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Sunday, October 31, 2010

BCS standings

Its always nice to see the BCS having a serious problem on their hands. 3 of the top 6 teams are Non AQ's. Boise State is #3, TCU is #4 and Utah coming in at #6. Now Utah and TCU play eachother, but even then you have at least 2 Non AQ's in the top 5. Love it

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strength of Schedule: Oregon vs. Boise State

The college football establishment has spoken. Oregon's big win against PAC-10 rival Stanford catapulted them past Boise State in the AP and USA Today polls and positioned them to take over the top spot when Ohio State lost two weeks later. The voters and commentators were easily convinced, just waiting for an excuse to push the Broncos out of the national title hunt. But are the Ducks better than the Broncos? Let's analyze it...

The main argument in favor of Oregon's leapfrog over Boise State is strength of schedule. Clearly Oregon has played a tougher schedule, right? Not so fast. Before beating Stanford, Oregon played its first four games against New Mexico (0-6), Tennesse (2-4), Portland State (2-4), and Arizona State (3-3). When you factor in their wins against Stanford (5-1) and Washington State (1-5), Oregon's opponents are a whopping 13-23. Excluding Stanford, Oregon's opponents are 8-22. But here's the real shocker: those 8 wins came against the likes of Montana State, Tennesee Martin, Alabama Birmingham, UC Davis, Idaho State, Portland State, Northern Arizona, and Washington.

Other than Virginia Tech, Boise State's wins aren't mind-blowingly impressive, but they are measurably better than Oregon's. After beating Virginia Tech in the season opener, Boise went on to beat Wyoming (2-5), Oregon State (3-3), New Mexico State (1-5), Toledo (4-3), and San Jose State (1-6). That's a combined record of 11-21, only slightly better than Oregon's non-Stanford opponent's record (8-22). But those 11 wins were aginst tougher competition than oregon's opponents faced; the wins came against Ohio, Purdue, Western Michigan, Southern Utah, Toledo, Louiville, Arizona State, #18 Arizona, and New Mexico.

The Bronco's marquee win came in week 1 against Virginia Tech, then ranked #10 in the AP poll and #6 in the USA Today poll. The game was touted as the "biggest regular season game in school history," but the luster wore off when the Hokies lost in week 2 to lowly Jame Madison University. But Va Tech has since made a comeback, winning their next 5 games including a win against natioanlly ranked NC State.

Let's sum up:

Oregon's unranked schedule:
New Mexico (0-6)
Tennesse (2-4)
Portland State (2-4)
Arizona State (3-3)
Washington State (1-5)
BSU's unranked schedule:
Wyoming (2-5)
Oregon State (3-3)
New Mexico State (1-5)
Toledo (4-3)
San Jose State (1-6)
Wins by Oregon's unranked opp's:
Montana State
Tennesee Martin
Alabama Birmingham
UC Davis
Idaho State
Portland State
Northern Arizona
Wins by BSU's unranked opp's:
Western Michigan
Southern Utah
Arizona State
#18 Arizona
New Mexico

So, is Boise State's unranked schedule head and shoulders better thatn Oregon's? Absolutely not. But at worst it's just as good. It seems to me that voters are voting more on Oregon's upcoming schedule than the one they've already played. There's no doubt that Oregon faces a tougher task than Boise State from here on out, but Oregon shouldn't jump Boise State in the polls until they earn it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 7 Score

Big bro takes the lead:

Week 7
Little Bro: 11-9
Big Bro: 14-6

Overall Score:
Little Bro: 39-17
Big Bro: 42-14

Friday, October 15, 2010

Max's leadership in Arizona

Week 7 Picks

1 Ohio State at 18 Wisconsin
Little Bro: Ohio State 31-24
Big Bro: UPSET Winsconsin 31-24

3 Boise State at San Jose State
Little Bro: Boise State 55-6
Big Bro: Boise State 58-13

BYU at 4 TCU
Little Bro: TCU 47-6
Big Bro: TCU 47-13

Texas at 4 Nebraska
Little Bro: Nebraska 34-21
Big Bro: Nebraska 33-21

Iowa St. at 6 Oklahoma
Little Bro: Oklahoma 35-14
Big Bro: Oklahoma 38-17

12 Arkansas at 7 Auburn
Little Bro: UPSET Arkansas 24-20
Big Bro: UPSET Arkansas 41-30

Ole Miss at 8 Alabama
Little Bro: Alabama 40-17
Big Bro: Alabama 45-21

McNeese St at 9 LSU
Little Bro: LSU 49-13
Big Bro: LSU 48-14

10 South Carolina at Kentucky
Little Bro: South Carolina 31-13
Big Bro: UPSET Kentucky 31-24

11 Utah at Wyoming
Little Bro: Utah 55-7
Big Bro: Utah 58-10

Illinois at 13 Michigan State
Little Bro: Michigan State 27-10
Big Bro: UPSET Illinois 30-21

