20 November 2013

BYU at Notre Dame, part 2

(Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America)

It seems weird to be playing at Notre Dame for the second consecutive season, and this will be the third time in a row since 2005. Notre Dame was originally supposed to come to Provo in 2014, but they pulled out and now there's not one scheduled. I hope Notre Dame didn't trick BYU into giving them a 2 for 0 for nothing, but it sure looks like it right now.

But anyway, back to the game at hand. Highlights from last year's matchup: Riley Nelson missing a wide-open Cody Hoffman in the fourth quarter for what could have been a game-winning touchdown. The Fighting Irish passing a total of THREE times in the second half, as they ran all day on BYU's defense. Jamaal Williams averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but only getting 16 touches.

And in the end, a three-point loss.

This year, BYU has upgraded from Riley Nelson to Taysom Hill, who is better in every way from his predecessor. Faster, better arm strength, better accuracy, you name it, Hill is better at it.

That said, he's had a couple bad games in a row. He's got four interceptions to four touchdowns in his last two games, and one of those was Idaho State. I hope this is just a minor setback and not a more permanent regression, and this game will be a good indicator of which is the truth.

Vegas has set this game at pick 'em, which means neither team is better than the other. Though if you factor in the 3-point home-field advantage, Vegas is actually saying they think BYU is three points better than Notre Dame on a neutral field, which is sort of interesting.

I hate to be a broken record here, but I see this as a repeat of the Wisconsin game. Top-25 opponent, on the road, against a tough run offense. If Taysom can get it done through the air, I like BYU's chances. If he cannot, the Cougars will lose, and have gone 1-3 against Boise, Utah, Wisconsin and Notre Dame on the year. Honestly, that would be a disappointment.

But we'll have to wait and see what happens on Friday. I believe!

13 November 2013

Wisconsin thoughts and the story of a lost sheep returning

The Wisconsin game went how I thought it would for BYU's defense. The Badgers ran hard and ran effectively. They didn't break as many long runs as I expected, but they got he job done on the ground. Wisconsin's quarterback, Stave, had a pretty good outing, completing 70% of his passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. BYU's blitzes just could not get through his protection, giving him upwards of six or seven seconds to find open guys, and BYU's secondary is nowhere good enough to handle that.

What disappointed me was the offense. Taysom struggled to find guys when he had time, and he had more time than I expected he would. Without being able to see the entire field, I can only go with what ESPN showed me on Saturday, and what they showed me was Taysom having time to find receivers. Greg Wrubell, BYU play-by-play guy extraordinaire, has stated that the Cougar receivers could not get any separation from the Badger secondary. Either way, I am disappointed. If Taysom had open guys and just didn't find them, it's sad. If this BYU receiving corp was unable to get open, that's sad. Just an offensive fail all the way around.

In other news, 4-star forward from Arizona Payton Dastrup changed his commitment from Ohio State to BYU today. It was less than a week ago that he made his initial choice to join the Buckeye program, and it's weird he had such an about face.

Anyway, he's 6'9" and 230 and pretty coveted across the country for his big man skills. Let's have a look.


From this video, Mr. Dastrup looks incredibly earthbound and slow. He has decent passing instincts, and a decent shot, but man, that turnaround will get blocked out of the gym in college.

Dastrup is going on a mission before ever suiting up for the Cougars, however, so don't expect to see him until 2016, at the earliest. Such is the life of a BYU fan.

06 November 2013

It's Taysom Time

M.P. KING — Wisconsin State Journal archives

How about that Boise State game, huh? BYU's offense looked nigh unstoppable in the first half, and then sort of fell apart in the third and fourth quarter. This is a pattern that's becoming a concern. I'd like to see an uptick in production after halftime, but maybe that's asking too much.

Anyway, Taysom further showed that he can consistently hit people in stride downfield, a skill BYU has been missing in its quarterbacks for far too long. The offensive line even looked fairly competent, giving him upwards of four seconds to throw sometimes. Amazing.

In the end, it was a convincing win over a pretty good team. Nice work, guys.

Next up, the Wisconsin Badgers. A perennially good, never championship-level team. Their finishes over the last five years have been between 8-5 and 11-2. This year they are 6-2, and have already lost to Arizona State (on a controversial call) and Ohio State. These are not losses to be ashamed of, but they show this Badger team can be beat.

Wisconsin relies heavily on their massive offensive line and two star running backs. The O-line average over 6'4 and 300 pounds across the board, and back Melvin Gordon is averging 8.7 yards per carry on 124 touches. That's insane. That's Luke Staley-level running insane. And to add to that, Badger James White is averaging 6.3 yards a carry on his 127 attempts. Just thinking about this, combined with memories of BYU at Notre Dame 2012, gives me nightmares. The Irish racked up almost 300 yards on the ground at over 6 yards per carry, and passed the ball three times in the second half.

If Wisconsin gets a lead on Saturday, I fear BYU will get a steady diet of run, run, run, and suddenly the game will be over. BYU needs Taysom to open the game up early. They need him to find Matthews or Hoffman or Apo on a few deep balls, score quickly in the first quarter, and then score quickly again. If they can force Wisconsin to panic a bit, to come away from the power run game, I like the Cougars' chances.

But if the offense comes out sluggish after the bye, and stalls early and often, it's going to be rough to get the ball back often.

That said, I believe in Taysom. I know I was really down on him after the Utah game, but in fairness, he was historically, epically bad through three games this year. Then a miracle happened, and he figured out how to put touch on the football. I can't explain it. No one can. I'm just happy it happened.

But back to the Wisconsin game. Taysom will be rushed and hurried and have two seconds to find an open guy and get rid of the ball. But with how he showed his ability to use the tight ends against Boise, he's going to be really unpredictable to defenses from now one. He can go deep, middle, dump it short to Jamaal, find crossing routes and fades. And if you worry too much about his arm, he'll take off and pick up 20 yards on the ground. An absolute nightmare to handle.

I'm more worried about being on the road against a decent BCS team. BYU just historically does not win those games. And Wisconsin is 43-4 at home since 2004, a ridiculous number that really makes you pause.

That said, games are not won on the backs of history. BYU can go into Camp Randall and win. Wisconsin can lose a home game in November. Taysom can get the biggest win a sophomore BYU quarterback has ever had.

I believe!

BYU 34, Wisconsin 24