Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Ha Ha Ha Haka

Written by Jarond Suman

Growing up in southern CA we enjoyed the Polynesian entertainment provided for us by the Samoan and Tongan branches in our church. Whether it was the Haka, Tahitian dancing or even an occasional fire dancing, it was always entertaining. Gorgeous Polynesian women swayed their hips and the oiled up men flexed their gigantic muscles. For lack of a better term, it was always really cool when the POLYNESIANS “Haka’ed”.  Let me again emphasize that I enjoy when POLYNESIANS do the Haka. In no way do I enjoy seeing an uncoordinated white dude, in his BYU football uniform, sticking his tongue out doing the Haka. 

BYU football is sacred to me, holy ground if you will (and you will). I get defensive when others mock the BYU football program but, how in the swear word can I defend a football team that is 80% Caucasian doing the Haka? --I can’t and I won’t. Maybe white boys should start crip walking or better yet, maybe we should make the very few and proud African Americans on the football team do a river dance before the game? Sounds kinda silly right? I guess some things just don't go well together like, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, or a 90 year old woman with a tramp stamp... or a few laxatives chased down with an ambien—bad idea. Trust me on that one. 

Let me say this, I have no problem with the Polynesian football players doing the Haka because when they do it, it looks completely natural.
I will now allow myself to write from the superstitious part of my brain. As anti pre-game Haka as I am it seemed the more white boys that did the pre-game Haka, the more games BYU  has won every year. Take John Beck for example, he refused to do the Haka at the beginning of his junior season but, as the season continued he was leading the team in the pre game dance ritual. I think BYU is in a catch 22 now because doing the Haka has only gotten them to the Vegas Bowl every year for the 5 past years, but it has given them winning seasons. Do they ditch the pre-game dance this season, hope to go undefeated and get invited somewhere bigger and badder than Vegas? Or do they Hak’ it up and hope for the best????

If you look strictly at the facts, I feel I have a valid argument. 5 years of Haka has translated into 5 Las Vegas Bowls. Ultimately my disdain for posers will beat up my belief in leprechauns any day.
So BYU football players, if you feel you need to dance to get to a big dance... please pop, lock, crunk, spin, kick, worm, windmill or chant, but oh please…say goodnight to the Haka.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Decision 2010

Having two talented quarterbacks to choose from is a good problem to have

Here it is, decision 2010... in this post I will make the decision for Bronco on who his starting QB will be for the 2010 season. Unfortunately, unlike Lebron's "Decision 2010" I couldn't get Jim Grey to host so I will just have to pick Bronco's mind without the sleazy-money grubbing talk show host.

Obviously, Bronco has a big decision to make. On the one hand he can go with the reliable Riley Nelson. Nelson can run the ball, he can take a hit, and he has a decent arm. Nelson has college experience, something a young BYU team sorely needs. Or, Bronco can go with the true freshman Jake Heaps. Jake might be a bit of a gamble to start right away but the kid is talented enough that once he gets some experience he is going to be a legit college QB. Basically, Bronco is in a tighter spot than George Clooney in "O Brother, Where art Thou"...

Damn... we're in a tight spot

That being said, having to choose between two talented quarterbacks is a good problem to have.  So after all this "Team Jake", "Team Riley" stuff what would my decision be? Who would I choose if I was the brain resting under Bronco's inexplicably blond head? Who would I choose between Heaps and Nelson... I know this might sound like I am taking the easy way out, but I would choose them both. Yeah, that's right, start and play both of them.

I know what most of you are going to say, that a two quarterback system never works especially at BYU. The last time the Cougars ran a two quarterback system was with Lance Pendleton and Bret Engamann in the 2002 season and that was a disaster (they finished 5-7).  But that was only because neither Pendleton or Engamann knew their role. They were both competing for the starting spot. A perfect example of a how a two quarterback system works was when Urban Myer won a national championship with the Florida Gators in 2006 by playing both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at quarterback. 

Unlike Engamann and Pendleton, Leak and Tebow knew their roles that year... one of the many reasons why Urban Myer has had more success than Gary Crowton as a head coach. In 2006, Leak was the passer because he had a better arm and the left handed Tebow was a running QB, used in third down situations and in the red zone. Do Leak's and Tebow's strengths sound familiar...? Why not use Jake Heaps as the passing quarterback and Riley Nelson as the running quarterback? As long as both Heaps and Nelson know their roles it could definitely work.

Can Riley Nelson be the next Tim Tebow...? Probably not, but he definetly has similar strengths

This two quarterback system would help Heaps develop and learn while still not putting all the pressure on the freshman's shoulders. It would also allow Nelson a chance to earn the spot and if he is considerably better than Heaps then he could just take over at QB.

