Monday, August 31, 2009

ASB Pick 'em Returns!

Pick 'em: Are there any sweeter 1.5 words in the English language?

It's game week, friends, and to kick off the festivities I am happy to announce the glorious return of ASB Pick 'em. This contest, back by popular demand, was one of the highlights of last season, and this year I hope it will be bigger and better than ever.

Last year's winner, my brother Andy, is lounging comfortably in a brand new BYU T-shirt from the BYU Bookstore, and Perfect-Pick prize winner Mars is no doubt the newest Golden Corral convert after winning a $20 gift card. All as a direct result of my contest.

So in a way... I am clothing and feeding the needy.

And I want to do it all over again in 2009.

Here's how you play: Pick the winner and score for every BYU game this season. Send me your picks at AdamsSportsBlog@gmail.com, and check back every Monday for the updated leaderboard. This contest is completely open. If you're reading this sentence, you can (and should) play.

RULES


Making your picks: Check out BYU's schedule and pick the winner and final score for every game this season (e.g. "BYU 48, Oklahomo 20). You can make all your picks at once or make them game-by-game (Warning: people that chose the latter option ended up missing a few games due to negligence).

Sending your picks: Email your picks to AdamsSportsBlog@gmail.com before kickoff. I will accept scores/changes up to kickoff. If your email is time-stamped before game time I will include your changes.

Scoring: Basically you get 20 points for picking the correct winner (BYU or its opponent) and up to 10 points for picking the correct score. You can either trust me to score your pick correctly or read last year's post for the full details. The running score will be kept in a box on the sidebar of this blog, and will be updated by the Monday after game day, at the latest.

Prizes: The player with the most points at the end of the season will win a BYU T-shirt from the Bookstore ($25 maximum). Additionally, if someone has a perfect pick (with the exact final score) they will receive a gift card to a third-tier eating establishment. I haven't decided which yet. I also reserve the right to award more prizes if necessary.

Good luck everybody, and get me your picks as soon as possible! Please refer to last year's inaugural Pick 'em post for answers to any questions you may have. If you still need more information feel free to email me anytime at AdamsSportsBlog@gmail.com.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Re-post: Football is not like the measles... it won't go away

Football season, along with its accompanying sore throats, 10-hour Saturdays and indigestion, is nearly upon us.

Since this time of the year can be particularly strenuous on relationships, please invite your wife, girlfriend, significant other or life partner to read a post written by my lovely wife, in which she discusses maintaining sanity throughout the season by being an active participant in the football experience.

She wrote this post last year as a guest author on ASB, and it was probably the best thing that has ever appeared on this site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One big question on D

Some of you already know this, but my head is swimming in the clouds above LaVell Edwards Stadium these days. I am more confident about BYU football than ever.

I’ve already made my prediction for the season: 11-1, with our only loss coming at the hands of a well-tested Oklahoma team.

Our defense is viewed as a weakness by many cougar fans, but I am optimistic. I think we have more depth, more experience and more athleticism than we had last year. The addition of some talented JC transfers and moving Scott Johnson to the safety position with Andrew Rich will improve our defensive backfield drastically.

Our line is going to be one of the best units on the team. Our nose tackles are running lean and strong, and our ends are extremely talented and running two-deep.

Only one lingering doubt still hovers above my head, and it involves the four guys between the defensive line and the defensive backs.

The linebackers.

In BYU’s 3-4 defense, we depend on a solid group of linebackers to make plays. They fill the gaps on run plays, they cover receivers and they rush the QB more than any other defensive scheme. Therefore the two outside linebackers need to be speedy and athletic, and the middle backers need to be tough, vocal and physical.

Picture Cameron Jensen in the middle and Bryan Kehl on the outside. Now you know what I’m talking about.

My concern about the linebackers is two-fold:

A. Can Matt Bauman step into the role so admirably played by Cameron Jensen and Kelly Poppinga and be our vocal, tough guy in the middle? Can he be the defensive general?

B. Do our outside linebackers have the speed and athleticism to both cover receivers and put heat on the quarterbacks? Bryan Kehl and David Nixon were so good—can Jordan Pendleton and Coleby Clawson step in and handle this huge responsibility?

I worry about these two issues. These key elements surrounding our linebackers will be the difference between a dominating, 2006-type year, and a weekly offensive shootout like we saw last year.

Unfortunately, fall camp has done very little to address my concerns. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A new media power is emerging

Great thoughts about Max Hall below, everybody. I hope he explodes this year and proves to everyone he can win the big game. I think he will.

So if you haven't been over on Cougarboard lately you've been missing some excellent material from a former Coug.

Hans Olsen, who played for BYU from 1997 - 2000, has made his presence known on the fan message board. Olsen works as a radio personality for 1280 The Zone here in Utah, and he's been attending BYU practices for his morning program.

