Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A message to my Aggie friends

I like you guys. I really do.

I like that you guys love Logan so much. I like your passion for your school.

I even like your team. I always cheer for Utah State when they’re playing anyone but BYU, and I was even in the stands cheering them on against Utah (Incidentally… were you?).

And the Blue Bird Café… I mean, get outta here. The place is fantastic.

But it doesn’t take a BYU-educated man such as myself to see that you guys have no chance of beating us on Friday. And if you honestly believe I’m wrong… wow, I admire that. Takes guts.

I just hope you’re not harboring any hopes of an upset, because it’s just not going to happen. I’d hate to see you guys get your hearts broken. I know what you’re thinking:

“But our offense…”

I’ve seen your offense. You guys suck.

“But your defense…”

…will destroy you. You are not Florida State, and we are not Southern Utah.

I just wanted to write this quick note because I’ve noticed a twinge of confidence growing in Cache Valley and I wanted to snuff it out before anyone gets delusional.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bloggers Against Interceptions

There are real problems in our society, and I am no longer content to sit on my hands and do nothing about it.

That is why I am speaking out against one issue for which I have no tolerance: Interceptions.

Interceptions are mustard stains on the starched white dress shirt that is our football team. They are blotches of deer urine on our otherwise pristine snowy meadow.

That is why I have created a new activist group: Bloggers Against Interceptions.

Interceptions have no place in our schools, on our streets and certainly not within our football team. While I love our quarterback, Max Hall, he has made far too many mistakes that have resulted in interceptions, and I for one will not stand for it any longer.

Interceptions are unacceptable.

I'm taking a stand! Stop Interceptions Now!

A lesson in underestimation: Looking back on the picks

It appears I underestimated some teams last week in my picks. Namely New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Boise State.

Surely the Lobos could beat the lowly NMSU Aggies, right? False.

UNLV, I thought, would have the firepower to win in Laramie. False.

Boise State obviously has a much better team than I thought they did.

And as far as Utah goes, I need to stop picking with my heart and stop picking with my brain. I always default to a Utah loss--it's just how I'm programmed.

Here's how I did.

My Pick: BYU 34, CSU 13
Actual: BYU 42, CSU 23

My Pick: Air Force 31, SDSU 20
Actual: Air Force 26, SDSU 14

My Pick: New Mexico 21, NMSU 17 (First win for the Lobos!)
Actual: NMSU 20, New Mexico 17

My Pick: TCU 24, Clemson 20
Actual: TCU 14, Clemson 10

My Pick: UNLV 34, Wyoming 27
Actual: Wyoming 30, UNLV 27

My Pick: Louisville 24, Utah 23
Actual: Utah 30, Louisville 14

My Pick: Bowling Green 17, Boise State 13
Actual: Boise State 49, Bowling Green 14

This week's record: 3-4
Total Record: 15-10

Monday, September 28, 2009

The pessimist vs. the optimist

What an interesting game on Saturday. Normally a 42-23 win is all you could ever ask for in a football game, and yet the masses of malcontents in Cougar nation remain unsatisfied.

Winning by 19 points just isn't enough. Even against the much-improved Colorado State.

I think this kind of thinking is bogus. But I must admit, there were a few frustrating moments in Saturday's game. Even now I look back at the game with both good feelings and feelings of anger. And that brings me to today's post, in which the two halves of my brain battle it out to decide just how good this BYU team is.

The Optimist: First of all how can you not be satisfied with Saturday's game? Just look at the final score. We beat Colorado State, who had previously been riding a six-game win streak, by 19 points. And honestly... the win was never really in question.

The Pessimist: Yeah, but come on. You saw the game. If it weren't for two fortuitous interceptions and a blocked punt in the fist quarter that game would have been a dogfight.

Optimist: You say that like BYU had nothing to do with those plays. Guess what? BYU caught the interceptions, and BYU blocked the punt. We deserve every point that came as a result.

Pessimist: But what about the defense? BYU gave up 438 yards of offense, including 372 yards through the air. You can't be happy about that.

Opt-o: Numbers, schmumbers. Guess what number matters? 23. As in, they only scored 23 points. The defense may have given up some yards, but they came through when it mattered the most. Remember CSU's drive at the end of the third quarter? BYU held them to a field goal on a long drive, and I consider that a game-changing stop. Plus BYU was hard-hitting and caused two turnovers.

Pess-o: What about CSU's quarterback? He had all the time in the world to throw. BYU has to get better pressure on the ball.

O: I agree. Good things happened when we got to the QB. Any defensive secondary in the country would get burned if the QB had the kind of time Grant Stucker did. But like I said, we did get the QB a few times, and hopefully the coaches recognize that blitzing works.