In the end, Cougar nation can rest easy knowing that they have a proven coach in Bronco Mendenhall making the decision. What Bronco has done since he as taken over for Gary Crowton has been amazing. The man simply wins games. With a winner like Bronco at the helm, whatever he should decide is probably a more informed, intelligent choice than mine would be... but I know how I would choose.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Team Riley

Though Nelson does have experience as a starter with Utah State in 2006, his record was a modest 1-7 with the Aggies


-Nelson started seven games with Utah State in 2006 before leaving for a LDS mission in Spain so Riley actually has experience as a starter in NCAA football.
-In that seven game span with the Aggies Nelson:

-Threw for 925 yds
-Rushed for 277 yds (second best on the team that year)
-Became the first QB to win his first career start for the Aggies since 1992

-Nelson also took some snaps behind Max Hall last year for the Cougars going 7 for 10 for 99 yds. He also added one rushing TD and had no INT's.
-Nelson has been in the system longer than Heaps.
-Riley has proven that he can run the ball and with Harvey Unga gone he could be the running threat that will provide balance in BYU's offense.

Riley Nelson being carried off the field after he led Utah State to a 13-12 win over Fresno State in 2006


-While it is true that Nelson does have some starting experience he also has a very poor record as a starter, a modest 1-7 record with Utah State in 2006.
-Though he had 7 TD's in 2006 he also threw 6 INT's.
-Nelson has a significantly weaker arm than Heaps and aside from Steve Young, run happy quarterbacks have never flourished at the Y.
-Nelson and Heaps seem to be on the same level (which is why it is taking Bronco so long to make a decision) and if that is the case BYU would be better suited in the long run in giving the spot to the younger Heaps.


Those on "Team Riley" could easily point to the fact that Heaps has no college game experience and that BYU has never had a true freshman signal caller start on opening day.  With no Harvey Unga it could be nice to have someone with a little experience under their belt on the offense. Nelson is talented... as a runner. He showed last year that he can come in games and contribute as a running quarterback. BYU typically does not preform well with running quarterbacks, just ask Lance Pendelton.

BYU is known as quarterback U for a reason, they pass the ball. The Cougar system is set up to run short little "dink and dunk" passes and unless they have a quarterback that can execute those passes with percision and keep defenses honest by going deep occasionaly, those short passes will not be open. If Bronco decides to start Nelson, he will certainly need to change a few things with the way the Cougars run their offense. Should he change his offense and base it around a more "run-happy" quarterback in Riley Nelson? Or should he go with tradition and keep BYU a "pass first" team? Tommorow I will put myself in Bronco's seat and make the decision...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Team Jake or Team Riley?

Basically the worst movie ever

For those of you that have a female to impress you might understand the title "Team Jake or Team Riley". I have to admit that I fell victim to watching the third Twilight movie last week with my wife... although if I am ever confronted I will probably just deny it, or if I am really pressed I will just say that I saw it on an airplane.

As it relates to BYU football there is a real-life battle going on between Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson. This battle has a little less to do with who gets to fight vampires (at least I think that is what was going on in the movie) and more to do with who gets to lead the BYU football team this fall. This feature, "Team Jake or Team Riley", will be a three part series. After I wrap it up I will announce my own starter. Today we will look at Jake Heaps AKA "Team Jake".

Team Jake


The kid was legit in high school. His senior year at Skyline high Heaps:
 -Averaged 227 yds a game
 -Threw 45 TD's and only 7 INT's
 -Threw for over 3,000 yds
 -Led his team to a state Championship
 (click here to see his 2009 highlights)

-Heaps is a known competitor and a much like his quarterback coach Brandon Doman, he is a gamer. All he did in high school was win games going 40-2 as a starter and leading Skyline to three consecutive state titles in his tenure. 
-He was listed among the top five Q.B's in most high school scouting lists and some scouts had Heaps listed as the number one overall recruit coming out of high school.
-Scouts have noted that Jake's strengths are that he has an above average arm and has excellent footwork.
-At 6'2 225 lbs Heaps has the quintessential BYU quarterback body... and I say that in a completely heterosexual way.


-As a true freshman Heaps has NO college game-time experience, and has not played a single down in the NCAA.
-Heaps is not as mobile as Riley Nelson and without a proven running game the Cougars will certainly struggle on the ground.
-While it is true that Heaps was named as one of the best QB's coming out of high school, 2009 was known as a fairly weak QB class.
-BYU has never had a true freshman do exceedingly well in his first year.


