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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Game Recap: Utah Utes 17, Brigham Young Cougars 16

The Brigham Young Cougars saw victory slip through their grasp, several times, in a game that they controlled most of the way. BYU built a 13-0 lead after three quarters behind a strong defensive effort. The Cougar D disrupted Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn to the point that Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham benched Wynn to start the second half. When the defense intercepted two Terrence Cain passes, Wynn was reinserted to the game.

That is when things started falling apart for BYU. Wynn led Utah to a field goal his first drive back into the game. Three plays later, Jake Heaps and Joshua Quezada, both freshman, had a problem on the hand off exchange, which resulted in a fumble that Utah recovered. Utah cut the Cougars' lead to 3 on the very next play with a touchdown.

Led by Heaps, BYU maintained its composure and drove 56 yards in 15 plays, and kicked a field goal to push the lead back to six. While the field goal was nice, it looked like BYU was going to get more than that. On 3rd and 6 from the Utah 41, Heaps found McKay Jacobson alone behind the coverage for a 28-yard gain down to the Utah 13. A 12-yard sack the next play limited BYU to the three points.

The BYU defense forced Utah to punt on their next drive. However, the Utah punter shanked the kick, and BYU's misfortunes continued. Normally, shanked kicks land harmlessly on the turf. This one, however, hit a BYU player defending one of the Utah cover men. Utah recovered. Two plays later Brandon Bradley made his first career interception. As he was falling to the turf, a Utah player stripped him of the ball. Video replay showed that Bradley was down before fumbling the ball, but the replay officials in the booth still upheld the ruling on the field. Three plays later, Utah scored to take its first and only lead of the game.

The BYU offense came on to the field unfazed by the bizarre turn of events on the defensive and special teams sides of the ball. Highlighted by a 22-yard Heaps to Devin Mahina pass and a 12-yard Heaps to Jacobson connection, the Cougars moved into field goal range with under a minute to play. BYU ran the clock down to four seconds. Senior Mitch Payne came on to attempt his fourth field goal of the game, and first game winning attempt of his career.

Victory was there for the taking. Utah took it instead, blocking Payne's kick to go home the winners, 17-16 .

PLAY OF THE GAME: Shane Hunter interception with 10:30 to go in the third, returned 46 yards to the Utah 19. Set up Heaps to Jacobson TD to push lead to 13.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jake Heaps, 22 of 37, 228 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.

Things to watch for:
  1. The run game. The BYU run game regressed about 20 years. BYU's 37 rushes netted just 65 yards. Joshua Quezada's fumble started the flood of misfortune. The immediate consequence was a Utah touchdown, and the long-term effect was BYU losing the game.
  2. The passing game. The passing game passed this test. Heaps had better numbers than Max Hall ever did against Utah. Receivers were open and tight ends were making plays. In contrast to most of the season, the passing game was the Cougars' strength.
  3. Winning record/Bowl Position. Hopefully this devastating ending will inspire the team to come out and dominate in the bowl and go into the offseason on a huge high that will prove to be a catalyst that results in BYU making a huge splash as an independent next year. The loss may result in BYU being relegated to one of the bottom MWC bowl games, which makes a blowout bowl win more likely.
  4. Heaps' Freshman Legacy. Even in the loss, Jake Heaps' freshman legacy grew by leaps and bounds. He did everything necessary to win. When BYU was ahead in the fourth quarter he converted third downs by making big time throws. When BYU fell behind, he made the plays necessary to get BYU in field goal range. Heaps played with a poise that is rarely seen in a quarterback, regardless of his class status.

Other observations:

  • Mckay Jacobson. After having a severely disappointing junior season, Jacobson was the team's leading receiver making 7 catches for 92 yards and the teams only touchdown.
  • Second guessing. Up 6-0, early in the third quarter, and facing a fourth and one at the Utah 14 yard line. A field goal would have been automatic. The game would have become a two score game. Theoretically, BYU would have still been up two 19-17 and could run out the clock, rather than depend on a last second field goal to win.
  • Deja-vu. This was another game that had too many unfinished drives. BYU kicked three field goals. If just one of them finished as a touchdown instead, BYU wins this game. In 2000, BYU had to make a miracle comeback because the Cougars settled on field goals four times. The same thing happened in 2007. BYU led all game, but Utah was able to take a 10-9 lead near the end because BYU only scored on three field goals.
  • Deja-vu II. BYU won the Las Vegas Bowl in 2007, 17-16. It took a blocked field goal in the final seconds to secure that win. Back in 2004, BYU was on the road against a ranked opponent. Down one with less than a minute to play, BYU lined up kick a game winning field goal. Matt Payne, Mitch's older brother, missed the field goal and BYU lost to Boise State 28-27.
  • Killer Instinct. With all the questions that could be asked after this game, my biggest question is: Where is the killer instinct? It has been missing for several years, and it tends to be a problem most often against Utah.
2000: BYU led Utah 26-10 after three quarters. Rather than put the game away with one more score, BYU allows Utah to score 17 fourth quarter points to take the lead late.
2006: BYU jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but needed a 19 point fourth quarter to come away victorious.
2007: BYU controlled the game, and could have put Utah away several times. Yet, with 1:30 left in the game, the Cougars found themselves down by one. It took a miracle 4th and 18 play to win.
2009: BYU led 20-6 with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. The game ends up going into overtime tied 20-20 before BYU could finally win.