P: Two words: Brian Logan. The guy is 5-nothing and was called for PI all night. Plus, guys were catching balls on him all over the place. I understand he's a small guy, and he's reading the receiver, but he could at least throw his arms up and try to disrupt the pass.

O: The guy also caught an INT, caused another and made huge tackles all night. CSU tested him all day, and while he wasn't perfect he was pretty dang good. He is a MUCH better open-field tackler than Brandon Howard last year, and maybe the best we've had in recent history at the field corner position.

P: Okay, let's talk offense. So can we just expect two interceptions a game from Max Hall from now on?

O: No comment.

P: And what's with this? 12 yards of total offense in the second quarter. BYU didn't have a sustained offensive TD drive until the third quarter. CSU had the ball longer, and gained more yards on offense.

O: And yet BYU still won. Credit that to quick strikes and short fields in the first quarter. It's a team sport, and BYU's offense and defense came up big when it mattered.

O: Also, you have to like the play of Harvey Unga. He not only changes our running game, but our entire offense. He's shifty, he's big, he finds the holes and he makes some serious plays. 22 carries for 113 yards (5.1 yard average) and three TDs. Those are big numbers.

The winner? The Optimist. I feel great after BYU's win on Saturday. I feel like we beat a pretty good team, and I think we'll only get better this Friday when Utah State rolls into town.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pick 'em update: CSU

Pick 'em week 4 proved one thing: What we could not do against Florida State, we did against Colorado State.

Namely, pick a decent score.

There were plenty of high scores this week, and if Steve Fairchild would have called for the PAT instead of the 2-point conversion on CSU's final touchdown, we would have seen this season's first perfect score.

But alas, life is cruel. Spencer C., who picked BYU to win 42-24, will have to settle for a 39--the high score of the week. Here's this week's scoreboard.

Spencer C. 39
Ross 38
Aaron W. 35
Jonathan D. 35
Gus 34
Matt Olsen 34
Seth 34
Becky 33
Cade 33
Cindy 32
Trizz 32
Jon 31
Matt Orme 31
PJ 31
Jeris 30
Peter M. 30
Eliot 29
KO 29
Russ 28
Andy 27
Lesley 27
Rodney 27
Russell O. 26
Travis 25
Chris W. 24
Kenny 24
Ty 23
Adam 22
Justin 22
Ashley 20

MIA this week: Benjy, Boyle, Knipps(?!), and Mars. See guys, I told you to make all your picks at once.

Next week: BYU vs. Utah State. Call your bookies, find your happy place and make your picks today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CSU: Time to leave Colorado

The resurgent CSU Rams are 3-0 and looking to extend their winning streak against BYU on Saturday.

One problem: They're leaving the friendly confines of the Centennial State to make the attempt.

CSU has played two home games against Weber State and Nevada, and one "road" game up the interstate in Boulder vs. Colorado. Colorado was just awful, CSU needed a miracle to keep the Weber State Wildcats at bay, and then the Rams scored a solid win over a somewhat disappointing Nevada team last week.

Now they will finally get on an airplane to come play the best team yet: The Cougars of BYU.

BYU, as we all know, is coming off a supremely disappointing loss on our home field against Florida State. Our 18-game home winning streak has been snapped, as has our dream of an undefeated season. However, assuming it is managed correctly, this loss could be the best thing to happen to BYU.

It could be what fires us up and propels us to an MWC championship.

This game will be a test for both teams. CSU hasn't played a team like BYU yet. BYU's defense will be bigger and harder-hitting than what they've seen thus far, and BYU's offense is multi-dimensional and dangerous.

CSU, on the other hand, excels in taking the ball away on defense, and their traditional offense is sprinkled with a dash of trickeration.

CSU is definitely on the upswing. The fact that they are starting a new quarterback, Grant Stucker, and breaking in two new running backs and are still 3-0 means they have a good system in place. Steve Fairchild is proving to be a good coach, and CSU will be a bowl team again in 2009.

However... this is BYU. CSU is not on our level yet, and our talent combined with the prospect of starting another home winning streak will be too much for the Rams.

BYU 34, CSU 13

Around the MWC:

Air Force 31, SDSU 20
New Mexico 21, NMSU 17 (First win for the Lobos!)
TCU 24, Clemson 20
UNLV 34, Wyoming 27
Louisville 24, Utah 23

**Bonus Pick**

Bowling Green 17, Boise State 13

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CC luncheon recap

If you say the words “Cougar Club Luncheon” you will instantly have my attention. I love those little guys, and I will literally drop anything and everything to attend. Such was the case today.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall was the featured speaker at today’s luncheon, and that made this event a must-attend. I’ve been to a few luncheons in the past, and I just know Bronco hates them. He gives the impression that he would rather stick his face in pure sulfur than answer to the Cougar Club blue hairs. That tension creates a very entertaining presentation.

