Friday, October 20, 2006

BYU hasn't beaten anyone yet

Back on September 28, the BYU Cougars were riding high after a breakthrough win against TCU--a ranked team riding a 13 game winning streak. They did it in convincing fashion, on the road, with only a few days to prepare.

Since then, they've played just one game against conference cellar dweller San Diego State. They beat them the way they should have beat them, and Cougar fans are talking about going undefeated the rest of the way.

But let's be honest, folks. BYU hasn't beaten anyone yet.

They lost to Arizona, one of the PAC-10's worst teams. They took Boston College to double overtime and lost. They exposed a TCU team that wasn't all that good. They beat a USU team with one of the worst offenses in college football. And thy beat SDSU, the conference's poorest football team.

The hardest part of their schedule is coming up. Air Force is a team that would love to knock the Cougars off their stride. Colorado State will play them tough with a nice passing game. Wyoming probably has the best defense in the league. New Mexico just scored 34 points in a win against a very good Utah defense. UNLV just about beat New Mexico on the road. And Utah? Let's just say that their season will be a success if they beat the Cougars for the fifth straight year.

I'm telling you, Cougar fans, BYU's got a lot of football to play before we can start pounding our chest.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Predictions for the second half of the season

BYU is coming off a bye week, and I'm coming up on another Saturday in Edwards Stadium. The Cougs are about to begin the second half of their season. After six games, I know a bit about this team and the teams they'll be playing than I did in August, so it's time to revisit my picks.

I predicted that BYU would go 5-1 during the second half, with wins against UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming and Utah. I thought they would lose to New Mexico. Here's what I'm thinking today.

UNLV: The Rebels are having an awful year so far. They've won one game and may not win any more. They won't beat the Cougars this weekend. BYU will be 5-2.

Air Force: I've got to admit that I didn't give the Falcons any credit at the beginning of the year. They were coming off back-to-back losing seasons and had a hard time moving the ball on opposing teams. This year, with a senior quarterback and a re-focused running attack, they're 3-0 in the conference and almost beat Tennessee at Rocky Top. BYU's offense will probably score in the low 30s in this game, which is tough for any Air Force team to match. But I think now that the Falcons lost to Navy, Fisher DeBerry wants this game more than any other on his schedule. I picking the Falcons in another close one. BYU's record is 5-3 and they'll be hoping the Falcons falter later in the conference.

Colorado State: Even with the HUGE loss of their best running back, Kyle Bell, the Rams are winning games. But they don't have enough firepower to stay with the Cougars. BYU runs its record to 6-3.

Wyoming: This one's another tough game to pick. The Pokes are the biggest surprise in the conference, even with their losing record. They lost in overtime against a Big East team and an ACC team. They took Air Force to the final minutes of the game, and they beat Utah. But I don't think the Cougars lose a game in Edwards Stadium this year. Another BYU win, and they're at 7-3.

New Mexico: The last home game of the season against one of the conference's worst teams. BYU has already beaten a 3-3-5 defense handily this year when they played Tulsa. John Beck and Cameron Jensen will leave everything on the field in this game, and the Cougars will win easily. BYU's record is 8-3.

Utah: At the beginning of the season, most rational Cougar fans would have accepted an 8 win season--as long as they beat Utah. In mid-October, I think most rational Cougar fans (and Ute fans) will say that BYU should win this game. "Should" is the operable word here, because anything can happen in rivalry games--see BYU's loss last year against a Utah team with a QB making his first D1 start.

Utah still has a lot going for them, mostly on defense. Eric Weddle is superb. The Ute linebackers are tough. Their line is solid. If they can slow down the Cougar offense, they have a chance...

... But the Utes will lose to the Cougars. Oh, the Utes will play inspired ball. But John Beck is playing the best ball of his career, not because he's any more skilled now, but because his confidence is high. Beck will go in to Salt Lake City calm, businesslike and dangerous, and the Cougars will come out victorious. BYU ends the season at 9-3, and will be invited to either the Las Vegas Bowl or the Poinsetta Bowl.