He's also been shooting some video of current Cougar players. He interviews them in 1-2 minute segments, and I have to admit: they're pretty dang good.

Check them out when you get a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Max Hall
Matt Reynolds
Bronco Mendenhall #1
Bronco Mendenhall #2
Harvey Unga and Manase Tonga
Jan Jorgensen
Jordan Pendleton
Brandon Bradley

There's a lot more on Hans' YouTube channel. Great stuff Hans. Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Write it out: Max Hall

How do you really feel about Max Hall?

I had an interesting conversation with my dad over the weekend. He was reading the sports section, which featured a big story about Max Hall, and he started shaking his head.

"I don't know about Max Hall," he declared. "There's something about him I just don't like."

I dropped my jaw and stared at him in disbelief.

"Dad, Max Hall is by far the best quarterback in the MWC and arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the nation," I said.

"I know... but I still don't like him."

This shocked me. I nearly dropped my bowl of Kashi. I mean, I know Max has had his down moments, and he certainly has his flaws, but has he really become the guy everybody hates? Is my dad a little bonkos, or is he voicing the opinion shared by the majority of Cougar Nation?

I guess there are two schools of thought. There's the curmudgeonly "Max Hall hasn't proved anything, and makes too many mistakes in big games" school, and the "Max Hall is one of the most accurate, efficient, big-game quarterbacks BYU has ever had" school.

I think I'm in the latter. What about you? How do you really feel about Max Hall? Can he win the big game? Can he lead us to our dream season in 2009? How will he do against the Sooners?

Please: Write it out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Practice Report: 8.14.09

One of the highlights of fall football camp is open practices, and I make it my business to be there at every possible one. These things are fantastic. The weather is usually gorgeous, the crowd is excited and the players look great.

Besides all that, it’s a chance to get a sneak preview of the best college football team in the nation.

This morning I attended the first open practice and here are a few things I’d like to mention:

1. Right off the bat, it looked to me like our players were leaner, stronger and meaner than they’ve ever been. Brian Kariya, for example, looked like he put on 10-15 pounds of pure muscle. He seemed to be kind of an afterthought last year, but this year he looks like he could be a major contributor.

2. I paid special attention to Riley Nelson, the transfer QB from Utah State, this morning. I see him as the possible starter when Max Hall graduates, so I was interested.

He looked like a vocal leader, but you can tell he’s still learning. The highlight of his practice session, though, was during an 11-on-11 drill. He was facing a third and long, and just as his pocket collapsed he scrambled free and hit Rhen Brown for a big gain (40+ yards). He led the offense into the end zone a few plays later, which was good to see (I was starting to think our second and third teams were physically unable to score touchdowns).

I was happy, though, because that’s what Riley Nelson will give us—a guy that won’t give up, and one that will make plays when things break down.

3. Speaking of future QBs, Jake Heaps was in attendance, as well as Kyle Van Noy and one other mysterious recruit dressed in black.

4. McKay Jacobsen looked like a tiger with the head of a cobra. He runs the crispest routes, and while he may not look terribly fast, he got behind the defense easily during 1-on-1 drills. If anyone has any doubts about his WR ability, put it to rest right now. He will be a fantastic receiver for us. A Collie clone, even.

5. Speaking of which, how sweet would it be if we had Austin Collie on one side, and McKay Jacobsen on the other? *sigh*

6. Our defense was looking pretty good today. I was impressed. They were really being physical, and they were going after every ball in coverage drills. Brandon Bradley, in particular, was a beast. He locked down O’Neill Chambers all day, and he always had a hand on the ball. The defense broke up quite a few passes, and I was happy to see them going after it.

7. Play of the day: Max Hall throwing a deep bomb to McKay Jacobsen on third and short. Hall threw a TD pass just a few plays later.

8. Riley Stephenson, the punter, can boom. That dude was hitting punts like you’ve never seen. They were deep, long and tight. Riley is going to be a great punter for us.

9. Mitch Payne, on the other hand, is still spotty. They attempted two 40-yard field goals, and Payne missed both of them badly. Doesn’t seem like ol’ Mitch is improving much from year to year.

10. JD Falslev: keep an eye on this kid. He’s a freshman H-back. He’s tough, he’s speedy and he can catch the ball. He was making nice grabs all day from the slot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw the field a little bit this year.

11. Spencer Hafoka made a nice diving catch that drew applause from the crowd, but he got up a little slowly. Probably knocked the wind out of himself or something.

12. Max Hall was talking to the fans after practice (yes, I was there), and someone asked him if Matt Reynolds would be back for Oklahoma. “Yep,” said Max, without hesitation.

13. He also said that his long pass to McKay Jacobsen was an audible. “I had to give you guys some excitement,” Max said.

