19 October 2010

The day approaches

As you can probably guess, I'm anxiously awaiting the NBA's regular season opening night next week. This summer has been filled with trades and signings and draft picks that promise big things, but nothing has been proven yet.

Will Blake Griffin tear it up in the regular season like he has in the preseason?

Will the Heat win 70 games?

Can John Wall effectively run an NBA offense?

Is Al Jefferson enough of a defensive upgrade for Utah to actually hang with L.A. this year?

Will Amare be a classic 20-10-50 guy in New York?

Is Dwight ready to unleash a devastating post game on the rest of the league?

No one knows yet. And that's what is awesome. I can't wait to find out.

In other sports news, my lack of commentary both before and after the BYU/TCU game reflects my complete lack of interest in the Frogs manhandling the Cougars once again (also I was out of town last week). I saw the outcome in advance, and nothing that happened on Saturday surprised me in the least.

Okay, in all honesty, BYU's run defense was immensely impressive. That TCU scored only three points until there were two minutes left in the half was due to the run-stuffing domination of BYU's defense and TCU's determination to keep running it up the middle despite having great success through the air. Once the Frogs remembered that BYU's secondary is consistently pathetic, they cruised to an easy victory.

The latest focus of discussion regarding why BYU is so utterly mediocre this season is Jake Heaps. He definitely struggled against TCU and didn't much of anything against San Diego State, so fans are rightfully questioning whether or not he has what it takes to be an elite Cougar quarterback when all is said and done.

I'm still on the fence. I notice that Max Hall was absolutely dominated by TCU in 2008 and 2009, and he is BYU's winningest QB ever, and is now starting in the NFL. Struggling mightily against the Horned Frogs (as a true freshman, no less) is no indication you are a scrub.

That said, the true test begins now. BYU plays Wyoming and UNLV over these next three weeks. If Heaps consistently overthrows receivers and takes bad sacks against these two programs, I'll start to believe all the hype surrounding this kid was unwarranted.

However, if Heaps does well in these games, I see a bright future ahead of him.

It's that clear for me.

10 October 2010

False alarm, everything is normal

My "Mass hysteria!" post from Friday appears to have been incorrect. BYU still owns the Aztecs, having beat them even when BYU was at its lowest point in six years and SDSU was at its highest point in six years.

I'm also definitely happy to be completely wrong in my prediction. And along those same lines, it was kind of nice going into a game where watching BYU go up 14-0 in the first quarter was exciting, rather than expected. The crowd was pumped and it got very loud more than once.

I loved BYU's gameplan of "We're playing ball control and smashmouth football, and if you want to beat us, meet us in the trenches." Considering the poor play of BYU's receivers and the explosiveness of the Aztec offense, it was a genius strategy and it paid off, to the point that BYU would have won by two or three touchdowns except for a couple big turnovers and penalties at important moments.

If I had any questions about Hill's firing before yesterday, I don't anymore. The defense that play last night was completely different from the one that faced Utah State, both in results and just plain attitude. The guys last night were fired up, sprinting to the ball, stringing out sweeps and smashing dives. Sure, the secondary gave up some big plays, but considering how good a quarterback SDSU's Ryan Lindley is and how big and talented his receivers are, it could have been much, much worse.

Bronco imposed his will on this group and they played like their lives depended on this win.

Even if this game had turned into a BYU loss, I would have come away happy about the improved effort and desire this Cougar team exhibited Saturday. Not so happy that I expect a win at TCU Saturday, but happy nonetheless.

08 October 2010

Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!

When I first decided to go to this home game against San Diego State, I thought to myself, "Hmm a boring game to attend, but that's okay." I fully expected BYU to stomp the Aztecs into the ground.

Then Air Force happened. And Florida State. And Nevada. And Utah State.

Let's just say I'm now pretty much expecting a loss. Against San Diego State. Black is white, white is black, up is down. It's disconcerting.

After taking a closer look at the Aztecs, this squad is scary, especially compared to last season's team. Last year they recorded four total wins, one of which came against Southern Utah University, a 1AA team. The 2010 Aztecs can get their fourth win tomorrow, five games into the season.

Sure, their three wins have come against some less-than-impressive programs, like New Mexico State, but they did dominate Utah State, who you may remember rolled the Cougars in Logan last week.

San Diego did take a three-point less at Missouri two weeks ago, but considering it was a road game and the Tigers are 4-0, that's not anything to be ashamed of.

The Aztec offense is frankly scary. They're ranked in the top 15, nationwide, in points scored and passing yards, and they're 23rd in rushing yards, at 213 yards a game. The offense features two rushers averaging over five yards per carry, and six receivers averaging over 15 yards a catch.

So if the defense wants to go bend-not-break, prepare for a long afternoon. However, I have to imagine Bronco realizes the strategy of hoping the opposing quarterback makes a mistake doesn't work if your offense is anemic. I hope to see many, many blitzes, from all angles and all yardage situations.

But in the end, I don't expect BYU to win. I expect to see improvement over last week, but the defense just doesn't have the talent to stop San Diego.

Offensively, I'm not sure what we'll see from Heaps and company. If the receivers are interested in catching passes, and Heaps makes better reads than he has at times, we might see BYU break the 20-point mark for the second time this season.

But I'm doubtful. Regardless, I'll be there cheering the Cougars loudly the whole game.

Prediction: SDSU 42, BYU 17

07 October 2010

It's NBA time!

I haven't blogged about the NBA since July, and for good reason: very little has been happening. But now that the preseason has begun, and Dwyane Wade has injured himself, it's time to get things underway.

