30 September 2011

Friday night again

Utah State at BYU! 6:00 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium! Be there!

A grudge match of epic proportions. Utah state beat BYU down handily last year, 31-16,  and it really wasn't even that close. They were up 24-3 at the half and shut the offense down, letting their running backs run the clock out, and they ended up averaging 4.1 yards a carry as a team for the game. 

In other words, BYU was outclassed big time. 

I'd like to say I expect the Cougars to destroy the Aggies, but the odds of that are bad. Utah State is averaging 42 point a game, and while a lot of those came against a bad Weber State team and a really bad Colorado State team, it still shows these guys can move the ball. Quarterback Chuckie Keaton is averaging 4.3 yards a carry and completing 67% of his passes. Running back Robert Turbin is getting 5.7 yards a pop and running for 121 yards a game.

In short, the defense will be tested this week. 

The Aggie defense, on the other hand, is not as impressive. Giving up 34 points to the Rams? Ouch. Here's hoping Heaps and company can get on track for the first time this season. Might we see THREE offensive touchdowns tonight? We can only hope.

I expect another exciting game thanks to a poor offensive showing, culminating in a closer-than-we'd-like win over the Aggies, 24-21. 

Finally, I have decided to award the Amazon.com gift card to Steven Johnson, who was the only person to predict Utah would beat BYU in the comments of the original post. The card is on its way, Steven, and I hope it will bring you joy as you think about how you picked against your beloved team.

Go Cougars!

26 September 2011

Bad offense = fun?

Photo: Cool slideshow at byu.edu

The Friday night home game against the UCF Knights turned out to be a pretty good one. After the Knights steamrolled BYU's defense on their first drive, I was worried this would be a rout, but then the defense showed up, and despite a few miscues, played pretty well the rest of the night.

Thank goodness for Hoffman's returned kickoff for a touchdown, or this game could have turned out very differently, and Heaps' bad performance would have gotten a lot more scrutiny.

But here's the deal: Heaps plays better, BYU wins 40-17, and I'm yawning in the fourth quarter.

As it was, it was pretty much down to the wire, as UCF had the ball with over a minute to go with the chance to tie it. My brother Josh mentioned it was an exciting game more than once.

So maybe this year won't be a season of a few tough games and mostly cupcakes. I expect the game against Utah State this Friday to be a tough win, if not an outright loss, and who knows if Jake's errant passes will keep Idaho State, San Jose State and Idaho (yes, BYU plays both bad Idaho teams) in the game longer than they should be?

The home schedule may turn out to be far better than everyone expected when it was announced.

Other random thoughts from Friday:

1. Kyle Van Noy is a beast. The play where he ran down UCF's quarterback from about 15 yards out was a thing of beauty. You can tell the QB is thinking he just bought some time to find a receiver by rolling out, and then KVN is there in about .3 seconds for the sack. Here's the play:

Out of nowhere.

2. BYU's defenders sure are injuring a lot of opponents this season. Several running backs, a few wide receivers, and quarterbacks have been taken out more than once after getting hit by a linebacker or safety. While I like the intensity, I think I'd take a little less oomph if it meant fewer blown coverages and missed tackles. Wrap up first, blow up second.

3. The offense still can't score. They had one long drive for a touchdown Friday, and their other TD came after getting a very short field thanks to a muffed punt reception (shades of the Utah game).

4. Riley Stephenson had the game of his life. I've never seen him absolutely boom so many punts in one game before, and winning the field position battle was a major reason for BYU's win.

5. On that vein, Justin Sorenson was great. Three out of four kickoffs were downed in the end zone, and the one that was returned only made it out to the 16 or so. He was also nails on his one field goal. I hope they let him try one from 50 yards plus; I think he can get it.

6. UCF's running backs were great. Big, strong, tough to take down, kept moving their legs. One day BYU will get a back like that. Juice and DiLuigi are nice and all, but not really starting talent for a Top-25 team (not that BYU is a Top-25 team).

7. Jake was bad. Under 50% completion percentage, one pick (not exactly his fault, but it was not a great throw) and one near pick (see previous parenthetical comment) and missing on third down throws all night. His overthrow of a streaking Jacobsen let the entire stadium down. Kid has all the tools, and I hope he can put it together, but how many games is he going to be subpar?

8. The offensive line has issues. Their run blocking was atrocious most of the game, and they get blown up by opposing defensive lines enough that Jake feels like he's going to get killed all the time. Accurate or not, it's not good for your quarterback to be that jumpy. I know there are injuries, but it seems the last three years we've heard how amazing the O-line will be, and then they're fat, slow and not particularly able to shove people out of the way. Something big needs to change here.

Finally, something something Big 12 invite something. Cougarboard's been all abuzz about some rumored interest the Big 12 has in inviting BYU to the conference, but you know my take on non-news: I hate it. I'll talk about an event once an event has happened, not before. Call me crazy, but I enjoy discussing facts rather than freaking out over potential future happenings.