Today Coach Mendenhall blew me away. First, the guy just has a commanding presence. When he stands up, the room stares. When he walks across the room he looks like a giant. When he speaks, I want to stand up and do wind sprints.

The theme of Mendenhall’s address was why he continues to coach at BYU—what gets him up in the morning, if you will. I’ll be honest, I was planning on another “We build young men into bishops” speech, in which he touts the spiritual aspects of BYU.

I have no problem with that, for the record.

But the coach surprised me. He talked almost exclusively about on-field achievements. He talked about his expectations for the program, which are:

1. Be dominant at home
2. Win the state championship
3. Win the conference championship
4. Go to a bowl game and win that

“That is what you have told me you want,” Mendenhall stated. “And that is the definition of BYU football.”

He talked about the kind of program he wants to build at BYU. He spoke of the BCS, and how the MWC is currently ranked ahead of the Big East and the ACC as far as conference rankings are concerned. This is significant because if the MWC continues to out-perform other BCS conferences, the MWC will earn an automatic qualifying spot when the BCS conferences are re-evaluated in 2012.

Does that make sense? Anyway, he said that everyone who wants to see the MWC have an automatic BCS bid, therefore, should be cheering on teams like Utah and TCU.

That sent a shiver down my spine. I don’t like either school, but I suppose I can give the Horned Frogs my support. Personally, I don’t see any way an honest evaluation of the conferences would leave the MWC behind the ACC and the Big East. These are awful conferences. Just awful.

Mendenhall continued. “Once the MWC has an automatic BCS bid, guess what happens then?” Mendenhall asked. “We can potentially play for a national championship.”

Mendenhall said it sometimes makes people uncomfortable when he talks about a second national championship in Provo, to which he asked “Why? Isn’t that what we all want?”

He briefly mentioned the loss to Florida State, calling it a good opportunity to learn and grow as a team. He also made an interesting comment about the home field advantage at LES—that sometimes the dominance can turn into a disadvantage.

The players, he said, sometimes think merely playing at home will be enough to get the win. They quickly learned that if you don’t execute and if you aren’t prepared the home field won’t do a lick of good.

One other note: He described the incoming 2010 recruiting class as “Excellent.”

“I rarely talk about future players, but I can tell you this: The incoming class is excellent,” he said.

Great lunch, coach. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I hate the BCS

BYU's loss to Florida State last Saturday has highlighted, for me, the incredible injustice of the current BCS system.

Since they lost, BYU is now "out" when it comes to BCS consideration. At least that's what Mark May, Lou Holtz, Lee Corso and other media talking heads say. The new BCS-busters? Boise State, Houston and TCU. BYU and Utah have been tossed to the curb.

The formula is clear: Non-BCS team + one loss = no soup for you.

I hate the BCS for that reason. Every non-AQ team in the country is like a diseased dog fighting over one available token spot in the elite bowls. They fight and claw, and if they lose once they are done.

Rutgers, on the other hand, can lose 5 times and still waltz their way into the Fiesta Bowl if they win their conference (see: Pittsburgh, 2004).

Oh yeah--so can Duke. And Washington State. And myriad other infinitely crappy teams.

But being conference champs isn't enough for BYU. Or Utah, or Boise State or anyone else not in a BCS conference. We mutts have to be perfect. Not only that, but we have to hope all the other mutts stumble along the way.

So Boise State fans end up hating the Houston Cougars. No, there's no natural rivalry, they're just a couple of dogs who want that chicken bone.

I read an article this afternoon on ESPN that sums up my frustration nicely:

BYU had more pressure on it in the third week of the season than several teams have in the 12th. That’s because under the current BCS system, teams such as BYU, despite an impressive win over Oklahoma and a high ranking, still have to remain undefeated to earn something that is guaranteed to teams with less impressive résumés.

“It does put an awful lot of pressure and focus on them, and that’s one of the things that I think is illustrative of the injustice of the system is that they have to be flawless,” Mountain West deputy commissioner Bret Gilliland said prior to BYU’s loss to Florida State. “A team out of our league, or any of the nonautomatic qualifying conference, has to be flawless, has be perfect, can’t make a mistake. Unlike the AQs, they can stumble a couple times, two three, four losses, and they’re still going to have that automatic BCS berth at the end of the season. That, to me, is part of the whole dynamic that makes this a little bit more of a microscope maybe than is fair.”

