Can BYU football players handle winning?
I was pleased to discover BYU had barely beaten Utah State in overtime as I read the game story Saturday morning. It allowed me to hope the Cougars might keep some perspective going into their next game against Cal. After two wins to start the season, BYU players admitted they took Virginia lightly. The result was a 21 point first-quarter deficit. Luckily, ESPN2 spared those of us at home that part of the game with a late broadcast of East Carolina-Miami.
I remember when I worked for The Daily Universe two years ago I went into the coaches’ office the Monday after BYU had upset Arizona State in Tempe. The players hanging out in the office at the time were talking like they were going cake-walk their way back to the Cotton Bowl.
Nevertheless, they ended up losing to UTEP, New Mexico, Rice and Utah that season. Many of the players from that team are still in Provo, including leaders like Rob Morris, Kevin Feterik and Margin Hooks. I would have hoped they had learned something from that season, such as you can’t take any game for granted.
It’s true BYU was banged up for the Virginia game, but Virginia came in banged up worse, including key losses to their secondary. The difference is Virginia really showed up to play.
BYU’s game with Cal on Saturday will show whether BYU learned anything from the Virginia game or those losses two years ago because it is a game the Cougars have a good chance to win.
Two years ago, Norm Chow told another DU reporter and myself that sometimes the expectations placed on BYU are too high. He said the other players are on scholarship, the other players want to win too. He said that after the UTEP loss.
But I don’t think that matters. I think a game you should win is a game you should win. Hopefully, BYU football will take it upon them to do that Saturday.