Friday, August 31, 2007

Utah Drops Game One

The Italians have a saying: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. That axiom sums up my interest in the Utes. That being said, I was watching last night's game with keen interest, and suffice it to say I was not disappointed.

I started watching that game expecting the Utes to lose. What I didn't expect to see was an awful Utah team- a total embarrassment. Bad coaching, no depth, just a big pile of crap all the way around. Even their primary players (Johnson, Casteel, Wilson) looked bad. Receivers were dropping passes, there was no running game, and the defense could not bring anyone down.

It was awesome!

Some of my favorite parts of the game:

* Brent Casteel catching a touchdown pass, then celebrating like a silly little girl to cause a Utah penalty

* How the Utah O-line gave up like 48 sacks

* How Utah coaches run the option with their most valuable player, an injury-prone Brian Johnson. I'm not happy BJ got hurt, but I'm happy that my suspicions were verified: Kyle Whittingham and his staff are bad coaches.

* This stat: Yards rushing- Utah: 18, OSU: 241

* How awful Tommy Grady is. I saw it last year, and I'm happy I get to see it again this year.

As much as I hate the Utes, however, I hate their fans even more. In fact, my hatred for the actual players pales in comparison to my hatred of the fans. Anyway, the nerd I am, I opened up the Ute fan message board and I was delighted to see a massive meltdown. Here are some samples taken from Utefans.net:

"The mere fact that freak has a roster spot is unbelievable to me. He is gosh awful. He was soooo bad last year I can't understand how the coaches didn't go out and recruit at get at least an average juco QB as an insurance policy on BJ. If BJ doesn't get healthy soon, this is going to be a loooooong season with Grady at the helm.Can I ask the proverbial question of "When does hoops season start?" yet?"

And another:

"My Prediction is that Whit won't get past the season or maybe even sooner... I am sick to my stomach right now and I am really thinking about wasting my season tickets and boycotting the season. Grady Sucks!!!!! Grady was Ludwigs call and Ludwig was Whittingham's. Ludwig should have been gone after last years regular season. The fact that he is still there rests on the head coach! If we win 5 games this year we will be lucky. Stowers sucks. What the hades??? Cant the coaching staff get a semi decent back-up half back and QB? We are the UofU for hades sakes!!! We broke down the BCS!!! I say screw it!!! put RJ Stanford back at half back and let Manis get the reps for the rest of the year!!! I like Kyle, but he has bred apathy on the hill. Please Help Us!!!"

Football season started with a bang yesterday. I experienced a small bit of the joy I remember so well. Now one task remains to complete the perfect beginning to a great season: BYU blowing out Arizona. Go Cougs!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A whole heap of thoughts

Well I did it. I let complacency get the best of me, and now that I have the desire to write again there are too many subjects to cover. So indulge me if you will, and let me take you on a tour of my current thoughts on the sports world.

1. It's the year of HS football. After a five year absence from my High School alma mater, Timpanogos High School in Orem, I've decided it's time to return. The main reason I haven't been back is because THS sucks - and sucks badly - at football. This year will probably be no different, but I've decided it's time to return to my roots. Plus THS' David Kruger is being recruited by BYU, and maybe I can put in a good word. I did know his brother Paul, after all. (Quick note: Paul plays at the U., and never really liked me all that much)

2. This Michael Vick crap is getting old. First of all, I never liked Michael Vick. The guy has been bad news (or newz if you prefer) since college, and I'm not surprised at all that he's in trouble now. Just one request: Cart him off and let the rest of us live our lives! If I see one more special report on ESPN about Michael Vick, I think I'm going to Yak. But I will say this about the case - would Vick be raked through the coals this much if he beat up another human being? I seriously doubt it.

3. NASCAR and soccer suck. Just thought I'd remind everybody.

4. Oregon State is going to MURDER the Utes tomorrow. That's right, I said murder. Football season will officially kick off with a bloodbath. I'm so happy I'll be able to watch Brian Johnson lead the Utes to an ebarrassing loss in Oregon (Corvallis? Help me out here, Trevor). Let the mediocrity begin!