15 Iowa at Michigan
Little Bro: UPSET Michigan 30-27
Big Bro: Iowa 38-33

Boston College at 16 Florida State
Little Bro: Florida State 28-17
Big Bro: Florida State 42-21

17 Arizona at Washington State
Little Bro: Arizona 38-20
Big Bro: arizona 35-14

19 Nevada at Hawaii
Little Bro: Nevada 42-21
Big Bro: UPSET Hawaii 41-31

20 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Little Bro: Oklahoma State 34-20
Big Bro: Oklahoma State 30-21

21 Missouri at Texas A&M
Little Bro: UPSET Texas A&M 27-21
Big Bro: UPSET Texas A&M 28-24

Miss. State at 22 Florida
Little Bro: Florida 35-14
Big Bro: Florida 40-21

23 Air Force at San Diego St.
Little Bro: UPSET SDSU 31-21
Big Bro: UPSET 38-17

24 Oregon St. at Washington
Little Bro: Oregon State 27-20
Big Bro: Oregon State 28-24

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A great win?

No doubt the Cougars desperately needed yesterday's win, but I have to admit I am not very optimistic about the outcome. Here's why:

I've been saying for weeks now that the offense needs to help out the defense by controlling the time of possession. Their 4 losses were a direct product of the defense being on the field for WAY too long because the offense could not sustain a drive. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that the defense played well enough to keep the team in the game in all 4 losses.

Now let's look at Saturday's narrow win over SDSU. BYU dominated the TOP, holding the ball for just over 45 minutes. That is unheard of. Yet, they still barely squeaked out a win with a little bit of help from a questionable PI call on a critical third down. This game should not have been that close.

So what killed them? Turnovers. In years past the Cougs have been good enough to overcome some Favre-esque (read: interception-prone) play from Max Hall and untimely fumbles by back-up running backs. But not this year. Instead of trying to turn a good play into an amazing one (don't all of the fumbles seem to come at the end of a great pass or long run?), the backs and receivers just need to concentrate on securing the ball.

In summary, the Cougs got a much needed win, but they have plenty of film to pour over. That kind of play will earn you some major embarassment against TCU and Utah this year, both of which the Cougars have to play on the road.

Many things change for Winning Cougars

As I said a few days back, BYU had to win the time of possession game in order to start their winning ways. How did they respond? By holding onto the ball for, not figuratively but literally, 3 quarters of the game. A whopping 45 minutes to 15 minute advantage, thanks in large part to BYU's stellar running game.

The Cougars finally established themselves offensively, and marched down the field on methodical drives time and time again. Now, two mistakes proved costly, in what should have been a BYU double digit win. Heaps interception in the endzone was a tough call for the youngster to make. Matthews fumble after a long catch and run killed a promising drive that could have all but shut the door on a fighting SDSU team.

However, something that I felt was completely necessary for this team in order to win, was excitement and passion. Both of which were clearly evident in this teams performance yesterday.

On multiple occasions commentators of the game mentioned how the BYU defense wanted to be on the field. They were running onto the field and their swagger showed their passion. After big plays were made, players celebrated with one another for their accomplishment, not as an individual, but as a defensive unit.

The unity of this team stems from their head coach, in Bronco we trust. Numerous players mentioned after the game how Mendenhall changed their perception and attitudes when they went onto the field, and they wanted to repay him for restoring their pride and honor. Coach Mendenhall also must have said something to the offensive staff about their job security. A program that usually prides itself on offense, is near the bottom in the nation in categories on offense. Yesterday, Anae showed some great play calling ( how about a fake FG for 16 yards) and let the game come to the cougars, instead of forcing it.

Heaps only threw 22 times, completing a good 15. Why throw it when your backs are getting you 5 yards a carry and first down after first down.