And Cougar fans get set for a tough year in 2007 with an inexperienced quarterback.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Midseason rewind: Cougars shock the MWC

If you like conspiracy theories,the Mountain West Conference dropped one in your lap last summer. Defending champion TCU, with something like 17 returning starters, was given the inside track to another MWC crown and a potential BCS bid. The Mountain West scheduled them to play their two biggest championship competitors--BYU and Utah--on Thursday nights, with much more rest and time to prepare for their opponents. In BYU's case, they would need to travel to Ft. Worth and play on four days' rest and essentially two days' preparation, since they don't practice on Sunday. This was another game where the preseason prognosticators picked against the Cougars nearly unanimously. Me included.

If the short week wasn't bad enough, John Beck was hobbled by two high ankle sprains and had to sit out the game against Utah State. The Horned Frogs had the best defense in the league at the time and had held teams that ran similar offenses--TCU and Baylor--to an average of 6.5 points per game. The game's outcome was such a foregone conclusion that Sports Illustrated sent a reporter to Ft. Worth to cover TCU's march to the BCS.

Someone forgot to tell the Cougars they were supposed to lose.

John Beck, with his ankles heavily taped, was exceedingly sharp. (One message boarder called him "The Scalpel"; an appropriate nickname, I think.) With his mobility severely limited, Beck relied on his arm strength and his pinpoint accuracy as he nailed pass after pass with his receivers tightly covered.

The defense came up huge. The biggest play of game being David Nixon's blindside hit on TCU QB Jeff Ballard. Nixon, a native Texan, jarred the ball loose and freshman Russell Tialavea recovered the fumble on the BYU 17. The Cougs had been nursing a 3-0 lead and were hoping to limit the Horned Frogs to a field goal. They ended up marching 83 yards for a score and a 10-0 lead.

In the second half, Beck really shined. He was put in multiple third-and-long situations and seemed to always hit the right receiver for a first down. With the Cougs leading 17-10 in the fourth quarter and the game still very much in doubt, he threw two more touchdown passes and sealed the Horned Frogs' fate. At the end of 60, the scoreboard read BYU 31, TCU 17.

MWC commissioner Craig Thompson reportedly looked like he'd just had his birthday taken away at the end of the game. No TCU busting the BCS. No Horned Frog story in Sports Illustrated. No major cash payout. No more easy road to the MWC championship. But a great win for the Cougars--their first against a ranked team in seven years. A great win for Bronco Mendenhall--he proved he can get his team believing enough and prepared enough to win the big game. A great win for John Beck--he proved he's not all about stats and that he has the mental toughness to match his physical abilities.

BYU's 3-2 at this point. As for me, I thankfully missed this game by a mile, and it brought my pick record down to 3-2.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Midseason rewind: Aggies good for what ails the Cougars

I and just about every prognosticator before the season began picked the Cougars to beat up on the Aggies. The Logan Blues were awful a year ago, still reeling from their failed experiment as an independent. But the Aggies always seem to give the Cougars everything they can handle. I thought the game would be close in the first half, but that the Cougars would use their running attack in the second half to pull away.

But this game was never close.

With John Beck giving his injured ankles a rest, senior Jason Beck got his first start. He was impressive. His throws were on the money; he made good decisions; he didn't throw any interceptions. He and Fui Vakapuna tore the USU defense apart en route to a 38-0 victory.

It was the first shutout victory since the Cougars kept UNLV from scoring in 1999. And Justin Robinson's interception return for a touchdown was the first points Bronco Mendenhall's defense had put up since he left New Mexico for BYU.

With the win, the Cougars healed some of their wounds. They were able to put the disappointment of the BC loss behind them, and they rested some key injured players: JoBeck, Jake Kuresa, and Manase Tonga. And they didn't suffer any major injuries leading up to the biggest game of the year: a Thursday night tilt against defending conference champ and 15-ranked TCU.

