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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Brigham Young Cougars' Super Bowl Heritage

The Brigham Young Cougars have three former players who have helped the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers reach Super Bowl XLV. On the Steelers side Brett Kiesel and Chris Hoke represent BYU, while an injured Brady Poppinga is part of the Green Bay Packers. This will be the 28th Super Bowl that features at least one former BYU player in some capacity. Indeed, BYU has a rich Super Bowl heritage.

Ironically, BYU's Super Bowl heritage dates as far back as the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Pittsburgh won its Super Bowl debut 16-6 over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, former Cougar Gordon Gravelle played tackle for the Steelers. In total, 36 different BYU Cougars, and one former assistant coach (Mike Holmgren), have been members of 35 teams that have earned their way to the Super Bowl. Some of the players have been reserves. Other players have been unheralded starters. There have also been stars who have made key plays, put up big numbers, and even set Super Bowl records. What follows is a record of their achievements on the biggest stage in sports.

Passing Totals: 38-59 (64.4%) 601 yards, 6 TD, 0 Int, 132.1 Rating
Jim McMahon (XX) 12-20 (60.0%) 256 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int, 104.2 Rating
Steve Young (XXIV) 2-3 (66.7%) 20 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int, 85.4 Rating
Steve Young (XXIX) 24-36 (66.7%) 325 yards, 6 TD, 0 Int, 134.8 Rating

Rushing Totals: 19 rushes, 86 yards (4.5 yard average) 2 TD
Bill Ring (XVI) 5 rushes, 17 yards (3.4 ave.) 0 TD
Jim McMahon (XX) 5 rushes, 14 yards (2.8 ave.) 2 TD
Steve Young (XXIV) 4 rushes, 6 yards (1.5 ave.) 0 TD
Steve Young (XXIX) 5 rushes, 49 yards (9.8 ave.) 0 TD

Receiving Totals: 18 receptions, 198 yards (11.0 yard average) 1 TD
Golden Richards (XII) 2 rec., 38 yards (19.0 ave.) 1 TD
Bill Ring (XVI) 1 rec., 3 yards (3.0 ave.) 0 TD
Todd Christensen (XVIII) 4 rec., 32 yards (8.0 ave.) 0 TD
Doug Jolley (XXXVII) 5 rec., 59 yards (11.8 ave.) 0 TD
Austin Collie (XLIV) 6 rec., 66 yards (11.0 ave.) 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Golden Richards (X) 1 return, 5 yards (5.0 yard average)

Punting Totals:
Lee Johnson (XXIII) 5 punts, 221 yards (44.2 average)

Sacks: 2.0 sacks
Jason Buck (XXIII) 1.0 sack
Jason Buck (XXVI) 1.0 sack

Kurt Gouveia (XXVI) 1 interception, 23 yard return

Fumble Recoveries:
Brett Keisel (XLIII) 1 Fumble Recovery

Passes Defensed:
Aaron Francisco (XLIII) 1 Pass Defensed

Tackles: 16 tackles (15 Unassisted, 1 Assisted)
Brett Keisel (XL) 3 tackles (3 UA)
Chris Hoke (XL) 1 tackle (1 UA)
Rob Morris (XLI) 4 tackles (4 UA)
Brett Keisel (XLIII) 5 tackles (4 UA, 1 A)
Aaron Francisco (XLIII) 1 tackle (1 UA)
Aaron Francisco (XLIV) 2 tackles (2 UA)

Note: The NFL did not start tracking tackles data until the 2001 season. Therefore, tackles made by Jason Buck, Leon White, Kurt Gouveia, Todd Shell, Tom Holmoe, Matt Mendenhall, and Travis Hall are not accounted for.

Most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, single game: 2, Jim McMahon, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX

Longest Punt: 63 Yards, Lee Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XXIII

Most Touchdown Passes in One Half (Tie): 4, Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
Most Touchdown Passes in One Game: 6, Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX

Second Most yards per attempt by a quarterback: 12.8, Jim McMahon, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX (Terry Bradshaw, 14.7, Super Bowl XIV)

Super Bowl MVPs: 1, Steve Young (Super Bowl XXIX)

Most Super Bowls played in: 3 (Gravelle, Young, Holmoe, Bart Oates, Kiesel, and Hoke).