NEXT: Bowl Game.
DATE: To Be Determined.

6 comments:

  1. Considering all the circumstances, Heaps was phenomenal. And the INT shouldn't count, because it came off of a tipped ball.

    BYU was robbed though. There WAS INDISPUTABLE VIDEO EVIDENCE that Bradley WAS DOWN WITH POSSESSION!!! The was the interception we needed, and then the officials took it away!!

    Also, I was frustrated that we got so conservative on the last drive. After Heaps makes several great plays to get us into field goal range, we settled. DON'T settle and you could score a TD and win, or at least get a closer, better field goal try - which could have changed everything.

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  2. Yeah yeah yeah.... There are bad calls made in every game. Fans will ALWAYS have something to complain about. Stop whining and accept that Utah won this year. It's a fun rivalry, don't make it into a life changing necessesity to always have one team win. The Utah-BYU game has been close to a 50% win for both sides. It's all fair and even. By the way, there is no "INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE". The cameras were filming at all angles, but no one but the two players actually know what happened. Yes, I have seen the footage and I was at the game. Don't go running around like a sore loser whining that a bad call was made, who knows what really happened.

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  3. Anonymous--not sure if you are talking to me or to Neal. There is no complaining or whining on my part. Some frustration, yes. I identified some things I think BYU needs to work on (finishing drives, putting teams away), and that goes for every game. I focused on when it has happened in the BYU-Utah games because it applies better than the 2006 BYU-BC game.

    Not sure what you mean by no "indisputable evidence." If that is the case, then no ruling on the field should ever be overturned. I don't think either of the players really knows what happened. The Utah player was just focused on stripping the ball. He doesn't know if Bradley was down or not. It all happened so fast, I don't think Bradley knows whether he was down or not. Which is exactly why the NCAA has allowed video review. Regardless, if Bradley better secured the ball, the replay is a non-issue.

    Neal--I understand your point about the play calling, but you have to look at the other side. What if Heaps has another pass tipped and intercepted? What if Heaps is sacked for a big loss, like he was the series before, and BYU is taken out of field goal range?

    Payne had already kicked three field goals, and his last was about the same distance. Kicking the field goal was I would have done as the coach. BYU just blew it by letting that guy get in and block it.

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  4. Editor - You may want to take a look at the actual rule, which explicitly requires indisputable video evidence.

    The NCAA Football rule on video replay is: "The instant replay process operates under the fundamental assumption that the ruling on the field is correct. The replay official may reverse a ruling if and only if the video evidence convinces him BEYOND ALL DOUBT that the ruling was incorrect. Without such INDISPUTABLE VIDEO EVIDENCE, the replay official must allow the ruling to stand." (Rule 12, Sec. 1, Art. 2, caps for emphasis, mine.) You can see it yourself here: http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/FR09.pdf

    I have watched the replay of the fumble/strip incident many times. Although the video clearly shows a knee down, it's at best unclear what is happening with the football and Bradley's hands when his knee is down. When viewed from behind, his right arm appears to be nowhere near the football when it is not obscured.

    On the flip side, there was a situation where this requirement for indisputable video evidence went in favor of BYU and against Utah when BYU's player was out of bounds and appeared to still be bobbling the football, but the decision on the field that he had control was upheld -- evidently the apparent bobbling was not indisputable video evidence that he did not have control.

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  5. Dear Editor - Why did you delete my prior comment? Is it because it contradicts your theory on "indisputable evidence?" As I mentioned in that (now-deleted) comment, "indisputable evidence" is the standard explicitly required by the NCAA rules:

    "The replay official may reverse a ruling if and only if the video evidence convinces him beyond all doubt that the ruling was incorrect. Without such indisputable video evidence, the replay official must allow the ruling to stand." (Rule 12, Section 1, Article 2.)

    When in doubt, check the actual rules.

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  6. I didn't delete your prior comment. That's the honest truth. As I have stated before, as long as there is no name calling, no foul language, and no spam in a comment, it will not be deleted. If you read all the comments on every post, you would see that I don't delete any of the comments, even when they criticize my point of view.

    I am not sure where the problem is (if it is your server or something with Google's platform), but I will send a message to them inquiring why so many comments have been lost recently.

    As for the NCAA rules on replay reversal, that language is very protective of the replay official. All anyone has to say is the "video evidence did not convince him beyond all doubt." Pretty hard to argue with someone when they say that. The whole reason a play is reviewed is because the ruling on the field was questionable in the first place.

    Did you send this to San Diego State, and the MWC? Sure would have been nice for someone to come to BYU's defense and taken this position when BYU was under scrutiny.

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