BYU Football: Ty Detmer’s Fourth-Down Play Calls Have Been Bad, And The Stats Prove It

Ty Detmer may be a Heisman Trophy winner, but his play calls, especially on fourth-down, have been beyond bad. So just how bad has it been this year?

Let’s let the stats speak for themselves.

After Saturday’s loss to Fresno State, in which the Cougars were 0-for-2 on fourth downs, BYU is now 4-of-18 on fourth-down conversions for a whopping 22 percent. Yeah, that’s not going to help you win very many football games.

Detmer, who has come under fire for his conservative play calls this season, has finally started to be somewhat “aggressive” over the past two games with the offense finally showing some life and starting to move the ball. Against San Jose State, the Cougars racked up 598 yards of total offense and against Fresno State, the team tallied a game-high 336 yards.

However, Detmer’s fourth down play calls continue to be arguably the worst in all of college football. Let me explain.

First, there was the Jonah Trinnaman deep ball pass on 4th-and-1 against Boise State. Down 24-7, with 11:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, BYU had the ball near midfield facing a 4th-and-1 situation. Instead of handing the ball off to freshman running back Ula Tolutau who finished the game with 9 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, Detmer had Mangum throw a deep ball to Trinnaman that fell incomplete.

BYU Football: Underdogs To Fresno State And UNLV; That’s How Bad This Year Has Been For BYU

Saturday night against Fresno State, BYU was again facing a 4th-and-1 situation with the game on the line. Instead of handing the ball off to junior running back Squally Canada — who finished the game with an average of seven yards per carry and a game-high 84 yards — Detmer had backup quarterback Beau Hoge, who wasn’t near 100 percent and who missed the past month due to an injury, roll out of the pocket to try and find an open receiver.

Like most plays this year on fourth down, the play didn’t have much of a chance and the Cougars turned the ball over on downs. To make matters worse, the Cougars burned a timeout in the process too.

In that situation, especially with the way Canada was running in the second half, the only play call that should have been made was a handoff to Canada with fullback Brayden El-Bakri leading the way. The sophomore fullback is arguably one of the toughest players on the team as evident by his hit on special teams last week in what many call the biggest hit of the college football season.

Who could also forget Detmer’s play call during the loss to East Carolina as the offense put up just 17 points against a Pirate defense that was giving up nearly 50 points per game. With the Cougars down 26-10 with 9:14 left in the game, Detmer, again out of a timeout, drew up a “beautiful” bubble screen play that went absolutely nowhere as ECU had four players covering three BYU receivers on the left side where the screen play went. The fourth-down play was just one of many examples this year of Detmer’s poor play calls on fourth-down.

Detmer’s two-point conversion plays have been just as bad as Cougar fans have witnessed the past two years. Who could forget during the BYU-Utah game at Rice-Eccles Stadium as Taysom Hill ran a QB draw right into Utah’s blitzing linebackers and stuffed the run to give the Utes a 20-19 victory at home.

I like and enjoy BYU’s aggressiveness of going for it on fourth-downs, however, Detmer and the Cougar offense needs to be smart about the plays that it runs.

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