Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Powder River, Let 'Er Buck!

With a 44-0 shutout of the Wyoming Cowboys, the Cougars increased the count of unanswered points to 103.  The last two games, though decisive blowouts of the opposing teams, have still left a lot of people wondering how good the Cougars really are? Were those wins really that impressive?

They impressed me, and I'll tell you why.


In the case of the UCLA game, there is no doubt that their offense is struggling.  The defense on the other hand was the side of the ball for the Bruins that was going to be their strong point this season.  With all the coaching changes that took place at UCLA, the defense retained their coordinator from the old coaching staff.  The schemes are still the same.  

Despite all the injuries to the Bruins, the defense remained healthy.  Two of there D-lineman, as well as one of their corners most likely will see time in the NFL.  The Bosworth brothers were the talk of the night by the ESPN commentators covering the Tennessee game in the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins defense is good, and the Y still put up 59 points against them.  That impresses me.  

What impresses me even more is that Max Hall went untouched for the entire game.  The offensive line gave him such good protection that I am guessing he didn't even have to wash his jersey in between games.  In fact, other than a couple of hits in the opening game against UNI, Max Hall hasn't really taken any hits since.  That impresses me.

The offense wasn't nearly as impressive in the game against the Cowboys.  We've become to accustomed to the methodical, almost machine like first drive of the game for a touchdown that the Cougars normally start with.  I think 65,000 fans sat stunned when the Cougars stalled the first two times they possessed the ball.

The second quarter they got things rolling though and scored on three straight possessions, one of which came off of a 62 yard strike from Hall to Collie.  When the passing game wasn't clicking the offense made some adjustments and went to the running game.  The success from the running game eventually led to the turn around of the passing game, and from there the scores came easily. 

It wasn't the near flawless performance that we have seen at times this year, but it was still good enough to get Max out of the game by midway through the third quarter. 

When BYU was up 41-0 I told my Dad that if they score again they ought to do a on-side kick.  We decided they wouldn't though because Coach Glen would be expecting it.     

Props to the O-line and Unga for jump starting the offense and keeping Max healthy.  


Any time a defensive squad can hold two division 1 teams scoreless in as many weeks, that in itself is impressive.  

I think the points are a little misleading because of the weak offenses that they faced, but I will still give them props for the physical play and for forcing so many turnovers.  

In both games the Bruins and Cowboys were able to move the ball into scoring position, but because of determination and a never quit attitude by the Cougs defense, they came away with nothing. 

In the Wyoming game the defense scored 14 points off of turnovers.  Anytime that you have an offense with the scoring ability of the Y as well as a defense that can create points, that's a pretty good combination that will lead to victories. 

I think the defense is better than what some local fans might think, but like with anything else only time will tell.  

I don't think we will know any clearer after their next game when they travel to Logan to face Utah State, even if they do get another shut out. (That's a very good possibility) 

Anytime your team can outscore their opponents 103-0 in two games time, and you still find something to critique, it means you're nitpicking.  I know that.  I think the Cougs are as good as their #11 ranking and look forward to the challenges they face in the future to prove that they are deserving of the attention that they have received.  

With the Utes and the Frogs in the top 25, if the Cougs can get through those two games with wins they will definitely deserve the national recognition.  The MWC is tough this year.  The national media and BCS need to take notice.  I think they have.

It's about time. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday's Heroes

During the football season I really enjoy to watch the BYU broadcast Cougar Diary.  In it you see highlights of the previous weeks game as well as some behind the scene footage of the athletes.

My most favorite part of the program is the section titled Thursday's Heroes.  Each thursday Bronco brings in a Cougar fan who has fallen on some hard times health wise to visit practice.  They get to meet the team.  The players present them with some gifts and express to them how they are the true heroes for their resilience through such hard situations.

Whether you are a Cougar fan or not I think everyone could still appreciate what is being done by the BYU football team.  It's worth watching.  This is the episode after the first game this season.