BCS. Fun for the whole family.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A bad day for the MWC, bad week for ASB picks

The MWC has its good days and its bad days, apparently.

Last Saturday, with BYU losing to Florida State and Utah losing to Oregon, was what we in the biz call a "bad" day.

Heck- San Diego State even lost to the mighty Vandals of Idaho.

And unfortunately we non-AQ conferences have very little room for error. The second anyone from the MWC loses to a BCS team, ESPN is quick to say "A-ha! I knew the MWC couldn't play with the big boys!"

But respect is neither earned nor lost in one week. The MWC is still a great conference. Here's hoping we bounce back in week 3.

And now a look back at last week's picks:

My pick: BYU 48, FSU 17
Actual: FSU 54, BYU 28

My pick: Oregon: 20, Utah: 14
Actual: Oregon 31, Utah 24

My pick: Wyoming: 24, Colorado: 21
Actual: Colorado 24, Wyoming 0

My pick: SDSU: 33, Idaho: 17
Actual: Idaho 34, SDSU: 20

My pick: Nevada: 28, CSU: 20
Actual: CSU 35, Nevada 20

My pick: Air Force: 31, New Mexico: 13
Actual: Air Force 37, New Mexico 13

My pick: TCU: 52, Texas State: 3
Actual: TCU 56, Texas State 21

My pick: Hawai'i: 30, UNLV: 20
Actual: UNLV 34, Hawai'i 33

**Bonus Pick**

My pick: Florida: 56, Tennessee: 20
Actual: Florida 23, Tennessee 13

This week's record: 4-5
Season record: 12-6

Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't sell your season tickets

I was wrong, obviously.

BYU did not destroy Florida State like I thought they would. It turns out the Seminoles knew exactly where to strike, and they struck early and often.

Who knew?

Not me. But then again, if I could pick every game exactly right, you can bet I wouldn't be writing some crappy sports blog in Provo, Utah. I'd be living large. I'm talkin' Biff from Back to the Future 2 large.

Anyway, as disgusted and horrified as I was on Saturday night, I gotta tell you--I'm not suicidal. I'm not stewing in the juices of depression, and I'm certainly not giving up on Max Hall or the Cougs.

I've decided to let optimism rule this year, so here are some positives we can take away from Saturday's travesty.

First, we learned a bit about ourselves. We learned we have some work to do, especially on defense, and that's a good thing. I would rather us learn these lessons early.

Second, it wasn't a conference game. Truly, I would rather lose out-of-conference than in conference. MWC championships should be BYU's primary goal, and now we have an opportunity to fix the cracks before we welcome teams like TCU and Utah.

Third, I don't feel bad about losing, frankly. USC lost to Washington on Saturday. Utah lost to Oregon, and Oklahoma lost to BYU two weeks ago. Parity exists in college football, and undefeated seasons are miraculous and nearly impossible (just ask Utah last year, who was three plays away from losing three games). BYU, despite losing, is still an excellent football team, and holding them to the standard of perfection is unfair. Even Florida loses to Ole Miss every once in a while.

Third, Riley Nelson looked pretty good, right? He led BYU down the field in the fourth quarter on a pretty impressive TD drive (remember: optimism).

To sum up, I feel good. I'm not wallowing in misery, and I'm not even close to giving up on BYU in 2009. Florida State played an incredible game on Saturday, and they deserved to win. They were a completely different team from what I saw in weeks one and two, and I give them credit for one heck of a beat down.

(Incidentally, I will never ever ever use the "altitude" argument ever again. Want to know how much altitude affects football games? 54-28. That's how much.)

So bring on the Rams, and I expect to see another full house at LES next week. Season starts in seven days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pick 'em update: FSU

A Horrible game, and a bunch of horrible scores. That's what this weekend has given us.

One person, Ashley T., picked BYU to lose, and therefore she is the big winner this week. Everyone else picked BYU to win, and some people picked BYU to win big (Eliot, for example, called a 56-16 victory for the Cougars).

In other words, we were as clueless about the FSU Seminoles as our coaching staff, apparently.

Here are this week's scores:

Ashley 20
Lesley 10
Cade 9
Cindy 9
Aaron W. 7
PJ 7
Jon 6
Matt Olsen 6
Gus 5
Jeris 5
Justin 4
Matt Orme 3
Russ 3
Russell O. 3
Travis 3
Ty 2
Adam 0
Andy 0
Becky 0
Buffalo 0
Chris W. 0
Eliot 0
Jonathan D. 0
Knipps 0
KO 0
Mars 0
Peter 0
Rodney 0
Ross 0
Seth 0
Spencer C. 0
Trizz 0

Friday, September 18, 2009

FSU limps off LES field, other Week 3 predictions

I'm so sick of hearing about Florida State's athletes.

