Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A sampling from the USU message board

Here is something I originally wanted to do for every game this season--that is, visit the upcoming opponent's message board and post the funny/insane messages only fans can come up with.

I'm not sure whether I'll get to it for the rest of the games, but here's a quick sampling from the Aggie message board ScoutUState.com

First, the hilarious:

"Sing it with me! Dun! Dun! Dun! And another one bites the dust!

#1 USC falls to unranked Oregon State 21-27
#3 Georgia falls to #8 Alabama 30-41
#4 Florida falls to unranked Ole Miss 30-31
#9 Wisconsin falls to unranked Michigan 25-27
#16 Wake Forest falls to unranked Navy 17-24
#20 Clemson falls to unranked Maryland 17-20
#23 East Carolina falls to unranked Houston 24-41

And another one down! And another one down! And another one bites the dust!"

--User BigBlueDart

Then the dirty:

"Hit Hall after the play! Hit him hard! He loves to stay in the pocket for a coumt or 2 too long. Make him pay for that even if it is slightly late. That is the only way we can be effective."

--User Quelch

The realistic:

"Yeah, even if [a] few Aggie fans can bear to watch the game, you can be sure the stadium will be filled with obnoxious BYU fans. This is their magical year, after all."

--User Rabidchild

The out-dated:

" i would love to see the aggies get to beck. he has'nt been hit much yet. i would love to see a good game but i'm not counting on it."

--User Bucket1010

The uneducated:

"go aggies
i say aggies win 38 to 35
then we will be yelling
overrated overrated
we have a chance to win byu
if weber can beat the ugly utes"

[Editor's note: Was this supposed to be some kind of modified haiku?]

--User grizzaggiebluedude

The Dreamer:

"Call it a gut feeling, but I've got a hunch there's going to be a big upset in Logan this weekend. Take it to 'em boys, beat those Cougars!

BYU 27
USU 30

... fans rush the field at Romney."

--User BSUTOP25

And finally, the accurate:

"Sorry guys but my gut says BYU wins 70-0. They are playing for a BCS bid and will not let up on the gas pedal."

--User Spartanmark

Man, I could do this all day. Make no mistake, I think any Aggie that thinks their team has a legitimate shot at winning (or even making it close) is lost in a dream world, but I'm glad to see there's some fire, somewhere, for such an awful team.

By the way, if you do get a chance to read some USU message boards, be advised--they call BYU "7" because we exemplify the 7 deadly sins. As in, "7 is going to roll up 63 points in the first half against our hapless Aggies."

Is that or is that not the lamest nickname you've ever seen?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick bites

This post will be a welcome change for those of you who don't like reading. Since so much has happened over the past few days, and since I don't want to write about it all, I'm just going to give you some quick little bits of everything that's on my mind.

So I guess you'll still have to read... just not as much.

1. BYU is up to No. 7 in the Coaches poll, No. 8 in the AP. A lot higher than I would have imagined. These high rankings are turning an already special season into something reaching epic proportions.

2. To anyone who has heard me talk at all about TCU this year: I TOLD YOU SO. They are overrated, and not that good. Their defense was outmatched, their offense was pathetic and I'm more confident than ever that BYU will hand them a royal beating.

3. Don't you love it when Urban Meyer loses?

4. I want to send some thank you cards. Does anyone have addresses for Ole Miss, Michigan, Alabama and Oregon State?

5. Time out: who besides me is getting pumped for BYU basketball? Too early? Tyler Haws' commitment has infused our program with all kinds of energy. I know he won't even play this year, but his commitment just got me excited to see Lee, Jimmer, JT, Jackson Emery and newcomers LaMont Morgan, Charles Abuo and Noah Hartsock. All I have to say is--Trent who?

6. Fantasy football update: 4-0 in one league, 3-1 in another and there's one more that I don't ever check.

7. Adam and the Trizz will be on the radio again today (Monday) from 5-6. We'll be talkin' BYU and (hopefully) some government bailout, so tune those dials to 1400 AM and let our soothing voices wash over you like silky cocoa butter.

8. I saw Dennis Pitta at Provo High playing some pick-up football on Saturday. We even had a brief interaction, but I'll spare you the details (I don't want to embarrass Brett again). Needless to say I was not happy with Dennis' decision to play, but I prayed about it and decided I will not contact his coaches.

9. How annoying will Ute fans be if they win on Thursday? Seriously.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

USC chokes away another chance for a title

News flash: Oregon State is the new Stanford.

The Beavers just pulled off a huge upset tonight, beating No. 1 USC 27-20 a few minutes ago. And Oregon State looked pretty dang good doing it, if I say so myself. They ran the ball up the gut, they moved the ball well and they shut out USC's high-flying, bullet train of an offense in the first half.

I'm just in a state of shock. How did SC lose?

USC looked so good this year; I thought they were going to the national championship easy. But the Trojans proved once again that they just can't seem to put together the string of wins needed to get there. Their inconsistency is humorous bordering on tragic.

I mean, how can a team with so many filthy stinking athletes lose to an unranked, 1-2 conference team?

Was it laziness?

Were the Trojans looking ahead?

Were the Trojans overrated?

Are the Beavers just that good? (If so, look out Utah!)

Wow. I wonder what would have happened if Bronco was coaching the Trojans...

Haws commits (finally!)

Following football recruits is one thing, but following basketball recruits is something else entirely.

Usually, the first time I hear about a BYU basketball recruit is when they're suiting up for their first game. Recruiting in the basketball world is just different that way.

Tyler Haws, however, is another story. As far as b-ball recruits go, he is playing a different game. He is probably one of the most sought-after recruits in Utah basketball history, and Haws made it official last night: He will be a BYU Cougar.

After narrowing his choices down to Stanford and BYU, Haws followed his father and former-Cougar Marty's footsteps into the green pastures of Brigham Young. Rumor has it coach Dave Rose started ringing the Victory Bell in wild fury when he got the news.

Personally, I don't know much about Haws. I haven't ever even seen him play. I do trust our local media, though, and here's what they have to say about the commitment:

Haws is "one of the most highly recruited high school basketball players in state history" --SL Tribune

"BYU coaches are celebrating" the commitment --SL Tribune

"Tyler Haws is the complete package" --Deseret News

Coach Dave Rose landing Haws is a "significant feather" in his in-state recruiting cap. --Greg Wrubell, KSL

Coaches "were constantly working" on Haws' recruitment --Greg Wrubell, KSL

BYU "landed a big one" --Provo Daily Herald

I encourage you to read these stories if you're really interested in Haws and the recruiting process. Needless to say, this is a big deal for BYU and coach Dave Rose. Haws reportedly was drawing interest from nearly every big time basketball program in the nation, including Gonzaga, Duke, Wake Forest, Marquette and others.

Good job coach Rose for going after one of the state's best and doing it with gusto. And congratulations Tyler for making a very good choice in BYU. I'm sure you won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A dream was realized today

Have you ever listened to sports talk radio and thought to yourself "Man, I wish I could do that--get paid to talk about sports all day."

I have.

I yearn, nay, pine to be one of those guys. I mean, I do it anyway, right? Why not let everyone listen in? And why not make a little scratch doing it?