5. A shout out to one of my newest readers, my nephew Colton Carpenter. Colton is currently blowing people up on the O-line in Pee-wee football. Rip 'em up, Colt.

6. Here's my fantasy football team, for those of you who give a hoot:

QB: Marc Bulger - STL
RB: Brian Westbrook - PHI
RB: Ronnie Brown - MIA
WR: Terrell Owens - DAL
WR: Deion Branch - SEA
WR: Randy Moss - NE
TE: Chris Cooley - WSH
K: David Akers - PHI
Def: Patriots

I'm not sure, but I think I'm going to get killed. At least I'll have some sort of interest in the NFL this year.

7. More interest in the NFL: John Beck threw two TD passes in his most recent exhibition game. One was a perfect throw through three defenders for a 51 yard strike, the other was a high pass caught in stride 31 yards out. Beck is going to be a good quarterback, ladies and gentlemen. His work ethic, training, and God-given talent are going to take him far.

8. BYU Firesides. For those of you living in a cave, the BYU team does a fireside every Friday night before football games. I've never been to one personally, but this year I plan on attending at least two. Here's the schedule:
Aug. 31 7:00 p.m. Lindon Central Stake Center All Lindon / American Fork
Sept. 7 6:30 p.m. LaCresenta Stake Center
Sept. 14 7:00 p.m. Tulsa East Sake Center
Sept. 21 7:00 p.m. Spanish Fork Stake Center All Spanish Fork / Salem
Sept. 28 7:00 p.m. Albuquerque West Stake Center
Oct. 12 7:00 p.m. Red Rock Stake Center
Oct. 19 7:00 p.m. Orem Hillcrest Stake Center All Orem Stakes
Oct. 26 7:00 p.m. San Diego North Stake Center
Nov. 2 7:00 p.m. Springville West Stake Center All Springville Stakes
Nov. 7 7:00 p.m. Smith Fieldhouse BYU Student Body
Nov. 16 7:00 p.m. Cheyenne Stake Center
Nov. 23 7:00 p.m. Provo Tabernacle All Provo Stakes

Go Cougars! Let the games begin!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Dog Days of Sports

My loyal readers (that is to say my wife and mom) have been clamoring for new material on my award-winning Sports Blog. "It's been too long," they say. "We need more!"

What can I say? I'm lacking in material. It's not that I don't want to write, it's that I have nothing to write about. Brewers? Who cares? USA national basketball team? They beat Venezuela by 45 points last night, but they'll probably choke and lose to Sarajevo somewhere down the line. Happy? What else? Pre-season Women's Volleyball rankings? I hear Colorado State is going to have a killer LeBaro this year.

Ugh.

Yeah, I've bottomed out. Don't misunderstand, I'm waiting anxiously to post all about BYU football, but the game is soooooo far away and I don't know what to do until then.

So what should I do? What do you, the reader, want me to talk about? I'll leave this open for your input. Either leave a message in the comments box, or shoot me an email: hambone624@gmail.com

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Most Uncomfortable 10 Minutes on Television

Football season carries so many little nuggets of joy into the Olsen household. One of my favorites is the Bronco Mendenhall Coaches Show on KSL channel 5 every Sunday night at 11. I never miss it; it seems to me to be the perfect end to the football week, as well as a good springboard into Monday.

However, there are some things about it I don't like- namely the host, Tom Kirkland. His awkwardness in front of the camera makes me squirm, and you can almost see the hatred in Bronco Mendenhall's eyes. Probably the most poignant example of this was the show they did after the historic win over Utah last year. I saw it live, but I'm very happy to see that it has been uploaded to YouTube. For my friends reading this from a BYU computer, I apologize, but here it is (warning: it's a long clip. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, skip to minute 7. You won't be disappointed):



Ah, I can't wait for another season full of treasures like this one! I'm betting Bronco finally puts a beat down on Kirkland around week 3. Stay tuned - heaven knows I will.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Practice #2

Me, Russ and our new pal Max enjoyed the second open practice for the 2007 BYU football season. While Trevor slept and Ross worked, Russ and I left the corporate world behind to catch a glimpse of our beloved Cougars.

