24 September 2010

Looking back, looking forward

BYU football took a bigger step backward in 2010 than I anticipated. I knew the team was replacing Dennis Pitta, Harvey Unga and Max Hall. I knew they were replacing Scott Johnson and Jan Jorgenson. I just didn't know the players replacing these guys would be so woefully unprepared to take over.

1. The quarterback position has been mostly terrible. Junior Riley Nelson failed to produce and true freshman Jake Heaps has failed to produce much so far. I figured the reason for the shared time at quarterback was due to the fact that both players were great, but instead, apparently both players are bad. That's disappointing.

2. The wide receivers and tight ends have been consistently terrible. I can't find any official stats on this, but it feels like there have been more dropped passes in three games so far this season than there were for the entirety of 2009. What happened to the concept that BYU receivers might not be burners, but they catch everything thrown their way? These guys not only can't beat guys downfield, but they can't catch balls that hit them square in the hands. Tight ends and wide receivers both are failing spectacularly both in catching and getting open.

But that's not all! Oh no, we also have to account for blocking. You may have noticed BYU likes to run a play where they immediately get the ball to a wide receiver on the outside and let him run with it. This play is almost entirely dependent on other receivers blocking for the guy with the ball, and it's worked fairly well in the past. This season? Fail fail fail. The receiver catches the ball and he's tackled. The end. Replays sometimes show blocking receivers half-heartedly leaning towards a defender, but that's about it. It's somewhat infuriating. I'm just about ready to write off the entirety of the wide receiver and tight end corps.

3. The defense has been just embarrassing. Against Florida State, I lost count at 18 missed tackles by BYU linebackers and linemen. Failing to wrap up, failing to take good angles, failing to get good pressure on the quarterback. The only saving grace of the defense has been the play of cornerbacks Brandon Bradley and Brian Logan. While they haven't been spectacular, they've made some great plays in spots. How weird is it that the corners are the strength of BYU's defense? What is this, Bizzaro World?

4. The running back situation is not bad. DiLuigi has been playing extremely well, averaging 7 yards on 38 carries so far on the season. That's Luke Staley-esque. The problem is, he's definitely a "get to the edge" type runner, and not a "between the tackles" runner. I think maybe Quezada can be that guy, but so far he's gotten one carry on the year. Here's hoping he can grow into the role to complement J.J.

In college, more responsibility falls on the head coach than in any other sport at any other level. The head coach recruits his players, unlike in the NFL where players are drafted. So if a year comes along where the team takes a huge step backward, it's either the coach failed to draft the talent needed or the coach failed to adequately prepare his team for the upcoming season. Either way, bad news for him.

I like Bronco, I really do. I love that he rescued BYU from the depths of 2002-2004, but 2010 is more than just a hiccup, in my opinion. It shows a real lack of something... whether it's recruiting acumen or coaching ability, I don't know. But this team could definitely end the season under .500, and I don't think that's acceptable for a program like BYU.

Tomorrow's game is at home against Nevada. When I first saw the Wolf Pack on the schedule for this year, I mentally marked it as a win. I mean, shoot, Nevada is a WAC team. Now, I'm not so sure.

The Wolf Pack are 3-o on the season. Their three games so far: 49-24 win over Eastern Washington at home (not all that impressive), 51-6 win at home over Colorado State (getting my attention) and 52-31 win at home over Cal (okay now I'm scared). Sure, all three of their wins are at home, but they're putting up big point totals while holding up pretty well defensively.

The big worry? On the season, Nevada is ranked 5th nationally in rushing yards, at 302 per game. Considering how easily Air Force and Florida State racked up the yards on the ground against BYU, this will be a nightmare.

Will Heaps have any easier time passing against Nevada than he did Florida State? Most likely. Will he find it so easy that he passes for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns? Probably not.

I expect the score to be around 42-27 for the Wolf Pack. Another big loss and hopefully, another big step towards getting back to respectability for this BYU team.

1 comment:

Seth said...

Can anyone answer this question? Where in the world is Ross Apo??