13 min read

Another week, another round of BYU therapy with non-Dr. Rakoto

Another week, another round of BYU therapy with non-Dr. Rakoto

*This is not actual medical advice as I am not an actual, medical doctor in any way, shape, or form. However, I do have the secrets to your BYU happiness and am here to help you work through the trauma of yet another loss, this time to some school who doesn't even realize that East Carolina isn't a state.*

"What is going on with the team captains and the culture this year? Holker quit, Wilgar sounds unhappy, why are the “leaders” the first ones to hit the road when things get tough?"

First, I don't think those situations are related. I understand the temptation to say that these two things are somehow tied back to a similar problem, but I don't think they are. Remember the response from players when Holker left? They were pissed and felt that he quit on his team. It was very different at that point in the season.

For those unaware of the Wilgar stuff, his wife went to Instagram to say that he didn't get a parking pass when he went to the game and, as a result, he had to walk a mile to the stadium while in a walking boot. Payton hasn't spoke on the matter, but he hasn't said anything about it not being a big deal either. Suffice to conclude that there are a lot of things unspoken and a lot of layers that we just don't know about yet.

Here is what we do know: Injured players don't bus with the team on home games (seems stupid to me but whatever). When those injured players come to the stadium they have a designated parking area. Parking tickets are supposed to be distributed by football operations. Without knowing a thing about the circumstances here, Wilgar allegedly had no ticket.

Stupid mistake that shouldn't have been made. The football operations folks have more support and more staff than they have ever had, these kinds of stupid mistakes simply should not happen.

Wilgar also didn't walk a mile. He might have walked a while, but he didn't walk a mile unless he's parking north of Centennial Elementary or east of 900 E. There is some hyperbole in the complaint.

He was in a walking boot and that's a problem, but it can't be that much of a problem or he would have been dropped off at the stadium. But, that didn't happen.

Again, stupid mistakes by BYU and nobody should defend that kind of stupid mistake. It's also not the end of the world for Wilgar and they probably shouldn't act like that either.

But does this represent larger issues? Probably. Wilgar is injured. The defense has been dreadful. The team is losing games. When things don't go well, it's hard to look past stupid mistakes. Everything is amplified by losing.

The only thing that I feel comfortable definitively saying is this: If the leaders (coaches, staffers, captains, whoever) are the first ones to bail and aren't willing to dig deep and fix things, they weren't really leaders in the first place, no matter what their title is.

"If you were coach, what’s the top three things you do this off season to change the culture back?"

You asked for five. I'll do you better and answer it in four. In fact, I already did earlier this week in THIS article.

"Is there a single defensive player that would feel like a gut punch if they transferred?"

Yes. There are lots. Pretending like there aren't players that BYU desperately wants to keep on the roster is disingenuous.

However, the transfer portal has changed the way college football works. Nobody can tank for draft picks, but if you have extra scholarships on your roster, you can use them and rebuild a roster very, very quickly. The 25-initial scholarship limit is gone. The only thing that matters is the 85-man limit. If BYU lost 50 players to tranfer, they could, theoretically, pick up 50 out of the portal and, theoretically, have a better roster as a result.

Of course BYU doesn't want to lose 50 players, but if players leave, even key players, then BYU has to respond well in the portal. Some teams are doing that every year now.

So, there are several defensive players that would feel like a gut punch if they transferred. But given the circumstances that I'm expecting the coaching staff to be in immediately after the regular season, nobody could blame them. And frankly, a new defensive staff might not hate the idea of having more schollies available to them to get "their guys" in ASAP.

Gut punch? Absolutely. Death blow? Far from it.

"Do the players just suck that bad? I mean when the D want to rush more than 3 they can't get through."

I had a conversation with some folks who are much smarter than me earlier this week who had to prep to play against BYU at various times in the last 18 months. In their words, BYU was pretty easy to prepare against because of their fronts in their base defense. Things were pretty static from the base set, so it was easy to design an offense that would be effective.

When BYU added wrinkles, these people believed that BYU was actually pretty effective and difficult to compete against.

Why don't they use more wrinkles? Talent.

The players on the field don't have the talent to keep up with elite athletes or physical studs while also doing exotic things.

The coaches on defense haven't show they have the talent to adjust their base scheme not be so ugly.

Kalani Sitake took over the defense and things didn't get immediately better. Does that mean Kalani isn't talented enough either? No, I don't think so. It takes time to turn a large ship around. The defense wasn't going to get better in just a week or two. But, there were some things that were better against ECU and progress was made. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and the progress was minimal, but it existed. I would hope that the performance against Boise State is a little bit better, at least, than they were against ECU.

"If you can only keep 15 players from this years team (excluding those going to NFL) and had to replace everybody else with portal guys, who would you keep?"

Go through the last two or three recruiting classes and take the top four or five from each class and that's probably my answer.

And Micah Haprer.

