BYU football a week after getting massacred by Arkansas?

Their corpses were dug up and run over by Liberty.

Score? Liberty 41, BYU 14. 

Nothing changed for BYU. Victimhood is theirs. Battered is their anthem.

On Saturday, Liberty won its Super Bowl by humiliating BYU in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Flames had heroes all over the field. BYU had, well, enablers all over the place, unable to stop the 118th-ranked offense in the country from basically rolling.

One must credit Liberty coach Hugh Freeze and his fired up football team for an outstanding game with 38 unanswered points on BYU. Piloting a program in its fifth year of FBS play, Freeze masterfully took apart a team that had won a national title once upon a time a week after beating Gardner Webb by one point.

But at the same time, there is a lot to be disappointed about in BYU football these days.

“To be up 14 to 3 and then have 38 unanswered points was shocking for us,” said Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake, who said Liberty played inspired football.

“We have to fight through this. Definitely, there is some adversity we are going through. We have two choices, you can fight through it or it’s a fight-or-flight moment. I only know one way, and it’s to fight through this and make sure we have the right guys with us.”

Once again, BYU’s defense looked like a freeway with no gap control and tackling issues, losing the edges, covering grass instead of receivers, a consistent inability to get off the field. Liberty’s fourth-string quarterback had a career day.

Offensively, Jaren Hall and company could never mount consistent drives after the first quarter. Three and outs were their motto. Liberty’s pass cover and pressure was the best BYU’s seen all year. BYU’s highly touted offensive line was outplayed and outhustled.

Want to look at what a broken football team looks like? Take a gander at the Cougars.

One could say Oregon broke BYU right after the Cougars beat Baylor. The Cougars have not been the same.

In the past two weeks, Arkansas and Liberty amassed 1,191 total yards and 96 points on BYU’s defense. Neither could probably do that in 7-on-7 practice drills on a Monday afternoon against their scout teams.

Liberty outgained BYU 547 to 258 total yards. Freeze’s team rushed for 300 on BYU’s defense and took a knee with a minute left in the game after scoring 38 straight on BYU.

This was a dark pair of weekends for Sitake.

No answers appear to be working. The defense can’t tackle after spending a week in “tackle school” and can’t get pressure on QBs with three, four or five-man fronts.

“We have an amazing team and we still have amazing potential,” said defensive end Tyler Batty, “but not achieving our own expectations is frustrating.”

“We need to execute and get our offense the ball. There are a lot of guys frustrated. We need to work harder and prepare better.”

Hall went 16 of 34 (47%) for 187 yards, and he was effectively harassed more by Liberty than Baylor, Notre Dame, Oregon or Arkansas. 

He uncharacteristically overthrew receivers and held on to the ball too long at times. It was his worst game of the season in a week folks thought he was close to 100 percent after an injury against Utah State.

The brightest spot for BYU was receiver Puka Nacua (7 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown of 46 yards, his longest reception of the year), but Hall couldn’t spread the ball around. He had very few changes. Again. 

Nacua made an emotional plea to his teammates in the locker room after the loss. He asked for everyone on the team to step up and make a difference. 

“If you are going to step on that field, you have to make plays,” Nacua said.

Just like in the Arkansas game, Liberty went on a 17-0 run in the second quarter. BYU led 14-3 and never scored again.

“We needed to score more points,” said Hall. “I need to play better.”

A few moments later on BYUtv after the postgame presser, Hall was asked what needs to be done.

“Everyone needs to look in the mirror and do more during the week. There are no major answers. There are no magic speeches.”

Hall said it is a matter of staying together right now. Nacua, he said, shared a message that everyone needed to have a reality check and love the game more.

Right now, Sitake’s biggest challenge is to keep his team upbeat through a process of asking more. He needs to install confidence with some hard teaching. 

But equal to that is the hurdle of players making more plays. That’s in deficit.

3 takeaways from BYU’s lopsided loss to Liberty
Highlights, key plays and photos from BYU’s 41-14 loss to Liberty

You can blame coaches and put the blame on players, but complaining does little. The Cougars still must face a tough Eastern Carolina team and Boise State in the coming weeks, and with what transpired Saturday in Virginia, those games now look like moon landings.

“We have players. I believe they are in the right position to make plays. We have guys who can do that 150%. We just need to do that,” said Batty. 

He told BYUtv afterward BYU had the best coaches in the nation and the best locker room in the country.

“It’s just putting the pieces together,” he said.

Hall said Liberty did a great job all season of forcing third and longs and it happened with BYU on Saturday.

“We’ve got a great group of players and leadership isn’t the issue now,” he said. “We just need to do something better on Saturdays.

“It’s time for a gut check. We need to find out what kind of guys we have.”