Eye on the Y: BYU is about to prove what it’s made of

The Cougars will have to fix mistakes to break into Top 10 rankings and make argument for New Year’s Six bowl.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) South Florida Bulls defensive end Ryan Thaxton (99) pulls on Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Puka Nacua (12) in game action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the South Florida Bulls at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

The BYU Cougars are about to prove who they really are.

After a 4-0 start to the season, BYU finds itself banged up a third way into the season. And, by their own admission, there are major problems on defense that Cougars will have to fix sooner rather than later, too.

If they can handle that, there’s a spot in the Top 10 waiting for them.

If BYU is to realize its potential, the Cougars can’t afford to lose either of their next two games — not when it still has Baylor, Virginia and USC later in the season. Yeah, I know USC isn’t doing too hot right now, but the Trojans still have two months to improve and could surprise BYU in the regular-season finale.

My point is, it’s fine when a team drops a game they weren’t expected to win, but it hurts so much more when a team loses a winnable game. And right now BYU is favored to win in six of its eight remaining games.

There’s also too much at stake. The Cougars could break into the Top 10 and, should they win the next couple of games, can make a solid argument for a New Year’s Six bowl.

But the Cougars can’t afford to make the same defensive mistakes we saw on Saturday and can’t afford any slow starts. They also can’t afford to lose out any more guys to injury.

BYU will have to make adjustments, and make them quick.

Unfortunately, what may also hurt the Cougars is the fact that they don’t have their bye week until mid-November. By that point, BYU will just have two games to play after having a week off.

It’s not the ideal time to have a bye week, particularly with this schedule.

But there’s nothing BYU can do about that. All it can control is what it does each week, and that’s where they need to step it up.

Quick hits

• In case you missed it, linebacker Keenan Pili is out for the year. In his place is Ben Bywater, who you can read about here.

• Have you heard of an 83-yard punt? That’s what Ryan Rehkow did. The punt earned him a spot in BYU record books.

• Jaren Hall isn’t as flashy as Zach Wilson was during the historic 2020 season, but here’s why he was the right man for the QB1 role.

• Read Gordon Monson’s latest column on BYU football here.

Other voices

• KSL Sports rounded up all the former BYU players who scored touchdowns during the NFL’s Week 3 games.

Here’s what BYU will be wearing for the Utah State game, from Sports Illustrated’s Casey Lundquist.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote about how the “woeful New York Jets run risk of stunting Zach Wilson’s development.”