Looking at Cougar history, BYU has never handed the season-opening signal-calling reins to a freshman--whether a true freshman straight out of high school, a redshirt freshman, or a return missionary (with or without a redshirt season).
In fact, since 1972 (when freshman eligibility was restored by the NCAA), only four BYU rookies have ever started a game for the Cougars (year, first start, freshman eligibility):

Ty Detmer (1988, 8th game of the season, RS)
Drew Miller (1997, 8th game of the season, HS)
Matt Berry (2002, 7th game of the season, RS/RM)
John Beck (2003, 4th game of the season, RM)

Of the four QB's listed above, only Ty Detmer and John Beck ended their careers as starters. It could be said that obviously Miller and Berry just didn't have what it takes to play College football... or another way to look at it is they were rushed into playing. Both Miller and Berry were very highly recruited out of high school. Heaps might be a little more hyped, but not by much. One could argue that had Miller and Berry been given more time to learn the system and grow up a little that they could have had great careers as a Cougar.

Ty Detmer was arguably the best true freshman to ever start at BYU and even he didn't get the nod until 8 games in

Overall Heaps is going to be a player, I'm just not sure if it will be this year. Let me state that I really believe that Heaps will be special, maybe even a Heisman contender by his senior year. That being said, Heaps is a TRUE FRESHMAN and he might just need some time to cultivate his skills. If BYU does start Heaps they are not necessarily waving the white flag for 2010 but history would suggest that the Cougars would certainly experience some growing pains this year. So, would it be worth it for Bronco to start the kid knowing that he will have his struggles this year but that it might pay off in the long run?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BYU and Santa

Written by Curtis Anderson

So my girlfriend and I got into an argument the other night. We were talking about how we would want to raise our “hypothetical” kids and she tells me that she will never raise her children into the prevarication that is called Santa Claus. It got me thinking about my Saint Nick experience.

I remember when I was little being so enchanted with the story. A jolly fat man flies around the world on some kind of deer and gives me undeserved presents. The vibrant colors of the lights on the tree and the presents and accompanying smells. Oh the tradition …ahh the pageantry. In the end, I told her even if it was all a big lark (not James), I really enjoyed the ride. If you are a true blue fan you might have already caught onto the allegory, but if not stay with me.

Similar to Santa I was indoctrinated at a young age to BYU football and basketball. I was at most of the Holiday bowls in San Diego. I was there when Texas A&M separated both of Ty Detmer’s shoulders on their way to a 65-14 blowout. I remember Marty Haws… no not Tyler… Marty. I was at the basketball game the Cougars lost to Alabama Birmingham after they had started their 1987-88 season 17-0. I remember my butt getting numb from sitting on relief society chairs in various stake centers around the country watching guys like Nate Call, Derwin Gray, and Russell Larson. I remember yelling so loud when Kevin Nixon hit his half-court shot to beat Utep in the 1992 WAC championship game that our bishop had to come in to settle me down. The only way I was allowed to watch the Hawaii games with my dad was if I took a nap earlier that day, but unbeknownst to my dad I always stayed awake in my bed dreaming of plays and counting the down the minutes until game time.

It’s hard to believe in Santa Claus anymore, just like it’s hard to believe in BYU sports. Year after year us Cougar fans stay awake at night and fantasize about a BCS game or a BCS conference and year after year we are denied. To make matters worse, our arch nemesis up north has made it not only to a BCS game but a BCS conference. Last March Madness I actually cried tears of joy when BYU finally made it past the first round… the FIRST round. Year after year I am more fully invested than the last, and year after year there is a Christian Ponder or Gerry McNamara in my stocking.

43 point game against the Cougars in the 2004 NCAA tourney... what a joke

Stop and think about a National Championship for a second in the two major sports, can you even imagine it? Can you? Can you imagine the hype and hysteria and the ESPN drool? It almost doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem real because like a fat man flying around the entire world in one night… it could never happen.

Here is the bottom line. BYU is a Mormon school, and as such they will always be good people (right Austin Collie?), and they will always have the honor code stealing the Harvey Unga's and Michael Lloyd's from their ranks. Because of that, they will always have a shoddy secondary in football, and they will always be missing height/depth down low in basketball. Sure, every once and a while Santa will drop BYU a Jake Heaps, or a Jimmer Fredette, but in the end, the evil BCS conglomerate will always be looming over, there to place the Cougars like pawns back where they belong. In my opinion Dave Rose and Bronco Mendenhall perform minor miracles each year just to keep BYU relevant and to squeeze every drop of athleticism out of what they do have. The fact that the Cougars finish in the top of their conference nearly every year is a MAJOR accomplishment.

However, my jaded blue view seeps into my blue veins this time of year when football is right around the corner. How sad is it that losing one game demolishes any chance BYU has when in reality losing no games still probably wouldn’t get them to a National Championship? But then something magical happens. I remember the vibrant colors of the uniforms clashing in victorious battle with those of red. The lights illuminating the “Y” on the hill at night. The potential victory over a Jake Locker led Washington team would be a pretty good present. The stale, but strangely soothing sounds of the band playing Darth Vader’s Imperial Death March. Along with the accompanying smells of tailgating, hot dogs, candied almonds, and caffeine free coke, oh the tradition …ahh the pageantry.

