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MIAMI — BYU’s bowl game mirrored numerous themes that were apparent throughout the rest of the season. Here are a few of them.
Even before BYU star quarterback Taysom Hill was injured, the defense was struggling. In particular, the secondary was being shredded by opposing quarterbacks. While Hill was able to bail out the Cougars for the first four games, the defense was the main culprit during the four-game losing streak. Against Memphis, the Cougar D looked like it did during the four-game skid and gave up a whopping 55 points and 480 yards.
Blowing a lead
Against UCF and Nevada, the Cougars were able to take a lead that they would later give up. Against Memphis, the Y. was winning by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter before giving up the lead in the last minute. An inability to close out games haunted BYU Monday and the rest of the season.
Christian Stewart just not enough
It is hard to knock Christian Stewart. The former walk-on played admirably after Hill went out. His statistics at the end of the season look terrific, too, as he was able to throw for 25 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. But as was a theme for much of the rest of the season, he was just not able to lead the Cougars to victory when they were counting on him. As a starter, Stewart would finish a mediocre 4-4.
The team stayed together
Despite facing staggering adversity in the form of injuries and close losses, the Cougars were able to stay together for the entire season. While there was a high degree of negativity surrounding the program, there was no mention of fighting and pointing fingers among the players and coaches. BYU held together Monday during a crazy game in which it would get down multiple scores and the Cougars defended each other in a brawl after the game. While the 8-5 record can't be considered anything more than unsatisfying, nobody can take away the team members' tenacity and loyalty to each other.
Dylan Cannon is a regular KSL.com contributor and can be reached at DylanCannon86@gmail.com or via Twitter @DylanCannon11. Listen to his weekly podcast, "Cougar Talk," on iTunes.