"Also, where the hell is Heimuli?"

Same question for Wake. BYU has basically eliminated the fullback position this year. I don't really understand why.

If I had to put on my A-Rod hat and try to speculate what he's thinking, I think it comes down to running back vision. Tyler Allgeier's best trait was his patience and vision. So, when BYU lined up with a fullback, he would frequently hang behind the block and if defenders filled the gap, Allgeier would cut back and spring a big run.

BYU's current running backs haven't shown that they have that vision. So if you line up with a fullback and your running back isn't a threat to make something happen on his own, then you're basically telling the defense where the play will go - right behind the fullback. Is Wake or Heimuli enough of a lead blocker that you  can telegraph where the play will go?

I would like to find out, personally. But the speculation in my brain believes that A-Rod's thinking is something along those lines.

Hell, let Wake carry the ball behind Heimuli on fourth and 1.

"How screwed are we going into the Big 12 next year?"

The transition was always going to be tough and year one was also going to be a big challenge. This year doesn't change that. (And if the right coaching changes are made this offseason, there is a pretty strong argument to make that BYU's terrible year this year actually helps the cause next year.)

"Any chance any of our main guys (Jaren, Puka, gunner) come back next year?"

I would say definitely a chance. It's not a foregone conclusion, no, but a chance for sure, given the way things have played out.

"Who is your dream/ideal/realistic portal guy at each position?"

Still too early to tell. We don't even know who is going to enter the portal yet.

"Any truth to the rumors that Andy Reid is coming to join the staff? (I made this rumor up right now)"

I can't speak for Andy, but there has been no contact made with Fake Andy Reid (me) and that's a damn shame.

"Do you think a major reason they keep playing Hall despite his injuries is because he's worried his draft stock will drop showing another season missing games for injuries?"

No. Not even a little bit - especially in the face of a losing season. BYU is not making playing decisions in order to enhance Hall's draft profile. Absolutely not. Hall is playing because the staff believes he gives BYU the best chance to win. Period.

"I’m already to the acceptance stage of the grief cycle, so, my question is: do you think Tua will make a good option at DC?"

Tua? Tagovailoa?

My professional opinion is that you lay off the ayahuasca for a little bit. Your current retreat is lasting too long.

"With so much of the team and coaching staff the same as last year what has changed to lead to these results?"

I think this team thought they had arrived. Most of these guys won 11 games two years ago. They won 10 games last year. They earned a Big 12 invite. They heard everything about being in the P5 ranks now, and being the "real" PAC-12 champs. This team (coaches, players, captains, everyone else forgot that football is damn hard. Winning is damn hard. If you don't go through the steps every week and every year, you will get beat by someone who is.

I think this team lost sight of that this year.

"Are we now bordering on losing recruits this year because of the stink over this program? Or are there already any with one foot out the door?"

I don't think so. At least not yet. As long as the coaches are still recruiting hard, I think the recruiting class will continue to stay, mostly, in tact. But if the coaches lose sight of their recruiting responsibilities in the name of working harder to stop the losing, then they could lose recruits.

Coaches can't replace recruiting time with extra game prep time. Coaches need additional game prep time and the same amount (at least) of recruiting time.

"How closely will BYU’s first few years in the Big 12 mirror Utah’s in the Pac?"

There will be some struggles. But, I think BYU will have the talent to compete for a bowl right away. They just have to ensure that the coaching staff's talent keeps pace.

"What is to blame for the offense not cashing in on any of the 4th quarter possessions?"

Sometimes it isn't about blaming anybody, ya know? Sometimes you tip your cap to the opponent and congratulate them on a job well done.

Sure, BYU could have ran the ball better and Jaren could have found Puka more. There are a bunch of things that could have been done. However, you have to give some credit to ECU for buckling down and taking someone like Puka away form the game plan too.

"Why didn’t we see Ice, Schoonover, Romney and Daley when they can play 4 games and our LB suck and so does our D line"

Daley is hurt. He got hurt in camp. Ice is 18 years old. Schoonover and Romney were on missions just a few months ago. I don't know the answer, but physical readiness (mission rust or still just being a child or an injury) might be preventing these players from getting playing time. It might not be about the guys ahead of them being better or something, but rather, about knowing that those guys aren't physically ready and playing them puts them at additional injury risk that could jeopardize the spring.

"Can you give us hope for the future? Obviously, next year we’ll have access to everything that comes with P5, but what sort of institutional support can we look forward to / want? i.e. we expect changes in players and staff next season, but what about from the admin? What sort of institutional changes will/should come the next few years that will get fans excited?"

You're already seeing it. There are more staffers. The coaches have bigger salaries. BYU announced things like Club 22 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. You will continue to see more upgrades and more employees added to the staff. The admin will support. The guys who are put into these support roles have to execute their jobs.

"From a horses not jockeys perspective is BYU set up to get the horses we need? What is the limited resource that keeps BYU from effectively recruiting and wining mostly (only?) recruits with P5 offers?"

