Monday, November 15, 2010

Smoke and Mirrors or the Real McCoy?

I got to wondering about the Cougars recent turn around and it made me think of how the Cougars late season stride is quite similar to the Utes early season success. Consider the opponents that Utah played the first seven games:

The only significant wins that they have are over a good Air Force team (lost by three points to an overrated Oklahoma team) and a mediocre Pitt team (5-4) from a mediocre Big East. They pasted the cup cakes on their schedule.

Now consider our schedule, our most significant win is over a hapless Washington team with the most over-hyped quarterback in the nation, one Jake Locker. We lost to Utah State. We lost to Utah State! However, in our lowest of lows, we were competitive with a decent Florida State team (#26) and a decent Nevada team (#18). We were half-way competitive against TCU in Ft. Worth, but alas close is no cigar. Like Utah, we obliterated those who should have been obliterated with one exception: we lost to flipping Utah State!!!!!

Anyway, I think all of us realize that Utah is reeling a little bit, but should have enough talent to overcome SDSU. We will roll New Mexico like cannabis. The records will not look the same, but both teams may be meeting each other in the middle come the Holy War.

I am not wanting to forecast doom by the title of this post. BYU has a legitimate shot to win. Here are the reasons why I believe they will:

1) The QB struggles allowed for the offensive line to believe that they truly are the best offensive line this side of Texas. The running backs together are not as talented as Harvey Unga, but they have come to truly believe in themselves and Juice Quezeda and, I belive Bryan Kariya, have that smash mouth, punch-you-in-the-face-attitude running the ball that makes one surprised when someone manages to take them down. I am not sold on J.J. (DiLuigi that is). I would like to see a little more north and south, but he has been effective at alluding tacklers and has been productive against lesser talent. I want to see that against the likes of TCU and Utah though. The run game will alleviate any undue pressure if they can continue to play confidently.

2) The bye-week could not have come at a better time. I am talking about in regards to Coach Anae. I like Coach Anae, but one former player thinks that this offensive explosion is do to Coach Anae's seat getting a little too warm for the HC to be satisfied with 81 yard passing games. In other words, this former player opines that he may have been weeks away from losing his position, if things did not change. I think perhaps a little too much is being read into Heaps' most recent comments about the offense having the talent to play like this from week one, but I think all of us are "witnesses" (to steal this from LBJ and his talents in South Beach) of the sheer awesomeness that Jake Heaps possesses. The kid wasn't overrated, the struggles were due to him being underestimated. As a side note, I am surprised that despite the obvious boost the offense has received from the Heap's confidence boost, that Coach Mendenhall would go and say that Riley will again be in the running for QB1 come the spring. Let the Riley Nelson experiment fade, and utilize his strengths in the wildcat, let him be number 2 and come in on special occassions or on an option from Heaps and let Nelson throw one or two. The passing game is back and we are averaging 500 yard per and over 50 points in the last two games.

3) Most importantly, despite my objections to Coach Mendenhall's comments, it is apparent that Coach Mendenhall is a terrific coach and motivator. Chris Hoke will probably be the one to win MWC Coach of the Year, but the way Bronco has turned this team around, he really deserves it the most. Hoke has managed to do something that no one has done in a long time at SDSU, not get in the way of the talent and ride their coattails to 7 or 8 wins and a bowl game appearance. That should be a given in San Diego. Back to BYU. This defense is playing out of its mind. Van Noy is emerging as a real pass rusher. The nickle defense with Eason blitzing was deadly effective. Brian Logan, Andrew Rich, and B. Bradley are playing fantastic in the secondary. The linebackers are becoming effective. The run defense is outstanding and the whole unit posesses a swagger that I love to see (or hear about listening to Greg Wrubell). I wonder if Coach Mendenhall could have managed DC responsibilities along with everything else effectively, could BYU have busted the BCS in 2008 and/or 2009. It appears that we were one DC short of the whole package.

4) The Holy War this year, rests squarely on the shoulders of Jordan Wynn and Jake Heaps. Wynn is losing and Heaps has a whole heap load of confidence now. The quarterback that maintains composure ensures his team of victory. Just look to last two years as the proof in the tapioca pudding. If Heaps can continue to play great ball, BYU should pull it out in Utah.

To be honest, this season has been one of the funnest and most fulfilling in a long time. Sure, no one is thrilled with the record, but the way the team has pulled themselves up by the boot straps and willed themselves to victory against Washington, Wyoming, and San Diego State and then pummelled lesser teams in UNLV and CSU, it has been fun to watch. So much so, that I didn't feel bad selling tickets to the Penn State-Ohio State game this week, because that meant I could LISTEN to the BYU game without undue interruption (also, Emi had a bad cough and we didn't want her to infect all five kids of the family that had agreed to watch).

I am hoping that the OSU-Michigan game is played late into the evening or early afternoon so Carrol and I can get back in time to catch the Holy War. Otherwise, we are leaving early or arriving late to the game.


  1. Its funny to listen to the local radio hosts debate about this here in Utah ( People are jumping off of the Utah bandwagon like a sinking ship. I thought that they had an interesting point about momentum. I know this is a little hazy and hand wavy, but the argument was brought up that BYU is up and coming while Utah is sinking. Wynn is playing without any confidence while Heaps is starting to play with all the confidence in the world.

    It will be interesting to see how Utah plays on the road at a SDSU who played TCU tight. The Holy War should be a good game this year. If we beat them, they could end up in the New Mexico bowl. What a disappointment that would be for a team hoping to crack the BCS.

  2. I have a guy in my ward that went to the U out here. He said that when he was there, you couldn't pay the students to go to the game. He said people went to the Holy War, but no one believed that Utah would win and then they were surprised the couple of times that he was there that they did win. He said even in 2004, when they were in the midst of their BCS run, that the stadium wasn't even sold out until the last few games of the season. This emotional wave that Utah has been riding for the last few years is subject to bandwagon hopping and dropping. The U may have traded up for 20 million in revenue, which is signficant. Can't discount that. But they will fall hard if the team is continually middle of the pac(k-)12. They won't sell out their 45,000 seat stadium. That being said, why in the world have the tickets not beens old out this year? Those tickets should have been gone in June.