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Monday, October 25, 2010

Game Recap: Brigham Young Cougars 25, Wyoming Cowboys 20

The Brigham Young Cougars jumped out to a 16-0 lead and held on to beat the Wyoming Cowboys 25-20. Apparently, the gap dividing BYU and Wyoming is so wide that nothing can be done for Wyoming to get a win. No wonder they don't want to play BYU anymore. Wyoming has had a coaching change. BYU lost a plethora of NFL talent from last year’s team (two running backs, two tight ends, and a quarterback), as well as seven starters on defense. The BYU offense even gave Wyoming 10 points on Saturday. In the end, Wyoming came up on the short end for the seventh time in a row.

This was the defense’s day. The BYU defense was more than an impenetrable wall in the first half—they were a rush of water overflowing the banks of the Laramie River. BYU held Wyoming to -18 yards of offense in the first half. Wyoming ended the game with just 173 yards (110 pass, 63 rush). For the game, the D registered 12 tackles for a loss and three sacks, with six quarterback hurries.

True to Bronco Mendenhall’s word, BYU used a run first mentality on offense led by the trio tandem of Bryan Kariya (88 yards), J.J. Di Luigi (82 yards), and Joshua Quezada (59 yards). This offensive philosophy has worked against San Diego State and Wyoming, and it might be enough to get BYU to a bowl this year, but it is not the long-term solution. As teams start preparing for this new style of attack, BYU must have a real passing game. Passing yards have dropped from 126 to 91 to 81 this week since BYU adopted this run first mentality. Emphasizing the run is probably the right approach, at this time, but BYU should still have a goal of 150 passing yards a game. Without 150 yards, I don’t like BYU’s chances against Utah, especially, and possibly New Mexico (as bad as they are, they always play better against BYU, like last year).

PLAY OF THE GAME: Kyle Van Noy batting down Austyn Carta-Samuel’s pass on 4th and 10 with 27 seconds left to seal the win.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Vic So’oto-4 tackles (3 tackles for loss), 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries

What I was watching:

  1. Another shutout? No. Jake Heaps’ pick six with four minutes to play in the second quarter ended 10 consecutive shut out quarters. Another turnover deep in BYU territory gave Wyoming three more points. Even with -18 yards total offense, Wyoming still had 10 points. While it doesn’t make sense mathematically, I really wonder if 20-10 = 0 would have been true Saturday. In other words, if the offense hadn’t given Wyoming its first 10 points, it is hard to imagine that Wyoming could have ever gained enough momentum on its own to score its second 10 points.
  2. How much run? BYU ran the ball 51 times for 217 yards on the day. The Cougars only threw the ball 18 times. Still close to a 3:1 ratio like the San Diego State game.
  3. Independent Impact. Any bitter feelings still harbored by the Cowboys regarding BYU’s move for independence did not influence how this game was played out on the field. As stated, BYU was well on its way to another shutout. It was miscues by the BYU offense that made this game close.
  4. Bowl hopes. They are still alive for BYU. I am not going to count any chickens before they hatch, and I hope the team is doing the same.
  5. More new records? Jake Heaps tied Matt Berry’s record for most wins by a freshman quarterback (two). The touchdown passes drought might be a new record (5¼ games—second quarter of game 3 to fourth quarter of game 8). It was really good to see that streak stop. The BYU record books don’t keep track of least yards allowed in one half, but the -18 yards total offense by Wyoming has to be close to, if not, a new low for yard allow in one half.
Other observations:
  • Kyle Van Noy a freshman All-American? The site High in the Blue points out that a BYU player has been a member of the freshman All-American team every year since 2003. Van Noy has really stepped up the last few weeks. If he keeps this up he might be the player to keep this steak going.
  • Field position was phenomenal for BYU to start the game. After the defense, field position was the second biggest reason the Cougars won the game. BYU started the game on its own 42 yard line. Touchdown. Later in the first quarter, BYU started a drive on the Wyoming 33 yard line. Touchdown. Those short fields leading to early touchdowns were a difference maker.
  • Shades of 1996. This game had some disturbing similarities to the 1996 BYU-Wyoming game for the WAC Championship. Fourteen years ago, BYU jumped out to a 13-0 lead. The game turned around when the Wyoming defense turned a BYU turnover (fumble) into a touchdown. BYU also scored on a safety in the 1996 game. Of course, not everything was the same, but what matters most—win—was the same both years.
NEXT: UNLV
DATE: November 6, 2010
TIME: 12:00 PM

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