I still believe that, more than anything, BYU's biggest issue is effort. Kalani's staff is starting to recruit the same way that Bronco did at the end of his BYU tenure. The notion that BYU sells itself and that if a kid doesn't immediately believe he could live a BYU lifestyle, then BYU moves on, is a soft, lazy notion.

BYU's coaches need to be out there trying to get anyone and everyone who has talent.

I also think the staff has a tendency to care more about schematic fit than they do about talent. That's just an arrogant mindset.

"What do we have to look forward to at this point? Are we in it for any high school dawgs?"

There are still come recruiting battles that BYU is in, but the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is seeing what Kalani does with his staff. I don't see any way this defensive staff is brought back. So, the subsequent coaching search is something I would look forward to.

And BYU football on Friday. Even if BYU loses on Friday at Boise, we're just a few weeks away from BYU not playing any games at all for months and months. So, Friday, look forward to playing another game.

"Why is the problem the players or assistants and not the head coach? Why should we be confident in Kalani going forward?"

Because losing seasons happen everywhere that isn't Columbus, Tuscaloosa and Athens. Places like that are elite and they get elite results. Everywhere else in the country has adversity. The best head coaches respond to adversity well. It doesn't always happen quickly, but they have a strong response and a strong return back to respectability.

2017 was awful, but Kalani proved he can get through adversity quickly. 2018 and 2019 weren't perfect, but you could see a future. 2020 and 2021 were spectacular, special seasons of BYU football.

Now 2022 is a struggle again, but Kalani proved once he can do what needs to be done to get things back.

Every program will have its downs, but how will a program respond? I think Kalani can and will respond before BYU is ever even close to a program like Colorado or Kansas.

Be confident in that.

"The D has so many problems I can’t even. So I settle in on the O. Why can’t we use the middle of the field in the passing game?"

No idea. This is incredibly perplexing and my favorite question to ask. There has to be some kind of mental block somewhere in someone.

"Why is Kalani keeping this coaching staff intact until the clock strikes 0 at Stanford? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start clearing house now since this season is lost"

Coaching isn't like working at a bank. You can't just fire someone, post the job posting, and replace someone in a few weeks. The best coordiantors and coaches that you want are working towards special seasons at their current schools. So, if you fire a coach right now then you have a hole on your staff until you can fill it.

Boise State did this and filled their staff hole with Dirk Koetter who had been there as an analyst. BYU doesn't have an analyst like Koetter (a former NFL head coach) who can step in and make an immediate difference. You can't fire Ilaisa Tuiaki and replace him Jan Jorgensen and expect results to immediately improve.

So, frankly, I don't see the need to fire a coach right away - and certainly not more than one.

"Will Kalani get the time he needs to adjust to P5 like Whitt did? And are we ahead of schedule by taking some lumps now?"

I think he should and I think the admin should let him. But, the fans are about to burn down LES after a four-game losing streak. I have my doubts that the fans will accept a couple of losing seasons in a row after joining the Big 12, regardless of what they will try and tell you on the internet.

"Kalani says adversity creates culture and he’s excited to see what we create from this adversity. I am wondering what exactly we should be hoping they learn"

To be tougher. To be more resilient. To understand that football is hard and you have to work your ass off to win. This season could be incredibly valuable for the young players on this team who are watching from the sideline.

"What do you think gets certain P5 the next man up mentality to execute their job at the very least? Is it discipline, technique or just recruiting better talent? How far off is BYU from being one of those P5’s that in a game last night cab scrap by with a win?"

Those teams have learned how to win year over year. That's hard to do and hard to learn. Not everyone does it every year - in fact, most don't. The ones who do have elite talent and they are proving to players year over year that hard work is the only way to win football games.

"Why do we take the ball out of the hands/ put in the hands of our best players. IE Chris brooks running well in ND game (Katoa in on 4th down) Katoa is running well last night (stretch zone with Davis on 4th short) Puka running great short routes then using his talent to get to the sticks (3rd down last drive draw a play for Wake and drops it). Is it a belief that anyone can get the job done or is it mishandling of personal?"

Fans had largely written off Brooks as not very good until all of a sudden he was gone and everyone needs him. Fans were ready to give Davis the keys to the kingdom after he had a breakout game a few weeks back. Fans have been clamoring for more fullback usage all season long (including this article!).

When those things happen, fans complain that the best players aren't getting the ball more.

I think the coaches are struggling to find out who 'the man' is on this team as much as fans are. It seems to vary from week to week.

"I look out recruits and am confused about the direction BYU wants to go. If you get horses without a direction you'll end up in a place with briars and thorns rather than a luscious field. What does BYU want BYU's identity to be? What should BYU's identity be?"

I think they want toughness and I think everyone who has committed this year fits that bill. This team needs more toughness - mental and physical.