Friday, September 23, 2011

Holy cow, it's game day!

Geesh. These Friday games come quick, don't they? Here it is 2.5 hours until kickoff, and I'm just now getting to my prediction.

I'm sure you all are just wringing your hands with nervous anticipation.

I'll spare you the amateur analysis this week. Clearly I don't know what I'm talking about. The fact is, I have no idea how/if BYU is going to play tonight. I do think this is an important game, though. Deceptively important.

In 2007 we started the season 1-2, just like this year. We beat Arizona, and then lost successive games to UCLA and Tulsa. I was feeling just like I do now: Frustrated, upset, cold, nauseous, clammy, sleepy and forsaken. And a little hungry.

Then, in game four, we drubbed Air Force 31-6 and rattled off 10-straight wins.

This game, tonight, is our Air Force game. It's the fork in the road. We've got the UCF Knights at home in our building, we're bouncing back from a bad loss, and we face a crossroads. Will we mope? Will we quit? Will we lose again?

Or will this be our turning point?

Nothing cures the ills of an ailing fanbase like winning, and we could use some of that sweet medicine tonight. I hope our coaches have our players prepared, and I hope our players haven't lost the will to fight. Because this could still be a pretty nice season if we play our cards right.

My prediction: BYU gets a small measure of its groove back. Cougars win 24-13.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5 potential rivals for BYU

With all of this conference realignment muck that's being raked around like a fresh pile of horse poop, I've given some thought to some pretty wild scenarios. Scenarios that would put BYU in line with some non-traditional rivalries.

And that's the beauty of being a BYU fan. No matter where we end up when the dust settles, we'll always have someone to hate and someone that hates us. Check out these not-now-but-soon-could-be rivalries:

1. BYU vs. Missouri - The Battle of Haun's Mill
The fine people of Missouri drove out the Mormons in 1838 with Governor Lilburn W. Boggs famous "Extermination Order". Well guess what? We're taking back the holy land! We would have to play this game in a neutral site, though. Preferably Independence.

2. BYU vs. Houston/Washington State - The Cougar Bowl
I think some pervs might be disappointed when they read the program description "Cougar on Cougar action" and it ends up being a football game. But this game would finally prove which is the fiercest Cougar of them all. Courtney Cox would be the special guest referee.

3. BYU vs. Wheaton College - The Shirley Temple Bowl
BYU, as we all know, is the country's most "Stone Cold Sober" school, according to the Princeton Review. But who's No. 2? That'd be Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. The Wheaton Thunder's been living in our shadow for too long, and they're looking for some satisfaction. And if they win? Break out the virgin Rum and Coke!

4. BYU vs. Cal-Berkeley - The Prop 8 Bowl
It's hard to think of two schools as diametrically opposed as BYU and Cal. We're conservative, they're liberal. We're in the mountains, they're on the coast. We believe in a strict honor code that prevents premarital sex, their campus is, for all intents and purposes, one giant freak fest. Let's not let that rich opportunity go to waste! Let's put those hippies in their places!

5. BYU vs. Eastern Washington - The FCS Championship
Face it: Most realignment scenarios do not put the Cougars in a favorable position. So let's think outside the box here. Let's join the Big Sky conference and just lay waste to everyone who opposes us. We'll be like that big kid in fourth grade who got held back three years to be better than everyone else at sports. Actually... check that. The way we've been playing lately, we might be in over our heads in the FCS.

What do you guys think? Any other teams that should be on the list?

Disappointed

I don't feel like writing, but I figured I'd better put something up on the blog to knock my ridiculous prediction for the Utah game down from the top post.

I'm not gonna say much about the BYU Utah loss. It was awful. You know it, I know it, and I won't dwell on it any more.

All I want to say is I am disappointed. Disappointed in Heaps, Doman, our running backs and all of our coaches.

Remember when you were a kid and you screwed up royal? Sometimes your parents would scream you stupid, but when it was really serious they'd just look at you and say "Son, I'm disappointed in you."

That's the line that always made me feel like a donkey turd.

I hope it works on the BYU Cougars as well. BYU: I'm disappointed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A September rivalry

It's the night before the BYU Utah game, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Usually the night before the big game is like Christmas Eve for me. This year it's more like St. Patrick's Day Eve.

I admit, I miss the season-long buildup to the rivalry game. I feel like one of the country's great rivalries has been damaged by the greed and selfishness of college football realignment. However, that's a subject for another day. It's time to try and get fired up for The Holy War.