All I've heard this week, from BYU fans and media alike, is how fast FSU's players are and how this game is going to be a huge shootout, and that we should be incredibly nervous, and blah blah blah.

I don't buy it for one second.

BYU has played fast teams before. Arizona in '07, UCLA in '08 and, oh yeah, OKLAHOMA just a few weeks ago. They all had athletes. In fact, Oklahoma was the best team BYU has ever faced. They were the fastest, the strongest and the best-coached.

And we beat 'em. We beat 'em all. We even beat Oklahoma in front of 70,000 of their craziest fans.

Do you guys really think we'll have such a tough time with Florida State? At home?

I don't.

First, BYU fans are frothing at the mouth. Did you see us partying in the streets after the Oklahoma upset? Did you see the thousands of fans waiting at the Provo airport for our team to get home? These are the fans that will be packing the uncomfortable benches of LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, and we are ready for our team's homecoming. LES will be loud and proud.

Second, FSU is traveling thousands of miles across the country, and nearly a mile up in elevation. Oh yeah, and this is their first game on the road.

Third, FSU isn't that good. They have no running game, and their defense looks worse than ours did last year. I mean, what good is 4.2 speed if you don't know what you're doing out on the field? They're sloppy, they're undisciplined and they give up tons of yards. And also, call it a trap game, call it looking ahead, give any excuse you want: the fact is, FSU came within a whisker on Bobby Bowden's wrinkled face of losing to the FCS Jacksonville State. At home. Sloppy.

Finally (and this is most important), BYU IS BETTER! BYU's offense is a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. Key in on Dennis Pitta? We'll throw to Andrew George or the Jacobson/Chambers/Ashworth three-headed monster. Take away the run? We'll beat you with the pass. Stay back in coverage? We'll run it down your throat. We have too many weapons.

Don't get me wrong, we will be tested. Our defense in particular has a lot on its plate. Christian Ponder is a good QB, who has very good numbers through two weeks. FSU will throw the ball well.

But I can't stop coming back to the fact that this is our home opener. We ("we" meaning both the fans and the team) will be completely fired up for this game. I believe the defense will step up to the challenge, and FSU will feel the wrath of a sober-but-crazy Provo.

Final Score: BYU 48, FSU 17

Other MWC scores:

Oregon: 20, Utah: 14
Wyoming: 24, Colorado: 21
SDSU: 33, Idaho: 17
Nevada: 28, CSU: 20
Air Force: 31, New Mexico: 13
TCU: 52, Texas State: 3
Hawai'i: 30, UNLV: 20

**Bonus Pick**

Florida: 56, Tennessee: 20

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One last look at Tulane

Before I officially move on to Florida State, I just have a few comments about the awesome victory at Tulane.

BLOWOUTS: I love a good blowout. Don't get me wrong, the dramatic finishes are great (when you come out the winner), but putting a team away by 51 points is sweet like summer rain. That was exactly what BYU needed in week 2: a confidence booster where the offense puts up huge points and the defense holds the other team to a field goal. Loved it.

Anyone else just get giddy when RB Tucker Lamb strode onto the field on Saturday? Lamb got a few carries, as did Anthony Heimuli and Mike Hague. That means there were seven ball carriers on that day. SEVEN. I loved seeing it.

LIVING THE DREAM: Speaking of Lamb, I'm incredibly jealous of ol' Tuck. He's an Orem High School grad who had no D-1 offers (to my knowledge). He walked on at BYU, and yadda yadda yadda he ends up on the field in the Superdome carrying the ball. How sweet is that? I love that he got that experience.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Definitely Terrence Hook's hit and Jordan Pendleton's fumble recover/touchdown. I could watch and re-watch that hit all day. Especially when Hooks grabs the receiver's legs and just drives him into the turf. Pretty.

TURNOVERS: After two games I believe we have 6 takeaways and 5 giveaways, giving us a +1 turnover margin. Good work Cougs. Let's keep that number in the positives, baby.

COMING OUT: J.J. DiLuigi finally broke through as a Cougar on Saturday. He looked shifty, he was physical, and if he didn't have to share carries with Bryan Kariya he could have gone over 150 rush yards easy. DiLuigi will be a big weapon for us this year.

MORE WEAPONS: Unga, Pitta, Jacobson, Chambers, Ashworth, George, Tonga, Kariya, DiLuigi, Hafoka. I'm telling you right now: We have never had this much talent of offense, ever. I defy you to find a better lineup in BYU history.