The MVP of yesterdays game goes to Brian Kariya. That dude was a beast yesterday, pulling linebackers behind him to get the first down. He had 2 touchdowns, 88 yards, and 22 carries, all career highs. Many of his runs were also season highs, and gave the cougars new air on third down a 5 or 6. Kariya proved his worth yesterday, and should be sleeping with that game ball in his arms for a couple nights.

This team still has got to put more points on the board, however. for the 15 minutes that SDSU had the ball, they turned it into points rather quickly a couple times. One drive lasted a whole 31 seconds in 2 plays. The Cougars have got to score more, in order to beat people and gain much more confidence.

Way to go Cougars. Keep the attitude and stigma in tact... Its gonna be a loooong week ahead with TCU coming up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

1st quarter Wrap UP

So far, BYU has shown exactly some of the things I said in my "BYU ABC's" post. They have excitement, they are DOMINATING the T.O.P and they have quality drives that end in TD's. Along with that, their defense has a takeaway already, all together leading to a 14-0 BYU lead 15 minutes in. Way to go Cougars!

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Max: Tough & LIkeable

Here's some insight from the Cardinals trainer on the toughness and likeability of Max Hall.

Kurt Waner: Hall is me 12 years ago.

Check out this article on comparing Max Hall to Kurt Warner. Sure, Max wasn't bagging groceries before he went to the NFL, but he is sure flying under the radar. Kurt Warner is saying that he reminds him of himself, and Ken Whisenhunt agrees.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hard work pays off

Max Hall was the Cardinals best QB in the pre-season, and now his hard work gets rewarded. Whisenhunt announces Hall will start this Sunday for the Arizona Cards.

Here's the article

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BYU ABC's: Back to Basics

Considering how bad the Cougars are this year, I thought it might be time to go back through some basic elements that make a team tick. A through Z, here's a list of somethings the Cougars need to improve on in order to get this team back on the course they are used to being on, winning:

A: The Attitude on this team has got to take a turn towards the positive and realize the good things they do each game. Focus on the positives and believe in yourself
B: Bounce Back from your mistakes. Bounce back from a loss (in all their frequencies). This team has got to understand that mistakes happen, but hanging your head doesn't change it. All ties into their attitude.
C: Catching the ball is the biggest problem from this team. CATCH the ball, and this team has a whole new dynamic that it has missed. 
D: Defense has to show up and prove that it is worthy of the scholarships they are taking up. 
These Cougars need to be Excited to make a play. Celebrate with your team after a first down, a big hit, or a 3rd down stop (as rare as they are). Show some Emotion in your battles, teammates will rally around you.
F: This team, full of youngsters, has to Fulfill their potential as well as their responsibilities. Some people, especially the veterans, are not fulfilling their end of the bargain, hence this team falling apart.
G: Considering the youngsters, this team has got to Grow up faster than expected. Players development has got to speed up, and efficiently. 
H: BYU has to, has to, has to get HEALTHY. Key players are falling like flies, and it is showing on the stats sheet. Jordan Pendelton, Andrew Rich, Fuga, Nelson etc... Some of the aforementioned are lost the season, but others are not. BYU cannot afford more injuries to an already bad team.
I: The Intensity on this team is completely gone. It has to return. Show that you mean business, and that you are there to play on every down, and you are gonna give it your all. 100% effort, 100% of the time.
J: Jake Heaps. This is his team for the next 4 years. He has got to start performing like he is capable. Given the receivers need to help him a little bit. Nonetheless, Jake Heaps has got to start making the easy throws easier for them.
K: BYU's Kickoff-coverage has been stellar this year. The best facet of their season by far. That needs to continue, so they can try and win the ever important field position battle.
L: This particular squad has NO Leadership. They have got to find that guy on and off the field that will LEAD this team to where they want to go, as well as where they are capable. Someone has got to step up and be that vocal leader. Heaps???
M: Bronco Mendenhall is being tested for the first time in his 6 years at the helm of the Cougar pigskin squad. How will he respond, and can he get this team back? This is where he earns his payday.
N: The Necessary things they need to do to win, are the things they have not been doing. So those Necessities are an enormous element to the success of this squad
O: Of course, we all know the Offense has been abysmal, and thats why this letter is ever so important. The Offense has got to fulfill its responsibilities and give the defense some rest, and sustain drives that turn into touchdowns!
P: Protecting Jake Heaps is essential, not just from game to game, but for the next couple years. He needs to remain healthy and confident that his line is their for him, instead of having to watch his backside every other drop back. Give this guy time, and he can make things happen.
Q: Quality drives have to be put together by the offense. Mentioned in other factors (letters), Heaps and the scoring unit has not done that. Put together 5 to 7 minute drives, and get some points up on the board. Even if it doesnt result in points, Quality drives gives your team confidence, and something to build off of. 
R: Due to the bruising this team has been inflicted with, the Reserves are going to play a key roll for the future of this team. Not just this year, but years down the road. They are all getting key time this year. They have got to make the most of it and perform well, play assignment football and see who comes up with the big surprise.
S: Study. Get in the film room until there is no more film to watch and STUDY your hearts out. Find your weaknesses and fix them. Help each other. They have to study themselves before they worry about their opponent. Their biggest enemy right now is themselves.
T: Time of Possession has been in BYU's favor for the good majority of this decade. This is something BYU has gotten killed on this year. Going back to the offense, they control this key factor to success. Keep the ball out of the hands on the defense to decide the game. Sustain drives and make your team believe in you, not to mention your fans.
U: Unity. This team has got to form a unit, has got to form a TEAM. Right now, it seems like everyone is out their for themselves. Team unity forms chemistry that teams of that past have had that has proven amazing success. This squad will be together for a while, so this is vital.
V: Show some Vigor. On a consistent basis.
W: WIN. BYU has got to get a W to retain its confidence in each other and the confidence of the loyal fan base.
X: Most of us already know who the Cougars X-Factor is, J.J. Di Luigi. He has been great this year, being the Cougars only source of consistent play. However, how he goes, so does the team. They found their weapon, utilize him and use him as a decoy to open things up for other play makers like Jacobsen, Hoffman, and Heaps.
Y: Tradition, Spirit, Honor. Those are the three values that this program prides itself on. Be proud of the Y sticker that is on that helmet.
Z: Often the slot receiver is called the Z man or Z receiver, so this becomes very important. They are often the recipient of drop off passes, and short over the middle drag routes that can turn into big YAC yardage. Jacobsen has seen lots of time here so far this year, look for him to become more of a pertinent part of this offense moving forward. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Catching up with the problem