I am cautiously optimistic about tomorrow's game. I'm kind of feeling like a frightened animal after last week's pathetic display, but in the back of my mind I can't shake the thought that the Cougs might just turn a corner against those dirty Utes.

The big matchup will be Jake Heaps versus the tall and speedy Utah defensive backfield. Jake shouldn't have a problem finding an open guy, but it may not be the first or even second guy. Settle down, Jake, take a deep breath and go through your progressions. I'm thinking he needs to look at the tight ends especially.

In order for Jake to succeed, the o-line needs to start living up to their billing as one of the top in the country. Give ol' Jake some time, open some holes for our mediocre RBs and start playing like the big boys you are.

On D, we'll be just fine. Seriously. Is it bad that I'm not worried about Utah's offense, even slightly? Actually, yes it is bad. Utah, just like BYU, is primed to explode. They've got athletes everywhere, and a QB who can get them the ball... Occasionally. We should be able to handle the Utes' offense, but let's not take them for granted.

Tomorrow we open the home season at LaVell Edwards Stadium. I can't wait to smell the grass, feel the hard metal bench on my rump and cheer till my voice is hoarse. I think BYU rides a wave of emotion to a convincing win tomorrow, and I'll finally be able to read the sports sectiion again.

BYU: 27
Utah: 14

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top 10 clues you might be a Coug

Like I said yesterday, things are a little weird right now for college football fans in the state of Utah. Suddenly we find ourselves in the throws of Rivalry week, and we have little time to prepare.

So in case there are any fence-sitters out there who don't know who to cheer for on Saturday, I've prepared a list of 10 clues you can use to determine if you're a BYU fan. Take a good hard look at this list. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, then you, my good friend, might just be a Coug.

TOP 10 CLUES YOU MIGHT BE A COUG

1. Your football team wins their championships in February and August.
2. Missing the first and fourth quarters is pretty much the norm.
3. Your date night list: Chili's, Olive Garden or P.F. Chang's (special occasions).
4. You adhere to a strict dietary law: Lunch should not cost more than $5.
5. You firmly believe the backup QB is the best player on the team.
6. You don't mind if we lose a game, as long as we never lose a fireside.
7. You have huge drums of wheat sitting in your basement right now. Incidentally, if we are struck by a devastating natural disaster, what good is that wheat gonna do? Will you eat it by the fistful?
8. When casually talking about the NFL in church you use the phrase, "Yeah, I'll have to tape that game and watch it tomorrow."
9. You immediately distrust anyone with facial hair.
10. You get a funny feeling every time you pass the point of the mountain. You can't quite identify it, but you know it's there...

I'm not gonna lie, this list hits close to home. Except the Chili's part. Can't stand that place.

Care to add a few more clues? Be my guest. BYU fans are unique, that's for sure, but I don't care how many barrels of wheat you have in your basement: Just do us all a favor and cheer till your voice is gone this Saturday. We need a big win over the Utes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top 10 clues you might be a Ute

Rivalry week came a little early this year. A little too early, actually. It's catching me off guard, and I'm finding it hard to get in the proper mindset.

And I'm not the only one. Turns out the early game is affecting some of our half-bred neighbors to the north. See, usually it takes a solid season of success/failure to determine whether or not a Ute is really a Ute. Since we don't know how good or bad either team will really be this year, there are a lot of confused football fans in Park City right now.

But I'm here to help. I've come up with a list of 10 clues, and each will help you determine if you're a Ute. If you identify with any of these statements, then I'm sorry. You, my friend, might be a Ute.

TOP 10 CLUES YOU MIGHT BE A UTE:

1. You are the first to make a comment on any BYU-related article. Even the articles about the engineering students who make playground equipment in Africa.
2. You did not attend the University of Utah. Or any college for that matter.
3. You shop at Whole Foods in Sugarhouse. Ugh. Hippies.
4. You never miss an issue of Salt Lake City Weekly.
5. You have a crudely drawn Pac-12 logo hanging on your cubicle wall.
6. You attend several MMA/Ultimate Fighting competitions every month.
7. You participate in several MMA/Ultimate Fighting competitions every month.
8. You leave anonymous comments on this blog.
9. You have a nasty goatee. Goatees, incidentally, do not look good on anybody. No exceptions.
10. You don't know anything about sports or the teams. You just know you hate BYU.

Yes, this is a broad, sweeping generalization. And yes, some BYU fans shop at Whole Foods. Why, just the other day I bought some steel-cut oats there (although I did not appreciate the U of U flags hanging all over the walls). This is mostly just for fun. Mostly.

If, however, you have discovered you are a Ute, my advice is to embrace it. Own your Ute-ness. Start buying up Pac-12 gear, start stalking Norm Chow, slap that Drum and Feather on your Jeep Wrangler.

Just don't do anything permanent. No tatoos or anything. You want something you can easily remove/destroy when Utah becomes irrelevant again.

Tomorrow: Top 10 clues you might be a Coug

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unimpressed

In this instance, I hate that I was right.

Yeah, I called a Texas win. Yes, I said it would be close. I was even pretty close to the final score. But I feel like I just kissed my sister. I don't ever want to predict a BYU loss ever again.

But unfortunately, the way we played yesterday I might have to.

I can't remember another game in which we looked so completely different from half to half. In the first two quarters we were dominant on offense and defense. Heaps looked like he was poised, in control, and getting better and better as the game progressed.

On defense, we were impenetrable. We were causing turnovers and stopping the Longhorns dead in their tracks.

So what the hades happened at halftime?!

We came out in the third quarter and inexplicably decided to stop doing everything that was working for us in quarters one and two. Heaps stopped throwing to the receivers, Doman stopped calling pass plays, the defense stopped tackling.

It was completely frustrating. It felt like I was watching a team that thought they had already done enough to win, and was trying whatever they could to milk the clock and end the game.

And that leads me to our QB and offensive coordinator. Warning: If you hate BYU fans who complain about QBs and OCs, skip this paragraph. Based on two straight games, I am supremely disappointed in the Heaps/Doman tandem we were once so excited about. Heaps isn't making the reads, and Doman isn't calling the plays we need to have success on offense. It looked like we were headed in the right direction in the first half of yesterday's game, but we regressed big time in the third quarter. All the talent we have on offense is going to waste. Especially when we call the same freaking pass play to the tailback every single time.

I am really starting to hate that play.

We've got tall, athletic, speedy receivers. Give them the ball! Austin Holt and Richard Wilson were making plays all day. Get them the ball!

One bright spot was Justin Sorenson. You know he was challenged this week to improve, and that he did. He knocked in three big field goals, and he deserves some credit for bouncing back from a forgettable week one.

I think we'll get better. Obviously, we've got some things to figure out. But it's a long season, and hopefully we won't have to live through painful games like yesterday's anymore this year.

I still think we beat Utah next week, but not nearly as big as I originally thought. Now I'm thinking it'll be another close game. Get ready for it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Will BYU get Hooked by the 'Horns?

Ugh. What a lame title. I'm sorry everybody.

I hate myself for what I'm about to write. Believe me, I want nothing more than to talk about tomorrow's game at Texas, but I'm warning you right now: You're not going to like what I have to say.

I think the Cougs will suffer a tough loss tomorrow.

Ugh. That was tough to write. Feels like someone is stabbing me in the eyeball with flaming skewers. But if it's any consolation, I think it'll be a close loss. No? No consolation whatsoever? Sorry about that.

Working for us: Texas' inexperience and lack of leadership. The Longhorns started something like 15 freshmen last week vs. Rice. They've got talent, but lack game experience.

Also, when Colt McCoy graduated, Texas hasn't really had a field general who can take control of the troops. They're definitely prime to get rattled.

Working against us
: Offensive momentum. Texas didn't beat the heck out of Rice last week, but they had a very strong fourth quarter in which they scored points, racked up yards and built confidence.

BYU had a similarly strong second half, but still come in to Texas Memorial Stadium with the memories of a forgettable offensive performance in Ole Miss.

Now we face a better team with better athletes in a more hostile environment. Let's hope our Cougs worked out the kinks in our offense this week.

BYU Will Win If: Now don't get me wrong, BYU will definitely have a chance in this game. Our defense will make sure of that. And if we can keep the ball for a long time, sustain and FINISH drives, open some running lanes and make room for an open passing game... then we just might pull it out.

The real battle will be in the trenches. If our O-line can give Jake Heaps time and Heaps can relax and get in a rhythm in the pocket, then I like our chances.

If we can play clean football, put pressure on Big Chief Gilbert (Texas' QB... can't remember his first name... Dwayne?) and finish our offensive drives, then yes, we will win.

Key player: Corby Eason. Eason needs to be nails. He needs to lock up his man and keep his head on a swivel. I'm not worried about our safeties, our 'backers or our d-line. I am a little concerned with our corners. Eason in particular. I know he's a good player, but he'll be tested early and often.

