masThe UMass Minutemen started playing FBS football in 2012. They’ve been pretty bad since then, never doing better than 3-9 in a season. They also hadn’t won a road game against an FBS team that’s not from the MAC, the league they inhabited for a few years.
Those droughts are over now. The Minutemen won their fourth game of 2017 on Saturday, and they did it on the road against BYU. The final score was 16-10.
That’s cool for UMass, but it’s really bad for BYU, which is 3-9 ahead of a finale at Hawaii next week. (The NCAA lets teams that visit Hawaii play 13 games, which could mean BYU has a 10-loss season.)
The Cougars had lost nine games twice in their history before this year, in 1949 and 1955. They were then members of something called the Skyline Conference.
And now they’ve gotten soundly beaten by UMass at home.
The Minutemen are better than they’ve been before, but that shouldn’t happen. The Cougars are on something like their fourth-string quarterback and fifth-string running back, but it still shouldn’t happen, and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer is going to have a hard time explaining such a paltry output at home against UMass.
My colleague Matt Brown wrote a month ago:
How did BYU, with a program history of prolific offenses, get so bad so quickly?
BYU has faced a tough early schedule, with games against LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State, and Mississippi State, a difficult ask for a program whose recruiting rankings have typically been in the 50s and 60s.
Injuries and depth have also played a role. BYU’s star QB, Tanner Mangum, has battled injuries for several weeks, forcing BYU to give meaningful snaps to preferred walk-on QBs. One of BYU’s best defensive players was suspended for the year before the season started. Injuries to other offensive targets piled up. That happens to every team, but for a team like BYU, the backups or backup-backups might be walk-ons or fringe FBS players.
BYU had to replace its best running QB since Steve Young (Taysom Hill) and perhaps its best running back ever (Jamaal Williams) and didn’t have any reliable skill position targets with meaningful experience, although there were players with upside.
All of that might explain why the offense has regressed, but not to “maybe the worst offense in the country” kind of regression.
Some of that blame also would belong to an inexperienced coaching staff. BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer was a legendary college QB (he did win the dang Heisman at BYU, after all), but this is only his second year as a college coach. (He coached high school before joining BYU’s staff.) BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was a first-time head coach when he was hired last season, and he comes from a defensive background.
None of that was good then. But it looks extra bad now.
BYU should be better next year. Most of this year’s top contributors — for whatever that title is worth — should be back. And there’s really nowhere to go but up.
But the program’s struggled to recruit, even in the context of the usual recruiting difficulties associated with being a Mormon school in the mountains of Utah. The rival Utes recently flipped a trio of BYU commits, and their nightmarish 2017 won’t help.
The only good thing about the season is that the mascot can dance.
This has become the default way to end sad posts about BYU:
Really need to know who this cougar is pic.twitter.com/7gqzdzIVb2— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) October 10, 2017
At least there’s that!