Belief of BYU Faithful Beginning to Waiver

BYU football isn't what it used to be. After three consecutive losses at home, a different feel and attitude is permeating from the stands that is unprecedented in the view of someone who has attend almost every home game over the past 20 years.

It's something that needs to change quickly – and change quickly – if 60,000-plus fans are expected to show up every week to support this football team.

I sat high up on the west side of the stadium in what was the most humiliating loss BYU has ever experienced at home. Colorado State is a good team, but they're not great. One might be tempted to put them on par with some of the great teams of year's past if you assumed BYU is a good football team – which they aren't, right now.

I'm still searching my mind for answers as to what exactly is going on with this BYU football team. During the first six games of the season, explanations of youth and inexperienced were proffered and ponderously accepted by most understanding and patient Cougar fans.

Inexperience is a relevant and reasonable explanation in evaluating in the woes and underachieving performance of BYU to date. The lack of consistent, effective simple execution during crucial moments of the game, however, is now unacceptable after seven games.

Inexperience was acceptable after losses against Stanford and Air Force, especially with a true freshman quarterback thrown into the mix. But not after BYU defeated San Diego State last week 44-36 on the road despite three Beck fumble turnovers. Inexperience doesn't suffice for losing by 45 points at home seven games into the season.

The short week? That still doesn't account for the unprecedented blowout at home. Colorado State had one extra day, but it's not worth 45 points of any BYU team at home or on the road. Nope, the extra preparation is not the answer.

Frankly, I'm completely baffled. Even in my most cryptic and pessimistic mode, I could never imagine a performance like I saw last night from the Cougars. As the game progressed, I start looking elsewhere for answers.

Sitting about three seats down from me is a Cougar fan named "LeGrande." I'll call him LeGrande because it seems to fit. LeGrande is a well-weathered fan who has seen the glory days of BYU football – and expects nothing more than to see this team make consistent and positive strides back to the good old days. LeGrande is an elder gentleman about 70-years-old. He is very vocal and publicly articulate about what he believes to be the problems concerning the current state of BYU football. I, and other spectators around him, listened for some of LeGrande' answers to the mysteries of BYU's football team.

His first audible words come after Bradlee Van Pelt lofts a seemingly hopeless ball into the arms of Pittman for a Colorado State touchdown on third and long. LeGrande yells, "Come on Bronco, don't you teach your players how to cover!"

I thought about his statement. Does Bronco teach his players how to cover? I've been to most BYU practices and they are taught to cover. No, that's not the problem. Furthermore, the play came as a result of Colorado State effectively picking up the blitz and still giving Bradlee Van Pelt more than ample opportunity to pick his spot and exploit it.

The game continues and Beck gets blindsided from the same side he is facing which results to a fumble returned for a CSU touchdown, LeGrande shouts another rhetorical question, "What's the matter with you guys? Don't you have any heart?" LeGrande then cryptically answers his own question with a frowning and discouraging, "I guess not!"

Heart? Does this team have heart? Maybe LeGrande is being a little simplistic with this explanation. Maybe it's a result of his own exasperation searching for an explanation. Is he right?

I talk to the players daily in practice. I see how they react. I see how hard most of them take losses. Yes, this team has heart. They want to win badly. I decided LeGrande did not have the answers after all. I chose to look elsewhere.

As the onslaught at the hands of Sonny Lubbick's team continued, I'm in a stupor of thought. I can't get over it. I'm only awakened by the most consistently maddening surety every game at LaVell Edwards stadium. Yes, I speak of the BYU band striking up the tunes of "Heeeeey, Hey-eh-eh-yeah! I wanna know-oh-oh-oh, if you would be my girl! BAH-BA-BA-BAH!"

By this time it's the start of the fourth quarter, and I'm struck with wonderment as to why BYU's lone game-breaker, Reynaldo Brathwaite is still in the game running the football as if the game is still in contention.

Why not give Thomas Stancil the reps as experience can only help him improve. My concerns are muted as Stancil enters the game midway through the fourth quarter. Petty problem identified and remedied.

I'm still searching for answers and again I overhear LeGrande yelling about heart again. A non-starter. Again, the band strikes up the infamous Darth Vader Stars Wars theme after the defense makes a big play late in the game. I might be mistaken, but I swear it's the first time all game that I've heard this oft-repeated theme from the band.

The game finally reaches a merciful end and I go to leave the stadium. I meet my TBS partner, Reg Schwenke, and some other TBS subscribers board members outside the BYU locker room. I noticed a line of BYU recruits waiting outside the locker room. Each could not be harboring many positive thoughts about the team's performance on this night.

One of the strongest and most consistent defenders of Crowton, a budding high school football coach, joins me and expresses doubts about Gary Crowton's coaching play-calling abilities (if he called the game last nigh) and practice habits. Yes, even the most positive of fans are left scratching their heads. It's a bad time. CSU 58 - BYU 13.

I walked to my car which is ironically parked beside the gleaming new Indoor Practice Facility and football offices. They're impressive and beautiful and will be among the best facilities of their kind in the nation.

As I glance at the structures, I recall an experience I had with my immediate family some years ago when we took part in the sesquicentennial Mormon trek across the plains for a couple of days.

One night we stayed at Jeffrey City, Wyoming, one of the most depressing cities in the world. It was built from hope that was not fulfilled. Jeffrey City was considered a booming town that sprung up in the middle of Wyoming about 10 years ago after the discovery of an iron mine.

Subsequently, a gleaming new school was built that would educate thousands of young students. In addition, an impressive government building was built that no one would ever occupy. Everything was abandoned. It was a city of 500 or so people with the facilities of 10, 000-plus occupants. We had a dance and a fireside in the school since it wasn't used for any other purpose. It just sat there as a shell of what could have and maybe should have been.

It bothered me that I was even pondering some whacked-out comparison between Jeffrey City and the Indoor Practice Facility. I know there aren't many fans more optimistic than me so such a comparison is troubling, even if it was a fleeting thought.

I thought I had a grasp of what was going on with this football team during every game so far this season. Now I'm clueless after a 45-point loss to an OK Colorado State team at home. Losing by this margin at home suggests the problem may be much deeper than I want to consider.

I'll watch video of the game again and look for what the team did wrong. I suspect that I'll see a bevy of missed blocks, patterns, reads and basic missed execution on both sides of the ball at very inopportune junctures of the ball game.

They're making the same dumb mistakes and it's only getting worse seven games into the season. Crowton maintains this team is "right there," is ready to bust out and that they just need to get clicking past this "inexperience" gap. CSU 58 - BYU 13.

Something has to change. I'm still squarely in Crowton's and the team's corner, but after the worst loss in the history of LaVell Edwards/Cougar Stadium, I'm beginning to waver. It has to get better.

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