Midseason rewind: Cougars left wondering "what if...?"

I usually have a hard time overcoming my optimism about BYU. Even in their recent down years, there was only one game where I thought they didn't have a chance (USC, 2004). But picking against the Cougars for the Boston College game was surprisingly easy: A) BC didn't allow a Cougar touchdown when they beat us in Provo in 2005; B) The Cougars were playing in the eastern time zone, where they rarely play well; C) The Golden Eagles had a proven quarterback and a lot of team speed; and D) No one else thought the Cougars would win.

But they had me believing during the first quarter. John Beck led the offense to a a touchdown on the first drive of the game, then the defense turned around and recovered a fumble in BC territory. "14-zip," I'm thinking. But penalties and a missed field goal left the Cougs with no points off that turnover.

Penalties and zero points off turnovers were the storylines of the game. The Cougar D took away four from the Eagle offense, but Beck and Co. couldn't capitalize. And it seemed like every time the Cougars would get a nice drive going, they'd commit a bonehead penalty that would set them back and either kill their drives or make them go for a field goal. Jared McLaughlin made three but missed two, including one that could have won the Cougars the game. But regulation ended at 23-23.

Then came overtime. Time for Beck to prove he could perform in the clutch. But the only clutching Beck and his teammates did was when grasped their necks in the universal signal for "Help! I'm choking!" Beck looked and played scared. In the second overtime, after the Golden Eagle quarterback threw for a touchdown on a broken play, Beck threw a tipped pass for an interception and the game was over.

The Cougars were 1-2, and my record for picking the outcome of the games was (sadly) 2-1.

Lots of talk ensued after the game about Beck's ankles and his legacy. It wasn't common knowledge until after the game that he was limited by two high ankle sprains he had suffered against Arizona. But from what I heard and read, this game seemed like the final nail in the coffin of how Beck would be remembered. He put up gaudy statistics--he'll likely end his career behind only Ty Detmer in career yards at BYU--but couldn't pull off the big win or take the close game.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Midseason rewind: Thunder and lightning in the sky and on the field

Continuing with the "owning up" theme, I picked a win against Tulsa, not knowing a thing about this year's Golden Hurricane. I knew they won their conference and their bowl game in 2005, but I was in the dark as to their strengths and weaknesses. Offensively, however, they had a good reputation so I predicted an offensive show, a la TCU 2005.

The offensive show was a tad one-sided.

The Cougars racked up seven touchdowns, one set up by an electrifying catch and run by Curtis Brown where he took a little dump pass from John Beck and broke four tackles on the way to a 62-yard touchdown. Another score was set up by a 39-yard Fui Vakapuna run where he broke an amazing seven tackles and had me damaging my voice box.

Brown's lightning and Vakapuna's thunder was matched by the weather, when the game was halted because of approaching lightning.

BYU's defense held a very good Tulsa offense to 17 meaningful points (they scored another seven in garbage time), and they kept Tulsa's dual-threat quarterback in check all game long. Final score: Cougars 49, Golden Hurricane 24.

The Cougs (and me) are 1-1.

One side note from the Tulsa game: The funniest sight of the year was during the lightning delay. About 200 students stormed the field and were moshing on the stretch-Y while the in-game announcer yelped, "Everyone off the field. Please return to the stands. Security. Security!" The announcer sounded pitiful, but his frantic cry worked. As soon as the students were threatened to be escorted off the field, the party broke up and everyone raced to the stands.

Midseason Rewind: Against Arizona, Cougars were surprising on both sides of the ball

Preseason picks are at best an educated guess and at worst a cheerleading exercise. I picked all the BYU games in mid-August fully expecting it to be an exercise in futilty. After a re-read, I came out sounding a lot more confident than I really was at the time. With the season at its midpoint and the Cougar football team trying to stay sharp during a bye week, now's a good time to own up to the picks I made.

Game 1: Arizona.