GAME BALLS: Offense, I have to give it to Max Hall, who passed for 300+ yards, two TDs and an INT. More importantly, though, Hall put the ball in ELEVEN different receivers' hands. Defense, it's all Grant Nelson. Nelson looked good on Saturday. He was in on two sacks and broke up a few passes (one should have been an interception).

Okay, that feels better. On to week three!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pick 'em updated

This is a quick note just to say the Pick 'em leaderboard has been updated.

Not many of us were expecting such a lopsided game, myself included. A few of you picked Tulane to be in the single digits, but only one (Spencer) correctly guessed that Tulane would only score three points.

Not one person guessed that BYU would score more than 50 points. Let that be a lesson to all of us.

Jeris and Russell O. were the big winners this week. Both scored a 31. Spencer, however, took the overall lead with two strong weeks.

This week BYU welcomes Florida State in its home opener. FSU features speed, athleticism and toughness. Could this be a chance to make up some points? Send in your picks right away, and I'll see you at LES on Saturday.

NOTE: If you would still like to play ASB's Pick 'em, it's not too late! Send your picks for the remainder of the season to

Not a bad batch of predictions

I just took a little look back at my predictions for week two, and I didn't fare too badly at all. Check this out:

Prediction: BYU: 45, Tulane: 20
Actual: BYU: 54, Tulane: 3

Prediction: Utah: 34, San Jose State: 24
Actual: Utah: 24, SJSU: 14

Prediction: Texas: 51, Wyoming: 10
Actual: Texas: 41, Wyoming: 10

Prediction: UNLV: 28, Oregon State: 24
Actual: Oregon State: 23, UNLV 21

Prediction: Colorado State: 38, Weber State: 17
Actual: CSU: 24, Weber State: 23

Prediction: Minnesota: 30, Air Force: 20
Actual: Minnesota: 20, AFA 13

Prediction: TCU: 31, Virginia: 14
Actual: TCU:30, Virginia: 14

Prediction: SDSU: 45, Southern Utah: 10
Actual: SDSU: 35, SUU: 19

Prediction: Tulsa: 37, New Mexico: 20
Actual: Tulsa 44, New Mexico: 10

Record: 8-1

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thoughts and predictions heading into week 2

First, an overdue comment on BYU's No. 9 ranking in the AP poll. I'm proud of the AP voters for putting BYU in the top 10. By vaulting the Cougars up 11 spots, the AP voters showed that they are putting thought into their ballots, and they're actually watching games.

Specifically I'm happy that the voters rightly put BYU ahead of Utah, TCU and Boise State. All three teams were ranked ahead of BYU in the preseason poll, but BYU's win in week one was by far the most impressive. BYU deserves to be the top-ranked, non-AQ team after beating then No. 3 Oklahoma, even though I'm sure Boise State fans are moaning and whining about it.

This vote restored some confidence in AP voters, who seem to be taking their poll a lot more seriously. The votes are no longer so stringently attached to conference affiliation, and voters are starting to rank the teams based on--egads--actual performance! One voter actually put BYU at No. 2 on his ballot, ahead of Florida.

I'm not saying I necessarily agree, but good for him for putting real thought into his ballot, and trying to stay as objective as possible.

Now, on to week two.

BYU is in New Orleans right now preparing to face the Tulane Green Wave. Tulane has had its struggles recently. It is currently in ESPN's "Bottom Ten," and last year The Green Wave was ranked 112 in scoring offense, 113 in rushing defense, and 106 in scoring defense.

In other words, they didn't score many points, they gave up a lot of rushing yards, and other teams scored a lot of points on them. Last year.

This year... well... they opened their season against Tulsa and lost 37-13. They gave up 412 total yards (201 yards rushing), and scored only 13 points, despite gaining 364 total yards.

So pretty much more of the same from ol' Tulane.

I expect BYU to win pretty handily on Saturday. I think there will be a little bit of a hangover after last week's huge win, but it won't be nearly enough to derail the Cougs. We will run the ball well (with or without Harvey), and our defense will contine to play well.

My prediction: BYU wins 45-20 (Tulane will score a meaningless TD in garbage time).

Other MWC scores:

Utah: 34, San Jose State: 24
Texas: 51, Wyoming: 10
UNLV: 28, Oregon State: 24
Colorado State: 38, Weber State: 17
Minnesota: 30, Air Force: 20
TCU: 31, Virginia: 14
SDSU: 45, Southern Utah: 10
Tulsa: 37, New Mexico: 20

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Assassin

How cool is Coleby Clawson (aka The Assassin)? The guy has been making plays since he transferred to BYU from Snow College, and last week he was all over the news when laid his now-famous, vicious hit on Sam Bradford.