Former players who coached a Super Bowl: 2, Brian Billick (Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XXXV) and Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl XXXIX).

Number of Super Bowls that both teams have had a former player: 6

Number of times former players have been on the winning team: 23

Number of times former players have been on the losing team: 11

Most former players in one Super Bowl: 6, Super Bowl XXIII (Cincinnati Bengals-3, San Francisco 49ers-3)

Most former players on one Super Bowl team: 4, 49ers (Super Bowl XXIX-Steve Young, Bart Oates, Jamal Willis, and Tim Handshaw) and Eagles (Super Bowl XXXIX-Chad Lewis, Reno Mahe, Ifo Pili, and Coach Andy Reid).

Most consecutive Super Bowls with at least one former player: 13 (Super Bowls XIV-XXVI).

Number of different NFL teams in the Super Bowl with former BYU players: 18

NFL Team with the most former players on Super Bowl teams: San Francisco 49ers (12).

Number of players who played on the 1984 National Championship team and won a Super Bowl: 3 (Kurt Gouveia, Lee Johnson, Leon White)

Only Purdue and Alabama have more former quarterbacks that have won the Super Bowl (3) than BYU (2).

It cannot be denied, BYU has left its footprint on the Super Bowl. Other universities might have a bigger footprint, but the BYU footprint is big enough it must be included in any account of Super Bowl history.  


The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Back to Work

I apologize for not making any posts this past week. I sustained a back injury that had me confined to my bed all of this week. I am feeling better now and will return to posting on a regular basis.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Highlights: Chad Lewis

Former Brigham Young Cougars tight end Chad Lewis leaping over defenders was the topic of the Flashback on Wednesday. Here is a link to some of his college and professional highlights. Yes, it includes a healthy dose of Lewis leaping over defenders.

(Another legal issue I have become aware of is that I cannot embed videos on the site without permission from the entity with the rights to the video footage, so I have to resort to simply posting a link to the highlights, for now.)


The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Highest Average Home Attendance

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "How many former BYU players are on the 8 NFL teams still in the playoffs?" is 5, however, only 3 were active for last week’s games. The players are: Brett Keisel and Chris Hoke (Pittsburgh Steelers), Dennis Pitta (Baltimore Ravens), Brady Poppinga (Green Bay Packers), and Harvey Unga (Chicago Bears). Poppinga and Unga suffered season ending injuries earlier this season.

The average attendance for BYU home games in 2010 was 61,381. That might be respectable on a national level, but it is far from the top. The highest average attendance for BYU home games for one season is 66,002. This week’s trivia question is:
What year did BYU have its highest average attendance for home football games (66,002)?
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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flashback: Leaping Lewis (1993)

Former Brigham Young Cougars tight end Chad Lewis recently joined the BYU Athletics Department staff as the Associate Athletic Director of Development. For almost 20 years, he has been a true blue cougar. He made many great contributions as a player, but one dimension of his game forever secured Lewis a place in Cougar lore.

In 2008, when Georgia Bulldog running back Knowshon Moreno jumped over a Central Michigan defender the college football world went wild, except for the fans in the Rocky Mountains. Not to take anything away from Moreno’s superb play, but, by 2008, offensive players hurdling defenders had become old news in the Rockies. An unknown, walk-on tight end started the trend 15 years earlier.

On November 27, 1993, BYU squared off against the UTEP Miners. It started as a routine pass play. BYU quarterback John Walsh dropped back, scanned the field, and found an open target 10 yards down field. Walsh delivered a perfect strike, which the intended receiver caught. After tucking the ball away, the receiver turned up field. When he encountered a defender, he didn’t run around him. He didn’t run through him. The BYU receiver surprised everyone by jumping over him. That receiver was freshman Chad Lewis.

As a young teenager, I was fortunate enough to be at this game and witness Lewis’ leap. It was incredible to watch. That play left an indelible impression on me. I knew that this guy was a player that I should keep my eyes on.

Anyone who has been around Chad Lewis for more than five minutes can tell you his optimistic attitude is contagious. His knack for clearing defenders turned out to be contagious as well. By the time he was a senior in 1996, fellow tight end Itula Mili and running back Mark Atuaia were using this technique to pick up extra yardage.

No one, however, could do it quite like Chad. In his 2009 autobiography Surround Yourself With Greatness (published by Shadow Mountain), Lewis notes that during the rest of his college and NFL careers he made more than 12 other attempts to leap over defenders. But none of these was greater than that first, spontaneous flight in 1993.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poll Results: How do you feel about Brandon Doman as Offensive Coordinator?

This poll question has closed and the results were divided. "Best man for the job" had the most votes, but only 32% of the voters made this selection. The second highest vote getter was "Prefer Doman to Anae" with 29%, but very close behind was "Would rather have Detmer" with 26%. Some voters (8%) "wish Anae had stayed" while another small fraction (5%) think Doman will be "the next Doug Scovil."

With the way Doman has been talking about keeping defenses always guessing and throwing the ball very well, he just might end up on the same plane as Doug Scovil. I have to admit that the thought of having Ty Detmer, in any capacity, gets me excited. In the end, if I was to cast a vote, it would have been for "best man for the job." After experiencing the fall out with Jaime Hill this year, I think it is critical that a "Bronco Mendenhall type" be in charge of the offense. Doman is that type of guy. Additionally, he has been with the team for several years (both as a player and coach). He knows the culture and the players. He knows what works and what doesn't work. Doman can take the offense to the next level in the fastest and most pain free way possible.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Was hiring Joe DuPaix a good move?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Defending the 1984 National Championship--New Information

Back in July 2010, I posted my second defense of BYU's 1984 National Championship. At the time, I explained that "I don’t intend to make this topic a habit," and the main reason I was posting a second defense was that "I have found additional information that I feel strengthens BYU’s case."

At the time, I took some heat for authoring this defense. However, six months later, this post is regularly one of the most visited posts on this site every week.

Recently, once again, I found new information to counter any critic who feels BYU did not warrant its number one ranking and national championship in 1984. I have added the new information to the original post, but also have included it below. This new information comes from The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia 2010-2011

Without further ado, here is reason number 6 justifying the BYU Cougars as college football's 1984 National Champion.

6. The USA Today College Football Performance Formula Has BYU Number 1.

What is the USA Today College Football Performance Formula? Glad that you asked. To quote The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia, this formula is "a specific three-leveled mathematical calculation developed to measure the achievement of every team's season since 1953. ... The Formula combines three measurable statistics, with two of them adjusted to the level of opposition, and adds them up to assign a decimal measurement. This figure permits readers to compare teams within a given season and to compare teams from different seasons. What follows are the three features that are totaled arithmetically to form a team's Formula:
  • "Winning percentage (including bowl result) of the measured team, with wins over lower categorized teams counting as partial wins.
  • "Opponents' winning percentage (including bowl results) in all other games not contested against the team being measured.
  • "Adjusted scoring margin per game (x .01 so as to not assign too much numerical importance to the factor) of the measured team."
Here we have a scientific model that will treat every team fairly. It takes into consideration strength of schedule (SOS) and opponents' win-loss records (more on how I feel about these later). All the human bias has been removed (USA Today equates the human polls to voting for the MVP in professional sports--voters take into account many factors, "not the least of which is the ethereal impression a given MVP candidate makes on voters"). In other words, no one is looking at the name of the school or the logo on the helmet. How a team plays on the field determines the number one team in this formula.

In 1984, the number one ranked team was ... BYU with a formula score of 1.6611. Number 2 was Florida at 1.6139. Washington came in at number 3 with a score of 1.6044. Not only did BYU have a higher formula score than Washington and Florida, BYU's 1.6611 mark was higher than 1983 national champion Miami (1.6396) and 1980 national champion Georgia (1.6161). Interestingly, while Miami and Georgia were voted by the media and the coaches as number one in 1983 and 1980, respectively, they did not have the highest performance formula score in those years. In 1980, Georgia was number 5 according to the performance formula (behind 1-Pittsburgh, 2-Florida State, 3-BYU, and 4-Nebraska). As for the 1983 results, Miami came in number 4 (behind 1-Nebraska, 2-Auburn, and 3-BYU). I have never once heard anyone, anywhere say that the 1980 Georgia team or the 1983 Miami team did not deserve their national championships. As evidenced by the formula results, they did not play the toughest schedule, and some other teams could have made a strong claim against them. Maybe there was controversy at the time, but after a few years passed, everyone seemed to accept it and move on. It is time for the BYU critics to accept it and move on as well. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Highlights: LaVell Edwards' Last Win

To keep with the theme of the flashback, here are highlights from LaVell Edwards' final game as coach of BYU. It came against Utah in 2000. Coincidentally, it is also another great set of highlights for the new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on Blue Cougar Football:
Thursday Trivia: Former Players In The NFL Playoffs
Flashback: A Tribute to LaVell Edwards
Poll Results: When will the restructured coaching staff be in place?
New Name: Blue Cougar Football
Brigham Young Cougars Receivers Were Better In 2010? Not Buying It.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Former Players In The NFL Playoffs

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "Who are the seven BYU players who have entered the NFL draft after their junior season?" is John Walsh (1995 NFL Draft), Eric Bateman (1998 NFL Draft), John Tait (1999 NFL Draft), Luke Staley (2002 NFL Draft), Bret Engemann (2003 NFL Draft), Austin Collie (2009 NFL Draft), and Harvey Unga (2010 NFL Supplemental Draft).

While the list of players leaving school early for the NFL draft isn't very long, BYU does have a long list of players who have had solid NFL careers. On several occasions, those careers have included playing deep into the playoffs. That leads to this week's question.
How many former BYU players are on the 8 NFL teams still in the playoffs?
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

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Flashback: A Tribute to LaVell Edwards
Poll Results: When will the restructured coaching staff be in place?
New Name: Blue Cougar Football
Brigham Young Cougars Receivers Were Better In 2010? Not Buying It.
Friday Highlights: BYU vs. Utah (2001)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flashback: A Tribute To LaVell Edwards

The honors and awards for former Brigham Young Cougars head coach LaVell Edwards just keep on coming. Edwards was honored during halftime of the BCS National Championship game January 10 as the 2011 recipient of the Football Bowl Association (FBA) Champions Award. One year ago, the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) awarded Edwards with the 2009 Contributions to College Football Award. Back in 2003, the American Football Coaches Association awarded him the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award.

As represented by these awards, LaVell Edwards has an indisputable place in the coaching ranks as one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time. Nearly 40 years ago, when BYU had an opening for the head coaching job, the job requirements weren’t so ambitious. Following the 1971 season, the BYU football program had an all-time record of 173-235-23 (0.424), had a 5-38-4 series record with arch-rival Utah, had just 16 winning seasons since 1922, had a whopping one conference championship, and had never been invited to a bowl game. Not too many people were lining up for this job.

One man, however, harbored a pretty strong desire to be the next head coach at Brigham Young University. That man was the current defensive coordinator—LaVell Edwards. Edwards had been on staff since 1962 as an assistant coach.

Even at this time, BYU faced unique challenges for success. These challenges were the patent excuses used to rationalize the failures of the program. When he was hired, Edwards took a stand. BYU was going to stop using these challenges as excuses and do something dramatic—win. During his tenure as an assistant coach, Edwards witnessed 25% of BYU’s 16 winning seasons. With a degree in education, Edwards was no slouch. He had noticed that BYU had a different offensive philosophy during these winning seasons as they had during the losing seasons. That philosophy was to throw the ball. Therefore, Edwards chose to live or die by the forward pass.

Edwards wasn’t looking to revolutionize BYU football, let alone the entire sport. He was just trying to consistently win more than he lost. The results speak for themselves. He won more games (257) than all previous BYU coaches combined. He ranks sixth on the all-time coaching victories list. He won 19 conference championships, including 10 in a row from 1976-1985. Edwards coached BYU to their first bowl game and 22 bowl games overall, including 17 consecutive bowl appearances from 1978-1994. He is one of very few coaches to win 100 games in a decade. He recorded victories over many of the marquee college football programs, such as Miami (number one at the time), Penn State, Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, and everyone in the Pac-10 except the two he never faced (USC and Stanford).

Before schools like Florida and Florida State ever tasted a national championship, Edwards reached the pinnacle and won a national title in 1984. Every major poll had BYU ranked number one. BYU became a regular in the national rankings finishing the year in the final polls 14 times. Eight other years, BYU was ranked sometime during the season. Prior to Edwards’ arrival, BYU was lucky just to fall in the “others receiving votes” category.

In 1979 and 1984, Edwards received national recognition as the national coach of the year.

Many of Edwards’ players were ordinary guys, but after playing under him they left as All-Americans (37 citations), Outland Trophy Winners (2), Heisman Trophy finalists (and one even won the award), Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien award winners. Five of his former players have joined Edwards in the College Football Hall of Fame.

The mark of a great coach is not just in the wins and loses, but also in the way he helps his players mature and become men. Edwards was a master of molding character and teaching life lessons by connecting with his players on a personal level. Most, if not all, will say they left BYU a better person when they arrived, and Edwards played a huge role in that.

From 1972-2000, Edwards became the face of the BYU football program. Edwards was the architect of the BYU football program, so it is only fitting that the sports’ largest architectural structure bears his name—LaVell Edwards Stadium. 

It is no surprise that national organizations continue to find cause to honor BYU’s own LaVell Edwards. What he did is nothing short of a miracle. He has a spot in BYU football, and the hearts of millions worldwide, that can never be erased.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Poll Results: When will the restructured coaching staff be in place?
New Name: Blue Cougar Football
Brigham Young Cougars Receivers Were Better In 2010? Not Buying It.
Friday Highlights: BYU vs. Utah (2001)
Thursday Trivia: Players Who Entered The NFL Draft Early

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poll Results: When will the restructured coaching staff be in place?

The first move to restructure the coaching staff was made by hiring Brandon Doman last week, but it is far from over. The poll results had a two way tie between "end of January" and "in time for spring practice" with each receiving 48%. The only other option, "sometime during the summer" received the final 4%.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "How do you feel about the Brandon Doman hire?"

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Name: Blue Cougar Football

I have been working with BYU to get greater access to the football team and players to better fulfill my goal to report on the current issues and to celebrate BYU's rich football tradition. In doing so, I was informed that using "BYU" in the title of this site was illegal (BYU owns the rights to the use of BYU and they do not allow anyone under any circumstances to use it). Therefore, I have decided to change the site name to "Blue Cougar Football."

Thusfar, this is the only change that has been made. Additional changes may be required in the future, which I will apprise you of at those times.

Brigham Young Cougars Receivers Were Better In 2010? Not Buying It.

In an interview with the Deseret News, Brigham Young Cougars receivers coach Patrick Higgins defended the play of the BYU receiving corps in 2010. His defense was they have been more productive in 2010 than in 2009.
"I know they caught a lot of grief, but they've been more productive this year than they were last year. They've got 10 more catches as a group and one more touchdown as a group. A lot of people don't realize that. They want to see what they want to see. I'm proud of those guys because as a group, they've become more productive with a team that didn't throw the ball as much as we did last year. That's nice to see, that those kids have played above the level they did last year and scored more touchdowns than they did last year."
This sounds like a valid defense, on the surface. Upon closer examination, it is full of holes. To start, let's lay out all the numbers. To help with comparisions, I have bolded the year that was better for each statistical category. (Note: This quote was made before the New Mexico Bowl. The stats below include the New Mexico Bowl.)

Luke Ashworth
2009: 28 rec., 387 yards, 4 TD
2010: 32 rec., 368 yards, 7 TD

McKay Jacobson
2009: 23 rec., 556 yards, 4 TD
2010: 37 rec., 410 yards, 1 TD

O'Neill Chambers
2009: 32 rec., 376 yards, 1 TD
2010: 5 rec., 48 yards

Spencer Hafoka
2009: 16 rec., 155 yards, 1 TD
2010: 5 rec., 40 yards

Brett Thompson
2009: 6 rec., 95 yards
2010: Mission

Cody Hoffman
2009: Redshirt
2010: 42 rec., 527 yards, 7 TD

BJ Perterson
2009: none
2010: 2 rec., 11 yards

2009: 105 receptions, 1,569 yards, 10 TD
2010: 123 receptions, 1,404 yards, 15 TD

As for that claim that BYU did not throw the ball as much in 2010, BYU attempted 419 passes in 2009 compared to 428 attempts in 2010.

The bottom line is that the BYU wide receivers caught more passes for less yards, but they did get into the end zone five more times for an average of once every 8.2 receptions (compared to once every 10.5 receptions a year ago). Is that really being “more productive” and playing “above the level” of a year ago?

Coach Higgins is using a slippery slope to defend the receivers. He wants to focus on the collective rather than the individual comparisons. That's okay, football is a team game, after all. The problem is he is using an exclusive collective—the collective receiving corps—as opposed to the collective passing game. The 2009 passing game was built around BYU's two talented, senior tight ends, who combined for 92 receptions, 1,237 yards, and 13 touchdowns. With only inexperienced freshmen to fill the void left at tight end, BYU needed the receivers to do more, much more, for the collective team than match their unit's totals from last year. Just like the passing game leaned on the tight ends in 2009, it needed to lean on the wide receivers in 2010.

The receivers fell flat on their faces when just a little pressure was applied. All four receivers who returned from 2009 had less receiving yards in 2010, and all of them, except Ashworth, had fewer touchdown receptions. What saved the receiving units collective numbers was Cody Hoffman's contributions. He filled the void in receiver production. As explained, however, the team needed Hoffman to help fill the void in tight end production.

Coach Higgins' argument gets really spotty when it is applied consistently from year to year, and not in isolated years that the receivers are being criticized. In 2008, wide receivers accounted for 172 receptions, 2,324 yards, and 18 touchdowns. That is a 67 reception, 755 yard, and 8 TD drop off from 2008 to 2009. What is the excuse for that? Wait, I know, BYU didn't throw the ball as much in 2009 as 2008. This time, that is actually a true statement. BYU attempted 75 more passes in 2008. Problem solved, right? Wrong. In 2008, the wide receivers accounted for a little over half of the receptions, half of the passing yards, and half of the touchdowns. Sixty-seven is 89% of 75. Not only would Max Hall not have completed 67 more passes with 75 more attempts, he would not have thrown all of those passes to wide receivers.

Besides being a slippery slope, Coach Higgins' comments reflect a selfish attitude that doesn't care about the team and what the team needed from his unit. When his unit lost playmakers Austin Collie and Michael Reed, the tight ends and running backs stepped up to fill the void. Now, when the tight ends need the receivers to return the favor, Higgins is advocating that all his boys needed to do was match their contributions from a year ago.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Friday Highlights: BYU vs. Utah (2001)
Thursday Trivia: Players Who Entered The NFL Draft Early
Flashback: Eli Herring Says No to the NFL
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 3
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 2
Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Players Who Entered The NFL Draft Early

The correct answer to last week’s trivia question "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)?" is 465.5 yards per game in 2006. That was good enough to be ranked first in the MWC and fourth in the nation that year.

On to this week’s question. Matt Reynolds announced yesterday that he will return for his senior season. That ends a two year run of players leaving early for the NFL. To the best of my knowledge, BYU has had seven players forgo their senior year and enter the NFL draft. Therefore …
Who are the seven BYU players who have entered the NFL draft after their junior season?
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

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Flashback: Eli Herring Says No to the NFL
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 3
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 2
Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 1
Friday Highlights: 2010 Season

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Flashback: Eli Herring Says No to the NFL (1995)

Brigham Young Cougars offensive lineman Matt Reynolds has a choice to make. Should he come back for his senior season, or should he forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft? One former BYU offensive lineman didn’t have to worry about this. Eli Herring’s four-year college career with the Cougars ended in 1994. Then, he made national headlines as the 1995 NFL draft approached.

Herring wrote letters to all 30 professional teams expressing his desire to not be drafted. He was not interested in playing football on Sundays. Make that the Sabbath day. Herring felt that by playing football on Sunday was not in accordance with the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. The Associated Press, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times all covered the story.

At 6’8” and 335 pounds, the Oakland Raiders could not resist. They used a sixth round pick on Herring. Raiders executive Bruce Allen went to Utah to talk with Herring and see if he would change his mind. Even with a contract that would pay $500,000 a year in front of him, Herring wouldn’t budge. Former Cougar Fred Whittingham was the Raiders’ linebacker coach at the time. He invited Eli and his wife over for a visit. Whittingham didn’t have any success, either.

Herring chose high school teaching as his profession. His first year salary was $22,000. The fame and notoriety died down. No one is erecting shrines or statues of him, like they might if he had a successful professional career. However, for Herring no honor, success, or amount of money matters as much as honoring and worshiping on the Sabbath day with a clear conscience.

Wild Blue Yonder: The High Flying Story of BYU Football, Dick Harmon and Steve Cameron, Addax Publishing Group, Lenexa, Kansas, 1997.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 3
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 2
Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 1
Friday Highlights: 2010 Season
Thursday Trivia: Most Total Offense In Bronco Mendenhall Era

Brigham Young Cougars 2010 Football Season Recap (Part 3)

Brigham Young Cougars 2010 Season Recap (Part 3): Highlights and Notable Moments

Part 1: General Summary, Analysis, and Major Stories
Part 2: Position Grades

RECORD: 7-6 (5-1 Home, 1-5 Road, 1-0 Neutral, 5-3 MWC—3rd Place)

Bronco Mendenhall won his 50th game (Washington)
Steve Sarkisian returns to Provo (Washington)
Joshua Quezada scores TD on first career touch (Washington)
Riley Nelson season ending injury ends QB rotation (Florida State)
Jake Heaps first career TD pass (Florida State)
Jake Heaps first career start (Nevada)
O’Neill Chambers suspended for 2 games (Nevada, Utah State)
Jaime Hill (defensive coordinator) fired the day after Utah State game
45:01 time of possession (San Diego State)
Largest margin of victory (48 points) in the history of the UNLV series
Jake Heaps has 8th best single game pass efficiency rating in BYU history (242.64, Colorado State)
Kyle Van Noy fumble return for TD (Colorado State)
Tie or break 42 New Mexico Bowl records and 13 team bowl records (UTEP)
5th consecutive winning season
6th consecutive bowl game
4 games with zero turnovers (Washington, Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico)
4 100 yard rushing games (Di Luigi 2, Quezada 2)
2 100 yard receiving games (Hoffman 1, Ashworth 1)
2 Replay controversies—Di Luigi fumble (San Diego State), Bradley’s knee (Utah)
Longest win streak: 4 games
New individual records:
• Most career kick off return yards (O’Neill Chambers, 1,612)
• Most TD catches in a game (Luke Ashworth, 4-Colorado State)
• Most point-after-touchdowns attempted (Mitch Payne)
• Most career points (Mitch Payne, 334)
• Freshman passing marks—most completions, most attempts, most yards, most TD passes, most games started, most games won (Jake Heaps)

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 2
Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 1
Friday Highlights: 2010 Season
Thursday Trivia: Most Total Offense In Bronco Mendenhall Era
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 20, Colorado Buffaloes 17 (Freedom Bowl V)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars 2010 Season Recap (Part 2)

Position Grades for the Brigham Young Cougars is part 2 of BYU Football Talk’s 2010 Season Recap. Part one can be found here. Part 3 will be tomorrow, Wednesday, January 5.

Handing out grades was tough. Most positions had a huge swing in play during the year. While we better remember the strong finish to the year, the wretched start has to be taken into account as well.

Three times this year BYU had less than 100 yards passing. Two other times, BYU had less than 150 yards passing. The quarterback position showed no ability to lead a comeback effort during the first half of the season. Jake Heaps did come alive in the final five games, however, he still does not have a 300 yard passing game. He shattered almost all of the BYU passing records for a freshman. Quarterback play was good enough for 8 wins this year.

The running back position was the lone bright spot during the early season. J.J. Di Luigi was a playmaker. Bryan Kariya started slow, but he became automatic in short yardage situations. Joshua Quezada came on strong near the end of the year, but he did have two costly fumbles (Wyoming and Utah). Di Luigi also had a critical fumble against Air Force. This position really carried the team during the San Diego State and Wyoming games. As a team, BYU rushed for 2,185 yards and three different backs totaled over 500 yards. The backs were highly involved in the passing game catching 86 passes.

The receiving corps uncharacteristically dropped many passes. They share the blame for the five games with less than 150 passing yards. The receivers needed to fill the void left by Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, but they were barely able to match their production from a year ago. O’Neill Chambers was a hindrance as opposed to a leader. Luke Ashworth did have the 4 TD game. Cody Hoffman ended his strong finish with a big game in the New Mexico Bowl.