I picked a win here. I also thought that it would be a high scoring affair. With BYU's offense running high at the end of last year and with offensive coordinator Robert Anae's memory of last year's opening game debacle, I thought the Cougars would be in midseason form. I also feared that Willie Tuitama would destroy BYU's defense the way he destroyed UCLA's weak defense in 2005.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

John Beck, Curtis Brown and Robert Anae came out flat, the two players flustered by Arizona's team speed and the coach unwilling (or unable) to alter the offensive game plan.

But BYU's defense was stellar. Except for allowing two big plays (that resulted in 10 points), the Cougar D showed signs of potential prowess.

Willie Tuitama was awful, but he was good enough to drive the Wildcats to a game-winning 49-yard field goal on the last play of the game. Final score: Wildcats 16, Cougars 13.

In early September, the Cougars were 0-fer-1. I was too.

Home game 3: Gotta love a blowout

Home game 3 was everything it promised to be: a BYU win, and a blowout win at that. For a guy who cut his teeth on BYU's glory years, it was good to see the Cougars handily beat a team they were supposed to beat.

The weather cooperated, too, although it looked like we might have to undergo a replay of the Tulsa game. For me, the bad weather was a blessing. My community got socked with so much rain that all my kids' soccer games were cancelled. They didn't have to play on wet fields, and I didn't have to stress about making the kickoff. My dad, my son Geoffrey and me left my home at 9:30 and we parked at LaVell Edwards Stadium at 10:45.

We had time to kill so we tossed a football around--Geoffrey's got a heck of an arm, if I may say so, and he throws a pretty good spiral. Before we ate some lunch, we went to the tailgating party to look for some free schwag. We were not disappointed. GEICO Insurance was asking people to vote for the 10 best college running backs of all time, and just for voting they were giving out these nice visors and wrist bands embroidered with the GEICO gecko. I got enough for me, my wife and all my kids (the kids were much more excited about it than the wife).

A 30-point win was nice to see. The Cougars have the killer instinct that some fans say they have been lacking. They poured it on in the first half, and kept at it in the third quarter. If Manase Tonga hadn't fumbled the ball into the end zone in the third quarter, the Cougs would have scored 54 points. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that BYU (mercifully) let up offensively.

I fully expect BYU to play just as well--maybe even better--in two weeks against UNLV. Gotta love it when you're on the right side of a blowout.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The separation begins

The Cougars and the Rednecks, picked to finish 2 and 3 in the conference by most media, are now in the Mountain West Conference driver's seat. The Cougars have knocked off the defendin conference champion and are just about to play the conference bottom feeder: San Diego State. The Rednecks just beat TCU last night (who would have thought that the Horned Frogs would be 0-2 in conference play thus far) and have already beaten SDSU. Another team--the Air Force Academy--was picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference, but they're 2-0 in MWC play.

This happens every year in conference: the awful teams show how awful they are; the middle-of-the-road teams trade wins and losses and jockey for bowl position, and the very good teams roll. The Rednecks rolled in 2004. The Horned Frogs rolled in 2005. 2006? The Cougars are showing signs that they're turning a corner. The Air Force Falcons rushing attack has not been stopped. The Rednecks have gained some confidence back. Wyoming has the defense to be a player, and may play spoiler to BYU and the U (the Falcons have already played and beaten WYO).

This is where it starts getting interesting.

Today's clips:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

There's a lot of football left to be played

BYU's football team is 3-2 right now, its two losses going down to the final plays of the games. The Cougars could easily be 5-0 right now and knocking on the door of the BCS. Their remaining opponents are a combined 12-18. They just beat the defending conference champions and, arguably, the best team on their schedule.

So I must be feeling good, right?

Let's just say I have a long memory. Let's just say that seeing your team lose 6-8 games over the last four years has left me a bit jumpy. Let's just say that the Cougars have shown a tendency to lay an egg or two just about every year. Let's just say that I'm not feeling supremely confident.