Well that dream was realized for me today. That is, all but the getting paid part. But believe me--the giddiness I feel right now is more payment than I'll ever need.

So for those of you who don't already know, Trevor (of CougarCrazies.com) and I were invited to be guests on "The Home Team" with Darnell Dickson. The Home Team is a sports radio show on KSTAR 1400 AM, and it caters to the large, unsatisfied, sports-hungry Utah County audience. It airs every weekday from 4-6, and covers local stuff like BYU, UVU, the MWC and Utah Jazz.

Quick plug: If you don't already listen, you should check it out. It is a very good show.

Anyway, Trevor and I went on today to talk some sports and it was everything I thought it would be and much, much more. We laughed, we furrowed our brows, we contributed to the playful banter. We were on from 5-6.

I thought the setting would be a little intimidating. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous before showtime, but when we stepped into the studio my fears were put to rest. I was picturing dark booths with huge earphones; instead it was literally a table with some microphones on it. We sat and talked just like a bunch of guys would on any given day, talking sports.

Darnell and his co-host Jared do a great job, too. There was no lofty expectations, no egos. We just sat down and started talking, and I think it turned out really well.

Discussions included (but were not limited to):

*How we became BYU fans
*Why we have blogs
*The role blogs play in the media
*Wifely support (Thanks for the call-in question, Bob!)
*BYU fans being too prideful (another call-in)
*BYU's Quest for (football) Perfection
*BYU's athletic program as a whole

Awesome, awesome, awesome. It was the time of my life. Those that heard the show will have to tell me how it went, but I thought Trevor did a great job, and I certainly had a lot of fun. And hopefully we'll be able to go back real soon.

Anyway, thanks for the opportunity Darnell. And everyone else seriously--start tuning into KSTAR 1400 AM during the drive home or wherever you happen to be. "The Home Team" airs from 4-6 on weekdays.

Adam and Trevor on 1400 KSTAR today!

Ever wonder what it's like to listen to two people who absolutely have no credentials or authority whatsoever talk about sports?

Now you get the chance! Catch Adam and Trevor (of www.CougarCrazies.com) today at 5 p.m. on "The Home Team" with the Daily Herald's Darnell Dickson.

The Home Team is the exclusive home of sports in Utah County, and gives an insider's perspective on BYU, UVU, the MWC and more.

Check us out! Again, that's KSTAR 1400 AM at 5 p.m. today.

MWC Power Rankings

If you know me, then you know I love to rank stuff. I would rank stuff all day if I could.

Here’s just one example of things I might rank in any given day: Dinners I’ve had in the past week.

Gold—Meat Loaf on Sunday
Silver—Stir fry on Wednesday
Bronze—Honey chicken meat pie on Monday

See? That’s just what I’ll do.

Today I’m ranking the Mountain West Conference—or, as some know it, The Third Best Conference in the Country (in 2008). Here goes:

1. BYU. Hard to argue with this pick. The pre-season favorite is No. 11 in the country, 4-0 and boasts two straight shutouts and one of the top offenses in the country. Rocky times are ahead, though. Sources say that some coaches might have been using profanity during last week’s game vs. Wyoming.

2. Utah. Nipping at BYU’s heels, the Utes are also 4-0, but have looked a little shaky at points along the way. Still waiting for the Utes to stumble. Enter Weber State.

3. TCU. Rounding out the ranked MWC teams at No. 24, TCU is putting up huge numbers on both offense and defense. They actually start playing real football teams this week at Oklahoma. I hope the dream has been a nice one, Froggies.

4. Air Force. The Cadets were grounded after a minor delay against Utah, but look for Air Force to take off once again and soar majestically through the wild blue yonder. (Too many aviation jokes?)

5. UNLV. Who would have thought the Rebs would make it out of the cellar anytime soon? I’m still not that impressed though. Look for UNLV to start their losing streak any day now.

6. New Mexico. Donovan Porterie is out for the season, so it looks like the Lobos won’t get any higher than No. 6 on my list.

7. Colorado State. The Rams were my MWC sleeper team this year, but haven’t really shown me anything too special. Hopefully Coach “Papa Bear” Kubiak and his Rams will beat Cal this weekend to keep the MWC’s streak of pantsing the Pac-10 alive.

8. Wyoming. Poor Joe Glenn. The guy just can’t get it done in the state of Utah. If he beats the Utes, though, the ‘Pokes will always have a place in my heart.

9. San Diego State. Cortez has landed, and the Aztecs are no match for the white man’s rifles and various diseases.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who's going to the NFL?

The topic of the day? BCS Bowls and NFL prospects.

My sister blog, www.CougarCrazies.com has covered the BCS Bowls, so I'd like to talk about Cougars making it big in the NFL.

And no, I'm not talking about over-active middle-aged women looking for young NFL players to hook up with.

We have a lot of talent on our team right now. So much talent, in fact, that BYU fans everywhere are sweating bullets, fearing one of our big-time players will bolt early for the NFL.

I'd like to take this opportunity to bring everyone back down to earth. Including BYU players, if any happen to be reading this.

For starters, let me present you with a short list of past BYU players: John Walsh, Ronny Jenkins, Luke Staley, Bret Engemann. What do they have in common? They all left early to the NFL and they all, with the possible exception of Jenkins, stunk it up big time.

You could even add Trent Plaisted to that list, but the jury's still out on TP, and we're talking about football here.

The point is, BYU players would be well-advised to stay in school as long as they can. We simply don't produce (or attract) the kind of athletes that can leave early (read: guys like Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell or Adrian Peterson).

That being said, though, let's take a deeper look at each of our future NFL prospects, starting with seniors.

1. Ray Feinga--Offensive Line. Big, nasty, good on his feet. Ray will most likely be the only BYU player drafted this year.

2. Fui Vakapuna--Fullback. Fui probably won't be drafted, but I wouldn't be surprised if he signs a free agent agreement to play fullback. He's got the size to be a good blocker, and he can run the ball well if he's so called upon. Plus, the fact that a similar former BYU player, Fahu Tahi, is still doing well in Minnesota leads me to believe Fui can be in the NFL too.

3. David Nixon--Linebacker. You're getting a degree, right D-Nix? Good. I'm just saying... Solid BYU player, but I don't think he has a prayer in the NFL.

4. T-Bright, David Oswald, Dallas Reynolds--offensive line. I have a hard time believing these guys aren't NFL prospects. Maybe I'm just ignorant and biased, but these guys make up one of the best offensive lines in the country. I'll be surprised if Feinga is the only one to get in the NFL.

On to the juniors.

1. Harvey Unga--Tailback. Unga is the best NFL-talent guy on our team, in my humble opinion. He is a bruiser, he hits the hole, he recently reported a 4.5 forty, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as a lot of receivers. I may be wrong, but Unga will be NFL-bound very soon. I won't be surprised when he leaves after his junior season, and I won't be surprised if he bucks the trend of BYU players not doing so well in the NFL. Running backs have a short shelf-life, and Unga has to strike while the iron's hot.

