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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

COUGS vs. cougs Predictions

Tomorrow is finally game day!

So, its time for us here at Sports Bros to make our prediction for the upcoming contest against the cougars from Washington State.

Little Bro:

Washington States defense last year was not good. BYU's offense was pretty good under Nelson. That combination spells out potential good things for the Blue Cougars. I look for Michael Alisa really to be the difference maker in this game. Much is made of both cougars NFL prospect receivers, but that means the under the radar guys are the tailbacks. Look for a big game from Alisa. Riley Nelson will be Riley Nelson, I expect a couple errant decisions and even a turnover, but nothing the BYU defense can't handle. BYU finds good balance in the game (275 yards passing, 165 yards on the ground) and finds the end zone 4 times. While Washington State does have potential, they are starting a new era, and first games usually are where the flaws are found. Close game in the first half, but the Cougars of BYU come away with a 14 point win in the second half.

BYU 31 - WSU 17

Big Bro:

While much has been said about Wazzou's speed and athleticism, particularity at the wide receiver position, they remain a young team with a new coach and a new system. I expect BYU LB Kyle Van Noy to disrupt enough plays and create a turnover or two so as to neutralize any athleticism gap. Look for the real Cougs to capitalize on these mistakes with quick scores as BYU QB Riley Nelson will have all the drama of last year completely behind him. I expect Nelson to play with even more confidence (is that possible?) this year and for the team to rally around him like they did last year. BYU gets up early and holds on after a late Wazzou surge for a two-touchdown win.

BYU 38 - WSU 24

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Riley Nelson Exemplifies BYU's Mission

Much has been said about BYU's religious mission, especially now that football independence has given the university a huge megaphone to spread its message. Sports fans took notice when Brandon Davies was kicked off the basketball team, and everyone now knows that BYU is serious about its convictions.

It's encouraging to read about BYU sports players also taking those convictions seriously. Today I read a great story about BYU quarterback Riley Nelson that made me proud to support the positive message that BYU promotes. reposted a story from BYU Magazine about Nelson showing true Christ-like compassion for a misfit kid visiting campus with his school class.

You can read the story yourself, but basically put, Riley Nelson took a few minutes when a school visited campus to empathize with a child who was having trouble fitting in with his new classmates and who was having troubles at home. The child, who had expressed hatred toward BYU all day long, told his camp counselor at the end of the day, "I want to be what [Nelson] has been for me today for someone else--because nobody has ever been like that for me."

We here at the Sports Bros think that every once in a while it's good to step back and remember that some things are more important than football (it's a very short list). As we get ready for gameday, let's look for someone to lift up and show them what it's like to be a BYU Cougar.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Another Nelson Critic Bites the Dust

Its been long documented that I have not always been the first one to have Riley Nelson's back. I have criticized his decision making, and questioned his ability to beat the better teams on BYU's schedule. However, after reading an article my Ivan Maisel of ESPN, that has changed.

Some of the things in that article I had previously known. Others I did not. However, the main thing that captures me about Riley Nelson, is his extreme passion for the game of football. That passion, leads him to do anything that his team needs. Even if that included playing on special teams.

Riley Nelson will be the first one to tell you that he doesnt have much of a shot to play at the next level. However, he will likewise be the first one to tell you he is going to go down without a fight.

ESPN has not been shy in their coverage of the senior signal caller for the Cougars, and they shouldnt be. Nelson's fire and leadership have long been missing from BYU since their last senior QB, Max Hall, who is now a graduate assistant QB coach under Brandon Doman. Hall had the fire and mouth to go with his leadership qualities. Those characteristics made him someone the players were drawn to, and it developed into an 11-2 senior campaign (like the previous 3 senior qb's who have a combined 33-6 record amongst them). 

While Nelson may not posses the arm or the smarts of Max Hall, their statue is comparable. So is their desire to win at all costs. This quote by head coach Bronco Mendenhall basically sums it all up, "He becamse the heart and soul of our team even though he wasn't the quarterback,"Mendenhall said. "Once he got his opportunity, it not only changed the way he played, it changed the way our entire team played. That's the influence of a leader."

Nelson is the leader. This is his team, this is his time. And I believe he is going to make the most of it. He may not lead BYU to a national championship, he is big dark horse for some of his preseason honors on numerous watch lists, and he is an even bigger long shot as an NFL draft pick next year. But one thing Riley Nelson is not, is a quitter. 

Consider this to be the official resignation of my time as a Riley Nelson critic. I'm jumping on the bandwagon!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

BYU Ranked in AP Preseason Poll...Sort of

Well, they don't get the number before their name on the ESPN ticker, but BYU managed to garner enough votes to rank #32 in the AP's preseason college football poll. As most of you know, the AP only ranks the top 25, but lists all other schools receiving votes and orders them according to points accumulated from the vote. BYU came in 7th in that list with 22 points, just behind future opponents Utah and Georgia Tech.

This is a good place to start the year, as it will make climbing the rankings easier if the Cougars can manage to win their opening few games (I know, a really big "if").

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Year's Qb Controversy

The last few years of quarterback controversies have given BYU fans ulcers. Can the two-Qb system work at BYU? Should Jake Heaps start as a freshman? Did Riley win the job after the electrifying Utah State comeback? Now that Heaps has transferred and Riley is undoubtedly the number one guy, most of the stress has subsided.

However, with 2013 offering arguably BYU's toughest schedule ever and Riley Nelson graduating after this season, the question is looming in the heads of BYU fans: who will start next year?

As far as I'm concerned, Brandon Doman must find some significant playing time for Taysom Hill this year to get him ready to start in 2013. Now, Nelson will likely make that job easy on Doman by hurting himself, but in the unlikely event that Nelson stays healthy all year, Doman has to be ready to give Hill real time in meaningful situations. That means not just junk time in the fourth quarter, but real time with the first unit.

Bronco has the foresight to perceive this need. He said a few weeks ago that Hill could see some time in the wildcat position, seeing as he is "one of the faster players on the team." This is probably the best solution that gives Hill the time he needs on the field without damaging the team's chances to win or the chemistry of the first unit.

In any case, while this is not a "rebuilding year" for the Cougars, Doman, Bronco, and the rest of the coaching staff have to look forward to next year and prepare for it now. It seems clear that Hill is going to be next year's starter, and that means he will need as much experience as he can get.