San Diego State, the Cougars' next opponent, is in a world of hurt right now. Two of their starters are suspended. Their star running back is out with an injury. They're likely to play their third-string quarterback. But they can beat BYU. They completely annihilated the Cougars last year in San Diego.

Any team remaining on the schedule could beat the Y. I'll admit that I don't think an SDSU loss is likely, but the Cougs' consecutive road games in Colorado at the end of this month and the beginning of next month could be perilous. A team like Wyoming, that is playing with a lot of passion and toughness right now, could top the Cougars. At the beginning of the year I picked New Mexico the Cougars at home. And, honestly, no matter how bad they looked last week, the Utes could seriously blow BYU out in the last game of the season just on pure emotion.

John Beck and Cameron Jensen are said to be preaching focus and humility this week. That's a song they need to be singing every week until season's end.

Today's clips:

Monday, October 02, 2006

I figured out why I'm happy when the Utes lose

What a week last week was for Cougar fans. Not only did our BYU football team dominate defending conference champion TCU, but our rival, Utah, also got worked by Boise State.

Now, if you're a better man than me, you were probably rooting for the Rednecks to beat the Broncos. Wouldn't it be best, so the thinking goes, if all your conference brothers beat their nonconference foes? Sure, it would. But I got to tell you, I got a good laugh when I heard the Utes got worked on their home field, 36-3.

Now, in the interest of further honesty, I'm going to lay a few things bare. I love Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. He was awesome when he played for the Cougars, and he is a great coach. I think Eric Weddle is a fantastic player--arguably the best in the state. I'm impressed by Brett Ratliff's humility and attitude. I think Daryl Poston is a talented, well-spoken person. The Ute team is full of good guys and good citizens.

Now, I'm going to let you even further into my psyche. When the Crimson Crips had their dream year in 2004, I was green with envy. My Cougars were supposed to be the first to bust the BCS. My Cougars were supposed to produce a first-round draft pick at quarterback. But while I was suffering through loss after loss, the Crips were going undefeated, trouncing their bowl opponent and saying goodbye to the first pick in the NFL draft. To make matters worse, their basketball team was head-and-shoulders better than anyone else in the MWC thanks another first-round pick.

But do you know what was worst about 2004? The Redneck fans. They were smug. They were haughty. They were downright rude. The Ute fans became what they had accused Cougar fans of being. And I couldn't stand it.

The Crip fans are feeling a bit today like I felt all through 2004. They're driving into work dreading having to face their obnoxious, smug co-workers who cheer for BYU. Now, my co-workers shouldn't worry. I'm not the type of fan to rub the dung pile their team laid in their noses.

But if I were truly listening yesterday to LDS General Conference and applying the lessons of the scriptures, I'd have compassion on my Ute brethren, show them charity and love, lift up their hands that hang down, strengthen their feeble knees.

But I'm afraid that for at least this week, it's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This is how it feels, Ute fans. Wipe that smug look off your face.

Today's clips:

Friday, September 29, 2006


After BYU's big win over TCU last night, the Cougar football team has a long list of "finallies."

Finally, the Cougars beat a ranked team. The last time BYU beat a ranked team was in 1999 against Colorado State. They haven't beat a ranked team on the road since 1997 against Arizona State. They had what many thought was their best chance two weeks ago against Boston College, but they lost in double OT. Now, in what arguably was the biggest game of the year, they dominated the No. 15 team in the country.

Finally, John Beck gets his "signature win." The knock on JoBeck is that he couldn't win the big game--that he got his Cougars close, but couldn't grab the cigar. But John finally got his. The odds were stacked against him. He had two severe high ankle sprains, his best two lineman were out (Keele out for the season, Kuresa out after the first TCU series), his team had five days rest, and they were playing a ranked opponent on the road. But Beck was magnificent. It wasn't his best game statistically. He didn't complete 70 percent of his passes like he has done in all previous games. He didn't pass for 400 yards. But he also didn't throw an interception, and he didn't choke under pressure. The Horned Frogs had the Cougars on third-and-long multiple times in the second half, but more than half the time, Beck was on the money for a long gain and a first down. BYU was leading 17-10 with the game still very much in doubt in the fourth quarter, and what does he do? He leads is team to two fourth quarter touchdowns, something he hasn't done all year. Say what you want about John Beck, but he proved his mettle last night.

