Thursday, October 28, 2010

BYU to Vegas?

Don’t look now, but BYU could be headed to another Las Vegas bowl come December. After a rough start with some close losses (and some not so close), BYU is improving and is looking halfway decent for the second half of the season. With Air Force losing to SDSU a few weeks ago, BYU could end up tied with Air Force and SDSU for 3rd in the conference, and I would bet (but not in a Las Vegas way) that the Cougars could be headed there for the 6th straight year. The first year BYU went to the Las Vegas Bowl, they were 6-6. I wouldn't doubt it if BYU ended up with that same record. After victories against SDSU and Wyoming, BYU’s defense has been dominant against middle-class offenses and held its own against TCU as well. If you take out the offense giving away great field position through a fumble, interception, or shanked punt, SDSU, TCU, and Wyoming offenses scored an average or 11 points per game. I don’t care who you are, that is at least a decent defense. You know you are in trouble when your offense allows more points per game than your defense (over 15 points a game). BYU can make a bowl game this year, but these are a few keys on the road to Las Vegas.

Use Brian Kariya and Juice more steadily - after relying heavily on JJ Di Luigi for the first half of the season, it has become apparent that teams are keying on him in the running game. Last week against Wyoming, Kariya, Di Luigi, and Quezada all had a rushing average of greater than 4 yards. Yes, Di Luigi is quicker, but he is also riskier with his running, often trying to beat the offense to the corner. Kariya and Quezada won’t break out any huge runs (their longest runs this year have been 15 and 17 yards, respectively) but they will usually get you around 3-6 yards per rush and will not lose yardage, simply because they almost always fall forwards when they are tackled. Also, Kariya and Quezada are better blockers in the shotgun, so defenses have to stuff the middle to stop their run but also be ready for the pass to the receivers out wide.

Andrew Rich has to stay healthy - there are already enough defensive players hurt, but Rich is the backbone of the defense. He is essential in breaking up screen passes and hitting opposing RB’s at or behind the line of scrimmage. Rich already has some lingering injuries (one reason why he wears long sleeves at every game), but please, don’t get any more. I want to go to Vegas. For the bowl game.

Luke Ashworth can’t have any more drops - he was a key part of a few of BYU’s drives last game, but this year in earlier games he has had several drops. BYU’s TE’s are fickle, but they are also new to the system. Ashworth is an experienced receiver and has the ability to catch anything, we saw it all of last year. He isn’t incredibly quick or fast, but he was a consistent catcher. He can’t fall back into dropping passes. We know his ability, we saw it last year. Just keep doing what you did last week, Luke.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too early for basketball?

As the BYU football team continues to disappoint this year, most Cougar fans can take solace that basketball season in now officially one week away... sort of. The Cougars will play in the annual Cougar tip-off game next Wednesday, October 27th. Following the scrimmage BYU will play two pre-season games against Laval and BYU-Hawaii before the regular season starts.

BYU's first regular season game will be Friday, November 12th against Fresno State which is of course coached by former BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. It will be Cleveland's first appearance in the Marriott Center since he left for Fresno at the end of the 2006 season. I am sure it will be a very warm homecoming for Coach Cleveland after all he did to help rebuild the program.

It's no doubt that how Jimmer goes so go the Cougars? Jimmer is the pre-season Mountain West Conference player of the year, and many pundits have him listed as one of the top five players in the nation. No question Jimmer will average over 20 points a game this year but what will really matter is how involved he can get his teammates. Jimmer is a proven scorer but what remains to be seen is if he can win big games doing other things besides putting the ball in the hoop. Jimmer will have a huge bulls eye on his back this year and it I am sure there will games where other teams will force to make other Cougars beat them.

While it is true that Jimmer was a scoring machine at the end of last year there were times when all BYU would do is sit around and watch the Jimmer show. You know exactly what play I'm talking about. When BYU tries to push the ball down the court.. after they don't get a transition bucket Jimmer slowly backs the ball out and tries to drive before time expires on the shot clock.

This is fun to watch when it works but it makes the BYU offense stagnant and very predictable (kind of like this year's football team). The bottom line is Jimmer needs to dominate this year if the Cougars want to have a decent year but he needs to do it within the flow of the game... without forcing anything. If he is having an off night or another team is daring other players to make shots other players need to step up. But no question about it, this is Jimmer's team and as Jimmer goes... so go the Cougars.

What do you think Jimmer needs to work on the most this year?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Max Hall on the Jim Rome Show

For those of you that missed it Jim Rome had former BYU QB Max Hall on his naitonally syndicated talk show.

Click here to follow the link to 1320 KFAN where you can here what Magic Max had to say about his first start in the NFL. Among other topics Rome asked Max about the BYU Utah rivalry and how his days at the Y helped prepare him for life as a professional QB.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cougars Land Their Man

Demarcus Harrison is listed as 6'5 190 lbs

BYU learned last week that their top recruit Demarcus Harrison plans on verbally commiting to the Cougars in November.  Demarcus is an LDS player out of South Carolina and it will only take one look at his highlight video to see that the kid can jump out of the building.

Click here to see his highlights. Make sure to check out around the 25 second mark when Harrison goes Vince Carter and jumps over a defender to dunk the ball.

Here is what says about Harrison:

DeMarcus is athletic and has a high major look about him. He's a good athlete that makes his presence felt shooting the basketball. He has deep range off the catch and can drive an out of control closeout. He can get to the rim on the break but prefers to spot up where he benefits from penetration. Harrison is ready to shoot on the catch and can get it off quickly. Because of his excellent size he can shoot over smaller defenders very easily. He has the potential to be a good defender and can guard multiple positions because of his size and quickness.

