Saturday, November 14, 2009

Game Recap: BYU 24, New Mexico 19

It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win. New Mexico delivered another Lobo special. Over the years Cougar fans have learned to be happy with any kind of win against New Mexico. Just like Oregon State and Stanford have repeatedly upset USC the last few years, New Mexico is that conference foe whose familiarity with BYU results in a game that is often closer than it should be.

In 1996, BYU often registered blowout victories on its way to a 14-1 record. The New Mexico game was 17-14. The high powered 2001 team with Luke Staley and Brandon Doman that started 12-0 squeaked out a 24-20 win against New Mexico. Just last year, BYU won 21-3 in Provo in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.

At the half it looked like BYU was going to pull away. After giving up a touchdown on the opening drive, the defense had shut down New Mexico. The Cougar offense had scored on three of its last four possessions. The lone exception was an interception deep in Lobo territory. You have to credit New Mexico for giving their best when they had no incentives.

As for what I was watching, here is what I saw:
  1. Will Harvey Unga set the career rushing record? He logged 50 yards on eleven attempts. Next week should be the day the record goes down.
  2. Will Max Hall tie Ty Detmer for most career wins as a starting QB for BYU? Yes. Hall performed well (21-33, 314, 2 TD, 1 INT, Passer Rating 157.5), and he will get the credit as the starter, but this was truly a team victory. The defense stepped up when it had to; the offense built an early lead; the special teams blocked a field goal.
  3. Will the new 4-3 defense for New Mexico be effective? Only 24 points and a chance to win in the fourth quarter, I would say the New Mexico defense did its job. Whether it is a 4-3 or the 3-3-5, New Mexico regularly finds ways to shut down BYU’s potent scoring attack.
  4. Will Jan Jorgensen reclaim the MWC sack record? He did get one sack, at a particularly critical moment, too. That sack did put him back in the lead, but Jerry Hughes still has to play today.
  5. Will BYU have its first undefeated season on the road since 1984? Yes. It didn’t come easy, but they have accomplished something special. That we might not see again for a long time.
Other observations:
  • Max Hall is making strides to strengthen his legacy at BYU. After surpassing Jim McMahon in passing yards earlier this season, Hall is now tied with McMahon for second most touchdown passes in school history with 84. Hall also had his second consecutive 300 yard passing day to put him within 400 yards of second place on career passing yards list.
  • Andrew George and Dennis Pitta remind me of the Chad Lewis and Itula Mili days. No doubt, BYU has the best tight end tandem in the country. Pitta gets the attention, but George has routinely made big plays and on any other team he would be the starter.
  • Kick blocking is becoming a special teams specialty. Since the blocked field goal to win the Las Vegas Bowl in 2007, BYU has been blocking kicks on a regular basis. Andrew Rich’s blocked field goal attempt proved to be very valuable in helping the team win today.
Next: November 21 vs. Air Force

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