Finally, BYU has success in a mid-week game. They hadn't won in Thursday or Friday night contests since 2002. Remember the debacles against Colorado State, Boise State and San Diego State? I do, but these Cougars don't. Because of the short week, no one gave them a chance to beat the Horned Frogs, especially away from home. But the Cougars came in expecting to win, and they did so convincingly.

Finally, the Cougars were ahead in turnover margin and penalty stats. The Cougars had two takeaways against TCU; the Horned Frogs, who are among the better teams in the country in turnover margin, had zero. David Nixon caused a fumble on a huge hit on TCU QB Jeff Ballard in the first half. Cameron Jensen snagged a Ballard pass in the second half. And the Cougars were penalized only six times for 57 yards.

Finally, Bronco Mendenhall has the Cougars believing. Coach Mendenhall preaches toughness, discipline and effort and the Cougars showed all three last night. They expected to win, and they played a nearly flawless game. They executed extremely well. They played tough against a very fast, hard-hitting team. And they made the plays when they had to.

BUT... The Cougars haven't turned the corner yet. They haven't won the big, close game. They haven't beaten their arch-rival since 2001. They haven't won a bowl game in about a decade. They can and should celebrate and relish this win. But they should remember that they have seven, maybe eight games where they still need to prove themselves.

Today's Clips:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Geoffrey's home game #2 report

I wasn't able to attend BYU's second home game against Utah State because I was at my brother-in-law's wedding. But since my son Geoffrey was there with my father and my brother, I'll let him do the report. In his own words...
This time, it didn't rain, but it was a lot hotter. At first, I thought I was going to burn up, it was so hot. But then I got used to it, and then my uncle and I went and got a Cougar Tail--it was a really long maple donut, about two feet long. I ate about a foot of it (actually, my brother says he ate MORE than half of it).

Utah State has the worst offense in all college football. Utah State copied one of the plays that BYU did at the Hurricane game. Remember that game where the four guys went together on a kickoff return? But the catch was that they handed it off forward and the ref threw a flag for an illegal handoff.

One thing that was interesting was that I didn't know John Beck was injured, so Jason Beck had to play. He was pretty good, except for that he needs to work on his throwing a little bit. Because on one of the passes he could have got a touchdown on, he didn't. He overthrew it and it went out of bounds and it was a third down. He passed again, he got a first down and then it was over on the one-yard line. They had a first down. They were trying to get through, but on the first time they didn't. So on the second time they didn't get through either. And the same with the third time, even with Manase Tonga, they didn't get through. Then finally on the fourth down, they didn't get through, and then the half ended.

My favorite player was probably Jonny Harline. He got most of the first downs, and he was really holding onto it this game. At the end of the game, I didn't notice it, but Jonny Harline was walking by over by the Cougar semi, and he held out his hand. I just gave him a high-five. And then I was looking in the book that showed the player's pictures, and then I noticed that that was Jonny Harline! It was really, really cool. At first I thought I would never wash my hand again, but then my mom forced me to.

Today's clips:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why BYU will beat TCU

Reading the title of this post, you might think I'm feeling confident about BYU's chances to beat the TCU Horned Frogs tomorrow. Really, I'm not. When I picked this game in the preseason, I thought BYU would lose.

I picked TCU because I thought too much is stacked against BYU. The game's in Fort Worth. They're playing TCU on just five days rest, while TCU has had a bye week to prepare for the Cougars. Plus the Frogs have already played (and beaten) Texas Tech, which runs a similar offense to what the Cougars run.

But wait; there's more. The key cogs of BYU's offense--the QB and the offensive line--are banged up. John Beck is nursing two high ankle sprains. Eddie Keele, BYU's best O-lineman, is out for the season. Another great lineman, four-year starter Jake Kuresa, is playing with a sprained knee.