DeMarcus needs to be more active on the offensive glass and use his explosiveness to generate more scoring opportunities for his team. He must add strength but Harrison has game controlling offensive skills.

Bottom Line:
He looks like the prototypical player at the elite mid-major program. he has good upside and should be on the radar of a lot of high level teams. Harrison has all the tools to be a special player.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Offensive, defensive changes help BYU win

One thing is obvious after Saturday’s win against San Diego State - even though Jamie Hill was the only one fired after last week, it sent a message to the rest of the coaches. The actual talent level of the team this year is lower than it has been in recent years, but one thing is certain - Bronco will not put up with a sub-par coaching effort. It seemed that Hill was determined to run the defense he wanted to run, no matter who the personnel was. The offense, prior to this week, looked like it was trying to be a “BYU offense” with no regard to who was actually running it.

Saturday was a good day to be a Cougar

There was a considerable difference in the style and attitude of the offense and defense this last week, with defensively being the most noticeable. Before running out onto the field, the defense would huddle together, line up on the sideline, and then run out as a group. Sure, it may seem kind of cheesy or childish, but the defense definitely played more like a unit instead of a bunch of individuals. The corners did a better job seeing the run and coming up on it. CB’s Brian Logan, Brandon Bradley, and Corby Eason combined for 16.5 out of 30 total tackles for the Cougar defense (all of Logan's tackles were unassisted). Jray Galea’i (#18) would come on as an additional DB in 3rd and long situations. There was more pressure on the quarterback in passing situations, so even though we only had one safety with Andrew Rich coming up to guard a receiver man-to-man, that forced the QB into making quicker decisions, and as a result, inaccuracy, an interception, and at least 3 batted down balls at the line of scrimmage.

Offensively, RB’s were relied on more heavily and the O-line was better than ever (the two sacks they gave up weren‘t all their fault). We ran the ball 62 times. That's 13 more times than an Air Force team that scored 49 points this week. The blocking backs did a great job on passing and running plays. Heaps was stuck with only a few 3rd and long situations, and that led to him being more confident with 3rd down and short to go. And Matt Marshall, after throwing a strike on the 4th and 15 fake field goal, ran the option 4 or 5 times to gain a few yards on first down. A final point - if you saw Bronco’s post-game interview on, he praised the defense and the running game. Not Jake Heaps. I think Heaps played well, but Bronco knows that Heaps can’t stop improving if we want to make it to a bowl game this year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

QB Max Hall Gets the Nod

Cardinals coach Ken Wizenhunt has just announced that former BYU standout Max Hall will start for the Cardinals this Sunday against the defending Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints. Hall replaced Derek Anderson in the second half of last week's 41-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Hall went 8-14 for 82 yards with no INT's in his NFL debut.

Click here to see the article on

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bronco takes charge

So Jamie Hill is gone. Is anyone surprised? A year after Bronco gives up the defensive squad, we give up 29 points a game to (hold your breath) Nevada, Air Force, Florida State, and Utah State. Then again, the offense hasn’t been able to do much either. We scored a grand total of 43 points. That is enough points to win one game. That is saying something, something like other teams are tripling or quadrupling our score. So how does Bronco taking over the defensive side of the ball help?

Way to call a time out on the defense, Bronco

For one, Bronco is not afraid to be creative. He has been coaching the special teams for a few years now, and we have seen some trickery and deviance from the norm. Four years ago in the 2006 season, during the first four games or so, every kickoff the four return men would huddle, hand the ball off to one of the players, and then break and hope the opposing team followed the wrong person. Unfortunately, some players couldn’t figure out that the handoff needed to be backward and we got flagged on it several times, but it was really exciting for the fans and at least got the defense a little off its rocker.

This year on special teams, we have already seen a few gadgets. Some have worked, some haven’t. One that did work was the reverse return against Nevada. I still can’t figure out how it worked so well, simply because Hoffman had to run to the other side of the field, get the ball from Di Luigi, and then run back, but it was somehow effective and got us 10 or so more yards in field position for an offense searching for its identity. On the other hand, for one of the plays that didn’t work, Bronco sent in JD Falslev (I think - either way, it wasn’t Stephenson) to punt. Yeah, it ended up being a shank of a punt, but did you see the confusion in the Nevada punt return team? Guys were pointing and yelling and standing up out of position and everything. It made them think twice the next time we punted.

This year, I kind of wish we were cheering for this Bronco

I mean, really, can the defensive situation get any worse? Fuga is gone until next fall. Andrew Rich has been particularly injury prone this year. Pendleton left last game early with an injury. LB Jameson Frazier and S Stephen Thomas were out for all of last game in positions where we have struggled. Why not be a bit creative on defense? I know our secondary isn’t the best, but instead of dropping more guys in coverage, why not send someone like CB Brandon Bradley a few times on the weak side when he would be rushing at the QB’s blind side? Or send Rich in on a safety blitz? Did you see what defense we were playing when we had the interception against Nevada? It was a zone blitz, with the DT dropping back into coverage. Kapernick didn’t even see him (kind of hard when you realize most DT’s are 300 pounds or so). We have a total of 5 sacks this season so far, with none in the last two games. What’s stopping Bronco from taking chances to salvage a currently struggling squad?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jaime Hill fired after Cougars lose to Utah State

It looks like BYU has found a scape goat, and his name is Jaime Hill. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall let go Hill after the Cougars embarrassing 31-16 loss to Utah State.

The Cougars are statistically one of the worst defensive teams in the nation right now. Ranking 119th (out of 121 schools) in defending the run.  Bronco says that he will take over the defense one year after handing the reigns to Coach Hill.