By Creighton McEwen
BYU fans booed loudly and clearly Thursday, Oct. 9. They are not used to watching their football team lose like it did, 58-13 in a conference game at home.
“We lost it in all areas,” said BYU head coach Gary Crowton. “We”ve got to pull together as a team.”
For the first time since 1993, the Cougars have lost three straight games in Provo.
“I feel like I”ve been sitting at this desk every home game,” said Cougar freshman quarterback John Beck in interviews after the game, “having to explain the same old thing. This time around, there”s no explanation.”
Beck has lost every one of his home games since he stepped in for injured sophomore Matt Berry. Beck completed 19 of his 23 pass attempts for 136 yards, including one touchdown and one interception.
Thursday”s game clearly was neither Beck”s nor the Cougars” best this season.
“I thought the whole team played poorly,” Crowton said. “I want the team to get better.”
The Cougars have opportunities for improvement all over the team.
BYU converted on just one of 12 third-down conversions Thursday. Colorado State was nine for 15.
Punter/kicker Matt Payne recorded two tackles by himself on CSU returns. Starting cornerbacks Chad Barney and Jernaro Gilford also had two each for the entire game.
The Cougar offense didn”t even reach Ram territory from halfway through the second quarter until the final minute of the game.
BYU fans cheered sarcastically when the Cougars achieved their first first-down nine minutes into the game. The traditional big-screen car race turned into which stadium section could boo the loudest.
Each BYU loss comes with its obligatory what ifs. What if things had happened another way, would BYU have won? What if things happened even further in CSU”s favor? It could have been worse.
What if Cougar sophomore receiver Chris Hale didn”t force a CSU fumble in the end zone after Beck”s interception?
What if CSU punt returner Dexter Winn didn”t fumble Payne”s offering at the nine-yard line, and BYU didn”t score their only touchdown of the game?
What if CSU head coach Sonny Lubick was classless early in the fourth quarter and didn”t go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 16-yard line, and kicked a field goal instead of running out the clock?
The score would have been 68-6.
“It was tough to see it slip away,” said Cougar senior offensive lineman Scott Jackson. “It seemed to slip away pretty quick.”
To BYU”s credit, the team is young and inexperienced, but players and coaches are repeatedly using this excuse.
“This is an offense where making mistakes isn”t going to cut it,” Beck said. “We do have guys that haven”t had a lot of playing time.”
Eleven freshmen and six sophomores are getting considerable amounts of minutes.
One freshman has BYU fans wondering “Levi who?” Linebacker David Nixon, stepping in for injured Levi Madarieta, may be the team”s only bright spot from Thursday”s blowout. Nixon registered 12 tackles, five for loss and two sacks.
BYU will travel to Laramie, Wyo., for a match-up with another passing team and another excellent quarterback in Casey Bramlett.
Berry still may not be able to return Saturday. He is throwing the ball more, but isn”t practicing as much as Crowton would like.
“He”s got to get some reps where he can get crisp again,” Crowton said. “I don”t want a situation where he”s not quite ready to go.”
What”s one more player that isn”t ready?