But BYU will beat the Horned Frogs...

...because of Curtis Brown and Fui Vakapuna. TCU's played Baylor, I-AA UC Davis and Texas Tech. None of them have had the big bruising backs that BYU has. The Frogs have been holding their opponents to about 35 yards rushing. BYU will get at least 100, even with their patchwork offensive line.

...because of John Beck. Yes, the banged up quarterback. Unlike the rest of the team, he's had a week-and-a-half off, having sat out the game against Utah State. Last year, he shredded the same TCU defense for more than 500 passing yards. This year, even on bad ankles, he shredded an ACC defense (Boston College) for more than 400 yards. Plus, this is John's last real opportunity for a "statement" game. And he WILL make a statement.

...because of BYU's defense. BYU's defense is vastly improved over last year's debacle. Part of it is due to more experience. Part of it is due to a scheme that better utilizes their quick linebackers. Part of it is better coaching in the secondary. TCU's offense hasn't set the world on fire so far this season, and it won't against the Cougars.

...because of revenge. BYU had TCU by the throat last year. Then defensive injuries and a second-string Horned Frog quarterback changed everything. Our boys in blue want this game in the worst way, and that desire is going to put them over the top.

Today's clips:

Monday, September 25, 2006

No cupcakes for the Cougars this week

BYU's win against Utah State was nice, albeit expected. It was so routine that Coach Mendenhall only allowed his players 15 seconds to celebrate the victory. Then the focus was on TCU, when coaches handed players DVDs of Horned Frog game films, assuming they'd go home and watch the DVD till midnight (no practicing on Sundays, boys).

Some would say BYU's focus should have been on TCU during the week leading up to the Utah State game. I don't think so--that's a dangerous precedent for a coach to set. You start overlooking the next game, then your team starts looking further down the road and they lose a game they should win. There's no chance they would have lost to the hapless Aggies, but they could very well lose to team like New Mexico if they are looking ahead to playing Utah in November.

But I'd be really surprised if John Beck wasn't watching film of TCU before Saturday. For all their talk of potentially playing JoBeck last week, their decision was essentially made early in the week, as evidenced by Jason Beck showing up to be interviewed by the media on Wednesday. John really wants this game. The team really wants this game.

TCU will be ready. They are well-coached, talented, and tough. They only allow their opponents about 7 points a game and an average of 35 yards rushing. BYU isn't going to score 50 on them again. It's going to be another close one in Ft. Worth on Thursday. Is this the game that puts BYU over the hump?

Today's clips:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Storylines for the USU game

With the question of a BYU win almost a foregone conclusion, there's still some nice reasons to watch the Cougar football team play USU.

Jason Beck's coming out party. Jason Beck seems like the perfect guy to play QB. He's confident, he's mature, and he doesn't get rattled. Now, if he had a better arm and made better decisions, he might be the Cougars' full-time starter. For now, it will be interesting to see how he does in a game situation against the Aggies.

The reshuffled offensive line. With Eddie Keele--arguably BYU's best offensive lineman--out for the year, and Sete Aulai suspended for one game, BYU's offensive line will be a patchwork, albeit a talented one. Senior guard Jake Kuresa will make his first collegiate start at center, while Travis Bright will take Kuresa's spot at guard and 6-foot-8 David Oswald will replace Keele at tackle. BYU will likely want to run the ball a lot, so it will be interesting to see how this group does.

The Aggie quest to find the end zone. The Logan Blues have scored one touchdown in three games--an interception returned for a touchdown against Wyoming. (The way JaBeck throws interceptions in practice, I wouldn't be surprised to see that happening again.) BYU's defense doesn't want to be the first to give up six to the Aggie "O." Something's got to give.

For Cougar fans like me who grew up enjoying blowouts, this should be a fun game. Too bad I have to watch it on tape delay.

Today's Clips:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Today's clips: