22 December 2007

Ugly choke job salvaged by miracle

BYU beat UCLA tonight 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

I've never felt so bad after a win.

The Cougars couldn't stop the run all night, allowing 163 yards rushing.

BYU also was completely stifled in their running game, gaining 36 yards on 28 attempts for a stellar 1.3 yards a carry. A main reason for this was UCLA's defensive line completely blew up BYU's O-line every single play all night long. I've never seen anything like it.

Harvey Unga, whose praises I've been singing all season, was consistently hammered in the backfield by linebackers and UCLA D-linemen.

Max Hall did okay, going 21-35 for two touchdowns and no picks. In the second half he didn't do much of anything, though.

I still can't believe how the half ended. BYU was up 17-6 with about 18 seconds left and on their own five. I tell the television, "Take a knee here and go into the locker room with an 11-point lead."

Then BYU runs the ball, Unga is hit IN THE BACKFIELD, EXACTLY LIKE HE HAD BEEN ALL NIGHT, loses the ball, and UCLA recovers.

Two plays later, UCLA scores their first td of the night and is only down four.

I was fuming. Whoever made that call, whether it was coach Mendenhall or offensive coordinator Robert Anae, needs to hear about that for the next nine months. It was seriously the most boneheaded decision I've seen in a loooooong time.

Then comes the completely offensively ineffective second half, and BYU finds itself needing to stop UCLA on a final drive. A great special teams play pinned the Bruins on their own two-yard line with two-plus minutes to go. A tough situation for a team that hadn't managed an offensive first down all night, but UCLA was only down one and did have all three of its timeouts.

UCLA runs the ball down BYU's throats for a couple 10-yard gains, then passes for a bunch more as BYU can't get any pressure on their fourth-string quarterback, allowing him to stand in the pocket and sling passes all over the field.

After I've lost all hope that the Cougars will stop UCLA in their own territory and win the game, I begin to focus on hoping they can force a long field goal. This isn't instilling much confidence in me, however, as their kicker had already nailed two 50+ yarders earlier in the game.

This all became a moot point as the aforementioned fourth-string walk-on QB hits UCLA tight end Logan Paulsen for 32-yard gain that brought them to the BYU 13 yard line.

That was the end of the game, as far as I'm concerned. For such a talented kicker to make what is essentially an extra-point is a foregone conclusion. 99 times out of a hundred, this kick goes between the uprights.

Sure, tonight Eathyn Manumaleuna manages to get a hand on the ball and knock it enough to fall short. Tonight the fates decide BYU should win the game. Tonight, this game of inches is decided in BYU's favor.

But the Cougars had no business winning.

The recipe of "can't run" + "can't stop the run" + "turnovers" is one of the surest paths to losing in college football. That BYU managed to win this game is nothing short of amazing.

Which is why I feel so awful. Technically, we won the game, but logically, we lost in horrible fashion. A one-point win over a 6-6 UCLA team who fired their coach and was running with two marginal quarterbacks is not impressive in the least.

But for BYU to win 11 games two years in a row for the first time since 1984-85 is nice. Ugly victories are still victories. Here's hoping the team can improve a lot in the offseason and go undefeated in 2008.

More on the positives tomorrow. I'm too down right now to focus on them.

1 comment:

Amy said...

The title for this post would be an awesome headline. That's all I wanted to say.

The Journalist