BYU's offense has been nothing but awful this season. Nothing short of terrible, and not a long shot and saying pathetic.
Chambers can catch in practice, but the squad
has got to translate that onto the game field

Jake Heaps, against Utah State in particular, showed that he is still a freshman and will make freshman mistakes. One of his picks was just being on a comletely different page than his receiver. The other was just a bad decision to throw into double coverage. None the less, I believe Heaps, against the Aggies showed he can make the big time throws, they just have to be caught.

The wide receiving corps for the Cougars, that has been so hyped up for the better part of the summer as, and I quote, "possibly the best receiving corp BYU has ever had," has been ridiculously terrible. There lack of ability to do the one thing they are on the field for, CATCH THE BALL, has led to failed drives by the stagnant offense. There inability to catch passes that hit them in the hands, has continued to amaze me. In a bad way.

Heaps has to learn to put more touch on his ball at times, as made very evident by a throw inside the 5 Heaps made to the full back Zed Mendenhall (who was wide open) against USU. However, after near a month now of Heaps getting the majority of the reps with the first team Offense, one would think they would start getting on the same page.

The receivers are breaking in 5 freshman tight ends, a couple freshman wide outs, returning just a few veteran starters. However, its time to step up. This receiving corp is not holding its end of the bargain when it comes to responsibilities to this team. When your running back is your leading receiver through 4 games, you know something has gone awfully wrong.

The one bright spot in the corp has been the emergence of Cody Hoffman, who seems to be becoming a favorite target the freshman gunslinger Heaps. That combo could be wonderful to watch in coming years. However, if the rest of the so called D-1 caliber receivers don't decide to show up, Heaps and the offense will never become as potent as they should and could eventually be.

This season a perfect storm

The Cougars are terrible this year. There's no getting around it and no excuses. But the elements have sure combined to create a perfect storm of failure for BYU football and its fans.

First, the Cougars said goodbye last year to the school's statistically best quarterback, running back, and tied end. That's enough to knock the wind out of any program, especially when your replacement quarterback is a true freshman. Which bring us to the next element of failure...

Youth. Aside from Jake Heaps, the Cougars have first-time starters at almost every skill position. Running a complex playbook with only fall camp to prepare is a lot to ask of receivers and linebackers who are used to high school competition. Welcome to D-I football (now known as the FBS). Many of these new starters have been thrown into the spotlight because of the next element...

