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Monday, October 18, 2010

Game Recap: TCU Horned Frogs 31, Brigham Young Cougars 3

The Brigham Young Cougars game against the TCU Horned Frogs might look “just as expected” to the casual observer, but it was anything but that. BYU had the ball in their hands with two minutes to play in the first half, and they trailed just 3-0. With only 14 yards of total offense to their credit, the Cougars had to be pleased. Then disaster struck.

TCU capitalized on a Jeremy Kerley punt return to the BYU 46-yard line. Two plays later, the score was 10-0. BYU quarterback Jake Heaps threw an interception two plays later that set TCU up at the BYU 38-yard line with 1:12 left in the first half. Three plays later it was 17-0.

The BYU defense had held TCU to 134 yards of offense in the first 28 minutes. TCU needed BYU miscues to pull away.

The real problem for BYU is the pass game. Heaps threw two more interceptions. The extremely short throws prevent BYU from moving the ball. The passing offense is very bland. It is more than a one player problem. The wide receivers should be replaced with extra blockers for the running game. The tight ends aren’t earning their scholarships. Jake Heaps is just a true freshman. As highly touted as he was, and as impressive as he looked in practice, this is what you get with a true freshman: lots of interceptions, few touchdowns.

The problem isn’t limited to the players, either. The coaching staff needs to do more to prepare and groom Heaps. They are wasting this year. Heaps is not running the “BYU offense.” He is running a dumbed down version of it with the goal to avoid making big mistakes that will cost BYU the game. This version also avoids doing what is necessary to win the game. Heaps’ stat line was 14-30, 91 yards, 2 Ints. That is terrible. I would much rather see the completion percentage lower but the number of yards the same. That would mean that BYU is spreading the field, throwing more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and using play action passes to help the tight ends slip past the linebackers. It also means BYU is getting more first downs. If you have 91 yards on 8 completions you are now averaging 11.4 yards per completion as opposed to 6.5. Instead of 2nd and 3 you have a fresh set of downs. Instead of coming up short on 3rd and 8, you get a first down. Extremely short passes to the wide receivers are a waste of a down. If you want two or three yards, hand off the ball. Even with this ultra conservative passing game, Heaps is still throwing interceptions, drives are still being stopped by third down sacks, and BYU is setting a new standard for scoring futility as they are routinely blown out.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Corby Eason’s 7-yard sack that took TCU out of field goal range with 4 minutes to play in the second quarter.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Andrew Rich, 13 tackles (10 unassisted).

Things I watched for:

  1. BYU run game. Except for the lone scoring drive when BYU gained 30 yards on 5 carries, the run game was pathetic. Even when you factor out the -21 yards on three sacks, BYU only had 77 yards on 24 carries (3.2 yards per rush). Remember that 30 of those yards came on 5 carries in a 5 minute stretch. That means BYU gained just 47 yards on the other 21 carries.
  2. The real impact of Bronco taking over the defense. Bronco’s impact has been immense. TCU was averaging over 278 yards rushing per game. BYU held them to 108. Andy Dalton had completed over 80 percent of his passes at home this year. He completed “just” 67% on Saturday. The defense also sacked Dalton twice. That is half as many times as Dalton had been sacked all season.
  3. Beating Number 4. It was really wishful thinking, but with the way the defense played most of the first half, there was still hope. TCU didn’t look like the number 4 team, but BYU isn’t the number 16 team that they were back in 1985.
Other observations:

  • Although it bit BYU in the rear end, running the two-minute offense with 1:30 to play in the first half, down 10-0, was the right thing to do. We have seen BYU score late in the first half and gain a little momentum against Florida State, Nevada, and Utah State. If BYU got even just a field goal before halftime, it would have been huge.
  • I questioned in the game preview whether Gary Patterson would “try and hang as many points on the board as possible.” He appears to have done just that with the throw to the end zone on 4th and 3 on the 21, up 24-3, with 4:26 to play. He couldn’t have been concerned with losing. TCU’s last three runs were for 6, 7 and 7 yards. Why the pass? Why the pass to the end zone? Makes me wonder.
  • One positive on offense was the sacks allowed. After seeing Max Hall go down six times in 2008, and five times in 2009, Jake Heaps was sacked just three times.
  • Maybe BYU couldn’t win, but at least we kept some measure of dignity. TCU was threatening to match BYU’s MWC record for continuous shutout quarters. With 1:14 left in the third quarter, BYU scored to end TCU’s streak at 10, one short of BYU’s 2008 record of 11.
  • As much flack as O’Neill Chambers has received, he does deserve to be patted on the back when he does something good. He is now the school record holder for kickoff return yards with 1,612 in just 2 ½ years.
  • Riley Stephenson had five punts of 50 yards or more (50, 53, 54, 59, 59). Too bad his other two punts were 33 and 28 yards.
NEXT: Wyoming
DATE: October 23, 2010
TIME: 12:00 PM (MDT)

2 comments:

  1. I agree that O'Neill Chambers does deserve some credit rather than just negativity. He is doing well and should be recognised for this!

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  2. Good assessment. A few thoughts, though:

    1. Is less sacks really indicative of better play, or is it just because we dropped back to pass so much less often? I agree, we need to STOP trying to "protect" Heaps and let him try and run a true BYU style offense. It is time to "cut the cord" and let him grow into the quarterback he could be (and that will no doubt come with some painful mistakes down the road).

    2. Not just why did Patterson go for the TD on 4th-and-3, why did he go for it at all? Be respectful and kick the field goal. He claims he was not running up the score, but what do you call going for it on 4th down with the game well in hand and a field goal well within range?

    3. BYU's offense just didn't come out with the same attitude as they had against SDSU. The ran differently...they were not trying to pound it out like before. If they come out like that to start the game, establish the run and open up the passing game, then BYU has a good chance at winning this game.

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