(You'll have to pause the music down at the bottom of the blog to be able to hear the video)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kicking it in the Jungle!

Bronco joined Jim Rome today on his radio show.  I was actually surprised how relaxed and comfortable Coach Mendenhall sounded as he answered the questions.  Bronco isn't known for being the best interview but actually did a great job.  Take a listen:  Bronco and Jim. 

The Powers That Be....



Welcome back Rick!  I was at the game Saturday and there really isn't much to say that the score didn't already cover.  It was an old fashioned beat down.

The offense looked great as usual, and after a weak showing last Saturday in Seattle the defense stepped it up and proved that they are better than what we had thought.  It was a great game all around.

There is talk of a let down after such a big win in the upcoming game against the Cowboys.  I don't see it happening.  I think this team is focussed and will come out firing against Wyoming.  I will be there at LES to witness what I am expecting to be a lop sided victory for the Cougs.

Who are the 6 power conferences this year? 

Is it really the six that have been designated by the BCS as being deserving of the automatic birth into the championship series bowl games?

Is the Big East really a better conference than the MWC or the WAC? How about the ACC? How about the PAC Ten that went 0-4 against Mountain West teams on Saturday?

As bad as some of these conferences are playing the potential is there for some of the teams that win their respective conference championship to get to a BCS bowl game unranked. In 2004 Pitt was ranked #19 for hells sake. How were they more deserving of the payoff than the 18 teams that were in front of them.

Here's how I would rate them (at least this year):

1. SEC- I think they are the best football conference. They pull in the best athletes and over the years have had great success. They need to travel a little more outside of the south to prove their worth, but I still would give them the nod as being #1.

2. Big Twelve- Another great football conference. With teams like Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri being members of their conference I think they are pretty solid. They have cellar dwellers like any other conference but they are real strong at the top. My #2.

3. Big Ten- This is where I think the conferences get a little overrated. I don't think OSU is worthy of the pub that they have been given. The Utes proved what type of team Michigan has, and the rest of the conference is descent but not great by any means.

4. MWC- Yeah, that's right. I said it. This is where I stray from the conventional thinking. The MWC has had good success this year against the BCS opponents that they have faced. They have two teams in the top 25 as well as a TCU team that is about to break in. The cellar dwellar of the MWC (UNLV) just knocked off what many people had predicted to be the second best team in the PAC Ten, ASU. With TCU, BYU and the Utes at the top of the conference playing good football, as well as the Air Force Academy, the conference is strong. If you want to argue otherwise, please do. Up to this point in the season though the MWC has owned the PAC Ten. The record is proof of that. Not to mention a win by the Utes in the Big House. I will be interested to see how TCU fairs against Oklahoma.

5. Pac Ten- USC is the cream of the crop. No question about it. In my opinion and nearly everyone else they are more than deserving of the #1 ranking that they have received. But aside from them, who does the PAC Ten have. Oregon maybe? Every other team sucks and most of them have been beaten by a MWC opponent. (Washington, UCLA, Stanford, ASU, Arizona, soon to be Oregon State) Washington State is no good, and CAL just lost to a weak Maryland team. How good is the Pac Ten? My #5.

6. This one is hard for me. I am going to say the ACC, but I could be easily swayed. The Big East is lousy, so I won't even consider them, but there are a few good teams from the WAC and Conf. USA that are making some noise. I think ECU, as well as Fresno State and Boise State are as good this year as most of the teams in either of the two remaining "power coferences."

This is just my opinion, based on what I have seen so far this year. I very well could be wrong in my way of thinking as some of you will probably try to point out. Either way, if you have an opinion of who and why, lets hear it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A good run of bad luck! (Picture Heavy)

This last week I spent 5 days backpacking up in the Wind River Mountains along with my Dad and Elton (34/31).  We had been planning this trip for quite awhile but had cancelled it.  At the last minute we decided to go and I am glad we did.

Because it was last minute it took some convincing on my part to get Elton to go along.  He had some concerns going into the trip that in a deciding conversation I was able to put to rest.  His concerns went something like this:

Elton- So, is this trip going to be expensive?
Shane- It will be the cheapest trip you have ever been on.  All you will need to buy is food for the week and a fishing license.

The truth- Very expensive!

Fishing License $56
Indian Trespassing Fee $50
Reservation Recreation Fee $5
Fuel $50
Hotel $25
Truck Ride across the Reservation to get to the trail head $250 (ouch)

Elton- Is it going to snow on us?
Shane- Heck no!  This time of year the weather is beautiful.  The monsoon season has passed and the weather pattern should be dry.  The weather will be perfect.

The Truth- The weather is going to suck!

It rained most of the trip, and the last day we were there the rain turned to snow.  It was wet and miserable.  

Elton- Is the fishing going to be good?
Shane- The fishing will be amazing.  Not only will you catch a ton of fish, but the majority will be good size as well.

The Truth- It might be a little slow.

Actually, we caught a lot of fish, but only a dozen or so were very good.  Most of the fish we caught were only about 10" or so.

(Elton and a Hawg)

Even though the weather didn't cooperate, it was a little more expensive than planned and the fishing was kind of slow, we still had a great time.  I've been going up to this area since I was a little kid.  I have a lot of good memories up there with my Dad and am grateful I was able to go again with him.

He turns 75 years old this fall and isn't sure how many more trips he has left in him.  I'm hoping there are still a few more in his future.  It was fun to spend the time with him while doing something that we both enjoy so much.  I won't soon forget this last week.

Good looking Brookie

My best fish of the trip (Cutthroat)

A small Golden Trout caught by Elton.

A view from our camp.

No Wyoming trip is complete without a ride on a Jack-A-Lope.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Unfortunate way to end the game....

I had a feeling going into this game that Jake Locker would play a big role in it's outcome, I just didn't think it would be in the way that it turned out.

If you saw the game, or have watched any highlights you know that it ended with some controversy.  After a 17 play drive in which Locker put his team on his back and lead them down the field to score, he got hit with a celebration penalty for throwing the ball in the air.  Rather than a chip shot extra point attempt to tie the game, they got pushed back 15 yards.  BYU ended up blocking the field goal to end the game with the one point win, 28 to 27.

I'm glad the Cougs got out of there with the victory, I just wish it could have been under better circumstances. 

Locker played a heck of a game and it was a shame to see a call affect the outcome of the game.  It was the right call however, it just happens to be a stupid rule.  At least that part of it anyways.  The rule says:

After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately 

must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot. 

This prohibits: 

(a) Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the 

field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it. 

(b) Spiking the ball to the ground [Exception: A forward pass to 

conserve time (Rule 7-3-2-d)]. 

(c) Throwing the ball high into the air. 

(d) Any other unsportsmanlike act or actions that delay the game.

The thing that people are failing to credit though is that the Y's defensive line stepped up big time and blocked the extra point.  Yes it was 15 yards farther, but it still was right down the middle and wasn't that difficult.

How many times is a 35 yard field goal blocked?  Not very often.  With the position of the ball on the field, had Washington put up a better front the kick would have been automatic.   

It's not the Y's fault for how things ended.  They had no control over the call, but when they needed the big play to seal the deal, Jan Jorgensen got a hand on the ball to block the extra point.  The day wasn't pretty, but we'll take it.  

BYU's offense is absolutely amazing.  No question about it.  Washington's defense was helpless when Max Hall and company were on the field.  The only possession that they Y didn't score in the second half is when they drove 94 yards and Harvey Unga coughed it up on the 1 yard line.  Had he just held onto the ball their never would have been any controversy. 

Hall is a stud, Pitta is amazing and Unga just punishes the defenders.  Those three had great games.  It's also worth mentioning that Max Hall didn't take any real hits today thanks to the excellent blocking by his offensive line.   