Remember my rantings about the shortcomings in Dwight Howard's game a couple years ago? Well, it appears Dwight is taking another step towards trying to develop a post up game, and that step is working with Hakeem Olajuwan.

Back in 2009 I wrote
Can you imagine Howard's body with Hakeem Olajuwan's game? I don't think I exaggerate when I say an individual with that pairing would average 40 points and 15 boards a game over and entire season. Easily.
What took them so long to adopt my idea? Whoever made this happen either deserves a big raise or a knock on the head for not doing it in 2004, when Dwight was drafted.

Here's some video of Howard working out with The Dream. It's pretty impressive.

If Dwight's post game develops to even half of Hakeem's this season, I will be very excited.

However, if he can't get it done this year, I don't think he ever will, and he'll go down as one of the biggest wastes of talent in NBA history.

In other news, Hakeem looks like he could still school a lot of centers in the NBA today.

Go Dwight.

06 October 2010


Video Courtesy of KSL.com

The creator of this "highlight" reel counted 13 dropped passes versus Utah State. These passes would have counted for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Let's be generous and say half of those balls were uncatchable; that's still seven catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns, which would have made Heaps' stat line:

34 of 55 for 380 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Not bad for a true freshman quarterback being forced to sling the ball the entire second half.

Anyone who says BYU's woes are due to Heaps underperforming is way off base here. Defense and receiver ineptitude are killing the Cougars.

05 October 2010


In highlighting the DOS game Terminal Velocity back in July, I have now realized I was in error. While Terminal Velocity is a good game, the truly great action flight sim of that era was Descent.

Not only was Descent released before Terminal Velocity, it has higher quality graphics, better AI and better gameplay, in my opinion.

In Descent you play a mercenary something guy in the future, when the planets of our solar system are being mined for precious ore. Unfortunately, the robots doing the mining turn evil and the capitalist pigs who own this operation hire you to get rid of the infestation.

Each level involves you flying around the inside of a mine getting lost and shot at by robots. To win, you find the central reactor (which also shoots at you), destroy it, and escape the mine before it completely explodes.

That last element is probably the most entertaining part of the game. Desperately scrambling to get to the exit as the computerized voice (female, obviously) counts down to your demise... only to have to fight through a wave of enemies before finally escaping with your life with two seconds left on the clock = awesome.

The three-dimensional element was also amazing. Doom was a very popular first-person shooter back then, and for Descent to improve on the concept by introducing tunnels and enemies above and below you as well knocked my socks off.

The game just looks and sounds amazing. The music is great and the sounds work with a surround setup so you know what direction from which you're being shot at.

Descent was also one of the first titles to introduce a multiplayer experience over a network. Blasting robots is fun, but blasting your friends is even better.

And finally, Descent had a recording feature which allowed you to save videos of your gameplay to analyze later or show to others. That was very revolutionary for the time.

All of this adds up to a game that has fantastic replay value, even 15 years later. I found this online and fired it up on DOSBox; it is still as fun and addictive as it was when I was 13.

Descent is another shareware title, with the first few levels available at no cost, which means it found its way to my family's collection pretty quickly.

I award Parallax Software 20 points for developing this game. Sure, all you ever did was Descent and its many sequels, but that's enough to put you into my Gaming Hall of Fame.

04 October 2010

A defining loss

Utah State's complete domination of the BYU Cougars on Friday stripped away all the rationalizations. Brigham Young does not have a good football team this year. Not even close.

The research I did before this game calmed some of my fears that the Aggies might win. No team in the WAC, that had been absolutely obliterated by SDSU, could beat the BYU Cougars, down year or not.

As the clock was running out in the second quarter and the score read 17-3, I posted this as my Facebook status:

"An historic beatdown is brewing."

A few minutes later, Utah State returned a kickoff 67 yards to the BYU 33 yard line and the Aggies scored another touchdown with 49 seconds left in the half.

The rout was on.

Okay, so BYU's defense only gave up seven points in the second half, but that's because there was no need to move the ball in large chunks; all Utah State had to do was run run run, get first downs, chew up the clock and win.

The Aggies rushed for 242 yards on 59 carries, good for a 4.1 ypc average.

Quarterback Diondre Borel only had to throw it 13 times, and he completed 10 of those 192 yards and a touchdown.

It was as perfect an offensive showing as you can have against a team with an ineffectual offense. Ball control, pass when you need to, collect tally in the win column.

Focusing on that ineffectual offense, combine a true freshman quarterback with receivers who look worse at catching the ball than I do at my family Turkey Bowl every November, add a dash of "down by double digits" and that's it.

I believe Jake Heaps will be a great quarterback, and soon. He showed a lot of confidence on Friday, while at times in his previous playing time he appeared shaky and uncertain. He has the tools to make every throw on the field, it's just a matter of putting it all together and giving him some receivers who can catch balls that bounce off both hands.

I also liked what I saw from freshman Josh Quezada. He's fairly quick, pretty strong and falls forward when he gets tackled. If BYU hadn't been down by three touchdowns in the second half, I think we would have seen more carries from him.

So the future looks bright. Kind of. I'd feel better if a tight end would step up and take the starting spot. I'd also appreciate a wide receiver or two deciding they are catching everything thrown their way, and if Luke Ashworth gets benched for the rest of eternity.

In a related story, BYU defensive coordinator, Jaime Hill, was fired on Saturday. While the offense is clearly in big, big trouble, the defense is only a bit behind it in terms of depressing fans.

I'm not sure what to expect with Bronco calling the defensive plays, but if there's no visible improvement, I will be very, very worried.

So go Cougars! Next game at home, against the usually hapless Aztecs. It will be a much different game than I anticipated when I first saw it on the schedule.