It wasn’t the ending players, coaches and fans wanted, but if anything, UW’s 24-21 loss to Brigham Young in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl was entertaining and exciting — at least in the second half.
The Cowboys (8-6) followed a familiar pattern as the season concluded. Slow or sluggish starts to games — even extending to the first half and third quarter — and then a furious rally late.
But just like in the 27-24 loss to San Diego State in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 3, that rally fell short.
Some initial thoughts/observations:
— Disappointing to see junior running back Brian Hill benched for the first quarter by third-year coach Craig Bohl, who said after the game it was a “coach’s decision.” Obviously, Hill didn’t do anything earth-shattering wrong, but disappointing to see. Would things have changed if he played? Maybe, maybe not. Hill played well when he returned (93 yards, 1 TD, and one catch for 19 yards). I thought senior Shaun Wick played really well — even when Hill returned. Wick had 13 carries for 55 yards and caught one pass for six yards.
— Sunny San Diego didn’t live up to its hype. Yeah, the game was at night but it rained like crazy in the first half. Both teams had to play in it, but it definitely affected UW the worst. A bobbled snap on a punt (the snap was good) and a botched hold on a field goal (the snap was good) cost UW dearly. Other shortcomings cost UW, but those special teams gaffs hurt a lot.
— I know BYU senior running back Jamaal Williams ran for 210 yards and a touchdown — was also the Offensive MVP — BYU threw it fairly well when needed. But I thought UW’s defense played pretty well. Perfect? No. But, the Cowboys lost sophomore strong safety Marcus Epps — also a team captain — early in the game and he didn’t return. Redshirt freshman defensive end Josiah Hall also got hurt. The Cowboys could have played better on defense in a lot of areas, but it also kept it in the game. Guys like sophomore safety Anthony Makransky and redshirt freshman Jaylon Watson saw a lot of time at safety and defensive end, respectively, in the game. I thought both did pretty well, and that experience should help them moving forward.
— To me it was kind of ironic that UW’s last play that sealed the win for BYU was an interception thrown by redshirt sophomore starting quarterback Josh Allen. How many times this season did we see Allen roll out, throw on the run and complete amazing passes to receivers who made amazing catches? A lot. But for as good Allen is at doing that, it remains risky. That’s part of what makes Allen so good, but also reminds us all he still has a few things to learn. Remember early in the season when I wrote that there will be times Allen makes us all go “whoa” in a good way, and at times makes us go “ugh” in a bad way. Would you agree that he lived up to that. Arguably a lot more good than bad, but still a mix nonetheless.
Any thoughts, observations, opinions any of you have on this game or the season? Would love to hear them.
Will shift over to hoops now for a while, but there’s always football to talk about. Recruiting will heat up again for UW in mid to late January. Leaving San Diego for Las Vegas to take in UW men’s hoops and its two games there as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. UW plays DePaul at 6:30 p.m. MT Thursday and either undefeated and No. 23 USC or Missouri State Friday. Games are at the Orleans Arena and also are televised on FS1.
For more coverage from the Poinsettia Bowl, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.