2. Dennis Pitta--Tight End. The key for Pitta is size. If Pitta can put on a few pounds and really learn how to block well, he's an NFL tight end for sure. The NFL doesn't appreciate hybrid guys like Jonny Harline as much as BYU does, which is why Daniel Coats stuck and Harline didn't. Pitta seems to be a nice cross between Coats and Harline, though, and may end up on an NFL roster (though I could see him not getting drafted). I guarantee, though, he won't leave BYU early.

3. Max Hall--Quarterback. Hall's two biggest things working for him now are his accuracy and his attitude. He's a smaller guy, though, and he doesn't have the biggest arm. I'm torn with Hall. He may be drafted, only because he'll put up huge numbers, but I don't know if he'll make it big in the NFL. He may prove me wrong, though, simply because of his gutsy beat-'em-at-all-cost attitude. I think attitude is one thing that is really slowing the progress of John Beck, and it could help Max break into the NFL.

4. Austin Collie--Wide Receiver. Collie is one of the best athletes I've ever seen at BYU. He runs smooth, like a gazelle, and he has deceptive speed. However, in today's world of supermen, I struggle with the thought of Collie making it in the NFL. I know guys like Kevin Curtis and Wes Welker have found their niche, but those guys are few and far-between. The reality is there are going to be dozens and dozens of receivers taken before Collie come draft day. It's not his fault--he just happens to be in a talent-laden position. Some have rumored that Collie will leave early. I don't have any inside info, but in my opinion he would be very foolish to do so.

5. The Janimal, Jan Jorgenson--Defensive End. Another great-in-college guy, but I don't know if Jan could make an NFL team. He's just a little small.

Bottom line: Stay in school, guys. For the sake of fans everywhere--and for the sake of your futures--don't let some BS agent or delusions of grandeur convince you to leave BYU early. Stay in school, get your degrees, and stay as far away from APX Alarms as humanly possible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pick 'em update: Week 4

Another shutout, another impressive victory. The Cowboys coughed up the ball six times, and the Cougar defense scored more touchdowns than UCLA and Wyoming combined.

(Not hard to beat zero, though. I mean, let's take it a little further--I scored more points in ping-pong than UCLA and Wyoming combined. Real Salt Lake scored more in their last match than UCLA and Wyoming Combined. I ate more slices of meat loaf last night than the combined scores of UCLA and Wyoming. And the list goes on.)

But seriously, though, who would have guessed the Cougars would give us two shutouts in a row?

The answer: According to ASB's pick 'em, no one. One person did, however, pick the Wyoming shutout, and that was our favorite person-turned-planet Mars.

My brother-in-law Ty was the big winner this week with 35, while Aaron, Cousin of Trevor and Mars both chalked up 34s. Here are the complete scores for week 2.

Ty - 35
Aaron, Cousin of Trevor - 34
Mars - 34
Dave - 32
Trizz - 32
Boyle - 29
Jeremy - 29
Rod-Dawg - 29
Seth - 29
Travis - 29
Ali - 28
Cindy - 28
KO - 28
Lesley - 28
Rock - 28
Andy - 27
BUS - 25
Eliot - 24
Jeris - 24
J-Snow - 24
Justin - 24
Becky - 22
Katie - 22
Suzanna - 22
Gus - 21
JonathanD - 21
Knips - 20

Check the right-hand side of the blog to see the updated total scores.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Preview: Wyoming

What: Wyoming @ BYU
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo
When: September 20, 2008; 1 p.m. MDT
TV: The Mtn.

Of Note: BYU and Wyoming have one of the oldest rivalries in the MWC, dating back to 1922. BYU has beaten the Cowboys seven out of the last eight times, including four straight. Wyoming beat BYU in 2003, which was current coach Joe Glenn’s first year.

The last time Wyoming won in Provo was 1987. In 2006 the Cowboys, Cowpokes or just ‘pokes, whatever you want to call them, came to Provo and BYU handed them a 55-7 drubbing. The Cougars have recorded home-field sellouts in 8 consecutive games—the longest streak since ’91-’92.

About the Cowboys: The Cowboys are struggling this year, fair and simple. After a late-game comeback in week one versus Ohio University, the ‘boys could only muster three points against Air Force, a game which they lost at home. Then in week three Wyoming struggled against FCS opponent North Dakota State before finally winning the game 16-13.

BYU scored more points against UCLA (59) than Wyoming has scored in its first three games combined (40).

Starting quarterback Dax Crum was a walk-on at Arizona State before transferring to Mesa Community College, and then finally Wyoming. Crum is 32-58 for 232 yards and has a 55.7% completion rate for the season so far. He has thrown 2 TDs and 3 INTs.

In other words, Wyoming doesn’t have much of a passing attack.

Running backs Wynell Seldon and Devin Moore are Wyoming’s primary weapons on offense. Moore/Seldon have combined for 459 yards and 2 TDs on the ground.

This is Wyoming’s first road game, and it’s a doozy. But, the Cowboys have a solid defense and anything can happen in a “rivalry” game.

For whatever reason, be it religious, athletic, a simple inferiority complex or something else, the Cowboys hate BYU and consider us one of their biggest rivals. I can safely say, as a BYU fan, we don’t feel the same way. Wyoming is simply another team on our schedule—and a not very good one at that.

Key Losses: Part of the reason Wyoming’s passing attack has suffered this year is the loss of WRs Hoost Marsh, Michael Ford and Wade Betschart. They also lost their two starting cornerbacks and starting middle linebacker from the 2007 squad.

Key returners: In addition to Moore and Seldon, Wyoming returns a beastly defensive lineman named John Fletcher. Fletcher, you’ll recall, was the one that laid a big hit on Max Hall last year that ended up separating Hall’s shoulder.

Matching Up: This game will be a good test for our linebackers. Since the Cowboys rely mostly on the run for their offensive punch, I see a steady diet of Moore and Seldon in the cards for Saturday. This will be a good learning experience for our young LBs. The experience of Wyoming’s backfield versus the athletic, albeit inexperienced BYU linebackers is my pick for most intriguing matchup.

Adam’s Take: Wyoming picked a bad time to come to Provo to face the Cougs. I mean, I know they didn’t really choose to come at this time, but I’m just saying I wouldn’t want to have to be the ones dissecting the UCLA game tape for mistakes.

Truth be told, I don’t see any way Wyoming can win tomorrow. They just don’t have the offense. BYU would have to have 5+ turnovers to make it close, and even then Wyoming would have to rely heavily on their kicker for some field goals.

Some people are talking about a letdown after last week’s huge win, but I just don’t see it happening under Bronco. Bronco is a master of respecting his opponents (see BYU vs. UNI), and I am sure he has our troops fired up and ready to roll.

My prediction: BYU 49, Wyoming 10 (BYU calls off the dogs in the fourth quarter; Wyoming gets a touchdown in garbage time).

Sources: BYU Press Release, Wyoming Press Release, ESPN Statistics, Wyoming Media Guide,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bronco love

Prepare yourselves: I'm going to love on Bronco Mendenhall for a moment.

I know my Bronco-love was questioned last week when I wrote a controversial piece about Mendenhall's apparent disdain for the Cougar Club, but in the words of Michael Scott: The hand strikes, then gives a flower.