Okay, here are some answers to a few questions from my friends:

Who was the best looking player out there? McKay Jacobsen

Coach? Brandon Doman. Now that is one sexy dude.

Who was the loudest player? Riley Stephenson

Coach? Patrick Higgins (WR coach)

Who's looking big and mean? Braden Hansen, TE; Harvey Unga, RB; Tui Crichton, OL;

Who was sitting out? The only person I noticed sitting out was Terrance Hooks.

What's with the story of Max Hall's bum knee in practice? He hurt it yesterday, but today he looked fine. Not a hobble or a wince or anything.

Did Bronco seem agitated and annoyed with the fans (like normal)? Or was he more cheerful/fun? Bronco looked like he was in a good mood today. He was kind of behind the scenes, but he looked like he was having fun.

How is our kicking situation looking? We’ll be in great shape as far as punting. Kicking will be just like the last couple years, I think.

Does Jacobsen look short? Compared with our other WRs, yes. We've got a tall group there. But his speed more than makes up for it. He was the only WR who consistently got open.

I read that Chambers looks lazy in practice. Can you confirm? Now that you mention it, I can remember a few times where I was surprised at his behavior. Little things, like when one receiver is supposed to jam the other to practice getting separation. Chambers wasn't really putting his heart into it. He still looks pretty dang impressive as a WR, though.

Is our defense going to be better than last year? Yes, yes and yes. Our defense is going to be a lot better. I see this year as very similar to 2006--I think we'll be surprised at the improvement. Like I said above, our defense looked very aggressive today.

What about running backs? Is Harvey going to have any support? The running backs are a good looking bunch. Harvey just looks like a beast. That dude is a physically impressive specimen. I was also impressed by Brian Kariya, J.J. DiLuigi and Anthony Heimuli. That being said, Harvey is definitely the man. There's going to be a drop-off after big #45.

If you were an NFL scout and you were to select one player to play at the next level, right now as they are, who would that have been at today's practice? Good question. Honestly I would either choose Jacobsen or Brandon Bradley. Bradley was really all over the field today. He was fun to watch.

Does Bronco know that I kicked a 52 yard field goal and ran a 5.7 second forty on that field? Yes, I told him today. He didn’t seem impressed.

If anyone has any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section. I’ll address every single dang one of ‘em.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Funny how things work out

Summer 2009: Cougar nation, including yours truly, is devastated. Russell Tialavea, starting nose tackle and anchor of the BYU defensive line, has just announced that he will delay his senior season at BYU to serve an LDS mission.

Fans everywhere ask the question “What are we going to do at nose tackle?”

Suddenly, Rick “Big D” Wolfley has been bumped up to No. 1 on the depth chart, and mass panic ensues. Wolfley is the cream of a crop that includes returned missionary Romney Fuga and JC bust Tevita Hola.

Nose tackle becomes most decidedly the thinnest position on the football team.

Then something happened. Russ decided to delay his entrance into the MTC. Unbeknownst to us fans, he has been working out like a mad man during the offseason with the rest of the team, and he is ready to play his final season at BYU (despite a bogus rumor that he was injured… I won’t mention who fed me that piece of crap).

Fast forward to the present day.

Tialavea is in the best shape of his life, Wolfley has left the program, Romney Fuga is making the transition back to football and Tevita Hola has turned out to be the “most improved player on the team,” according to coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Fuga and co. are playing so well, in fact, that Tialavea is trying his hand at defensive end.

Then this gem from Greg Wrubell’s blog: “Mendenhall says where depth was looking like a concern on the defensive line, now it appears to be a strength.”

Funny how things work out like that.

Menaces to society

Let’s play a little game of word-association. I’ll write something and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind.

BYU Football

City Softball Leagues

DUI Manslaughter

Okay, so I don’t really want to talk about the first two. Those were just a warm-up. I really only want to talk about the third thing: DUI Manslaughter.

Now, your answers could be anything; a lot of things could have popped up in your mind. One thing I’m guessing you didn’t think, though, was “30 days in jail, two years probation.”

I’m referring of course to the case surrounding NFL’s most recent convict, Donte Stallworth.

In case you haven’t heard, Stallworth struck and killed a man in Florida recently with his car. Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126 at the time—the Florida limit is .08. Stallworth was found guilty of DUI Manslaughter and was sentenced to a whopping 30 days in jail and two years’ probation (in which he can’t leave his home without permission).

With his actions, Stallworth joined a not-so-exclusive club in the NFL which includes Plaxico Burress, Adam “Pacman” Jones and Michael Vick.

Someday we need to organize some sort of parade for all of these professional-athlete-turned-criminals. Either that or re-enact some sort of “Longest Yard” situation in which all the football players in jail play the guards (with hilarious consequences, of course).

My question is why do we as a society continue to empower these criminals (both present and future)? We use and abuse them in college, we pay them millions and millions of dollars when they reach the NFL, and when they screw up we let them off the hook.

