Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Independence Day

In this metaphor BYU is the spaceship and the Mountain West is the White House

The Facts:

It is looking more and more like BYU will blast their Mountain West compadres in football and go at it Notre Dame style as an independent. This means one of these next few days might be always remembered by Cougar nation as their very own "Independence Day".  The decision has yet to be confirmed by BYU but according to this article on the Cougars will announce their decision by the end of the week. The article also states that BYU will look to join the WAC in all other sports, and in turn BYU will play four WAC teams in football each year.

Questions and Answers:

Q.) Won't playing four WAC teams still be a pretty soft schedule?

A.) Some sources are saying that Boise State will leave the Mt. West and head back to the WAC without penalty. If that is the case then BYU could play Boise every year, and the Cougars were already playing Utah State which leaves two WAC teams that BYU would need to schedule. They could fill those games with patsies, like San Jose State, or they could play tougher teams like Nevada or Fresno State.

Q.) Will BYU have a hard time scheduling top teams?

A.) BYU has shown in football that they are capable of scheduling home and home games with tough teams. Programs like Florida State, Notre Dame, USC, to name a few, have all put BYU on their schedule. If the past is any indication, with the flexibility of being an independent the Cougars should be able to put at least three of four good teams on their schedule every year. It is possible that BYU and Notre Dame could set something up where they could play each year, which would help both schools.

BYU vs Notre Dame has happened before and a yearly match up would benefit both schools
Q.) Won't the move to the WAC have a negative effect on the basketball program?

A.) Gonzaga has proved to the college basketball world league play isn't a huge deal. In fact, in some cases being in a weak conference allows teams to get an automatic bid to the big dance every year.

I know what most Cougar fans are saying,  "What's an... auto...matic... bid?" It feels like BYU hasn't had an automatic bid since the Danny Ainge days (an obvious exaggeration, but still it has been forever). One of the main reasons why BYU hasn't earned an automatic bid is because the MWC tournament is played on UNLV's home floor and the Rebels have simply owned the Cougars in Vegas.

Sick of seeing this every year? A move to the WAC might actually help BYU basketball
Plus, if you have grown to love your yearly trip to Vegas for the tourney you are in luck because that is where the WAC will be holding their tournament starting next year the WAC will be playing just down the block, in the Orleans Center.  Sure BYU will miss playing a few teams but do you honestly think UNLV or San Diego State won't want to schedule BYU?

In the end, there really aren't many negatives. The BYU Sports Blog looks forward to the next few days when BYU will announce its Independence. What other questions or concerns do you have about BYU going idependent?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two questions for the 2010 season

Written by David Bywater

1) Should BYU be ranked?

BYU is ranked 28th in the preseason poll. There is definitely not as much excitement about football season on campus this year as there was last year. However, I see this as a real positive for the team. BYU seems to do better when playing the underdog role. Last year, BYU wasn't expected to come close to competing with Oklahoma in their season opener. No one gave the Cougars a chance with a shaky secondary going against the Heisman trophy winner of a year before. But, BYU won a 14-13 nail biter.

Then (despite BYU being ranked higher) Oregon State was expected to come back from their Pac-10 finale loss against Oregon and beat the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl. I will never forget Jordan Pendleton turfing Jaquizz Rodgers in the first quarter after he fumbled the ball on a short screen pass. After Pendleton didn't go for the ball and just hit Rodgers, I thought, THE BALL IS JUST SITTING THERE! PICK IT UP! and promptly Matt Bauman scooped up the ball for the score. It was one of those I-will-restore-my-pride-and-take-away-yours kind of a play.

On the other hand, after BYU rose to be ranked 7th in the nation, they got drilled by a good but not a great Florida State team. A month later, the BYU-TCU matchup was so highly anticipated that College Game Day even showed up outside LaVell Edwards stadium for pre-game. However, it ended with a bitterly similar result. A 31 point loss in front of the home crowd wasn’t what I was looking for. Basically, BYU doesn’t do well with high expectations (see also: Quest for Perfection t-shirts).

On a lighter note…

And the big one…

2) Who will be BYU’s quarterback on September 4?