(Feel free to start using that nickname, by the way. I'm kind of hoping it catches on.)

In fact, Clawson is kind of building a reputation for hurting opposing quarterbacks as a BYU linebacker. Remember BYU's season-opener last year? Clawson gave UNI's Pat Grace a few smashes that will ring through the Grace family for generations. I think Clawson gave concussions to Pat Grace's unborn sons.

Don't get me wrong, I am not revelling in injuries. I feel bad for Bradford (so does Clawson), and I hope he recovers soon enough to lead Oklahoma to an 11-1 season.

I am, however, excited about the sacrifice-the-body reckless abandon with which Coleby Clawson approaches his linebacker spot. As a pass-rusher, it's hard to ask for a better attitude. You want a guy who loves to lay a hit, and Clawson is undeniably that guy.

Keep making hits, Coleby. I look forward to many opposing quarterbacks who are just a little slow to get up this season.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Doman factor

I'm still in a euphoric state after our huge win in Arlington, so I'm going to keep writing about it.

Today I want to mention an offseason move that I believe had a huge impact on our win on Saturday.

The move I'm speaking of? Putting Robert Anae in the booth and moving Brandon Doman down to the sideline. I'm such a huge fan of this move for many reasons, but one in particular that stood out to me on Saturday was the effect Brandon Doman has on his quarterbacks.

Specifically Max Hall.

I saw Doman all over the sidelines on Saturday. He was running up and down with the team, he was talking with Max Hall face to face and he was offering encouragement after Hall's unfortunate interceptions.

Brandon Doman's presence on the sideline certainly contributed to Max Hall's success on the field. Particularly after interceptions, and before the game-winning drive.

He was vocal, he was excited and he was there for his quarterback.

I love Doman. I loved him as a player, and I think he's one of the best coaches on our current staff. The fact that he is on the sidelines, ready and able to look his QBs in the eyes and coach them during the game makes me much more confident about our offense.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Upon further review

Happy Labor Day everybody. I just finished watching the BYU upset over Oklahoma again, and my veins are coursing with the stuff life is made of.

That game was incredible. Our defense was inspiring, and Max Hall showed his leadership, his fortitude and his tremendous talent during BYU's 78-yard, fourth-quarter, come-from-behind, game-winning drive. I was so impressed with Max. He stood tall in that game and delivered one of the biggest wins in BYU history.

Let's talk defense a little bit. I knew going into this season that our defense would be the big surprise of the 2009 season. I saw them personally during fall camp, and I saw something in our defense. I saw improvement. And they showed huge improvement in Saturday night's game.

I want to talk about three people in particular. First, Jordan Pendleton made plays all game long for BYU. He caused a fumble, he saved two touchdowns during BYU's mighty goal line stand, and he laid some great hits on Oklahoma's QB. Pendleton was a particularly bright spot on BYU's shining defense.

Second, Andrew Rich. I see the safeties as one of the strongest units on our team. Scott Johnson and Andrew Rich are smart players who hit hard. Rich proved me right when he put his helmet down and laid the lumber all game long. He never let a ball behind him, and he was making huge hits. He was in the backfield, and he caused to huge fumbles, one of which was recovered by BYU.

Third, Brian Logan. Logan had a great game on Saturday. As a JC transfer, he was brought into BYU to make an immediate impact on our ailing pass coverage. Well make an impact he did. In a big way. First of all, Logan can tackle. He stuck his man every time the ball was in his area, and he saved a touchdown on a big Oklahoma run. Second, Logan broke up some huge passes--including a touchdown pass that was wrongly called as pass interference. Third, Logan saw the ball in the air and made a play on it. He limited YAC by meeting the opposing receivers as they caught the ball. Instead of waiting for the receiver to come to him, he made a play on the ball. Logan was impressive on Saturday.

You've heard the statistics, but I want to emphasize it again: BYU, a team that allowed 45 points to Colorado State last season, and a team that had the worst pass coverage in the MWC in 2008, held the nation's most potent offense to 264 total yards and 13 points.

I am still in shock. That was a beautiful game, and our defense delivered a performance for the ages.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A legacy win

I hope you all enjoyed the game on Saturday--it is an instant classic.

What you saw on Saturday is a legacy win for BYU. What you saw was a game that will live on forever in the halls of our beloved Provo university.

BYU knocked off No. 3 Oklahoma in Arlington Texas, where Oklahoma fans outnumbered Cougars 6 to 1. This feat is unmatched in BYU history. Bigger than Pitt in '84, bigger than Miami in '90.

This was the biggest win in BYU history.