Utah State preview later this week. In short, the Aggies are schizophrenic.

23 September 2011


So, how about that game on Saturday? I stayed until the end with my two brothers and sister, and boy howdy did it get comical towards the end. Though I guess that first Utah touchdown was pretty funny, in retrospect. 

In short, that was one giant fail by every part of the BYU team. Offense was terrible, defense was great in the first half and got run over in the second, special teams was bad. 

I'm not sure Utah is as good as they looked in that game, and I'm not sure BYU is quite as bad as they looked, but they may be close. 

Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out who won the Guess the Score contest. I had some people comment on my Facebook status announcing the contest on my blog, and others who posted their guesses in the comment field of the actual post. 

Give me a couple days to figure it out.

As for today's game, I expect a tough game. UCF beat Boston College 30-3, then lost 17-10 to Florida International. Depending on which team shows up tonight, this could be another bad game. However, it is a long road trip for the Knights, and that always helps.

Go Cougars! Commit fewer than 8 turnovers this week, and I'll count it as an improvement.

14 September 2011

No time to say hello, goodbye...

Image courtesy The Salt Lake Tribune

Let's just say working two jobs is doable most times, and intensely stressful at others.

Some points:

1. BYU always, always seems to drop a winnable game on the road early in the season. See: Boise State 2004, Boston College 2005, Arizona 2006, Tulsa 2007. So dropping a game against Texas in September in Austin is par for the course, I guess. Still, having a big halftime lead and then seeing the offense self destruct for the remaining 24 minutes was pretty troubling. From reports I've read, it seems Heaps was panicking quite a bit during that half, immediately dumping it down to a running back or wide receiver in the flat and rarely looking beyond them, regardless of the amount of real pressure he was facing. That, and apparently Doman is still a true believer in Anae's super-ultra conservative offense when holding onto a lead. Get up 10 points in the second quarter? Time to shut it down for the night and hope the defense can play like supermen for rest of the game. Ugh.

2. BYU vs Utah already? If the first two weeks of the season have shown us anything, it's that both of these teams' offenses are bad and both defenses are pretty impressive. I expect a 7-3 final outcome, with the lucky team coming out on top. Whoever gets that crucial recovered fumble or a punt returned for a touchdown, that kind of thing.

And, as is custom, I am holding another Guess the Score contest for this year. Place your guess for the final score in the comments, along with how many yards Heaps will throw for. The winner will get a sparkling new $10 Amazon.com gift card!

May the odds be ever in your favor.

05 September 2011

That did not go as expected

I Facebooked after the game that this was a heart attack on a stick. BYU's dominance of time of possession and  total yards gained offset completely by a 13-0 score to begin the fourth quarter... then finally a nice touchdown pass from Heaps to Apo with 9:00 left in the game, capped off by the best defensive play I've seen from BYU in years where Kyle Van Noy blows up the QB, strips the ball, recovers the fumble and scores the winning touchdown.

It was a somber affair at my house for most of the game, but when KVN made that play, all seven of us watching exploded, probably scaring our neighbors to death and giving them the idea to hold a revenge party at 11:00 p.m. last night.

Season-saving play, in my opinion. How many times have we seen good BYU teams sink their seasons by dropping an early road game to Boston College, Arizona, etc. etc.? It was an ugly win, to be sure, along the lines of the famous Ugly Choke Job Salvaged by Miracle Vegas Bowl, but a win's a win, and I'm encouraged by the improved play of Heaps in the second half of the game.

He definitely needs to work on not staring receivers down, which is odd since I remember him doing a great job looking safeties off a few times last year, but maybe it was just nerves.

Anyway, the defense was amazing, the offense showed up just enough to get the win, and I'll take it.

Here's a highlight by Cougarboard's Furious Monkey:

BYU at Ole Miss 2011 by Furious Monkey from Furious Monkey on Vimeo.

I'm absolutely worried about Texas now, but if the defense can shut the Longhorns down, maybe BYU can squeak out a win.

Go Cougars!

03 September 2011

Go Cougars!

BYU football is finally back! It feels like last season was another life, it was so long ago, but football had returned, and that is awesome.

Short Ole Miss preview today: Ole Miss has a great run game and not much else. I expect the Cougars to be able to pass on them all day, but if the Rebels are able to get ahead early, thanks to some jitters on BYU' s part, they may be able today to control the ball and limit the Cougars' offensive chances to get back in it.

I double don't worry much about the famed SEC speed, but the weather may be a big concern... playing in 150% humidity is no joke, and I hope the coaches did everything they could to prepare BYU for the challenge.

I expect to see Heaps hit Apo and Hoffman for at least one touchscreen each, and the defense to record at least 4 sacks. This will be a big litmus test for the team; a convincing win here will make me believe they can best Texas handily, while a struggle will be cause for a lot of worry.

That said, I expect a win.

BYU 38, Ole Miss 24