For me, simply being there was incredible. On Monday, Trevor and I were relegated to sit field-level, but today Russ and I arrived early enough to snag prime spots on the Student Athlete Center balcony. As we leaned over the rail, the players below us ran to their specific assignments and practice was underway. I looked out over the practice field at different groups of players, and I couldn't help but smile. Some were hitting, some were running and cutting, others were throwing. It was a good feeling, my friends. Football season is upon us.

The practice itself was enjoyable. My favorite drill of the day was the one-on-one offensive line vs. defensive line. Travis Bright, who is fast becoming one of my favorite players, simply smashed his opponent into the ground. It was a pancake like dear ol' dad used to make. Sete Aluai also had his moments, and so did Dallas Reynolds.
Later, in the 11-0n-11, the defense really stepped it up. Max Hall did throw one TD pass to Manase Tonga, but the defense really didn't let anything fly. The corners - especially Ben Criddle - had a great practice. This is encouraging. Even though I always want to see the offense do well, I know that our defense should be nasty this year, and it's reassuring to see them step up.

One final nugget was was when past and present fused together into one. I speak, of course, of Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice debriefing with none other than LaVell Edwards.

Oh to be a fly on the wall at that conversation!
Anyway, next open practice will by Friday at 10 a.m. Let me know if you want to meet me there.

Monday, August 13, 2007

One half of an entire marathon

I don't know how many of you out there have seen a Saturday morning at 4:30, but two days ago I found myself right in the middle of a morning so early it felt like I didn't sleep at all. The air was crisp, the light was nonexistant, and my wife and I stumbled out the door to face the demon we've been training to slay for 6 weeks: The Provo River Half Marathon.

We boarded a bus that was to take us to the starting line, and before we knew it we were standing in line for the john at the top of South Fork, about an hour away from the starting time of 7:00.

When the race finally started, after an hour of stretching and catching up with some fellow-runner-friends, I found myself embarking on the longest run I've ever experienced. The light was low, and the canyon breeze was at my back. I settled in to some nice Red Hot Chili Peppers, and prepared for the next two hours of my life.

The first quarter of the race was a major downhill. Coming out of South Fork was a nice way to start, because by the time we were out we had knocked off three miles without feeling it too much. I tried to keep a steady pace - even when John Denver appeared on my iPod - and before I knew it I was at Bridal Veil Falls. To this point, the scenery was absolutely stunning. I don't fully appreciate the beauty of Provo Canyon while driving through it, but running down the Provo River Trail gave me an up-close picture of how pretty it really is. From Vivian Park to Bridal Veil Falls was probably the most picturesque of the whole run.

We ran past Bridal Veil, and at the mouth of Nunns Park, the run took an unexpected turn. Instead of proceding forward, the run followed the old Upper Falls road and we ran all the way back past Bridal Veil Falls in the opposite direction to Upper Falls park. This was a long steady uphill, by the way, but it turned out not to be so bad. As I made the turnaround, I was able to see my wife coming the opposite direction, and I was also happy to see I was more than half way home.

Up to this point I was feeling good about my run. I had a good pace, my legs were holding up and I was in a good part of the pack. We ran through Nunns Park, and then Canyon Glen. The smoke from campers was a bit hard on my lungs, but no real harm done. It was at this point, when Generator by the Foo Fighters blasted in my eardrums, that I really hit my stride. People started walking all around me, but I felt invigorated. My legs pumped in rythm, my mind was focused and everything was right in the running world.

The race slipped by like I couldn't believe. Before I knew it 10 miles were behind me, and the only thing that lay between me and the finish line was a measley peasley three miles. I can run three miles in my sleep, I say to myself, and I press on. Johnny Cash was my companion as I blasted out of Provo canyon and began the final stretch.

Leaving the canyon meant entering the blazing hot, sun-exposed final stretch. We wound through Centaur publishing, and my body ached to stop running. My left knee started to scream for relief, my headband was soaked through and my bronze Jr. Jazz jersey was deflecting the hot sun into my face. Nevertheless, I pressed on. By Utah Community Credit Union, or mile 12, I was on the home stretch. I ran past my beloved Tahitian noni International, through the Prosper parking lot, and before I knew it I was staring at the big red clock slowly ticking my time away.

I made it. I was at the finish line. I burned my final reserves of energy and broke the tape at two hours and 3 minutes. I was hoping for 2:10, which would have given me a 10-minute-mile, so I was very happy to know I exceeded my own expectations. I know, I know, we all know these guys that finish half marathons in a buck thirty or some crap, but I was dang proud of myself. Doing something like this was a huge accomplishment for me, and I had a great time training for and running my first half marathon.

I would like to thank my wife Becky for inspiring me to run this race with her, my friend Trevor for giving me a goal to shoot for, and the Shippen family for being at the finish line.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Thoughts About Barry

I guess it's the biggest sports event of the year, so far, so I better comment on it. I mean, how else am I going to become a credible sports authority?

But that's just the thing, I don't want to comment on Barry Bonds. It's boring to me, and I don't want to give him the hype. Barry Bonds has just become another sideshow that steals time away from NFL camp reports on Sportscenter. No one even cares that he broke the most sacred record in sports. Everyone just wants this whole debacle to be over.

I was watching Baseball Tonight a little bit last night and they were talking about how many homers Bonds would end up with. They hosts were talking 770-780, and I'm thinking to myself "Are you serious? You mean I have to not only finish this season, but watch two maybe three more seasons of Barry Bonds?" Needless to say, I was not excited about the thought.

Then I remembered seeing old footage of Hank Aaron running the bases, joined by two hippies from the stands, after breaking the Great Bambino's record of 714 HRs. Granted, I didn't witness the event, nor was I even alive when Aaron did it, but the old film says a lot. Here's a guy, Hank Aaron, who did it the right way. He paid his dues and worked his tail off, and in turn he was rewarded. He was, however, threatened with his life for breaking Babe Ruth's record, but that's another story. The bottom line is the vast majority of Americans were thrilled with Aaron's accomplishment.

Now Bonds comes along, and after he hit his 756th, you could almost hear a collected groan from everyone across the country. I know when I first saw it I was silently disappointed. I was still holding out for the career-ending injury for Bonds so he couldn't break the record. But he did it, and now he's the man. At least he did it in San Francisco where people still cheer him. If he would have hit the record-breaking ball anywhere else he probably would have been booed back to the stone age.

Now we live in the aftermath. Bonds continues to hit home runs, and the world continues to hate him. What a shame that baseball has turned into a 9-month-long trainwreck every year. Heroes are discovered to be cheats and frauds, record-breakers are despised and everyone is a suspect. Cynicism runs deep among the fans of the game, and from now on when someone accomplishes something great, the proverbial eyebrow of the skeptic will always raise in disbelief.

So there you have it. Bonds has cemented his place in the annals of baseball history. But no one cares. I predict a very lonely Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the home run king.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Ute Fall camp

In other news, the University of Utah began their fall football camp today, and each player underwent a routine physical examination...


Softball Season Ends

As the sun rose majestically over the eastern mountains on Saturday morning, my BYU intramural softball team fell, and great was the fall of it. My hopes for an intramural championship t-shirt were dashed once again as the final out registered, and I was once again in the precarious position of asking myself "why?"

Why did this happen to me? I'm dedicated, aren't I? I have skills, don't I? Did I commit some grievous sin in some past life to doom me to intramural mediocrity? Why do some hacks win the coveted t-shirt, and loyal, proud athletes like myself are left shirtless?

These are hard questions, indeed, but probably unanswerable in this life. When viewed with an eternal perspective, I understand that my intramural experience in this life is but one act in a three-act play. To understand fully my intramural role in the eternities, I need only to have faith and press on.

However, some defeats come in the wake of victory. Only one week before our premature intramural exit, my company softball team took first place in a highly competitive tournament. Don't think I'm begging for some athletic credibility, here, I'm just reporting the facts.

I was also voted to the company all-star team, but that's all I'm gonna say.

So, yes, I am bitter we lost. I'm bitter at myself, my team and the whole freakin' system. But I'll be back. Oh yes, I'll be back just like I came back before. When flag football season starts, I'll be on the field with blazing eyes. I'll be ready to leave my very soul on the field in search of the ever-elusive t-shirt proclaiming me champion.

In the meantime, let me live with the positives. One, I rediscovered my love of softball. Two, I gained confidence enough that if, at some point, Russ asks me to be on one of his teams I can proudly say "Yes, Russ, I will." Three, Will Beck thought me worthy enough to offer his financial wisdom. And four, I finally gained some street cred at work.

So there you have it. Softball season is over, and it's vile hands have claimed one more victim. But next year I'll be back, and I will have my vengeance.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

BYU Football: A preview

We are a mere four weeks and one day away from the football season opener, and I'm as giddy as a little girl. As I type, BYU football players are gathering from around the country - not unlike the ten tribes of Israel - to report to fall camp, which begins tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the day when veterans like Bryan Kehl and Sete Aluai are united with newcomers like J.J. DiLuigi, Jordan Pendleton and Ryan Kessman. And the cosmic ballet that is college football will commence.

Until the season actually starts, though, all we sports fans can do is sit back and prognosticate in our different forums- be they cross-cubicle discussions, late-night chats with the wife or seldom-read sports blogs. I have already employed the former two, and now it's my turn to publish my feelings to the blogging world.

So, without further adieu, here is my preview for BYU football 2007.

Record: 9-3. It pains me to predict losses for the Cougars, but I can't convince myself that BYU will repeat it's 2006 MWC run. I don't think BYU will run through the conference undefeated again, not without Beck, Harline and Brown. The losses will come at UCLA, Wyoming and New Mexico. BYU will continue to dominate at home, starting off with a win over Arizona and ending with a second-straight victory over the Utes. Its other non-conference games are at Tulsa and home against Eastern Washington. Both should be easy BYU wins. New Mexico and Wyoming are tough games on the road against two improving teams, and as much as I don't like to admit it, BYU just won't be perfect this year. Even though they should win every game, they'll probably let some slip. The Cougars will finish 6-2 in the MWC- good for second place. The good news: We'll win our second straight bowl game. Bad news: it won't be in Vegas.

Offense: BYU is going to be a defensive team early this year, but the offensive weapons are there. Austin Collie (No. 9) is back after an all-American year in 2004, and hopefully he'll be back to his former self. Fui Vakapuna (No. 1) has put on some weight, reportedly, but I'm excited to see him fill the No. 1 running back slot. He'll be fun to watch, especially as he gets the majority of carries. BYU has a great offensive line, a deep core of receivers and some solid running backs. The only question mark is Max Hall.

Question Mark: Max Hall. The only time I saw Hall play was the Spring scrimmage. He was blanketed all day by a great defense, but that scrimmage is just a skeleton of what a real game would be. I am anxious to see if Hall has the timing that Beck had. I wonder if he'll be able to hit receivers right on the money at the right time, like Beck could. I predict he'll be more like Jason Beck than John, though. I think we'll see a lot of bootlegs and running out of the pocket. I just hope he can get the ball to the receivers, and not exclusively to the running backs.

Defense: The Cougar defense will be the team's strength this year, especially early on. Jaime Hill, the BYU defensive back coach, worked miracles with Justin Robinson last year, and knowing he is in the system again this year is a great comfort to me. It makes me feel like Ben Criddle, Brandon Bradley, Cole Miyahara, Andre Saulsbury and Kayle Buchanan are going to be a strength at corner back, and not a liability. Our linebackers will be just fine- Kehl, Poppinga, Nixon and Stafferi will anchor the defense. The D-line will be another bright spot for BYU with young, talented guys like Russell Tialavea, Ian Dulan and Jan Jorgenson.

Most Anticipated: Quinn Gooch. I am way excited to see Gooch play this year. He is smart on the field, and he hits hard. I think he'll surprise a lot of people this year.

Best Newcomer: J.J. Diluigi. This freshman running back from California is going to fit into BYU's system perfectly. He'll catch passes out of the slot and he'll get a few carries in the backfield. He'll be a quicker, shiftier, speedier Nate Meikle. He may even return kickoffs/punts.

Adam's top five players to watch: TE Dennis Pitta, CB Ben Criddle, WR Austin Collie, LB David Nixon, S Quinn Gooch

Let the games begin!