I listened to Bronco Mendenhall on Jim Rome today (for a full recap please visit www.CougarCrazies.com), and I was most impressed. I moved heaven and earth to be able to listen to the interview, as my two favorite figures in the sports world finally came together. At first I wasn't sure how Rome's "Shock-jock" style would mesh with Bronco's no-nonsense personality, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Bronco was honest, sincere, well-spoken and an all-around solid representative of BYU. Jim Rome, likewise, was respectful and allowed Bronco plenty of time to explain his thoughts.

More than how he said it, though, I was very impressed by what Bronco had to say to Romeo.

The two spoke about a lot of different things, but Bronco dwelt mostly on the BYU program. Let me tell you a little bit about what I've seen Bronco Mendenhall do for the BYU program.

First, he changed the culture. A lot of times when new coaches are hired they have a bit of leeway in their first few seasons. The rallying cry is always "Wait until he gets his guys," meaning a new coach shouldn't be expected to win with another coach's recruits. Bronco, however, didn't make one excuse about the players he inherited. He instead instilled in them the confidence they needed to win games. He brought BYU out of its worst period in recent memory, and brought them back to national prominence. Just imagine what he'll do with "his recruits."

Second, Bronco brought domination back to LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars don't lose at home. Period. We all know that now, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case. We lost frequently at home under Gary Crowton, and during Bronco's first year we lost to TCU and Utah in Provo. Home field dominance soon became a hallmark of the Mendenhall administration, though, when BYU would go two straight seasons without a loss at home. Now every BYU player, opposing player, coach and fan knows BYU will not lose at home. It's that simple.

Third, Bronco has improved every single year. In 2005 he brought the team out of a sludgy three-year streak of losing seasons. In 2006 he brought the MWC championship back to BYU and won our first bowl game since 1996. In 2007 he finally got a win in his opening game and repeated his 2006 success with a completely new crop of players. This year he notched his first 3-0 start, including his first out-of-conference road win since 2002 (and the program's first-ever win in Seattle).

Fourth, Bronco has aligned the BYU football team with the mission of Brigham Young University. BYU, according to its mission statement, seeks to "aid individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." Perfection and eternal life? Does this kind of speech pertain to every part of BYU or are the athletic programs excused from this quest? Bronco Mendenhall's actions shout a resounding "No." He embraces the mission of BYU, and implements its practices in the football team. As a result, he is turning out some pretty amazing student-athletes. He is mentoring these young men to be intelligent, spiritual, mentally strong contributors to society, in addition to some of the best football players in the country. What's more, he does not apologize for his actions. Utah fans, media members and even members of BYU nation criticize him, but truth be told--in the grand scheme of things--Bronco Mendenhall is doing more good for the football program and its players by embracing the values of BYU than any other coach could possibly do otherwise.

Bronco Mendenhall has done an incredible job at BYU, on and off the field. He's a great coach, but based on his values and the emphasis he places on his players' physical, mental and spiritual well-being, he's an even better man.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I learned on Saturday

After UCLA suffered what my brother Andy and I decided was “the kind of loss that sets a program back 10 years” at the hands of the BYU Cougars, I am flying high on a jet stream of satisfaction.

The feeling stayed with me all Saturday, through Sunday and its effects are still with me today.

All I can say is BYU needed a game like this. They needed a game that would shut up the media, shut up the critics, and even shut up hand-wringing fans like myself.

They needed a game that would send a message. And they got it.

And as one who was honored and privileged enough to see a 59-0 shellacking of UCLA, I would like to thank Bronco Mendenhall and the BYU Cougars from the bottom of my heart. Bronco, if you keep putting up games like this you can take me and everyone else who attended the infamous Cougar Club luncheon the other day, strap us to a telephone pole and horsewhip us till we scream like little babies for all I care.

Here are five valuable lessons I learned on Saturday.

1. Robert Anae is an offensive genius. Anyone who watched this game has to know that Coach Robert Anae must have had UCLA circled on his calendar. After last year’s 17-16 Las Vegas Bowl squeaker, a game in which Anae was responsible for the most bone-headed call I’ve seen in a long time, you know Robbie and the offense wanted to leave no doubt in the minds of the Cougar faithful.

He prepared an offensive game plan that should be framed and put behind glass, because it was a thing of beauty—a piece of art. He did things with BYU’s offense that I have never seen before. He put Fui Vakapuna in the slot, brought Harvey Unga in motion to the outside, ran a triple option with Austin Collie as the pitch man… it was incredible. And the best part is, it worked. Hey UCLA, Real Salt Lake called: they want their final score back.

2. Max Hall is a Heisman candidate. I should have seen it coming, but I’ll admit—I didn’t. I knew Max Hall was good, but I had no idea he was this good. Max Hall is blasting-into-outer-space good. Max Hall is 4X4-animal-style good. Watching him lead the Cougar offense must be like watching Beethoven conduct his Fifth Symphony. Everything is working in concert; every cog is spinning and working in rhythm. And Hall, as the magnificent maestro, distributes the ball with perfection. Seven freaking touchdowns in one game. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve found our Mormon equivalent to Jim McMahon.

3. BYU can play with anyone. ANYONE. I didn’t say they can beat anyone, but after watching the dream game on Saturday I am convinced that we can hang around with any team in the league. Furthermore, I am no longer afraid of TCU, Utah or anyone else on our schedule. I have seen BYU at its finest, and no MWC team can even hang in our zip code if we play like we did on Saturday. Our offense is that good. I’m hoping we get to prove it on New Year’s Day 2009.

4. BYU special teams are the real deal. No longer a liability, BYU is quickly turning its special teams play into a strength. From blocked kicks to touchbacks, BYU is looking very solid. Move over Air Force!

5. Ohio State is a very bad football team. I know it has nothing to do with BYU, but I had to say it. I’m starting to think Ohio State has done something horrible to upset the football gods, and the gods have sent a decree across the universe that says The Ohio State must be put to shame whenever the spotlight is upon them. State fans in Columbus are weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth. Meanwhile, at least one BYU fan in Provo is hoping the Cougars meet the Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl…

What a weekend. Here’s to the No. 11 BYU Cougars!

Oh yeah- What did you learn on Saturday? What was revealed to you during that epic day? Please share.

Pick 'em: Week 3

I don't think any of us saw that coming.

In fact, judging from this week's pick 'em scores, I know it. I'm happy to report that the majority of the contestants at least picked a BYU win, and got points for that, but no one even came close to the right final score.

Including myself (see below).

But, I'm totally okay with that. Giving UCLA its worst beat-down since the Hoover administration is consolation enough.

I am sad to report, however, that there are some poor cursed souls that picked BYU to lose, and thus were awarded no points. I'm not going to name any names, but Ali, Ty and Mars better do some soul-searching before picking BYU to lose again. Here are the week three scores, as boring as they might be:

Aaron, Cousin of Trevor - 20
Andy - 20
Becky - 20
Boyle - 20
BUS - 20
Cindy - 20
Dave - 20
Eliot - 20
Gus - 20
Jeremy - 20
Jeris - 20
JonathanD - 20
J-Snow - 20
Justin - 20
Katie - 20
Knips - 20
KO - 20
Lesley - 20
Rock - 20
Rod-Dawg - 20
Seth - 20
Suzanna - 20
Travis - 20
Trizz - 20
Ali -0
Mars - 0
Ty - 0

Good work, ladies and gentlemen. Next up: Wyoming @ BYU. I'm thinking we break 100 against the Cowboys. What say you?


Trevor, the original Cougar Crazy, asked me to point out to everyone that he was the closest to guessing the right score. He picked BYU to win 48-16. I thought he was crazy at the time, and he was. Crazy like a fox.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Preview: UCLA

What: UCLA @ BYU
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo
When: September 13, 2008; 1:30 p.m.
TV: Versus, DirecTV

**Check out The Mtn. for BYU interviews, analysis and post-game coverage. The Mtn. is available nation-wide on DirecTV. If you don't have The Mtn., DirecTV is offering some great deals. Visit the DirecTV Website here or call 1-866-770-6932. Tell them Adam sent you.**

Of interest: BYU and UCLA have met nine times since 1983, and the Bruins have won seven of those games. Interestingly, BYU has never beaten UCLA in Provo--only once in Pasadena (1983), and once in Las Vegas (2007). This will be the third time in 370 days that BYU and UCLA will face each other. Two of UCLA's coaches (Norm Chow and Dewayne Walker) coached at BYU. Kevin Craft, UCLA's starting QB, faced BYU while playing for the San Diego State Aztecs in 2006. The Aztecs lost that game 47-17.

About the Bruins: The UCLA Bruins are undergoing a transformation of sorts. Ever the football doormat in Los Angeles, UCLA hired former Bruin Rick Neuheisel as head coach to infuse excitement and a winning tradition into UCLA football. Neuheisel is a former coach at Washington and Colorado, but his coaching history has been marred by recruiting infractions and inappropriate behavior (he was dismissed from Washington for participating in an office March Madness gambling pool).

2007 was a year of great expectations for UCLA. They climbed as high as No. 10 in the polls, but then quickly imploded and ended the season 6-6 after being clipped by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.

This year the Bruins have faced some serious injuries. Both of the Bruins' starting quarterbacks have been injured for quite a while, and UCLA has been forced to start junior Kevin Craft. Injuries to their offensive line, starting tight end and running back have also hurt the Bruins.

UCLA had a bye last week after upsetting No. 18 Tennessee in Pasadena. The program as a whole seems to have been reborn, and spirits are as high as ever in the Bruin fan club.

Key Losses: Max Hall and BYU fans alike are rejoicing over the fact that Bruce Davis, UCLA's nasty defensive end, graduated last year. Davis harrassed the Cougars both times they played last year, but he is no longer at UCLA.

The Bruins have also lost starting running back Kahlil Bell and starting tight end Logan Paulsen to injury, and quarterbacks Pat Cowan and Ben Olson are out indefinitely.

Matching Up: This is a classic "strength versus strength" game, as a very good Cougar offense will be matched up with a fast, aggressive and talented UCLA defense. The battle on the line of scrimmage, particularly, will be a dog fight. UCLA's defensive tackles, Brigham Harwell and Brian Price, are two of the best in the country, and if the past is any indicator, UCLA will be bringing a lot of heat to slow down Max Hall.

The scary thing about UCLA's defense is that they have the speed and talent to play man coverage on BYU's receivers, giving the Bruins the ability to rush five, six, sometimes seven guys. If they fill the gaps and take away Harvey Unga and the BYU running game like they did in 2007, this could be a very interesting game.

Adam's Take: I was never nervous for this game. I thought the Bruins had too many holes to fill, too many question marks, no QBs, yadda yadda yadda.

Then when UCLA beat Tennessee I started to get nervous. The defense looked very good against the Volunteers, and flashes of a panicky, throw-happy one-dimensional BYU offense flashed through my mind and I got scared.

I'm hoping, though, that the home field will make a significant difference (and I think it will). Sure, there's the altitude thing, but beyond that I think 1. BYU plays better and more comfortable at home, and 2. This is a young Bruin offense that will face its first road test against a very good BYU team.

I also think BYU's offense is better than UCLA's defense, and if BYU's defense (which worried me after the Washington game) can get their heads on straight, then BYU should win the game comfortably.

My prediction: BYU 27, UCLA 17

Sources: BYU news release, UCLA depth chart

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cougar Club luncheon: The ugly side of Bronco

I had a unique opportunity an hour or so ago to eat lunch with some of the high rollers in the BYU Cougar Club.

The Cougar Club hosts luncheons every month, and the program includes a catered lunch, all the Shasta and Costco cookies you can eat, and a presentation from BYU coaches.

Today's program featured coach Ed Eyestone of the BYU track and cross country teams, and coach Bronco Mendenhall of the mathematics department.

Just kidding. I actually think Bronco was an early education major.

Anyway, I'd like to cut to the chase a little bit here and just go right into Bronco's presentation.

He started by explaining to everyone what's been going on in team meetings. He said, roughly, that he's amazed by what lengths people will go to get information about team meetings. Apparently there have been some rumors floating around. He said rather than let people speculate, he'd show us what's going on in the meetings.

Bronco told us that there are portions of each meeting devoted to an inspirational message, and the players (not the coaches--he was very careful to stress that) come up with the content. He showed us a particular example of an inspirational message used in yesterday's team meeting. It was an address given by Bruce R. McConkie set to... let's say... religious pictures. I won't go into details because it was a very faith-based message, and this is not the proper forum.

Personally, I found it very nice. It was a very good message for anyone--even football players.

Whether it belongs in an actual football team meeting can be debated...

Bronco then took some questions, and this is where it got really interesting.

The first question was from a sweet old lady who asked about Justin Sorenson. She asked why no kicks went out of the endzone.

Bronco answered curtly by telling her that 4 of Sorenson's first 5 kicks were touchbacks "doubling last year's total," he said and the audience applauded. Then he went on to say that Sorenson has a pulled groin, and that before we go criticizing him any more we should remember that he's injured and he's doing his best.

...okay coach.

Another sweet old lady explained that she was the mother of 6 boys and asked the coach how he regulates teaching his players about the Spirit, but also controlling their emotions on the football field.

The answer from Bronco is that it's very difficult and they're doing their best.

(At this point some old guy's phone went off in the back and he answered and started talking loudly--like only old people can do--right while Bronco was talking. It was a funny moment: While Bronco was speaking there was just this old guy in the back of the room saying "I'LL BE HOME IN A HALF AN HOUR, HONEY.")

Bronco finished his answer and announced "One more question." For those of you keeping score at home that makes three--three total questions.

The honor went to a guy on the front row who made a comment about the players lining around the stadium to shake hands with the fans. Bronco answered by saying, and I kid you not, "It's completely the players' idea, and that's the kind of program we're trying to build. Thank you."

And with that, Bronco darted out of the room.

I know most of you reading this probably didn't see this meeting, so I want to convey to you that it was a very strange event. When Bronco addressed the crowd, it was almost like he was ripping a neighbor who let his dog crap on Bronco's lawn. He seemed annoyed, frustrated and genuinely upset.

My dad, who attended the luncheon along with me, and I left the Cougar Room a little confused. His remark was "Well I can go anywhere and get chewed out."

And that's how we felt. We felt like Bronco chewed us out and left with a chip on his shoulder. Coach Mendenhall certainly didn't do much to engender any warm feelings among the Cougar Club faithful.

The whole situation was very interesting, and it got me thinking about the life of a coach. Today's football coaches aren't just coaches. They're PR guys, ambassadors, spokesmen, broadcasters, punching bags, butt-kissers etc. Some handle these auxiliary duties a little better than others, but increasingly each duty is becoming more and more important.

Bronco, for instance, probably didn't realize (or maybe he just doesn't care) that the people in that room were the same people paying his salary.

He also didn't seem to realize that we are proponents. Not only do we appreciate what he's doing, but we support it. We're not the media, which Bronco seems to loathe so much. We're not opponents. We're not players, and we're not coaches. We are the true blue, dyed in the wool supporters of all things BYU. You don't need to bark at us like we're going to dig up your favorite bone.

I'm sorry to harp on this but you just don't address your own constituents like they're misbehaving children who need a good spankin'. After all, coach, we're on your side.

Look--I like Bronco. I think he's doing a fine job with the program, and he has transformed the football team from a simple athletic program into a beacon of good in the world. I support him 100%, but at the same time he is by no means perfect. One suggestion I would give him is this: Lighten up, coach. Don't be so ticked off all the time, especially in front of your friends.

Anyway, I hate being an iconoclast, but I had to get it off my chest. Go Cougs!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coach Mendenhall call-in show: A hidden gem

When I talk to my fellow Cougar fans, I am always surprised by how many people don't know about Coach Mendenhall's weekly call-in show on KSL.

Every Wednesday night our favorite "Voice of the Cougars" Greg Wrubell sits down with the coach at a local Ken Garff dealership and they shoot the breeze. Coach takes questions from Greg and Marc Lyons, and he also takes questions from us fans via the phone, texts and emails. It airs from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesdays, and it's worth your time; Bronco has a good deal of respect for Greg and Marc, and he seems more relaxed and more open with them than he usually is.

I realize I probably should have posted this earlier today, seeings how the show just ended a few minutes ago, but consider yourselves prepared for next week.

Now I know what you're all wondering: "Adam- did you make it through tonight?" Yes, I actually did. I texted this question: "Bronco- can you give us an update on Terrance Hooks? Will he play this year?"

To which Bronco replied, and I quote, "Good question."

He said he expects Hooks to sit out until game 7 at the earliest. He also said he wouldn't push Hooks, and would only use him early if the team absolutely needed it.

Another friend of mine and ASB reader, Mark of El Vacano Dominico, emailed a good question about defense. He asked about a possible change in defensive scheme since we seem to be getting thinner every day at linebacker. He suggested that maybe G Pittman or Brandon Bradley come in to play as a nickel back, or that we switch to a 4-3 scheme. Bronco said a 4-3 is not probable, but that a fifth d-back could be a possible option down the road.

By the way, I assumed it was you Mark, since the email said "Mark from Quincy Washington." Having been there, I'm pretty sure there's only one Mark in Quincy Washington that would bleed blue enough to listen to the call-in show.

Anyway, check this bad boy out next week. Oh yeah- I forgot to mention Iceburg Drive-In provides free food for those that are in the audience. Just be sure to double-check the location if you want to see it live. Don't pull an Adam and get caught driving around Orem when the show is in American Fork.

Cougar Power Rankings

Since I'm an introspective kind of guy, I thought I'd take a look inside BYU's own team to come up with the top and bottom five BYU performers through week 2.

Top Five:

1. QB Max Hall. Max Hall has 824 yards IN TWO GAMES. He's also thrown 5 TDs to only 1 INT and has a QB rating of 180.1. Not only that, but he just looks like a general on the field. He's large and in charge. You go, Max Hall.

2. TE Dennis Pitta. Following a huge performance in week one with an equally punishing game against Washington, Pitta is fast becoming one of the greats at BYU. He leads the nation in receiving--the nation--with 361 yards on 21 receptions. If he keeps playing like this, and defenses keep giving him wide open fields to run through, expect No. 32 to be revered in Cougar Town for generations.

3. DE Jan Jorgensen. The Janimal was credited with the play of the game last Saturday when he broke through the line and blocked Washington's PAT attempt (despite being held). And who knows? If Washington's offensive line hadn't so persistently held on to Jorgensen he might have scored a few sacks.

4. The offensive line. Rather than single any one individual out, I'd like to point out the stellar play of our entire offensive line. Max Hall had superior protection throughout the game, and running backs like Harvey Unga and Fui Vakapuna had a hey day running the ball. Not only that, but the penalties which plagued us last year on the road at UCLA were all but eliminated. Good job, hogs.

5. FB Fui Vakapuna. Fui is back ladies and gentlemen, and seeing him on the field on Saturday made me smile. I know I've been critical of Fui in the past, but he really played a great game against the Huskies. He blocked well and he had a very nice--and vintage Fui, I might add--TD run in the third quarter.

Bottom Five:

5. WR Austin Collie. Maybe I'm being too hard on Austin, but he really did drop some easy balls on Saturday. He still ended up with 5 catches, 74 yards and a TD, but Collie obviously had something in his head. Maybe he had a fight about finances with his wife or something. Not only that, but he muffed a punt and he continues to run east/west when every Cougar fan in the world is screaming at him to run north/south. Believe me, it pains me to do this, but I had to. Consider this your wake up call, Mr. Collie.

4. WR O'Neill Chambers. I really like O'Neill. I think he's an athlete and I like his aggressive attitude... most of the time. On Saturday, however, I thought he crossed the line. Chambers can't ever seem to shut his mouth when he gets the ball. As a kick returner, he'll bring it out to about the 25-30 yard line, and then get in someone's face for about 5 minutes after he's tackled. On Saturday he even grabbed a Husky's facemask and shoved it. He's lucky he didn't get called for a penalty, because I would have thrown the flag. His fiery attitude needs to be tempered a little bit, or else I smell an unceremonious departure for our Florida friend.

3. The linebackers. I know containing Jake Locker was probably the toughest test our LBs will face all season, but I was still disappointed in our LBs. Our run-stoppers were falling all over themselves trying to stop Locker, but just couldn't get the job done when in mattered. Most notably, on a 4th and 10 play in the fourth quarter UW QB Jake Locker picked up an easy 12 yards before he was touched. The LBs, with the exception of David Nixon who recorded a sack and a forced fumble, left much to be desired.

2. P C.J. Santiago. You know what makes me crazy about Santiago? We keep hearing about how he's "uncorking" a whole mess of huge 60-yard punts in practice, but it's just not translating into the games. Santiago recorded punts of 31 and 24 yards against Washington, and that cost us some huge field advantage. It seems like he just isn't comfortable in game situations. It looks like he gets spooked every time someone rushes in, and it affects his punting. Well, big guy, in the words of Dan Hawkins: "This is division one football! This ain't intramurals, brother!"

1. CB Brandon Howard. I'm sorry that Brandon Howard has to take the fall for supremely disappointing play by the DBs, but I guess it just is what it is. Howard got burned again and again by Washington receivers, and if Jake Locker was any kind of a throwing quarterback BYU would have lost that game. On one play, Locker threw a 48-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse. Granted, Howard was stride for stride with Kearse the whole way, but never made a play on the ball and let Kearse grab the TD right in front of him. Upsetting? Yes, but I'm hoping BYU will recover just like they did after Tulsa 2007.

So what do you think? Am I being to hard on the guys? Did I miss something? Do you question my BYU fanhood?

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Karl Malone Museum

On Labor Day, 2008, my wife and I made a decision that would change the course of our lives forever.

To answer the proverbial question "What should we do today," our minds were immediately taken back to a piece we both watched on Sportsbeat Saturday a few days before. The piece featured Karl "The Mailman" Malone giving an interview while he was in town for the grand opening of his newest car dealership in Draper.

Karl was being his normal free-spirited, black-but-redneck self, and he took reporter Rod Zundel through the upper chambers of the car dealership. There, encased in bullet proof glass, hung jerseys, medals, sneakers, photos, trophies and rings; The Mailman built a shrine to his storied career above his car dealership.

When I saw it, I knew I had to be there. The Mailman has given me too much for me to sit idly by while his priceless memorabilia sits patiently 20 miles away.

So Becky and I made our decision. We took a trip to a car dealership on Labor Day. That was our big activity, and I'm totally cool with it.

Please, enjoy some photos of our trip.

Pictures from top to bottom: The Mailman's foray into professional wrestling; Malone and John Stockton's 1992 Dream Team jerseys; the rest of the Dream Team's jerseys, me in front of just one of Karl Malone's many inspiring posters; me looking at a whole bunch of crazy Karl Malone crap; Malone's case of treasures--including MVP trophies, jerseys, rings and sneakers (but not the famous LA Gear "Catapults"); a signed picture from Brooke Shields (He's the Mailman. He knows exactly what he's doing); and finally a close up of Michael Jordan's Dream Team jersey and sneakers.

Pick 'em: Week 2

I'm proud to announce the pick 'em universe is now in order. I'll admit, I was caught off guard with the season's first perfect score in week one. And the scramble to find a way to get a hold of the winner was arduous.

But I'm happy to say that Mars and I have made contact, and his mystery prize will be in the mail instantly.

Now another week has come and gone, and you'll see from the leaderboard on the right side of this page that week 2 shook things up a bit.

Most notably, Mars fell from his perch atop the rest of the field and the big Trizz-nay-nay himself claimed the No. 1 spot. The Trizz was not the big winner in week two however. His cousin, Aaron, got the highest score of the week with a 38. It's a shame, because Aaron might have been the overall leader after week 2. He missed week one's pick against Northern Iowa, however, and you all know what a stickler I am about the rules.

Will it cost him in the long run? Time will tell.

Here are the complete scores for week two:

Aaron, Cousin of Trevor - 38
Cindy - 37
Trizz - 35
Gus - 31
Travis - 31
J-Snow - 31
Justin - 30
Jeremy - 30
Dave - 30
Knips - 30
Rock - 30
Andy - 29
Boyle - 27
Becky - 27
Seth - 27
Joe - 27
Rusky - 27
Mars - 27
KO - 25
Eliot - 24
Ali - 23
Katie - 23
Suzanna - 23
Jeris - 23
My Mom - 22
Ty - 20
JonathanD - 20
Lesley - 20
Buffalo - 20

For the record, since I predicted a 31-20 BYU win, I would have scored a 30, putting me at a solid 60 for the season. Good job everyone, and those of you who haven't sent me your scores for UCLA yet, get picking!

And remember, if you didn't play in weeks one or two you can still start in week three. I'll be honest, it'll be an uphill battle, but the glory will be that much sweeter if you win. Good luck!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mars: The clock is ticking

This message is for Mars--winner of the very first mystery prize for ASB's BYU football pick 'em game. Mars correctly predicted the final score of the BYU/UNI game, and is entitled to claim the winners' spoils.

The problem is I have no way of getting ahold of him.

He didn't email me his picks, but rather left them in the comments section of my original Pick 'Em Contest post.

Against my better judgement, I put Mars in the running, and now I have no way of letting him know that he won.

So Mars: If you're out there, email me soon at AdamsSportsBlog@gmail.com. If I don't hear from you before tomorrow's game then you will lose your claim to the mystery prize, and it will be released to the next person to predict a perfect game.

Also, send me your picks for tomorrow's game as soon as you can.

Thanks. And go Cougs.

Preview: Washington

What: BYU @ Washington
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle WA
When: September 6, 2008; 1 p.m. MDT

Of interest: BYU and Washington have a short, but very nasty history. It all started in 1984 when BYU won the national championship by beating 6-5 Michigan. The Cougars got the nod, beating out No. 2 Washington who had beaten 9-2 Oklahoma before the final polls were released. Needless to say, Husky faithful feel like they deserved the championship by virtue of their quality wins over tougher opponents. The wound is very fresh in the hearts of Husky fans.

The Cougars put a stamp of approval on the 1984 championship bid, however, by dismantling Washington 31-3 to start the 1985 season.

In 1996 the Cougars and Huskies met once again in Seattle. The Cougars were coming off a thrilling victory over Texas A&M in the Pigskin Classic, and were ranked No. 19 in the country at the time. BYU unveiled their infamous all-white uniforms in the game, and were in turn humbled by Washington. BYU lost the game 29-17, and that loss turned out to be the only blemish on a 14-1 season.

The last time BYU and Washington met was in 1999 in Provo, when now-UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and his Huskies lost on a last-second TD grab from BYU's Chris Hale.

Washington owns a 4-2 record on the overall series, and BYU is 0-3 in Seattle.

About the Huskies: Washington has a strong and proud football tradition, but are right now experiencing a Gary Crowton-esque slump. They have been in the bottom two of the Pac-10 for four straight years, and started the 2008 season by getting thumped in Oregon by the Ducks 44-10.

Key Returner: Without a doubt the key player on Washington's squad is QB Jake Locker. Locker has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype, and deservedly so. He rushed for nearly a thousand yards last year, and tossed 14 TDs. He is a special athlete, but Locker is not the strongest passer. He completed just a shade over 47% of his passes last year, and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns.

Last week Locker, who may still be sore from a pulled hamstring in fall camp, ran for 57 yards and completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. Not a stellar outing by any means.

Key losses: The Huskies lost five--FIVE--wide receivers to graduation last year, and will therefore start only one, sophomore D'Andre Goodwin, who has game-time experience. The other three receivers on their 2008 depth chart are freshmen--something that won't make Locker's job throwing the ball any easier.

Additionally, Washington lost its leading tackler in 2007, linebacker E.J. Savannah, to academic ineligibility.

Matching up: This game, if BYU plays it right, could end up being a Husky bloodbath. BYU's high flying offense will be matched up against an inexperienced and unproven Washington defense, and Washington's offense could struggle mightily to put points on the board, especially if Locker can't rely on his receivers.