I have so much to say about this game, but for now let it suffice to say BYU is BACK.

PS- The Pick 'em leaderboard has been updated. I am so proud of you who picked BYU to win.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The more things change...

...the more things stay the same.

At least that's how I felt last night.

After convincing myself that Utah State had a chance to win, it became painfully obvious in the game last night that it'll be a good three or four years before the Aggies really turn the corner.

The Aggies played with belly fire, but they just didn't have the horses to make it competitive. Utah was bigger and faster and Utah State QB Diondre Borel could not throw the ball to save his life.

I do think the Aggies will have a better record in the WAC this year, but it'll be a while before they're competing for the state championship.

If I was a Utah fan, though, I wouldn't be too giddy about the win. The offense put up big numbers, but anyone who watched that game last night knows the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Terrance Cain, the winner of the "Be a Starting QB at Utah" sweepstakes, simply could not make a tough throw. He threw two passes the entire night: a screen pass to the sideline, and a quick slant. Granted, they were successful, but every time he deviated from those two passes the ball sailed. Against a stronger defense the Ute offense will struggle mightily.

Now, enough talk of lesser teams. Bring on the Cougars!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Game day: Go Aggies!

The rumors swirling around the Internet are true: I am going to the Utah State/Utah game tonight.

I made this brash decision for three reasons:

1. Utah State is by far my second favorite team inside the state of Utah

2. I need to be around college football tonight. I don't care who's playing

3. I truly believe the Aggies could win tonight

I know you don't care about the first two reasons, so let's talk a bit about reason No. 3. Yes, I feel like Utah State could win tonight.

First, Utah is starting a brand new quarterback with exactly 0 D-1 starts to his credit.

Second, Utah is suffering from a lot of injuries, not to mention a complete coaching overhaul, including new offensive and defensive coordinators.

Third, do you want to know who was the driving force behind Utah's 2008 BCS run? Gary Anderson. Want to know where Gary Anderson is at these days? Utah State. Anderson is a good coach that will bring a lot of fire to the USU team. Also, he knows Utah in and out. He knows the defense, he knows the players, and he knows the coaches.

Furthermore, Anderson will want to make a great debut at USU. He'll want the signature win over his former employer. My guess is he's been scheming and game-planning for this game like his life was on the line.

Here's my prediction for the night: Utah scores early, and Utah State plays catch-up all night, until on the final drive USU hits the winning field goal as time expires. Aggie fans go crazy, and the Utes slink away in silence, dropping their red t-shirts in the garbage can on the way out.

USU: 24, Utah: 21

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Two football thoughts from the softball diamond

I love softball. I’ve been in a total of four different leagues this summer, and I only have one regret: that I didn’t find a fifth or sixth.

There’s just something about being on a softball diamond on a summer night that makes me smile.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the BYU/Oklahoma game all summer, and two recent experiences on the softball diamond have given me insights into how the game could turn out on Saturday.

My softball team has been both the favorite and the underdog in games. One time in particular we were the lowest seed in the championship tournament. We were facing a team (the Ball Nutz, if you must know) that supposedly hadn’t lost a single game in 2-3 years. The team was full of ex-high school baseball players who were now owners of their own landscaping businesses. A few of them probably skipped a few rent payments on their South Provo apartments to buy that new softball bat, and it produced a lot of runs and a lot of wins.

They beat us 35-9 the first time we played during the regular season, scoring 21 runs in the first inning. So they weren’t exactly shaking in their boots when they squared off against us in the tournament.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say we played out of our heads. Our defense was incredible and the runs were steady. We ended up beating the Ball Nutz and handing them their first loss in years.

Lesson #1: Any team can lose at any time. Nothing is certain.

Another time, last night in fact, my team was clearly the favorite. Riding a 4-game win streak in which we completely dominated our opponents, we came into last night’s game riding high and quickly scored nine runs in the first inning.

After that inning we went to sleep. We figured the game was over.

Little did we know the other team was still very much alive. They kept chipping and chipping away at our score, and even though we knew we needed to wake up and re-light a fire in our bellies we just couldn’t do it.

We won the game, but the experience was poignant. If you’re not emotionally fired up for a game you can’t just flip a switch and turn it on.

Lesson #2: It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re the clear favorite.

Both of these lessons work to BYU’s advantage on Saturday. Oklahoma is big and bad, but they can be beaten. No team is invincible.

Also, we’re talking about a Sooner team that wants a national championship. They want revenge on Texas and Florida. Their hearts are not set on BYU—they are looking far down the road, and it’s hard to get emotionally invested in a game in which you have no interest.

I like BYU’s chances on Saturday. Just keep swinging the bats--good things will happen.