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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting Jabari Parker in Blue and White

I just wanted to use our yet small readership to promote and awesome movement of fans to help convince Jabari Parker to become a Cougar.

I try not to spend too much time on Cougarboard, but I found myself there and saw that they are starting a donation drive to buy shirts for the fans at the game Parker will be attending in the Marriott Center. The hope is that with a huge outpouring of support in Provo, Parker will see the light and put on the blue and white.

Here's the link.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

All-Around Improvement Translates to Big Win for Cougars

Jamaal Williams and the BYU defense are rightly getting most of the praise for today's big win at Georgia Tech, but it was a great all-around performance that gave BYU it's most impressive win of the season. I saw improvement on almost every front.

First, Brandon Doman's play calling has consistently improved this year, and the Georgia Tech game was the best so far. The ESPNU commentator even exclaimed "gorgeous call!" as Riley Nelson dumped ball down to Williams as Georgia Tech's blitz came storming in from the edge. That play resulted in a 39 yard touchdown, William's fourth of the day. Doman did a good job of making Nelson's job as easy as possible, riding the back of Williams and mainly calling short passes and screens for Nelson. However, BYU broke two plays for 35+ yards, something the Cougars have struggled to do. Most importantly, Doman limited the called rushes for Nelson.

Second, and most surprisingly, the inexperienced offensive line held its own. Nelson looked relatively comfortable in the pocket and he was much more accurate without defensive ends breathing down his throat.

Third, Justin Sorensen missed a 25 yarder, but he made 2, which these days seems like gold.

Finally, Nelson himself seemed more collected, probably because he had more time thanks to the offensive line. Sure, he made his obligatory stupid play that resulted in a pick-6, but he settled in nicely and only ran out of the pocket only when absolutely necessary. 19/28 and 204 yards is not a bad night for him.

This game will probably be remembered as the Cougars' best showing of the season. And while this kind of improvement would have been useful in the close games BYU has lost, this was a badly needed win for a fan base frustrated by close losses.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jamaal Williams Impresses Early On

A few months back after the open scrimmage BYU held toward the end of fall camp,I was talking to Big Bro about what I saw. I remember telling him there was a freshman that I thought was going to be a straight up stud for BYU for the next few years. I described his ability to get up-field quickly and make tacklers miss, all while holding onto the ball.

Yes, I was describing true freshman running back Jamaal Williams.

Jamaal Williams (21) had his best game against Hawaii
I was so excited to see this guy play in 2013. I was hoping he could sneak in a few snaps here and there to get some quality time in 2012. I even tweeted Jason Franchuck of the Daily Herald a few times to get his insights on the matter. Both of us agreed that he needed some field reps for him to be a consistent contributor. However, neither of us expected him to get the time and touches he has so far this season.

Jamaal Williams has been as good as advertised. He has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the back field, as well as take it between the tackles. He can get around the edge and make guys miss, not to mention lower his shoulder and lay some guys out. All to get an average of over 5 yards per carry. That's impressive for a senior running back. But this all coming from a guy who can't even vote on November 6.

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Williams get more and more reps. This is happening partially due to the injury to Michael Alisa. However, even before Alisa's injury Williams was seeing the field for decent experience for a true freshman. He has proven to be one of the biggest offensive threats for BYU this season. He is only going to get more touches, and only going to get better.

I sure hope this kid stays healthy, and stays in Provo. If he does, I think we can all expect awesome things from Jamaal Williams. We have gotten a good glimpse of what he can do this year already. What more has he got to show us?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Podcast: Overrated Defense and Notre Dame preview

Is BYU's defense overrated, or did they just have a bad game? After getting exposed, see what Big Bro has to say about Bronco's defense moving forward.

Also, do we think BYU stands a shot at #5 Notre Dame?

The Under Utilized Ross Apo

Remember that big hyped news conference in Salt Lake City with Jake Heaps, Zac Stout and that other guy? Who was the other guy? He had originally committed to the Texas Longhorns, but revoked that commitment to join Heaps in Provo. That other guy was wide receiver standout, Ross Apo.

Here we are 3 years later and there is a star receiver on the cougar squad. Fortunately in some circumstances, and unfortunate in others that receiver is not Ross Apo. That honor goes to Cody Hoffman, Riley Nelson's favorite target. Meanwhile, Ross Apo has taken to a role that is not what cougar fans had hoped when he signed a few years ago.

Ross Apo scores his only TD of the
2012 season against Hawaii
Visions of 75 yard touchdown bombs, and 100 yard game seem to be visions of the past. Apo in fact, has yet to record a 100 yard game while wearing cougar uniform. An even more eye popping stat is his career high in receiving yards in a single game is 71 yards against lowly Idaho State last year. Those are not the numbers cougar fans foresaw, not to mention I'm sure Apo had imagined when he changed his college destination. 

The emergence of Cody Hoffman surely has a lot to do with Apo's lack of stats. Hoffman has showed the ability to make amazing catches, get open and be utilized in other parts of the game-plan namely kickoff returns.

I for one, wonder why Ross Apo continues to get shafted on balls that are thrown his way. Take for instance this entire 2012 campaign so far. Only 1 time have I seen a ball thrown deep for Apo. Usually those routes are intended for Hoffman. Also, Apo gets all the screen plays thrown his way. The bad part about those play calls, are that he is flat footed instead of throwing to him on the run. His speed and talent are then neutralized by the close proximity of the defense, that only allow a short gain on those plays. 

I attribute Apo's lack of excitement directly to play calling made by offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. He seems to have no clue how to utilize the highly touted Apo and his abilities. While Hoffman has made a name for himself after being not so highly recruited, Apo has yet to gain that respect from his coaches. However, he hasn't been given the opportunities.