Injuries. Cougar Nation can only pray that Andrew Rich's injury isn't as bad as Romney Fuga's. Until he went down against Utah State, Rich lef the nation in solo tackles. Now Jordan Pendleton has also been sidelined by injuries. That makes for a weak, inexperienced team to go up against the next element...

Schedule. Much has been said about BYU's scheduling, and most of it comes off as whining. But the truth of the matter is that Florida State, Air Force, and Nevada are all ranked in the top 25, Utah State gave Oklahoma a run for their money, and Washington just beat USC in Pasadena. Perhaps I'm coming off as making excuses, but I think this is the best preseason BYU has every played. It's just too bad they weren't up to the task.

The bright side is that BYU set up all their contracts with ESPN and Notre Dame before the season started. One can only imagine what kind of reception Tom Holmoe would have received if he would have been asking for big money and big games this season. BYU capitalized on their succes at just the right time, and now they can use those contracts to continue its recruiting despite this years miserable failures.

All is not lost, Cougar Nation. We just have to weather the storm.

Stil a tie.

Week 5 picks:

Big Bra: 11-5
Little Bra: 11-5

Total record:
Big Bra: 28-8
Little Bra: 28-8

Friday, October 1, 2010

BYU-Utah State, 1st Quarter Wrap-Up

It seems Little Bra was spot on in his analysis this week. BYU has continued to struggle with 3rd downs on both sides of the ball, and the result is a 10-0 deficit entering the second quarter. Perhaps Anae reads the blog, because he has called a lot of first down runs and short pass routes to give Heaps some confidence. Heaps looks poised, but has already thrown a pick. We'll see how the Cougars cna bounce back in the second quarter.

3rd Down and Success to go

The success of the Cougar football season solely lies on the performance on third down, on both offense and defense.

BYU, on the offensive side, has been great in years past on converting third downs like clock work ( 56 percent last year). Their defense likewise has been able to shut down team from converting on third and manageable (3 to 5 yards). This year however, the Cougars are on the complete other end of the spectrum.

The absent offense has converted more third downs on the ground than through the air, a feat not many would think possible considering BYU's pass happy offense. That being said, they are only converting at a clip of around 34% this year. A rate nearly half that in recent years. Running the ball on first down would be a great start. Di Luigi has shown that he is BYU's playmaker this year, give the guy the ball. Get Heaps some breathing room on second down to make a play, or check down his reads for a dump off to, likely Di Luigi. First down is where the Y's playcalling will be under much scrutiny in my book. Anae has shown some weakness and hesitancy in running on first down if he gets stuffed the first couple times. Dont give up on it, just make a different call.

Runs will open up the pass for Heaps. Heaps has started to improve on his touch, and with all the reps with the first team offense now his, the receivers are getting used to his rocket of an arm. Running the ball brings play action into the playbook, one that makes the defense truly have to respect, especially with a weapon like Di Luigi.

The defense, on the other side of the ball, is giving up way to many third and long conversions. At least 3 times during their battle against Florida State, BYU had FSU looking at third and 12 or 13 yards, 16 yards later, the Seminoles had another first down on their way to another score given up by the Cougars porous defense. The defense only forced a couple punts against the powerful Nevada offense, and held them to 3 second half points. However, many believe that Nevada easily could have scored more, but realized they didn't need to, considering their opponents aforementioned obsolete offense.

The Cougars season is on the line this weekend. The offense has got to find a way to sustain drives for longer than 2 first downs, and control the clock. Something this offense has not done in any of the games so far this season, with the exception being their lone victory over Washington. The offense then, needs to find a way to turn all those field goals into touchdowns. At the rate BYU's offense gets into scoring position (not often enough this year), they have to capitalize on every trip coming away with 6, not three.

The defense needs to change their motto from "bend, dont break," to "DONT BEND AND BREAKING IS NOT AN OPTION." Andrew Rich is a hard hitter, but he has got to wrap up. The defense in general needs to find another play maker on the d-line. With Fuga out for the season, its time for someone else to make a name for themselves, and it all starts this friday with in state rival, Utah State on the slate.

If Bronco's team wishes for any more success this year, they have got to tighten up on third down, and make plays. Other teams are doing that against them, and thats why the Cougars are sporting a 1-3 record for this first time since Bronco's first season, 2005.

Its likely to get worse, unless the third down play improves.