I said it before, and I will say it again – I still think Riley Nelson should be the starting quarterback this year. A lot has been said on both ends, but I found a few other reasons why Nelson should start.
A lot of people have said that running quarterbacks don’t do well at BYU. Who was the last quarterback on the Heisman trophy watch list besides Max Hall (who was only there for about a week) and John Beck? That would be Brandon Doman, a running quarterback. Doman led BYU to a 13-2 record as a starter, including 14 points in three minutes to pull off a victory against Utah for LaVell’s last victory. He led the BYU offense to about 44 points/game in those starts. Max Hall? 33 points. John Beck? 32 points.

Nelson certainly is not Brandon Doman and he will need one of the current running backs to step up, but if he can get some sort of an option game going, BYU’s offense could be surprisingly dangerous. As for the passing game, experienced
WR’s would also make up for some of Nelson’s mistakes, so I could see the BYU offense being very balanced.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Can Riley Nelson Punt?

Who couldn't punt the ball at least 20 yards...?

Imagine this... BYU is facing a 4th down and 2 on their opponent's 40. Too far for a field goal... and a punt will likely bounce into the end zone putting the ball on the 20. This happens all the time throughout the year. What if in this 4th and short situation the Cougars sent Riley Nelson on the field. Nelson could go out, try to bark and get the opposing team to jump offside, if that doesn't work he hikes the ball, looks for something open, worse case scenario he simply rolls to his left and boots the ball 20... maybe 30 yards.

More often than not I am guessing that he will find something open, and with his rushing ability he might just be able to scramble for two yards.  This will help the Cougars in so many ways. Anytime you can put a wrinkle in an offense it causes other teams to have to prepare to cover more options. This is why you want a team that is balanced, so an opponent can't just prepare to shut down one facet of your game. If Riley is able to punt, every time the Cougars send him out on 4th down the other team has to have it in the back of their mind that he might not actually punt. Thus weakening their punt return if he does punt... thus strengthening the Cougars overall game, and giving them more options.

For those of you nay-sayers out there living in Horseville (get it, becasue a horse goes "nay"... rough joke) you might wonder if Riley can punt. Well when I look at it, even I can punt the ball 20 yards and I am not a college athlete like Nelson... and I don't spend all day practicing. Give Nelson a little practice and I am sure someone with his skills will at least be able to punt the ball 30 yards come game time.  Just one more reason why I am excited for this years' team.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Good & The Bad for 2010

 Written by David Bywater

With the beginning of BYU's football season inching closer it seems most people aren’t quite as excited for this season as they have been in years past...and for good reason. The Cougars starting quarterback and running back from last year’s 11-2 team are gone. So what is there to look forward to this year? After doing a bit of research, I have a few good things and bad things for this year, including some specifics for game one against Washington.

The Good: During the last few years, BYU quarterbacks have had good starts to the season. The last three years, Max Hall had impressive first games against Oklahoma, Northern Iowa, and Arizona.

The Bad: Perhaps the next BYU quarterback could have a good start if the Cougars knew who their next quarterback was. Personally, I think it should be Riley Nelson. For those of you that think he doesn’t have a winning pedigree because of his record at Utah State, remember who he played for. Utah State. Jason (not John) Beck beat them with BYU 38-0 in 2007.

The Good: BYU has dealt well with Heisman hopeful quarterbacks before (see Sam Bradford, err… Mr. Clawson). So they should be fully prepared for Mr. Jake Locker.

The Bad: BYU has been known to stuggle with quarterbacks that have the ability to run. The most recent being Christian Ponder who ran for 77 yards last year against the Cougs in Provo, adding a touchdown in the 54-28 beat down (which makes me sick every time I think of it). Jake Locker had 4 games last year with 50 or more yards. He also scored 7 rushing touchdowns in 12 games in 2009 for the Huskies. The last time BYU faced Locker in 2008 the Cougars made him look like a Heisman contender before they were bailed out by a celebration penalty.

This rule has to be changed

The Good: Whoever BYU chooses as a signal caller, they will be helped by a solid wide receiveing core. This year, it will be anchored by McKay Jacobson and Luke Ashworth.

The Bad: O’Neill Chambers will probably be returning punts. I have never seen him call for a fair-catch, and yet I have seen him fumble multiple times. While the man does have more confidence than a heavyweight boxer and a politician combined, he has yet to prove that he can provide any type of stability as a punt returner. Yes, he has shown flashes of greatness, but if he really wants to help the Cougars win he must become more sure handed and be willing to settle for a fair-catch every now and then.

The Good: BYU always has good linebackers. I don't really know how they do it but every year BYU seems to reload with ease in their LB group. Also, preseason all-MWC safety Andrew Rich will plug up a lot of holes.