The defense on the other hand looked porous.  Not the front seven so much, but the secondary definitely struggles.  They gave up some big plays and had Locker not flat out missed some of his wide open receivers they would have given up a half dozen more.

Despite the great offensive day I wasn't too impressed with the Cougars defensive showing in Seattle.  They should have handled the Huskies better than they did.  It was their chance to shine in the national spotlight and unfortunately they kind of fizzled against what might be the worst team in the Pac Ten Conference.  The defense needs to step it up.

The redeeming factor in all this though is that an apparently good UCLA team comes to Provo next week to play.  If the Cougs can play some good football and get a decisive victory, people will forget really quickly the outcome of today's game and the controversy surrounding it.

Again, I am glad with the win.  However, with all the BCS talk generated by the team and coaching staff, as a fan I am going to hold them to a higher standard.  A one point victory over a pore Washington team isn't going to get it done if you want the respect from the National Media.  

They will need a good showing from both the offense as well as the defense if they want to beat UCLA on Saturday.  

I think they will do just that.

Go Cougs!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A look back/ A look ahead....

At the end of the day when the national media took a glance at the BYU/NIU score, I think they saw what they had probably expected to see.  A 24 point win by the Cougars over the visiting Panthers.

Those of us at the game though saw things as they really unfolded and realize that the score can be a bit misleading.  Fortunately for the Cougars, despite their mistakes, they still came out on top with the first win of the season.

The Good:  

Max Hall for the most part had a great day.  He completed 34 of 41 for 486 yards.  He and Dennis Pitta connected for 11 of those completions for 213 yards.  

The offense in the first half put up 27 points while the defense held NIU to only a field goal.   

Justin Sorenson put every kickoff into the end-zone throughout the game.  I don't believe we saw that once last year. 

Overall, aside from a few miscues the defense played pretty well against a Div 1-FCS offense that is better than most people are giving them credit.  The defense is considered by most critics as being the week spot of the team.  I think they will surprise some people and actually be better than expected. 

The offense is as good as advertised.  They are going to put up good numbers against every team they face.  The O-line is tough.  Matt Reynolds missed a block once at the left tackle position for which Max paid the price, but other than that they gave him great protection.  

This offense is going to be fun to watch.

The Bad:

The defense gave up two big plays in the game, one a 69 yard run by the QB and the other a 76 yard strike off of a double reverse pass.  It brought back memories of Tulsa exploiting our secondary last season. 

The whole third quarter and part of the fourth was no good.  The Cougars fumbled the ball 4 times.  Max Hall took two blind side hits, one of which resulted in a fumble in the end-zone, and the other he got his bell rung and was slow to get up.  I don't think it is any secret that this team desperately needs Max to stay healthy. 

I think BYU went conservative and thought they could coast to the win in the second half.  I don't like that mentality.  I think this year more than any, with all the national attention they are receiving, they need to bury their opponents and put up a lot of points.  I am glad that they were able to finish it out and win by 24, but they never should have been only ahead by 10 points going into the fourth quarter.  

Final thoughts:

All and all I think it was a good day.  Both sides of the ball played pretty good.  Sure they had some mistakes but that is to be expected in the first game of the season.  They now know what areas to work on and I am expecting a pretty well played game on Saturday against Washington.  

Speaking of which:

 Cougar fans, if you don't know who Jake Locker is, by Saturday afternoon you will.  The guy is an absolute stud.  I've heard some analysts say he is quite possibly the most talented, athletic QB in college football.  That's the bad news.  

The good news is that it appears he is the only weapon UW has.  If BYU can contain him and keep him somewhat in check, they should be able to pull out the win quite convincingly.  As we know though a non-conference road win has eluded Bronco since he took over as head coach.

The next two games are crucial.  This is the time that BYU needs to step up and prove that they are worthy of the hype that they have been given.