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.
Oh... AND THEY NEED TO FREAKING STOP LETTING PEOPLE GET FREE BLIND-SIDE SHOTS ON HALL!!!
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.