Once again I am fully invested. Is there a Santa Claus...? Probably not. Does BYU really have a chance at winning a national championship in either of the major sports…? The odds are about the same as a fat man making it through my chimney…and I don't even have a chimney. But I’m going to continue to enjoy the ride, and hope for a miracle.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Basketball in July

July and August we're just going to talk football right...? Not when BYU has guard Jimmer Fredette returning for his senior year. Jimmer chatter can survive through the football season, he is that good. Jimmer was one of 20 collegians on the USA Men's Select Team, the team that scrimmages against the NBA-player-filled USA Men's National team as he is trying to gear up for a grand finale this year.

Jimmer was also named as one of the guards on Dick Vatale's "First Team Pre-Season All-Americans"... and I am sure Vitale would have added a "baby" at the end of that too. To see the Dickie V article click here.

Stephen Curry had some pretty interesting things to say about Jimmer's game at the Team USA camp. Click here to see what position Steph thinks Jimmer will play if he is able to make it to the next level.

Jimmer guarding Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics

The Cougars will be a talented team this year. While they have graduated two seniors in Chris Miles and Jonathan Tavernari, it is safe to say that neither will be missed. Miles was the softest post player to lace 'em up with the Cougs since Jarkko Ahlbom (I'm going to be really proud of anyone that knows that reference), and J.T was the blackest hole BYU had seen since Danny Bower.

BYU will however miss former back up point guard Michael Lloyd Jr. One could put up a pretty solid argument that without Lloyd Jr. pouring in 26 points against Florida, there is no way the Cougars make it out of the first round. After a fall out with the University (most say that his grades and attitude were very low) it looks like Lloyd Jr. will transfer to Midwestern State (Wichita Falls Texas). You can access the article on his transfer by clicking here.

BYU's basketball season won't start until around mid-November but if I was filling out the starting lineup today, it would look like this:

PG- Jimmer Fredette SR
SG- Jackson Emery SR
SF- Kyle Collinsworth FR
PF- Chris Collinsworth SO
C- Brandon Davies SO

In case you missed it, that is three former Provo Bulldogs in the starting lineup. If you were head coach, who would your starting five be?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BYU fans... meet Juice

Luke Staley, Curtis Brown, Harvey Unga... Josh Quezada? The Cougars are looking to find the next great tailback to step up and fill the enormous void left by Harvey Unga's abrupt departure. Could that someone be freshman Josh Quezada (pronounced kay-za-duh)? While it is nice that BYU returns J.J Diluigi, it is also clear to anyone that was watching the Cougars last year that J.J is a 9 to 5 worker at the fumble factory. He is a decent back if he is able to get to the outside, but as soon as he gets any amount of contact the ball all of the sudden looks like it has been greased up with vegetable oil. Cougar fans can only hope that Diluigi will not see the bulk of the carries this year.

Put your money on Josh Quezada aka "Juice" to be the new back that takes the baton from Unga. Quezada is out of La Habra California and is built almost like Unga. He is 6'0 tall, weighs in at 200 lbs and he runs a 4.5 40. Take a quick look at this story on Quezada by clicking here

It is clear that he has bought in. Quezada even lopped off his Troy Polamalu-esque locks to show his dedication for the CougsWhile most of the attention this off season has gone to the Quarterback battle, if the Cougars want another 10 win season, Quezada will have to the go to guy, not Heaps/Nelson (take your pick).
You can take a look at his high school highlights by clicking here... look out for the Juice

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The best BYU running back of all time?

There has been a lot of debate about who the best BYU running back of all time is. Some argue that the blazing speed of Ronny Jenkins and his accomplishments with the 1996 team might trump all. While Jenkins was amazing, his career numbers are nothing compared to what Harvey Unga put up the last three years. Unga might have had the best overall career at the Y, but it is our opinion that the best season by a BYU tailback was Luke Staley's 2001 campaign. Though he does not hold the all-time rushing record (that belongs to Harvey with 3,455 yds) Luke Staley put on a show his junior year. Take a look at these stats that Luke compiled in an 11 game season

-Rushed for 1,596 yards
-24 touchdowns rushing
-Averaged a staggering 8.1 yds per carry
-Added 32 receptions for 334 yards and 4 touchdowns
-Led the nation in total touchdowns (28) and scoring (15.5 points per game)

The stat that jumps out is the 8.1 yds a carry. Every time Luke was handed the ball he gained on average 8.1 yards! One can only imagine what might have been had Luke stayed healthy in 2001 and on into his brief stint in the NFL.