Seriously, do you really think you’d get just 30 days in jail if you were driving under the influence and killed an innocent man? So why the double standard?

Stories like this make me sick.

But, stories like this also make me so glad I’m a fan of a school that emphasizes character first—that strives to produce good men and fathers—not felons.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Just had a thought

*Senior Quarterback

*Stellar, All-American tight end

*Dominant running back who will likely become all-time BYU leader

*Experienced defense

*Crop of stable, reliable receivers

I think this year is going to be a lot like 2006, and that is a very good thing.

By the way, I was right: Russell Tialavea will play in 2009. More good news.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

3 reasons why BYU will dominate this year

I admit it, my post the other day was sarcastic and hastily put together. That's what happens when you write something and your heart just isn't into it.

Today, however, I am 100% enthused. Today's post will focus on the positive. Today I will lay out three reasons why this year will be one to remember for Cougar fans.


1. Max Hall

You know what happens when BYU has a senior quarterback? We win championships. Mark it down: Max Hall will join the long line of senior QBs who bring home the gold for BYU. There's something about the leap from their junior year to their senior year--the strides our QBs make in that year are unbelievable.

Max Hall will be the best quarterback in the MWC by far, he'll become the No. 2 all-time leading passer at BYU, he'll be a Davey O'Brien finalist and he'll lead BYU to another conference championship.


2. LaVell Edwards Stadium

Ah, the serene setting of LaVell Edwards Stadium. The blue skies, mountains and roaring fans make the location ideal for putting the beat down on all who enter. BYU has three straight undefeated seasons at home, and they're about to make it four.

Starting with Florida State, who has to travel thousands of miles west and thousands of feet up, BYU will pound everyone who enters the unfriendly confines of LES. We'll put the brakes on TCU, and Utah, who is a mere shadow of its former self, doesn't stand a chance.

BYU's home field is the most intimidating in the conference, and this season will remind everyone in the league that you just don't win in LES.


3. Defense

Thought BYU's defense hit rock bottom last year? You're absolutely right. We saw some big cracks in the armor last year, but the good news is there's nowhere to go but up.

Let me tell you why our defense will be better this year. First, our middle linebackers will be more comfortable in their roles. Matt Bauman and Terrance Hooks will be more athletic and better equipped to cover and blitz.

Second, our safeties will be a huge improvement. Andrew Rich and Scott Johnson are generals on the field. They're incredibly smart, they have a head for the game, they're hard workers, they're assignment-sound and they hit hard.

Third, we have a lot of fresh talent coming in at cornerback. I predict we find a diamond in the rough among all of our JC transfers.

Finally, our defensive line will be the best it's been in a long time. Especially on the ends. Our nose tackle might be a little bit of a question mark, but if Russell Tialavea stays to play this season (which I think he will), our d-line will be solid.

BYU is going to have a great year this year. I predict a 11-1 season (with our only loss to Oklahoma), and a possible BCS bowl invitation.

Monday, August 03, 2009

3 reasons why BYU will SUCK this year

Wait... what? BYU will suck this year?

I know, I know, the words "BYU" and "Suck" should never be in the same sentence. Especially from a fan's perspective.

But I thought I'd write a little foil amid all this positivity to get your mind working and the heart pumping about the upcoming season. Tomorrow I plan to counter myself by writing a post entitled "3 reasons why BYU will ROCK this year".


1. Defense


Somebody please give me one reason why I should be excited about BYU's defense this year. Just one. I find it hard to believe that the same group of guys we had last year will produce better results. Our defense was hard to watch, and when I hear people say "BYU returns seven starters on D" I get worried.

We're slow, we can't cover speed, spread offenses tear us apart and we have no depth at nose tackle. Let's hope we can win the shootouts.


2. Coaching


"Do not change the gameplan" must be part of the BYU coaching staff's mission statement. What do they do when a play doesn't work? Run it again and again until it does!

Coaching on the fly hasn't been our strength as of late, and the inabbility (or the refusal) to make in-game changes will lead to BYU's overall suckiness.


3. The teams we play are just too good


Oklahoma? Are you serious? You really think we can come out of that game with a win (or even a close loss)??

And then Florida State, eesh. They're big, they're mean, and we've never beat them before.

Then you add in Utah and TCU, two teams who are lightning quick and ready to hurt us, on top of a game against a highly improved UNLV in Vegas, and we might be looking at a sub-.500 season.

BYU is headed for hard times in 2009. But maybe I'm wrong? Maybe I'm full of it? Tune in tomorrow to read my counter-arguments, and then choose your side.

Marlins catcher fist-bumps umpire



I don't think there's anything wrong here. If I see a fist, I bump it. End of story. You can't blame this umpire for surrendering to his primal instinct.