Locker is an athlete and he'll make plays, but if BYU can effectively key in on Locker's running ability and force him to beat us through the air, things will get ugly quick for U-dub. I just don't think Locker has the arm, and I don't think his receivers are reliable.

Adam's Take: This game, I believe, will set the tone for the entire season. This game will decide if we are a BCS bowl-caliber team. If we can go into Husky stadium and do something that we have never done before under Bronco Mendenhall--namely, get an out-of-conference win on the road--then our dreams of a BCS bowl will be that much more reachable.

The only thing that stands in BYU's way is themselves. If we come out timid, intimidated and sloppy (like we've done in the past), then the Huskies could steal it from us.

If we play to our capabilities, though, and simply execute on the road like we do at home (but limit the turnovers this time), then BYU will roll.

My prediction: BYU finally rips the monkey off their backs. BYU 31, Washington 20.

Sources: Washington News release, CougarStats, ESPN Standings, Rivals.com

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Write it out: Who's your unsung hero of the week?

When it comes to the BYU football team, I like the guys that fly underneath the radar. The Unsung heroes, if you will. And now that game-day credit is being handed around like a fat Christmas pie, I'd like to take this opportunity to share the slices.

There were a lot of unsung heroes last Saturday, and I want to know who you liked.

Personally, my vote for unsung hero of the week goes to boundary corner Scott Johnson. Scotty "2hotty" Johnson came up huge on two plays in particular: First, in the third quarter with BYU nursing a 27-17 lead, and then again in the fourth quarter when UNI was trying to make a comeback.

In the third quarter (one which I'm sure we'd all like to forget), BYU gave up 14 unanswered points to UNI. The Panthers were driving down the field with all the momentum when BYU held them to a fourth and three situation. The Panthers decided to go for it, and QB Pat Gracy threw a quick out pass to his weak side receiver. The pass was right on the money, but Johnson hurried to the ball and broke up the pass to force a turnover on downs. Huge.

Then in the fourth quarter, after BYU scored again to make it 34-17, Gracy tried to spark his offense with a deep throw to Johnson's side of the field. It was the right ball for Gracy, because Johnson was caught on one-on-one coverage. The ball was well-thrown and right in the receiver's hands, but again Johnson made a great play to break it up and even came down with the catch (but it was out of bounds).

Scott Johnson, you are my unsung hero of the week.

Now it's your turn. Who gets your vote? Michael Reed and his shifty moves? Brian Kariya and his pretty little run into the end zone? Reed White and his diving goal-line catch?

Who is your unsung hero of the week?

BYU pick 'em update

Hey folks. The scores have officially been tabulated for my BYU football pick 'em game. Please browse the right side of my blog to see where you landed after week one.

A lot of people were close this week. I was very impressed by the scores and predictions for week one. If I were playing I would have scored a 30, since I predicted BYU 52, UNI 17 (dang third quarter turnovers!)

You'll also notice week one brought with it the very first perfect score! "Mars" scored a perfect 40, which means he (or she... but I'm assuming it's a he since Mars was the Roman god of war and testosterone) not only guessed BYU would win, but he guessed the exact final scores for both teams.

Good work, Mars. If you're reading this please email me your mailing address and I'll send a Golden Corral gift card right away (as per the results on my "Mystery Prize" Poll).

Thanks for your picks, everyone, and to all those who need to send me your Washington picks, don't forget! Search, ponder, pray and get back to me as soon as you can.

Also, a reminder to those who have already sent me their picks: You can change your scores any time up until the day before game day.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Game 1 is in the books

It's a few days later, it's Labor Day and I'm anxious to get to the Karl Malone museum in Draper (about which I'll be reporting soon), so I'll keep this brief.

BYU scored a good win on Saturday. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't the cleanest, most impressive game I've ever seen, but a win is a win. BYU kept its nation-leading 11-game winning streak in tact, and the Quest for Perfection continues unabated.

Here's what I saw on all sides of the ball.

Offense: Two players stood out head and shoulders above every athlete on the field: Max Hall and Dennis Pitta. I didn't fully appreciate how well Hall played until I got a look at the numbers. Hall went 34-41 for 486 yards, two TDs and zero INTs. Most impressive to me is the fact that he only threw seven incomplete passes out of 41. That's pretty incredible, and is a good indicator of Hall's growth from last year to this one. Hall also did a great job of spreading the ball around to his receivers. I counted at least seven different guys getting passes.

Pitta was an animal. 11 catches for 213 yards. Dennis PItta will be one of the great ones at BYU, and I dare any team left on our schedule to defy him. His unstoppability is Jan Jorgenson-esque.

I was a little disappointed with our running game, though. I was looking forward to Harvey Unga having a romp in the garden of running back delights, but he ended the game with a mediocre 64 yards. He did have two touchdowns on the ground and one more through the air, but I really would like to see Unga become a consistent, powerful, punishing rusher.

One reason Unga didn't get his astronomical numbers is the offensive line play. I'm a big fan of our O-line, but I think they need to get a little more nasty when it comes to run blocking. They do a great job of pass blocking, but they can definitely improve when it comes to pushing the defense forward and creating space for the running backs. They need to get an aggressive, killer instinct.



Offensive MVP: Everyone's giving a lot of love to Pitta, so I'll give some love to Hall. Max Hall gets my vote for offensive MVP for his 34-41, 468-yard 2-TD performance.

Defense: I was just a touch disappointed in our defense on Saturday, I'll be honest. After watching the game live and seeing a replay on the Mtn. I have concluded that the defense is playing far too conservatively. The corners play 15 yards off the line, the linebackers don't blitz nearly often enough and we can't seem to find out how to defend the gadget plays.

I know BYU has a "bend but don't break" defensive philosophy--keeping the ball in front of them and making the opposing offense beat you with long drives--but we need to create some turnovers this year if BYU wants to go undefeated. The defense needs to play tough. They need to jam receivers at the line, they need to go after the quarterback and they need to get some turnovers.

Having said that, UNI's offense was fairly impressive. They didn't drop a lot of balls, and they were surprisingly physical. Kudos to BYU's defense for only allowing 10 points.

Defensive MVP: Coleby Clawson. Clawson isn't even a starter, but his impact on this game was huge. He absolutely pummeled UNI quarterback Pat Gracy, and caused a huge fumble that led to a BYU TD. He looked very good going after the QB and he laid down some head-splitting hits. Clawson is going to be seeing lot more time in upcoming games, I reckon.

Special Teams: I just want to say a word or two about special teams. First, Justin Sorenson was a pleasure to watch. The ball rocketed off his leg through the endzone on every kickoff. It's nice to have a powerful leg on the BYU sideline once again. Punter C.J. Santiago also played well, putting at least two punts inside the UNI 20.

O'Neill Chambers was up and down. He had a few very nice kickoff returns, but then made a very stupid decision to call a fair catch at the BYU 4 yard line. That decision ended up giving UNI a touchdown, because Hall was forced to play inside his own endzone and he was blindsided a few plays later and fumbled.

Special Teams MVP: Justin Sorenson. May his balls fly higher and higher as the season progresses.

Good week this week. Look for an update on the Pick 'em score tomorrow, as I don't have all the information with me right now.