In order for this inept BYU offense to make strides, Ross Apo has got to be more involved. He needs to be given more intermediate routes that make him a legitimate threat and option outside of Hoffman. This will force the defense to have to commit both safeties to each receiver, and then open up the middle more for underneath routes.

As long as Doman neglects to utilize Apo's abilities on the other side of the field, he may never become what he could have for the cougars. He may be the receiver that could have been, but never was.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Blackout Predictions and Thoughts

Homecoming this week will have a new look for BYU this Saturday. The cougars will be donning their one-time-only black uniforms that have many cougar fans excited. At the same time there are those a little skeptical of the new uni's, but regardless they have people talking. Which means BYU marketing did their job. Lavell Edwards Stadium should have a fun fan atmosphere, one that should give the players a little something more to play for.

So how will BYU fare against the first Top-10 team to stroll into LES since 2009 when TCU came in and dominated the cougars on their home field 38-7?

Little Bro says:
I am going to go out on a limb and say this is the hardest game to predict and analyze so far this year. A top 10 team, coming into Provo without its starting quarterback. Personally, I have been back and forth thinking that the Beavers are for real. Yeah they beat #19 UCLA in Pasadena. Its true they beat then #13 Wisconsin. But by the same token, they struggled to beat a Washington State team that BYU handled in Provo, and that was in Corvallis.

All that being said, Oregon State has proven to be much improved from last year when BYU beat the Beavers in Corvallis 38-28. They are more balanced and little more experienced. They do struggle to score for how many yards they rack up through the games however, averaging only 23.5 ppg. With a backup quarterback running the show, I dont see them scoring more than 17 points (they have a kicker that can actually make a field goal). That 17 is being generous considering the BYU defense hasn't given up an offensive touchdown in over 3 games.

On the BYU side of things there are just as many question marks. Riley Nelson is coming back after a couple weeks of rehab, and is said to be near 100%. I don't buy it. Its only a matter of time that he gets hit and is knocked out of the game, possibly the season again. I hope not for his sake. He is truly the heart and soul of this team, but he doesn't have it in his playing style to run out of bounds. I think one should prep to see lots of James Lark in the second half due to injury, not the plethora of points.

The BYU defense will have its stiffest test of a balanced team. The back-up quarterback for Oregon State will have trial by fire against a top-tier defense. Thats not easy. I think BYU will get a turnover or two but the offense is still going to struggle to put up points. I dont know how its going to happen, but sometimes you just can't see BYU coming out on top. I think this is the first game I am going to call a BYU loss.

BYU 14 - Oregon State 17

Big Bro says:

I'm putting on the blue goggles and calling this Riley Nelson's coming out party. If ever this team needed heroics from Bronco's man crush, it was now. And I think he will exceed expectations (which are admittedly low).

I expect OC Brandon Doman to be a bit more aggressive on the play calling, after seeing what Hoffman can do when given the chance to make big catches last week. I expect Jamaal Williams to be consistent enough to allow Nelson to not have to run 15 QB draws.

Most importantly, I expect this defense to play like beasts. This is their toughest test yet, and I think they are hungry to show the world that they can stop a top-10 team the way they have shut down all their opponents this year. Four games without allowing an offensive touchdown seems too tall an order to me, but I wouldn't be surprised if this defense plays like it has something to prove.

All in all, I don't think the offense will light it up, but I expect at least two touchdowns. However, my ending score is kind of strange because of my utter lack of faith in the kicking game.

BYU 20 (three TDs with one 2-pt conversion) - Oregon State 12 (four field goals)

P.S., I am a bit of a black-out skeptic. The unis have an unsavory Oregon Ducks flavor to them that rubs me the wrong way. Then again, I'm not even a huge fan of the navy blue; I'd rather see the old school royal blue. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Podcast #2, 10/12/12, Taysom Hill, Oregon State

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday's Showdown Insights and Predictions

This is not your typical Utah State team. This is no longer an automatic 'W' on the schedule for BYU. Especially this year while the cougar offense struggles to find a passing game and consistent running game. Friday's contest should be a fun game to watch, and not your typical BYU football game.

Can BYU slow down Utah State
enough to get a much needed victory?

Little Bro:

This is not last year for either squad. Unfortunately, the programs are if very different situations. Utah State has an established quarterback, a good running back and a solid defense. They are a matter of a foot away from being 5-0 and most likely ranked. If it weren't for those dang goal posts both these teams would likely have 1 less loss. So be it. Utah State is good. There is no way around it. They have a top 20 defense, and an offense that is balanced. That being said, I dont think this is the year Utah State comes out of Provo with a victory.

With BYU getting a much needed blowout last week, and with Taysom Hill gaining confidence, I see BYU winning this one. I dont think the defense holds Utah State to a shutout, and I think they even given up a few scores. But BYU finds a way to get the big play, and wins this one.

BYU 24 - Utah State 17

Big Bro:

Perhaps more than any other year, Utah State believes they can win this game. With their only loss coming on the road due to a missed last-minute field goal on the road to Wisconsin, they feel that they are equipped to upset the Cougars in Provo. Having beaten the Utes, they are hungry to be atop the Utah college football scene by beating the BYU as well.

Still, I expect the Cougars to be psyched for this game a launching pad for the rest of their season. They know that they need to put the stinging losses to Utah and Boise State behind them, and they also know that Utah State might be the best team they have played so far. I think that this is the game that the Cougars finally start firing on all cylinders with Jamaal Williams getting more carries and Taysom Hill likely getting his second chance to lead the team. I think the team will gel and have their coming out party tonight.

BYU 27 - USU 17