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Monson: What the heck happened to BYU's, Utah's, and USU's offense?

Published October 8, 2012 12:29 pm

College Football • This state used to be known for putting up big offensive numbers
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There were good times around here when explosive offense ruled the day, when BYU quarterbacks were blowing defenses up, when Utah's spread offense could be contained neither on the ground or through the air, when Utah State, even sprinkled into its down years, could put 45 points on the board.

These are not those times.

And Friday night's BYU-USU game is the freshest evidence. People can — and should — acknowledge that the Cougars and Aggies have impressive defenses. But … come on, now, 6 to-freakin' 3?

Somewhere, Steve Young just blew a Technicolor yawn all over the floor. Kevin Curtis bawled like a newborn. Ty Detmer knuckled his eyes in disbelief. Jose Fuentes took offense at the fact that …

There was no offense.

And, ironically enough, it's offensive.

Utah State piled up a mere 243 total yards against BYU. It got 41 rushing yards. The Aggies converted just 4 of 14 third downs. BYU scored in one quarter — a touchdown that couldn't even be finished off with a proper PAT.

The Utes get no pass — or run — on this either. Their offense ducked out down a back alley a long time ago. They put 28 points on the Trojans, but half of those were set up by the defense in the game's first three minutes. They scored 21 points in the first half, which included just one impressive drive, and nothing in the second, except for a meaningless move led by a backup quarterback in the game's last minutes.

Utah gave up more yards on penalties than it gained on the ground. On third-down conversions, the Utes were 3 of 12. They barely cracked the 300-yard mark for total yards, which is just above their per-game average for the season. And they are ranked 114th nationally in total offense.

Alex Smith's offense in San Francisco went for more than double the Utes' offensive average — 299 yards — against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, racking up 621.

Anybody have a clue how or why offensive football in this state — once that proud calling card for the college game here — took the last train for the coast?

BYU is averaging 25.8 points a game, and that includes stat-stuffing opportunities against weak opponents like Washington State, Weber State and Hawaii. Against Boise State and Utah State, the Cougars rolled for a combined 12 points. BYU is getting all of 209 passing yards a game. Yeah, and LaVell Edwards just shanked his Titleist into the tall grass.

Remember when BYU got 209 passing yards … before the band warmed up for the half?

Didn't Brandon Doman, when he took over as offensive coordinator, promise to return the Cougar attack to the BYU offense of the past? He apparently overshot LaVell's time and went all the way back to Floyd Millet's or Alvin Twitchell's.

An offense in bad need of better passing is now in need of airing out the stench.

And, on top of all that, as everyone is now painfully aware, the Cougars' best quarterback — freshman Taysom Hill — just injured his knee on a needless run at the end of Friday night's win.

Good defense is fine, terrific even, and it should be touted and championed. But the plainest observation of the 2012 college football season in Utah is this: Unless the 2-3 Utes, the 4-2 Cougars and 4-2 Aggies find a way to stir more firepower, their seasons will never be what they would and should have been.

And LaVell just snap-hooked another Titleist into the deep woods.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.