Prediction: This will be one of those "What could have been" games (think UCLA 2007). If the ball bounces our way one or two times we might win. But it won't. Texas 21, BYU 17.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Thoughts from the deep South

Right now I'm sitting in the Las Vegas airport on layover from my trip to Oxford, Mississippi, by way of Memphis. 

Yesterday I was in the stands of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium where I witnessed a filthy awesome comeback win by the BYU Cougars over the Ole Miss Rebels. 

It's been a pretty exhausting weekend. 

Ole Miss was an amazing experience, but I'll post about that later. What I want to do now is give my take on the game. 

First and foremost, this was a big win for BYU. Our first game as an independent football school, on ESPN, on the road in the vaunted cradle of football, the SEC. Obviously I would have liked a little more oomph, a little more convincing a win, but I'll take this win any day.

Now let's take a closer look, together, at each unit.

Offense: Frustrating. We moved the ball well enough, but dumb mistakes kept us from finishing drives. Penalties, bad snaps, poor decisions... Without those mistakes we're looking at 10-20 more points on the board. Jake's pick six was also a 14 point swing in the wrong direction.

However, Jake still led our only TD drive late in the fourth quarter, and that took guts. He was surprisingly efficient, and even though he looked jumpy and uncomfortable at times, he put up decent numbers. Jake Heaps is my offensive MVP. 

Defense: Impressive. They lived up to the hype, big time. They hit hard, they played physical and in the end they, you know, won the game. I especially loved the front seven. Our d-line and linebackers showed me why they were so hyped coming into the season. Obviously KVN made the play of the game, but I also loved the play of Jordan Pendleton, Hebron Fangupo, Daniel Sorenson and Uona Kaveinga. 

The secondary looks like a BYU secondary, meaning, they can't hold coverages forever. We still need to apply lots of pressure to force QBs into mistakes. 

My defensive MVP is Kyle Van Noy, by the way. All this dude does is make plays. 

Special Teams: Disappointing. I don't want to say I knew Justin Sorenson was going to miss that 31-yard field goal in the second half, but I'll say it anyway. I saw it coming from a mile away. For all his leg strength, JS just can't figure out how to be consistent. 

Plus the punt coverage unit gave up a huge return that gave the Rebs all kinds of momentum. I was there to witness; it was loud. 

Nevertheless, I love Jordan Johnson as a kick returner. He only got to bring one back, but he showed quickness, elusiveness and speed. I'm thinking this guy is going to give us some good stuff this year. He's my MVP. 

Great win, go Cougs. If anyone is going to Austin next week, let me know. I think I might follow the team around full time. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Bring on Ole Miss!

You'll be pleased to know I have officially cleansed myself of conference expansion speculation, and I'm ready to get down and dirty with the upcoming season. Today I'm all about the Ole Miss Rebels.

I am ripe with nervous excitement for this game. First, because I'll actually be there in the stands, and second because this year's crop of Cougars has more potential than perhaps any other team in BYU history. Well... Recent history, anyway. I'm tossing and turning and foaming at the mouth ready to see how Jake Heaps fares as a sophomore, if Ross Apo lives up to the astronomical hype, and how many QBs Jordan Pendleton sends to the ER.

Ole Miss will be a huge test. It's an SEC team with big expectations, just like us. We'll be playing in an unfamiliar territtory in hot, muggy, sticky Mississippi. But BYU's especially talented this year, and we've got the horses to run with the Rebs, despite this mythical "SEC speed" I keep hearing about.

BYU will win if: We can stop the run. That's what it's all about. Ole Miss has a huge offensive line and a playmaking running back... Captain What's His Name. Also, they're breaking in a new QB who isn't very good. If Ole Miss can't run effectively, they'll get bowled over.

Ole Miss will win if: Obviously, they'll win if they can run. I feel like I just said that.

Key player: My key player in this game is Sir Jake Heaps. I was really impressed with Jake at the end of last season, and all reports are that he's made huge strides this offseason. I can't wait to see how he plays against a speedy, physical defense. If Jake is on, and if the line gives him time to throw, we'll be sailing to a comfortable win.

My prediction: I'm sold on this team. I think the pieces are in place for the Cougars to have a special, special season. We've got the best front seven in school history, phenomenal talent on offense, and our opponent has a whole truckload of question marks. I see BYU playing fast, playing physical, wreaking havoc on defense, and putting up points on offense. Ole Miss will struggle on offense, and too many mistakes on D will give the Cougs a comfortable win. I'm calling it 31-10 for the good guys.