passing game and this was the first defense that slowed them down. The opening fumble set the tone for the game and they committed a season high seven penalties. The way they are playing now, only the Cougars can beat themselves against a team like this. They made just enough plays to win.
It might be unfair to expect a Mamba Mentality in these days. Kobe was a rare ultra-competitive breed and many of these BYU students are nice college boys who spent two years teaching people to love one another. On the football field though, nasty BYU needs to come out.
Kobe would have been appalled if his teammates were celebrating a regular season win like the Cougars did in their dance parties in the first few games. This became apparent after a Jimmy Kimmel interview he had five years ago. He wasn’t too pleased about his teammates celebrating an end to their losing streak.
He wasn’t even celebrating a 2-0 lead over the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals:
“The job’s not finished,” Kobe said. “So what’s there to be happy about?”
The Cougars have plenty of blessings to be happy about but they also have some questions to answer. There will probably not be as much dancing anymore on the sidelines unless they are up by fifty points. If they achieve what many believe they can do and go undefeated, they should celebrate. This is especially true if they can get a bid to a New Years Six Bowl and beat a talented Power Five team.
The good news is, Zach Wilson (who wears a Jordan headband) seems to have this Mamba Mentality. Some of his teammates do as well but he has to be the leader. The coaching staff was pleased with their effort but they need to do a better job of altering their game plan when their opponent tries to take away what they do best.
UTSA came into this game with a notoriously bad secondary but their line still contained Zach in the pocket where he struggled by his standards. He threw a season high eight incompletions but still completed 73 percent of his passes. The good news is this stout Cougars offensive line has still not allowed a sack this season after four games.
The Cougars in 2014 also started 4-0 before the Utah State Aggies and a Taysom Hill injury derailed their season. While they have a few injuries, they appear to be pretty invincible.
Time will tell if BYU can finish this quest for perfection. It starts again on Friday, October 16th, 2020. They will travel to Houston to take some red Cougars at 7:30 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. The Houston Cougars enter this game also undefeated at 1-0 after several of their games were cancelled.
It’s time to see which litter of Cougars has more of that Mamba mentality.
Finish the job BYU!
Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated.