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Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Highlights: 2010 Season

With today being the last day of 2010, it seems appropriate to have highlights of the 2010 football season. A link to highlights put together by Sprint, an official sponsor of BYU football is below. Enjoy!

BYU 2010 Season Highlights

I wish everyone a happy new year. BYU FOOTBALL TALK is looking forward to 2011 with great excitement and anticipation. Next week will be the 2010 Season recap, and I will lay out what can be expected from January until September when a fresh set of games begins. There is a lot to look forward to.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at byufootballtalk@gmail.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Trivia: Most Total Offense In Bronco Mendenhall Era

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "How many times has BYU played in a bowl game after Christmas day?" is 13. BYU has played before Christmas 15 times and on Christmas Day once (Aloha Bowl, 1992). The first bowl game BYU played after Christmas was also their very first bowl game—1974 Fiesta Bowl (December 28).

On to this week’s question. BYU averaged 366.5 yards of total offense per game in 2010. It was, by far, the worst average since Bronco Mendenhall took over as coach in 2005. For this week’s trivia question, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum.
What is the MOST yards of total offense, per game, by BYU since Bronco took over as head coach in 2005 (Bonus Point if you get the year right)?
Leave your answer in the comments section. Come back next week when the answer is revealed and a new trivia question is asked.

More trivia questions can be found on the Trivia page.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at byufootballtalk@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 20, Colorado Buffaloes 17 (Freedom Bowl V)

Twenty-two years ago, today, the Brigham Young Cougars broke a three game bowl losing streak with a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado came into the game as the seventh best rushing team in the country averaging 281.4 yards per game. It was BYU, however, that started the game with two big run plays. A fumble on the third play turned the ball over to Colorado at midfield. The Buffaloes capitalized with a touchdown. Later in the first quarter, BYU tied the game at 7 with a 90-yard, 8 play drive capped by a Sean Covey to Mike Salido 19-yard touchdown pass.

The touchdown pass to Salido was Covey's only memorable moment. In the second quarter he threw a bad pass into the end zone that was intercepted. Covey was just 4 of 10 for 39 yards in the first half. Trailing 14-7, LaVell Edwards decided to play Ty Detmer at quarterback in the second half. Detmer's first play was a 21-yard completion to tight end Darren Handley.

Detmer's first drive stalled and BYU had to punt the ball back to Colorado. BYU got the ball right back when Brian Mitchell intercepted a Colorado pass on the very next play. This time, BYU finished what they started and tied the game at 14 when Detmer found Chuck Cutler in the end zone from 15 yards out.

In the fourth quarter, Colorado used a fake field goal to get inside the BYU 10-yard line. The Cougar D stiffened. Tim Clark got in the back field and made a tackle for a loss of seven yards. On third down, free safety Scott Peterson stopped Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy short of the goal line. This time, Colorado kicked the field goal.

BYU muffed the ensuing kickoff and had to start at their own 8-yard line. A false start penalty pushed them back to the four. Detmer, however, drove BYU as close as the Colorado 10-yard line before BYU had to kick a field goal with 4:11 to play to tie the game.

Needing to stop Colorado for a final chance to take the lead, Peterson made a leaping one handed interception to get BYU the ball back in Colorado territory. With 2:33 to play, Jason Chaffetz kicked a game winning 35-yard field goal.

BYU outscored Colorado 13-3 in the second half to win 20-17. Detmer was named the offensive MVP. He finished the game 11 of 17 for 129 yards and one touchdown. Matt Bellini was both the leading receiver with 4 receptions for 41 yards and the leading rusher (8 carries, 78 yards). As a team, BYU rushed for 152 yards, which was a BYU bowl record at that time.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

You can watch the full game, here.

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Poll Results: Where does the New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP rank among BYU's 11 bowl wins?
Brigham Young Cougars Coaching Changes
Friday Highlights: Las Vegas Bowl 2009 (Brigham Young Cougars vs. Oregon State)
Thursday Trivia: Post Christmas Bowl Games

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Poll Results: Where does the New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP rank among BYU's 11 bowl wins?

The majority (52%) think the New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP is the sixth best bowl win in BYU history, making it dead center among the 11 bowl wins. Only 4% think that the New Mexico bowl win was one of the better bowl wins (top 5), and the other 44% of voters think that it is one of the bottom 5.

I would side with the 44% in this case. BYU has had four bowl wins over teams ranked when they played (SMU, 1980; Washington State, 1981; Kansas State, 1996; and Oregon State, 2009). I think any bowl win over a ranked team is better than a blowout of a 6-6 team. I would also include the 1984 Holiday Bowl win to secure the national championship in the top 5. The number 6 spot would be either the 1994 Copper Bowl (31-6 over Oklahoma) or the 1988 Freedom Bowl (20-17 over Colorado).

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?"

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Brigham Young Cougars Coaching Changes
Friday Highlights: Las Vegas Bowl 2009 (Brigham Young Cougars vs. Oregon State)
Thursday Trivia: Post Christmas Bowl Games
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 44, Oregon State Beavers 20 (Las Vegas 2009)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brigham Young Cougars Coaching Changes

When Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall fired defensive coordinator Jaime Hill in early October, it should have put BYU's other assistant coaches on notice. Now, BYU is accepting applications for the position of Assistant Football Coach. None of the other coaches have been fired, but it is looking ominous that not everyone will be back next season. The offensive side of the ball looks to be the most volatile.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
How the dominoes fall will largely depend on what happens with current offensive coordinator Robert Anae. Depending on a person's persuasion, fairly strong cases can be made to retain Anae or to release him. If Anae is ultimately let go, it could be for any one, or all, of the following three reasons:
  1. He is not getting along well with the other coaches and players.
  2. He is underachieving with what he has.
  3. He needs to go so BYU can keep Brandon Doman on staff.
With no disrespect to Coach Anae, let's assume that he is not on staff for BYU in 2011. Who could fill this spot?

Brandon Doman
First in line is current quarterback coach Brandon Doman. Doman is a good candidate for several reasons. He has been on staff since Coach Mendenhall took over in 2005. That makes him familiar with what has been happening. He knows the players; what they can and can't do, and how to get the most out of them. The BYU offense doesn't need to be revamped. It has been very successful the last six years. Doman could start immediately to make subtle changes that yield dramatic improvements in the fall. Perhaps the best reason to promote Doman to offensive coordinator is that he could bring Bronco's intensity and personality to the offensive side of the ball.

Darrell Bevell
If Doman is not offered the position, or he turns the position down, then Darrell Bevell might be the right man for the job. Bevell is the current offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He had a stellar college career as a Wisconsin Badger that included a Rose Bowl victory. The Vikings coaching structure is up in the air right now with Brad Childress being fired earlier this year. Bevell might prefer to move down to the college level after going through the whole Brett Favre drama and knowing just how hard it is to succeed in the NFL without a great quarterback.

Danny White
Max Hall's uncle, and former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Danny White might be interested in the job. He has coached several years in the Arena Football League and even won two Arena Bowl Championships.

Josh Heupel
Josh Heupel won a BCS National Championship with the Oklahoma Sooners 10 years ago. He can bring valuable experience about the culture and mindset that is required for a program to get to the top in the modern BCS era. Currently, he is merely the co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. He might be interested in jumping ship if he could have that title all to himself at BYU.

QUARTERBACK COACH
If Doman is promoted to offensive coordinator, then that would create a vacancy for a new quarterback coach. With the last two BYU quarterbacks in the NFL, and five star recruit Jake Heaps currently at the helm, BYU is one of the premier places to coach quarterbacks. There should be no shortage of qualified candidates lining up to fill this spot. Four names stick out as candidates to coach this position and help continue BYU's rich quarterback tradition.

Ty Detmer
Ty Detmer is not only the most popular man for the job, he is the most decorated BYU quarterback ever. Coaching is in Detmer's genes. His father was a great football coach in Texas. Detmer would bring 14 years of NFL experience rubbing shoulders with some of the greatest quarterbacks and offensive minds of all-time. Detmer seems to be someone who could mesh well with Bronco and who could keep his ego in check enough to not have a problem with a younger Brandon Doman being above him. While Detmer may be set financially and not need this job, this position will be attractive to him if he is serious about a coaching career. He won't get any better offer after an 0-10 season with St. Andrews Episcopal School (Austin, TX).

Paul Peterson
Paul Peterson was a graduate assistant at BYU in 2006. He has been at Southern Utah University (SUU) the last few seasons as the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator/recruiting coordinator. During that time, SUU has shown steady improvement as a team and in the passing game. SUU had a 3,000 yard passer with a 21:6 touchdown to interception ratio this past season. In 2009, the Thunderbirds passed for over 3,000 yards as a team. Peterson is a Bingham High School product who played at Snow College and Boston College.

Gary Sheide
The first star quarterback under LaVell Edwards was Gary Sheide. He has been coaching at Lone Peak High School in Utah. Many credit him for developing Lone Peak's prized quarterback recruit Chase Hansen.

Joe Germaine
Like Darrell Bevell, Joe Germaine had a successful college career playing in the Big Ten. As quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Germaine was named the 1997 Rose Bowl MVP. His best season with Ohio State, he passed for 3,330 yards and tossed 25 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. He had a five year NFL career. Currently he is coaching at Queen Creek High School in Arizona. He was previously the quarterback coach at Basha High School, also in Arizona.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Without an All-American tight end or wide receiver, a glaring deficiency in the coaching at this position came to light. BYU may have its best collection of talent at receiver next year. It would be a shame to have the enormous potential go unrealized because BYU does not have the right coach.

Ben Cahoon
The only former BYU receiver who could be qualified to coach and who has recent professional experience is Ben Cahoon. He set the Canadian Football League record for most career receptions this past year, and he has played in several Grey Cup Championship games. Cahoon has regularly worked informally with BYU receivers during times that players cannot have contact with the coaches.

Kevin Curtis
Kevin Curtis is another product of Bingham High School. He has had success in the NFL. Injuries and being diagnosed with cancer kept him out of the league for a little while, but he just signed with the Miami Dolphins. As tempting as trying to have a renaissance in the NFL may be, he might be willing to hang up his cleats if offered this job.

I don't have any other specific names, but if I were Bronco, I would look at the receivers coaches at schools with good passing games that highly involve wide receivers. Heaps has a strong arm and a preference to throw down field more than BYU has done in recent years. Two schools that come to mind are San Diego State and Boise State.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Bronco should to everything necessary to retain Mark Weber as offensive line coach. The line was great in 2008. In 2009, he worked a miracle replacing four starters without missing a beat. After a shaky start this year, the offensive line was solid and deserves much of the credit for the success during the second half of the season.

RUNNING BACKS
The same can be said for Lance Reynolds. This year was the first year since 2004 that BYU did not have a 1,000 yard rusher (J.J. Di Luigi was very close with 917). However, it was the first time BYU has ever had three running backs with at least 500 yards rushing.

The job opening that BYU has indicates applications will be received until January 4, 2011. Until then, we will have to enjoy the speculation and the bevy of bowl games.

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Friday Highlights: Las Vegas Bowl 2009 (Brigham Young Cougars vs. Oregon State)
Thursday Trivia: Post Christmas Bowl Games
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 44, Oregon State Beavers 20 (Las Vegas 2009)
Poll Results: How does Will Muschamp leaving Texas impact BYU's chances of beating Texas in 2011?
New Mexico Bowl Recap: Brigham Young Cougars 52, UTEP Miners 24

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Highlights: Las Vegas Bowl 2009 (Brigham Young Cougars vs. Oregon State)

Merry Christmas!!! I hope everyone has a very special day with the ones they care for the most.

Since there are no more games to preview on Fridays, I will fill Friday with a highlight video. When possible, I will match the highlights with the weekly flashback or the weekly trivia. That makes this week's highlights from the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon State. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Trivia: Post Christmas Bowl Games

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "What is the most points BYU has scored in a bowl game?" was 46 against SMU in Holiday Bowl III (1980). Incidentally, BYU just scored 52 points against UTEP last Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl.

On to this week’s question. Typically, most bowl games are played after Christmas. BYU, however, has not played in a bowl game after Christmas since 2001. Therefore, this week’s question is:
How many times has BYU played in a bowl game after Christmas day?
Leave your answer in the comments section. Come back next week when the answer is revealed and a new trivia question is asked.

More trivia questions can be found on the Trivia page.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 44, Oregon State Beavers 20 (Las Vegas 2009)

Exactly 365 days ago, the Brigham Young Cougars faced the Oregon State Beavers in the very first Las Vegas Bowl to ever pit two nationally ranked teams against each other. The boys in blue, royal blue to honor the 1984 national championship team, made sure only one team would maintain its national ranking.

Less than ideal weather (strong winds) required each team make game time adjustments. BYU quarterback Max Hall needed just one pass attempt to adjust to throwing into the wind. The Oregon State quarterback struggled all night to adapt. BYU punter Riley Stephenson was able to adjust his punts to average 27 yards punting into the wind, while the Oregon State punter maintained the status quo and twice punted the ball just six yards.

The play of the game came early. With just under two minutes to play in the first quarter, Oregon State attempted a swing pass to Jaquizz Rodgers. Rodgers couldn’t get a handle on the ball, which, by the way, was a backwards lateral. In a very heads up move, Jordan Pendleton ignored to ball on the turf and flattened Rodgers. This allowed Matt Bauman to pick up the ball and race 34 yards for a TD. That gave BYU its first lead of the game. The Cougars never relinquished it.

Max Hall made sure to put the game out of reach with one touchdown pass in each of the second and third quarters. With a 30-7 lead going into the fourth quarter, Manase Tonga finished off the Beavers. Early in the third quarter, he hauled in Hall’s third TD pass of the night. Tonga scored a second TD almost ten minutes later to give BYU its larges lead of the night, 44-13.

Highlighted by the fumble return for a TD, the Cougar D played one of its best games of the year. They completely stymied Oregon State’s dynamic duo—the Rodger’s brothers. They only combined for 120 yards of total offense. The D only allowed Oregon State to convert on 5 of 16 third downs, and 2 of 6 fourth downs. The defensive front spent most of the night in the Beavers’ backfield making several tackles for loss. Scott Johnson diffused Oregon State’s late attempt at a comeback by intercepting a pass and racing 56 yards the other way.

The 24 point win was the third largest margin of victory in BYU bowl history (at that point). The 44 points were the second most in BYU bowl history (at that point).

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

You can watch the full game here.

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Poll Results: How does Will Muschamp leaving Texas impact BYU's chances of beating Texas in 2011?
New Mexico Bowl Recap: Brigham Young Cougars 52, UTEP Miners 24
New Mexico Bowl Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. UTEP Miners
Thursday Trivia: Most Points Scored In A Bowl Game    

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poll Results: How does Will Muschamp leaving Texas impact BYU's chances of beating Texas in 2011?

Our latest poll question has closed. The majority (56%) think that BYU's chances of beating Texas in 2011 improved with Will Muschamp leaving his position as defensive coordinator for the Longhorns and taking the head coaching job at Florida. The other 44% think that Muschamp's move will have no impact on the outcome of the BYU-Texas game next September. Zero people voted that this would hurt BYU's chances to win.

I agree with the majority this time. Muschamp was the best defensive coordinator in the nation. It is impossible for the Texas defense not to take a step back, at least early in the season, with Muschamp's departure. While I think it improves BYU's chances to win, it is far from being the X factor. If BYU wins this game next season, it will be because of what BYU does, not because of something that happens at Texas. I am talking about execution, game planning, preparation, and player maturation.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote on this week's poll: "Where does the New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP rank among BYU's 11 bowl wins?"

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Mexico Bowl Recap: Brigham Young Cougars 52, UTEP Miners 24

A big play on special teams prevented the Brigham Young Cougars from winning the last game of the regular season. In the New Mexico Bowl against the UTEP Miners, a big special teams play helped BYU get the ball rolling very early. JD Falslev returned a UTEP punt 43 yards after the Cougar D stopped the Miners on the first series of the game. It took only four plays for BYU to cover the remaining 37 yards and get into the end zone. BYU pushed the lead to 14-0 on their next possession.

After trading field goals to end the first quarter, UTEP appeared poised to make this game competitive. That was when Brandon Ogletree intercepted a UTEP pass to set the offense up at the UTEP 31-yard line. Jake Heaps wasted no time going deep to Cody Hoffman for a touchdown on the very next play. With a commanding 24-3 lead, there was no turning back.

With a 31-10 lead to start the second half, BYU didn’t come out complacent. They tacked on 14 more in the third quarter, and just three minutes into the final period the Cougars had built a commanding 52-17 lead. Time to clear the benches.

This bowl helps put a positive spin on one of the most unique seasons of football at BYU. It is easy to question what could have been, but then there is the saying all’s well that ends well. Of course, what happens the next two to three years will determine whether all the turmoil this year ends well.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Brandon Ogletree interception on the first play of the second quarter setting up the Heaps to Hoffman TD. The interception put the “writing on the wall.”

CO-PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Andrew Rich—2 interceptions (43 total return yards), 5 tackles, 1 sack; Jake Heaps—25-34 (73.5%), 264 yards, 4 TD, 1 Int.

Things to watch for:
  1. Licking their chops. The BYU defense didn’t disappoint. They registered four sacks for -58 yards, intercepted 3 passes (new BYU bowl record), held UTEP to -12 rushing yards and 233 total yards (the rushing yards is a new BYU bowl record).
  2. Continued emergence. McKay Jacobson was the second leading receiver pulling in 4 receptions for 32 yards. Two of those receptions were for first downs in the first quarter. The tight end position had 5 receptions for 40 yards with three tight ends accounting for these totals. Not exactly what BYU is accustom to and needs from that position, but still much better than the first half of the season. In the end, it was Cody Hoffman who was Heaps’ go to guy. Hoffman had over half of Heaps’ 264 passing yards, and three of the four TD passes.
  3. Continued growth. The UTEP defense wasn’t a great measuring stick to measure Jake Heaps’ progress. Heaps was the game’s offensive player of the game, and he had his second best game, by the numbers. In the game preview, I compared the UTEP defense to the Colorado State defense, and Heaps had comparable completion percentages (73.5 to 75.0), touchdown passes (4 to 4), and passing yards (264 to 242). Heaps’ pass efficiency Saturday (171.7) was his second best of the season (the first being the Colorado State game). As far as the intangibles (command of the offense, leadership, etc.), Heaps has proven that he is the man for the job. He should be the undisputed starter for 2011.
  4. Coming back to haunt you. For the second year in a row, Bronco Mendenhall turned the tables, in a major way, on a coach or a team that had ties with him back to his playing days. If you ask some of the New Mexico Lobo fans, they may say he came back to haunt them as well. They could be feeling the sting, still, thinking about how they lost Mendenhall to BYU several years ago.
  5. Two in a row. BYU has now won two bowl games in a row five times. These most recent two are arguably the most impressive win streak. BYU has outscored its opponents 96-44. The 96 points is a BYU bowl record over two consecutive bowl games.
Other observations:
  • Bowl Records. BYU was breaking school bowl records left and right in the New Mexico Bowl. Here are the ones that I came up with:
    Team
    Time of possession-38:16
    Passes Intercepted-3
    Least yards rushing allowed-(-12)
    Most rushing yards-219
    Most points scored-52
    Most points scored in back-to-back bowls-96

    Individual
    Most TD passes-4, Jake Heaps (tie),
    Most TD receptions-3, Cody Hoffman (tie),
    Highest completion percentage-73.5%, Jake Heaps,
    Most passes intercepted-2, Andrew Rich (tie).
  • The official BYU football website lists several other records that were set. To view them, you can click here.
  • Get used to it. For the second time in three games, freshmen have been the team leaders in passing (Heaps, 264 yards), rushing (Joshua Quezada, 101 yards), and receiving (Hoffman, 137 yards). Something tells me that these three will be team leaders several times next year as well.
  • The corner blitz. Corby Eason has given the defense a new weapon: the corner blitz. Andrew Rich even got in on it and registered a sack on the first drive. Eason ended the year with 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss. Not bad for a reserve cornerback.
  • Going out in style. BYU has left the Mountain West Conference on a high. A big win in a stadium of a MWC school. Whether beloved or hated by the other MWC schools and fan bases, BYU has to be satisfied with the last impression that they left.
  • UTEP vs. Colorado State. As noted, I compared the UTEP defense with the Colorado State defense before the game. Well, the results were similar. Total points: 49 (CSU), 52 (UTEP). Total yards: 526 (CSU), 514 (UTEP). Bottom line is that the BYU offense had its way with each team.

Editor's Note: BYU Football Talk will continue with the regular weekly schedule for Poll Questions, Flashbacks, and Trivia questions all during the offseason. Additional details are forthcoming on what else can be expected from January to August.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Mexico Bowl Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. UTEP Miners

The Brigham Young Cougars will kick off the bowl season against the UTEP Miners Saturday in the New Mexico bowl. This is a game with two teams that took different roads to get there. BYU needed to finish the year 4-1 to qualify for a bowl. UTEP started the year 5-1 and only needed to win one of their last five games to qualify.

In reality, the New Mexico Bowl is the bowl apologists dream. Two 6-6 teams that many people think shouldn’t play in the post season. However, every player on both teams is thrilled to be here. UTEP has won 6 games for the first time since 2005. That means every single player on the roster has never been to a bowl. This is the biggest game of their careers.

BYU is accustomed to much more success than this. An attempt to reload unraveled and the Cougars found themselves at 1-4 one month into the season. A remarkable turnaround followed. The seniors should be ecstatic to play in one final game, to keep BYU’s continuous bowl streak alive, and to go out as winners. The plethora of freshman who have been an integral part of the team this year are having their first taste of the bowl experience. The sophomores and juniors who know better should be grateful for one more chance to salvage this season and start making 2011 better than this one.

BYU should come out breathing fire. Remember that a winning season hinges on the outcome of this game, that the Utah game ended so disappointingly, that a bowl game was an afterthought two months ago, and that the momentum from this game can carry BYU a very long way in 2011.

The UTEP defense is 86th in the nation in total yards allowed per game, 90th in rushing yards allowed per game, and 73rd in passing yards allowed. For comparison, that puts the UTEP defense just a notch above the Colorado State defense (97th, 102nd, and 77th, respectively). For those who forgot, BYU scored 49 points against the Rams, in Ft. Collins.

Things to watch for:
  1. Licking their chops. The BYU defense should be licking their chops. UTEP’s offense goes through quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, but he is limping with an ankle injury. Vic So’oto, Matt Putnam, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Kyle Van Noy, Shane Hunter, and the gang need to set up shop in the UTEP backfield. Create chaos and disruption.
  2. Continued emergence. McKay Jacobson and the tight ends had a miniature coming out party in the Utah game. Will they continue to establish themselves, or will Cody Hoffman, Luke Ashworth, and J.J. Di Luigi be the go to guys in the passing game?
  3. Continued growth. Jake Heaps has grown right before our eyes ever since the bye week. He came out of the Utah game a man. A bowl game is another great opportunity for him to have extra time to work on weaknesses and come out and play the best game of his career.
  4. Coming back to haunt you. Bronco Mendenhall came back to haunt his alma mater last year as BYU destroyed Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. This year, Bronco is facing off against a coach (Mike Price) who recruited him while Bronco was a junior college player.
  5. Two in a row. With a win, BYU matches its longest bowl game win streak. Sure it is nothing to brag about, but at least BYU has done it four different times.
All-time Series: BYU leads 28-7-1
Last: BYU won 31-14 (1998)
Streak: BYU won 1

KICKOFF: 12:00 PM (MDT)
TV: ESPN / ESPN3.com
RADIO: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, http://www.ksl.com/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Trivia: Most Points Scored In A Bowl Game

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "How many times has a BYU player been consensus All-American?" is 13 times by eleven different players. They include quarterbacks, offensive and defensive linemen, tight ends, and a running back. Here is a list of the players and the year(s) that they were consensus All-American.
Marc Wilson, quarterback, 1979
Nick Eyre, offensive line, 1980
Jim McMahon, quarterback, 1981
Gordon Hudson, tight end, 1982 and 1983
Steve Young, quarterback, 1983
Jason Buck, defensive line, 1986
Mohammed Elewonibi, offensive line, 1989
Chris Smith, tight end, 1990
Ty Detmer, quarterback, 1990 and 1991
Luke Staley, running back, 2001
Dennis Pitta, tight end, 2009
On to this week’s question. BYU set a school record by scoring 83 points against UTEP in 1980. This record still stands today. That game was during the regular season. Saturday, BYU faces UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. Wouldn’t it be great if BYU set a new record for most points scored in a bowl game? Therefore, this week’s question is:
What is the most points BYU has scored in a bowl game?
Leave your answer in the comments section. Come back next week when the answer is revealed and a new trivia question is asked.

More trivia questions can be found on the Trivia page.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Flashback: Holiday Bowl IV (1981)

When the Brigham Young Cougars take the field Saturday, December 18, 2010, in the New Mexico Bowl it will be exactly 29 years since BYU squared off against the Washington State Cougars in Holiday Bowl IV. For the second year in a row, the Holiday Bowl featured two nationally ranked teams. BYU (10-2) was number 14 and Washington State (8-2-1) was number 20.

BYU used some trickery in the early going. Back up quarterback Steve Young lined up as a halfback and took a pitch from Jim McMahon. Young raced right, pulled up and found Gordon Hudson down field for a 26 yard pick up. In all, Hudson had 7 receptions for 126 yards, and one touchdown. It looked like Young would get a lot more action in mop up duty.

After cruising to a 24-7 halftime lead, Tom Holmoe ran a third quarter interception back 35 yards to increase the lead to 31-7. By the end of the quarter, however, it appeared fate would play a cruel trick on BYU. Just one year before, in the same bowl, BYU overcame a huge second half deficit to beat SMU. In 1981, the tables were turned. Washington State closed the gap to 31-28 going into the fourth quarter.

The good news for BYU was that the same Jim McMahon who orchestrated the miracle comeback the year before was still dressed in blue. It was his last career game, and McMahon was not going to go out a loser. He directed BYU 82 yards down the field capped by an 11-yard TD pass to Scott Pettis. The lead was now 10, 38-28. It was enough points to win the game, but BYU would need one more big play from McMahon to seal the win.

Washington State scored again and used a two-point conversion to close the gap to 2. It was now late enough in the game that BYU didn’t have to score; they could simply run the clock out. Washington State wasn’t going to make it easy. They forced BYU into a 4th and 3 situation. Convert the first down, and the game is over. Fail to convert and we are all biting our nails until the final play. McMahon takes the snap, and as he pulls away from the center he fumbles the ball. The ball is bouncing on the turf. A Washington State player is in position to pounce on the ball. McMahon, however, uses his underrated quickness to pick up the ball and run around the left side of the line for a first down.

It was only fitting that Jimmy Mac, the most decorated player in BYU football history, made a clutch play to win his final game. By picking up the first down with his feet, as opposed to his arm, it was a subtle preview for BYU fans of what was to come the next year when Steve Young would take over the reigns.

With the 38-36 victory, BYU won its second consecutive bowl game, which is still a school record. BYU can match this record Saturday against UTEP.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poll Results: How will BYU do in the New Mexico Bowl?

This poll has closed and the results make it very clear that the BYU fan base has a lot of confidence in the team right now. Only 5% of voters said BYU would lose. The other 95% think BYU will win, and most of them think it won't be close. The largest vote getter was "win by 20+" with 41%, followed by "win by 10-20" with 38%. "Win by less than 10" came in third with the remaining 15%.

Personally, I think the game is going to be closer than most of us want it to be. UTEP will come out very motivated and keep the game from getting out of reach. I am going to say BYU wins by 10-20, but it may be less than 10 because UTEP scores some garbage points very late in the game.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "How does Will Muschamp leaving Texas impact BYU's chances of beating Texas in 2011?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brigham Young Cougars 2010 Bowl Primer

The Brigham Young Cougars are set to kick off the college football bowl season by playing in the New Mexico Bowl eight days from today. Here are some BYU bowl game facts to help prime everyone for the 2010 grand finale. (Where possible, I have already included the New Mexico Bowl vs. UTEP.)

Overall Bowl Record: 10-17-1
Bronco Mendenhall’s Bowl Record: 3-2
Longest Win Streak: 2 games (1980-81; 1983-84; 1994, 1996; 2006-07)
Biggest win: 30 points (2006, 38-8 vs. Oregon)

Most yards passing: 576 (1989 vs. Penn State)
Most yards rushing: 173 (2006 vs. Oregon)
Most total yards: 651 (1989 vs. Penn State)

Fewest points allowed: 6 (1994 Copper Bowl vs. Oklahoma)
Fewest passing yards allowed: 38 (1976 Tangerine Bowl vs. Oklahoma State)
Fewest rushing yards allowed: 41 (1997 Cotton Bowl vs. Kansas State)
Fewest total yards allowed: 202 (1984 Holiday Bowl vs. Michigan)

Number of different bowls played in: 13 (Fiesta, Tangerine, Holiday, Florida Citrus, Freedom, All-American, Aloha, Copper, Cotton, Motor City, Liberty, Las Vegas, New Mexico)
Most played in bowl: Holiday (11 times: 1978-1984, 1989-91, 1993)
Bowls played in multiple times: Holiday (11), Las Vegas (5), Freedom (2), Liberty (2)

Most played opponent: Ohio State (3 times—1982, 1985, 1993)
Current conference affiliation for all bowl opponents:
  • Big XII: 8
  • Pac-10: 7
  • Big Ten: 7
  • ACC: 1
  • Big East: 1
  • Conference USA: 4
  • Independents: 1

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday Trivia: Consensus All-Americans

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "The year that the most BYU players were named first team all-conference was what year?" is 1979. BYU had 13 players named first team All-WAC (8 offense, 5 defense). Those players were:
Lloyd Jones, wide receiver
Clay Brown, tight end
Tom Bell, offensive line
Nick Eyre, offensive line
Danny Hansen, offensive line
Scott Nielson, offensive guard
Marc Wilson, quarterback
Homer Jones, running back
Glen Titensor, defensive end
Glen Redd, linebacker
Gary Kama, linebacker
John Neal, defensive back
Bill Schoepflin, defensive back
With an 11-0 regular season record and no conference game being closer than 23 points, this Cougar squad proved on the field that they were a level above the competition. The post season honors appropriately reflected it.

The next step after all-conference is All-American. Scores of BYU Cougars have earned that honor as well. I don’t expect any BYU players to be named All-American this year. Just last year, however, tight end Dennis Pitta was not only named All-American, he was a consensus All-American. This week’s question is:
How many times has a BYU player been consensus All-American?
Leave your answer in the comments section. Come back next week when the answer is revealed and a new trivia question is asked.

More trivia questions can be found on the Trivia page.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 26, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 6 (1985)

The Brigham Young Cougars don't normally play games this late in the year (December 8), except for bowl games. Yet, twenty five years and one day ago, BYU was suiting up to play the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. A contract with ESPN caused this 1985 game to be rescheduled from September 28 to December 7. If you are going to play in December, you can't ask for a better place to play than sunny Hawaii. It also helped that ESPN was televising the game nationwide.

One player that didn't mind the change in dates was running back Vai Sikahema. Sikahema, a native Tongan, thrived in the island setting. He scored BYU's first points on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Robbie Bosco. Later, in the third quarter, Sikahema scampered 29 yards for another score to help the Cougars pull away. On the day, Vai was responsible for nearly 2/3 of BYU's 430 yards total offense (198 receiving yards on 12 receptions and 86 rushing yards on 11 carries).

Even with Sikahema's spectacular play, it was Mark Bellini who made the play of the day. Robbie Bosco threw the ball to Bellini in the back of the end zone. The Hawaii defender grabbed Bellini's facemask and twisted his head around and pulled Bellini to the turf. As he was falling, Bellini blindly reached one hand out, grabbed Bosco's pass, and pulled it into his body. This touchdown grab gave BYU a 13-6 halftime lead.

While his stats for the game weren't very impressive, Bosco did set three NCAA records during the game.

The BYU defense was able to limit Hawaii to six points (zero in the second half) by recovering four Hawaii fumbles.

With a comfortable 20-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, BYU was trying to run the clock out. For no apparent reason, Hawaii called timeout with seven seconds to play. Tom Tuipulotu took advantage of one final carry by scoring a touchdown.

This win was BYU's 43rd win in the last four years (1982-1985), which tied the school record for success over a four year span (1978-1981).

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Poll Results: If you could change one play from the Utah game, which play would it be?

The latest poll question, “If you could change one play from the Utah game, which play would it be?” has closed. With just under half of the vote (49%) the Brandon Bradley fumble was the leading vote getter. The failed 4th and 1 attempt came in second with 24%. Utah's shanked punt was third (17%) and Joshua Quezada's fumble received the remaining 10%.

I have wrestled with this question all week. When the fumbled exchange between Jake Heaps and Joshua Quezada happened, it was still a two score game (13-3), but there was still a lot of time left in the game. Maybe BYU takes it down and turns it into a three score game, or at least ran some more time off the clock and punted the ball back to Utah. Utah would have to drive the length of the field (something they were unable to do all game) and they don't have as much momentum.

The Brandon Bradley fumble seems the most logical, but at the time it was a one score game (16-10). Knowing that they need a stop, Utah might have stopped BYU from running out the clock. Utah could have gotten the ball back and then scored a touchdown with no time left on the clock.

If I had voted, I would have gone with Joshua Quezada's fumble. I like the idea of preserving the two score lead and not giving Utah the momentum needed to score two more touchdowns.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: “How will BYU do in the New Mexico Bowl?”

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Reaction: BYU To Play In New Mexico Bowl
Thursday Trivia:  The Most Players Named All-Conference
Flashback: Ty Detmer wins the Heisman Trophy (1990)
BYU Quarterback Jake Heaps Has "It"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reaction: Brigham Young Cougars To Play In New Mexico Bowl

Last week, the Brigham Young Cougars accepted an invitation to play in the New Mexico Bowl. After a couple days waiting to learn who the opponent would be, the UTEP Miners from Conference USA accepted an invitation of their own. The game will take place December 18. It will be the first bowl game played. There are many different ways for BYU and its fans to view this bowl game. Some are positive and others are negative.

Happy to be Here
First, and foremost, BYU should be happy just to be in a bowl. Two months ago sitting at 1-4, BYU was just thinking damage control. A bowl game seemed out of the picture. The loss to Utah was tough, since it seemed like another trip to Las Vegas would have followed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I am going to call it a positive for BYU to be playing in the New Mexico Bowl, because any bowl is better than no bowl.

First Bowl Game
This is the biggest negative about the New Mexico Bowl, especially since BYU didn't know immediately following the Utah game that this would be their destination. The NCAA allows teams 15 practices for bowl games. That equates to an extra spring practice. With the destination unknown, Bronco Mendenhall gave the team all of last week off. That leaves just two weeks to practice. Somewhere in there, BYU will lose a day for travel and getting situated. BYU will be lucky to get 10 practices in.

BYU should want every opportunity to build on the success down the home stretch. It is a great way to jump on preparations for 2011, especially since the first two opponents (Ole Miss and Texas) are not playing in bowls.

Being first does have some advantages. Just glancing at the bowl schedules on sites like ESPN, and the New Mexico Bowl comes first. That means more eyeballs are seeing that BYU is in a bowl game. One point for extra exposure. Being the first bowl game, and one played on Saturday, more "casual" viewers can be expected. Two points for increased exposure. I don't think, however, that this increased exposure (the primary reason for going independent) is enough to offset the negative of missing out on several practice sessions. 

Overall, playing in the first bowl game is negative.

New Destination
BYU has been playing in Las Vegas ever since the Bronco Mendenhall era began. The last time BYU played in a bowl outside the Sin City was in 2001. I like the fact that BYU is going somewhere different. My preference would have been the Independence Bowl against an ACC team (Georgia Tech landed there this year). Not only would BYU be playing a more formidable opponent, but the Independence Bowl will be played December 27, which would give BYU plenty of time to hold all the allotted practice sessions. Although playing in Vegas has represented consistently strong play by BYU, we all know that even with a win over Utah this BYU team was not the same as the last four years. Rather than try to camouflage that with another Bowl in Las Vegas, it is good that BYU is going somewhere else.

Although I really want to, I won't double penalize for not getting the full 15 practices. That makes the new destination aspect a positive. It also can symbolize the new direction of BYU football to independent status, and the new direction that this team has taken after the abysmal start.

The Opponent
BYU will be playing a fresh face. True, BYU has played UTEP over 30 times. The last game was way back in 1998. Ah, the good old WAC days.

More importantly, BYU will be playing a team that they can beat. UTEP is bowl eligible for the first time since 2005. The Miners don't have a very impressive resume. As I mentioned, this bowl represents a great way for BYU to get a jump on the 2011 season. For this particular team, I think it is better that BYU go into the off season with a win. Excitement needs to be high, but it needs to be bridled.

Hopefully, UTEP can give BYU enough of a game that no on the team has the mentality that "order is restored" and they don't need to give 100% every day of the off season to get better. I think UTEP is the kind of team that can do that. In 2009, UTEP was just 4-8, but they busted Houston's BCS bubble with a shocking upset. No one should be overlooking the Miners. They are not the same doormats that BYU dominated in the WAC.

The opponent is a positive.

Final Assessment  
The bowl game is a huge positive for BYU. I am excited for it. Except for the lack of practice time, it is hard to find a better scenario for BYU to finish this year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Trivia: The Most Players Named All-Conference

We had one correct answer to last week’s trivia question "When was the last time BYU beat Utah by more than 7 points?" It was 1996 by a score of 37-17.

Earlier this week, the Mountain West Conference announced the 2010 all-conference team. Four Cougars received were on the first or second team, while seven others were honorable mention. Matt Reynolds (Jr., OL), Andrew Rich (Sr., DB), and Vic So’oto (Sr., DL) were members of the first team. J.J. Di Luigi (Jr., RB) was the lone second teamer. Those receiving honorable mention were Luke Ashworth (Sr., WR), Terence Brown (Jr., OL), Braden Hansen (So., OL), Shane Hunter (Sr., LB), Brian Logan (Sr., DB), Mitch Payne (Sr., K), and Jason Speredon (Sr., OL).

Congratulations to these 11 players. I think BYU was treated pretty fairly, except maybe Kyle Van Noy not getting honorable mention. In a 6-6 year no one gives BYU sympathy votes. Anyways, this week’s question is:
The year that the most BYU players were named first team all-conference was what year?
Leave your answer in the comments section. Come back next week when the answer is revealed and a new trivia question is asked.

More trivia questions can be found on the Trivia page.

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Flashback: Ty Detmer wins the Heisman Trophy (1990)
BYU Quarterback Jake Heaps Has "It"
Poll Results: Which BYU-Utah Game In The 2000s Had The Best Finish?
Was Saturday The "End" of The BYU-Utah Rivalry? No Way!
Game Recap: Utah 17, BYU 16
Game Preview: BYU vs. Utah
Remembering the Rivalry: BYU 34, Utah 27 (2000)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flashback: Ty Detmer Wins The Heisman Trophy (1990)

Exactly 20 years ago, today, Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer filled the only hole in the BYU Quarterback Factory’s resume. BYU had quarterbacks who were All-Americans, record setters, Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien award winners, a national championship winner, NFL first round draft picks, and even a Super Bowl winner. Yet, none of them had brought home the Heisman.

Detmer finished 9th in the balloting as a sophomore. He immediately started campaigning for the award the next year by passing for 576 yards in the Holiday Bowl against independent giant Penn State. Heisman voters took notice. Poll voters helped the cause when they voted the Miami Hurricanes the preseason number one in 1990. The Hurricanes were scheduled to come to Provo on September 8. BYU sent out thousands of blue ties to Heisman voters and media members that cited “5 Reasons the Heisman Should End in a Ty.”

The groundwork had been laid. All that was left was for Detmer to show, on the field, how outstanding he was.

The first, and biggest, high profile game was the match up with #1 Miami. Not only did Detmer get the signature win that he needed, he had two Heisman moments during the game. The first came with less than two minutes to play in the first half. Miami had just scored to go ahead 14-10. Detmer marched the Cougars down the field in a perfectly executed two minute drill. With 10 seconds left, Detmer rolled right and found Andy Boyce in the back of the end zone to put BYU up 17-14. The second Heisman moment came on the game winning touchdown. It was a play that could not be choreographed any better. Detmer was about to become the meat in a Hurricane sack-wich, but he danced out of both defenders’ grasp and found Mike Salido coming out of the backfield. Detmer finished the game 38-54, 406 yards, and 3 TDs with 1 interception. To further his cause, Detmer had out played Miami’s Heisman hopeful Craig Erickson.

The Miami game catapulted Detmer to the front of the pack. ABC helped keep Detmer visible to Heisman voters, at least those in the West, by regionally broadcasting the games against San Diego State (26-38, 514 yards, 3 TDs, in a 62-34 win) and Oregon (33-57, 442 yards, 2 TD, 5 Int., in a 32-16 loss). Fortunately, for Detmer, the Oregon game came early enough in the year that BYU would climb back to number 4 in the polls when the Heisman was awarded. It also gave Detmer time to do enough damage control to overcome those 5 interceptions against the Ducks.

The big concern going into the Heisman ceremony was that in his last chance to impress voters, Detmer threw another 5 interceptions against Utah State. This time, however, Detmer mitigated those picks by throwing 5 touchdown passes. He also passed for 560 yards and broke the single season passing yardage record set by 1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware. BYU also won 45-10.

BYU was scheduled to play in Hawaii the same day that the winner would be announced from the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City. With coaches, teammates, and even Athletic Director Glen Tuckett surrounding him poolside at the Princess Kaiulani Hotel, Detmer was the only one plugged in with an audio feed of the awards ceremony. When it was announced that the most outstanding player for 1990 was “Ty Detmer, Ty Detmer of BYU,” Detmer pumped his fist and mumbled, “We got it.” Pandemonium ensued.

Detmer’s main competition in 1990 was the electrifying Notre Dame return man and wide receiver Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. After the announcement was made, and the votes were revealed, Detmer had won by a comfortable margin 1,482 to 1,177. He placed first in all six regions of the country.

All those who preceded Detmer could claim a part in this monumental achievement. They all helped pave the way. Gifford Nielsen was running away with the award before getting injured in 1977. Jim McMahon was more than outstanding, he was spectacular, in 1980, but still finished 5th. Steve Young wound up 2nd to Mike Rozier, who later admitted to receiving illegal benefits. A #1 ranking was only good enough to get Robbie Bosco a 3rd place finish. Virgil Carter, Gary Sheide, and Marc Wilson also received votes for the Heisman.

It was the final feather in the cap for Quarterback U. The quarterback position at BYU had reached the summit of Mount Everest, and Detmer had distinguished himself as not just a great BYU quarterback. He was the most outstanding player in the nation.

Links for Ty Detmer and the Heisman:
BYU Media Guide
Official Heisman Trophy Website
Sports Illustrated Article

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
BYU Quarterback Jake Heaps Has "It"
Poll Results: Which BYU-Utah Game In The 2000s Had The Best Finish?
Was Saturday The "End" of The BYU-Utah Rivalry? No Way!
Game Recap: Utah 17, BYU 16
Game Preview: BYU vs. Utah
Remembering the Rivalry: BYU 34, Utah 27 (2000)
Thursday Trivia: Last Win Against Utah By More Than Seven Points