20 October 2012


AP Photo/Michael Conroy

While I was right about the final outcome of this game, I was way off about some of my other predictions about this afternoon.

I said Notre Dame wouldn't be able to run on BYU. The Cougars gave up 270 yards on the ground for 6.3 yards a carry. Beyond that, Notre Dame had zero intention of passing the ball in the second half (three attempts through the air. THREE!) and BYU had no ability to stop them.

I said BYU would lose by 10 if the defense could play well. BYU's defense played about where I expected them to (just the other way around) and the offense was better that I expected.

I said the offense would struggle mightily, and for one half, I was wrong. 14 points in two quarters against an Irish defense that hadn't given up a touchdown since September is pretty great. Zero points in quarters three and four is not great. Williams played well, averaging 4.6 yards a carry, but didn't get many looks in the final quarter.

Other thoughts:

1. I am incredibly frustrated that after BYU's quarterback recruiting the last few years, we're left with fullback Riley Nelson as our starting QB. This is either insanely bad luck or bad coaching.

2. Despite the fact that it's not Riley's fault he's starting (probably), he is terrible. I counted four or five good passes from him today; the rest were pretty much garbage. The misses were way off (Hoffman running free in the Irish secondary in the fourth quarter) and most of the completions were not easy catches for the receivers. At least he took sacks today instead of throwing wounded ducks into triple coverage.

3. I'm tired of moral victories. BYU has a better fanbase than this. Getting 60,000 plus fans to every home game, getting great TV ratings for home games... we deserve more than a middling team. And if this keeps up in the long term, I expect fans to start jumping ship.

Thank goodness Utah isn't any good this year, either.

19 October 2012

BYU at Notre Dame

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's hard to write about a game you're 100% convinced will be a loss for your team.

For the first time in what seems like 20 years, Notre Dame is legitimately a top-10 team, though there are some weaknesses in that facade.

A defense giving up under 10 points a game is definitely something to crow about, and the Fighting Irish's 8.7 points allowed per contest is enough to be ranked second in the nation this year. Their running game is also potent, gaining an average of 181 yards per game on the ground. It's been said for decades, to win a championship the game of football, you need a good defense and a solid run game. Notre Dame seems set here.

Their passing game? Not so much. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has completed 58% of his passes for 968 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions on the year. Translation: he doesn't throw a whole lot, and he's not super great when he does. But hey, with a running game and defense like this one backing him up, the coaches don't need a whole lot, right?

That's the good news for BYU. If there's one thing we think we know about this Cougar defense, it's that they can stop the run. The pass, not so much. But it's hard to consistently get off long runs against this front seven, especially if they aren't worrying as much about the quarterback.

Riley Nelson is set to start tomorrow, and that means a vaguely competent quarterbacking performance speckled with moments of horror. Freshman running back Jamaal Williams shows promise, but hasn't really had a breakout game yet. And against Irish linebacker Manti Te'o waiting for him, I don't expect a big day from Jamaal.

So onward to tomorrow, a game in which I expect BYU to lose by 30 if the defense can't pull it together, and a game BYU will lose by 10.

Go Cougars!

13 October 2012

What a season


Six points scored against Boise State.

Six points scored against Utah State.

One is a loss, the other a win.

Freshman quarterback Taysom Hill cannot put the ball in the endzone against the Aggies, but ends up with a decent line and shows a lot of promise.

"Well, this season won't be one we talk about in years to come, but at least Taysom is getting a lot of reps in preparation for the years to come. These games will pay off immensely in 2013 and beyond," I thought.

Then? Hill is injured during a meaningless draw play at the very end of the Utah State game. It is reported that he needs knee surgery and will be out until next year.

So we're back to Riley and/or Lark playing at quarterback. Both are seniors, both have nothing to offer BYU in the years to come.

"Well, maybe Taysom will spend a lot of time working on his arm if he can't run as much, and maybe he'll come back next season a better passer. At least this defense will keep us in every game this year," I thought.

Then? Then Oregon State made BYU's secondary look silly en route to a 42-24 victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium today.

Backup Beaver QB Cody Vaz threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns, often finding wide open receivers for long gains. When Oregon State scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter, mostly through the air, it became apparent that this defense is not as good as we believed. This defense merely had never seen a good passing attack until this afternoon.

So what are we left with? A good offense (apparently Riley is healthy enough to pass as a starting QB again) and a good defense. I no longer believe BYU will be in every game they play this season. I fully expect blowouts at the hands of Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, and San Jose State will give the Cougars a run for their money.


05 October 2012

Best two out of three?

Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton - USU athletics

BYU and Utah State have split the last two games between them. The Aggies blew out BYU in Logan two years ago, and BYU barely squeaked out a last-second win in Provo last year.

Aggie head coach Gary Anderson has done a great job elevating the football program to respectability, as last season showed. A close loss to Auburn and other assorted heartbreakers showed Utah State could hang with most teams in the NCAA.

This year, the Aggies 4-1, having lost a squeaker to Wisconsin in Madison, and beating up on Mountain West teams Colorado State and UNLV by large margins. They also beat Utah in Salt Lake City, which would normally be fairly impressive, except Utah stinks this season.

And BYU lost to this stinky Utah team a couple weeks ago, so there's that.

My thoughts about tonight's game:

1. The Aggie players care about this game. They see beating BYU as another step towards becoming a legitimate FBS team. They will be ready for this game, both mentally and physically.

2. QB Chuckie Keaton is a rich man's Riley Nelson. He's got 1281 passing yards on the season with 11 TD's, completing 68% of those throws. He's also got 206 yards rushing. He's no Troy Smith, but he's good enough to make defenses account for his arm and his legs. I believe, however, that BYU's defense will be up to the task. I don't expect to see Keaton running free all night.

3. Utah State's corners are vulnerable. If Hill (assuming he plays) can attack them and connect with Hoffman and Apo on a regular basis, this will make it a lot easier for Williams and company to run.

4. The Cougars' offensive line will have their hands full with the Aggies' front seven. Their run defense is stout, and even if Williams is the next Doak Walker winner at BYU, if he's not getting good running lanes from the line, it could be a long night. And if the Aggies are able to shut the Cougar running game down, I'm not sure either Hill or Nelson are able to win on their arm alone.

In the end, I see a close game. BYU 24, Utah State 21.