The Bad: Andrew Rich will have his hands full... maybe even too full because of one reason: cornerbacks, cornerbacks, cornerbacks. Has BYU ever had a CB All-American, much less on the MWC first team? EVER?

The Good: ESPN had offensive Lineman Matt Reynolds as the third best player on all of the non-automatic qualifying teams... he is that good.

The Bad: Who will replace Harvey Unga? JJ Di Luigi was the second highest rusher on the team last year, but he cannot, and will not be a feature back. I don’t feel like his IQ is too hot either. I went to my first (and last) pep rally for the team last year, and after someone asked him a question, he thought for a few long seconds, and then answered “I don’t know” and then walked away. Also, what was with his little Irish jig or whatever the heck it was after he scored a touchdown last year and got a penalty for? Really?

The Good: Bronco will have a great halftime speech. He is one of the only coaches that I don’t laugh at when he speaks, mostly because doesn’t stutter.

Feel free to rebut or support anything or everything I have said. Also, let’s go support our Cougars at the open practices in the coming weeks. See the times and places on the BYU football website.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Forget the Whales... Save the Rivalry

Written by J.D Sheppard

As a die-hard BYU fan... this is hard for me to admit... BYU needs the University of Utah. Allow me to explain.

Now that Utah has left for greener pastures in the Pac 10 we are all wondering what will happen to our sacred rivalry with the team up north.  Will the game that has been the highlight of November (eclipsing Thanksgiving) be over or only played once every other year?  Maybe it will be played in September every year, and if so, how will that change the game?  Although I don’t know how, or even if it will be played in the future, I am going to recount some of the more memorable rivalry games between BYU and the U in the last decade.

We will start in 2001, the very first BYU-Utah game that I ever went to.  It was magical.  There was something about the wave of blue and white that made me feel like I was a part of something special, something beyond football.  I felt that was on the right side, I was a fan of the greatest football team that ever played the game.  I felt indestructible, nothing was going to ruin this great day.  Then, with doubt blanketing the stadium and the cougars trailing 21-10 with only 3:30 left, Brandon Doman and Luke Staley took me on a roller coaster ride that would start my love/hate relationship with this game.

Look at the calves on Luke

The next game I attended was in 2003. The men in my family drove down to Provo with dark threatening skies, and hope that this year would be just like my last visit to Provo.  I was ready for a feast of great football, just to sit through the worst football game I have ever watched… my beloved Cougars shutout 3 to zip.

In 2005-2007 I was on my mission in Spain. Near the end of my mission I was put with a companion who was a die-hard Ute fan… which made for a pretty miserable transfer. One day, after a zone-conference, my mission president called my companion and me into his office and showed us the final play where John Beck pulled a miracle out of his hat and found a wide-open Jonny Harline in the end-zone. I was grinning ear to ear for the rest of  the day but my companion didn’t exactly share in my jubilation.

No, I will not put "Harline is still open" as a caption

In 2007 I found out that we were having Thanksgiving at my brother’s house in Arizona.  After begging him to get an upgrade in his cable package so that we could watch the game, we sat and watched as the Cougars trailed 10-9 and faced what seemed like in insurmountable 4th and 18. As we all know, magic happened and Max Hall threw a 49 yard bomb to Austin Collie before Harvey Unga put the nail in the 17-10 BYU victory...the emotional roller coaster was back.

Last Year, wow what a ride. It almost seemed like Max was toying with me... before he delivered a strike to Andrew George. All I will say is that rushing the field after that game was one of the greatest memories I have as a Cougar fan.

No game has ever made me feel the way the BYU Utah game makes me feel.  No game has ever sent me so high and so low so many times, and isn’t that why we watch sports?  Granted, watching BYU beat Oklahoma last year was spectacular, but it didn’t have the history behind it, or the bragging rights to my friends and in-laws. It didn't have Max’s comments after the game, and it didn’t have the buildup of every store, radio station, and person in UtahEmotions are what make sports great, and no game makes me feel more emotion than the rivalry game.  So yes, BYU needs Utah, but to be fair...Utah needs BYU as well.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Just like Sam Bradford... we could use a hand

If you are looking for a platform to vent your Cougar excitement, you have come to the right place. We could use a hand keeping the blog interesting so if you have a good idea, or you just want to start writing for us, email us at