23 October 2013

Bronco Bustin'

BYU has never beat Boise State in football.

That seems crazy to me, but there it is, on Cougarstats.com:

9/20/2012 Boise State 7 BYU 6
9/24/2004 Boise State 28 BYU 27
10/30/2003 Boise State 50 BYU 12

It's just odd that two mid-major teams within 400 miles of each other have only played three times, but I guess they've never been in the same conference, so that helps.

The last two losses were both heartbreakers, as Matt Payne missed an easy chip shot at the end of the game to give Boise the win in 2004, and Riley Nelson supplied the Broncos with their only points on a pick-six to secure the loss for BYU in 2012.

This time around, Boise State is playing the gritty, run-first, doesn't really have an arm quarterback. Taysom Hill is on a roll, having increased his passer rating every game this season, and settling on an impressive 161.88 against Houston.

The BSU starting quarterback, Grant Hedrick, did put up okay passing numbers against Nevada last week.  Completing 18 of 21 passes is nice, but he threw zero touchdowns and did have a pick. His eight rushes for 123 yards is more impressive, until you take into account Nevada's 114 ranking in team defense for the NCAA.

And let's be honest: BYU's defense can corral running quarterbacks. I'm much, much more worried about a quarterback passing for 400 yards than I am a quarterback rushing for 200.

I expect an easy win for BYU. The offensive line gave Taysom some honest to good protection at times on Saturday, and if they keep improving, and Hill gets more and more time to throw, he's going to be impossible to stop.

Prediction: BYU 38, Boise State 17

18 October 2013

This week in BYU football

Georgia Tech thoughts:

1. Georgia Tech runs a triple option system. Bronco does not lose to triple option systems. Georgia Tech really had no chance.

2. Once GT started blitzing BYU on every down during the second half, the Cougar offense struggled a lot. While I'm glad Taysom is at the point where he's great if he gets time to throw, now we have to wait for him to mature to the point that he can read blitzes and make defenses pay for leaving guys uncovered. That may take a while. I expect every defense we play from now on to bring the house often.

Houston thoughts:

1. These guys may be the worst 5-0 team ever. They beat a 1-4 Memphis team by 10 points, and an 0-6 Temple by 9.

2. I am worried about their quarterback, freshman John O'Korn. He throws for about 250 yards per game, and has 11 touchdowns to only one interception all season. If he throws to the sidelines to take advantage of the ridiculous cushions BYU corners will give his receivers, and can hit a deep pass or three, he can put up points.

So it's all going to come down to how well Houston can pressure Taysom, and how well BYU's secondary can do their jobs.

Prediction: BYU 34, Houston 24.

07 October 2013

What happened?

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Taysom sure proved me wrong, eh? He went from overthrowing receivers by 15 yards to dropping perfectly thrown footballs directly into the hands of a streaking Mitch Matthews for touchdowns.

I don't know how he figured out how to put some touch on the ball, or lead a receiver, but he did. If it sticks, BYU has itself a quarterback.

Other thoughts from Friday's game:

1. I feel bad for Chuckie. Dude's a gamer, and losing the rest of the season is a tragedy.

2. The defense played out of their minds, even against the backup QB. Lots of pass breakups, which was good to see.

3. KVN is a robot of some kind.

4. Bronco is the worst at developing backup quarterbacks. The game was well in hand at the start of the fourth quarter, yet Taysom remained in there, taking hits he didn't need to take. Ammon finally came in very late, handed the ball off a few times, and went home. If Taysom ever goes down with an injury this year, and we have to rely on a completely unproven Ammon, with zero live balls thrown, I'm not going to be pleased.

5. The offensive line was a sieve more often than not. That's gotta change.

Anyway, convincing win in a game I thought BYU would lose. On to Georgia Tech!

04 October 2013

BYU at Utah State


It's the annual Friday night game between the Aggies and BYU! This used to be a throwaway every year, a chance for BYU to rest its injured starting quarterback (2006) or get the backups some good time in a blowout (2008). But recently the competition has been tougher, and BYU even dropped the 2010 matchup 31-16. 

More recent history has BYU winning two close games by a combined 6 points. And last year showed a ridiculous defensive slugfest where the Cougar defense held the Aggies to 3 points and still almost lost the game. 

And last year is the game that has the most importance when determining what will happen tonight. Chuckie Keaton, dual threat extraordinaire, threw for 27 touchdowns and rushed for 619 yards last season. BYU held him to zero touchdowns and 37 yards rushing. I attended this game, and was amazed at how well the Cougar defense, led by Van Noy and Ziggy, managed to beat him to the edge time and time again. He never broke off a long run. Never got that long pass play. He was bottled up as effectively as I've ever seen. The defense won the game that night, and I hope to see it again this time around.

While it's true Ziggy is doing his thing in the NFL now, I like what I've seen from linebackers Alani Fua and Uani' Unga. BYU's side-to-side pursuit is as good as it's been, and while I know Chuckie has gotten stronger and faster, I still don't see him going off. Utah State will score no more than 17 points.

On the offensive side of the ball for BYU, I still don't expect great things from Taysom. He only threw 17 times against MTSU, and while one or two of them were nice throws, the rest were easy pitch and catch plays where he had plenty of time and was not dealing with real pressure. Utah State will bring it, and he'll be far less comfortable in the pocket. I think we'll see another sub-50% passing performance from Hill tonight. Depending on how well the Aggie rush defense performs, and I expect them to be stout, we might see BYU score around 17 as well.

Considering Vegas has Utah State as a 6 point favorite, it makes sense. One or two turnovers will be the decider, and in the end, I see the Aggies getting their second win in 4 years, 21-17. 

03 October 2013

Are the Utah Jazz Any Good? | Bill and Jalen's 2013 NBA Preview | Rank #27

Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of Grantland.com preview the Jazz. Some pretty funny takes.

Personally, I'm more excited about this Jazz team than I've been since 2008. There's room to improve and grow, and for the first time in a long time, I'm not sure what the ceilings of these players are.