The tight end position averaged 2.6 receptions and 35 yards per game with zero touchdowns. Last year, those averages were 7 and 95 with 13 TDs for the season. There still isn’t a clear cut number one tight end. Granted, all five were freshmen, but this is Tight End U. The tight end can’t go all year without a touchdown. Under no circumstances should the tight end position average less than 4 receptions a game for 50 yards.

The offensive line was supposed to be the anchor of the offense. By the numbers, they didn’t play too poorly this year. They allowed 21 sacks and 65 tackles-for-a-loss (5 per game). In comparison, the 2008 offensive line allowed 19 sacks and 50 tackles-for-a-loss (4 per game). The Florida State game left a bad mark on the offensive line. Florida State registered 8 sacks. Matt Reynolds had about every preseason honor possible for a lineman. He quickly fell off all those watch lists and his NFL stock has taken a hit as well.

Vic So’oto had a break out/redemption year. The defensive line had to deal with injuries as well. D-linemen accounted for 11 of the team’s 24 sacks and 22 of 76 tackles-for-a-loss. They also intercepted two passes. Run defense was terrible early in the year, but fantastic once Bronco Mendenhall took control.

The linebackers had a very slow start. This unit needed time to solidify its rotation and gel. Injuries took a toll as well. Jordan Pendleton missed more than half of the season. The linebackers share the blame for poor run defense early in the year. Linebackers made six interceptions, 8.5 sacks, and 36.5 tackles-for-a-loss.

BYU pass defense gave up less than 200 yards passing per game. No opponent passed for more than 300 yards. Led by Andrew Rich with five interceptions, the secondary intercepted 8 passes (BYU had 16 as a team). Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley were solid. Bradley did have the notorious fumble in the Utah game. Corby Eason was unstoppable on the corner blitz.

Punter: Riley Stephenson averaged 42.0 yards on 52 punts. He had a long of 60 yards and 17 were 50 yards or more. Twenty (38.5%) of his punts were inside the 20 yard line.
Kicker: Mitch Payne became the school's career scoring leader. He was 17-21 (81%) on field goals. He missed the potential game winner against Utah, but that was a protection block, not a mechanics problem. Payne was 37-39 on PATs.
Returns: O’Neill Chambers set a new record for career kickoff return yards. Cody Hoffman was phenomenal in his limited time on kick off return duty. JD Falslev was more than serviceable on punts and kicks. The 9.0 punt return average needs to go up to 12 next year, and some punts/kicks need to be taken back for six.

Each position grade reflects on the position coach as well as the players, so I won’t get into the position and assistant coaches here. This grade focuses on head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

I know many people have a lot of gripes about Mendenhall's performance this year. I don't think he was acting any different than most other coaches in the country would with regards to delegating and delaying the release of Jaime Hill. My only complaint is that Bronco didn't do more to keep the team glued together early in the year when the team lost. This was a young team that needed a leader to give them confidence and to help guide them through adversity. Instead, anarchy broke out. Bronco did take drastic steps when the hemorrhaging became unbearable.

Conversely, Bronco deserves 100% of the credit for the way the season turned around. The difficulty to rebuild was vastly underrated, especially with this particular schedule.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?
BYU 2010 Season Recap: Part 1
Friday Highlights: 2010 Season
Thursday Trivia: Most Total Offense In Bronco Mendenhall Era
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 20, Colorado Buffaloes 17 (Freedom Bowl V)

Poll Results: Will Matt Reynolds Enter the 2011 NFL Draft?

The poll has closed on the question, "Will Matt Reynolds enter the 2011 NFL Draft?" A strong majority (72%) voted no, meaning he will return to play his senior season. The other 28% think Matt Reynolds will declare himself eligible before the deadline in approximately 10 days.

I side with the majority this time. Before the season, Reynolds was projected as high as the number 3 overall pick in the draft. His draft stock fell considerably this year. While he would still be certain to get drafted, it would be prudent for him to come back and work his way back into the first round.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to cast your vote in this week's poll: "When will the restructured coaching staff be in place?"

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars 2010 Football Season Recap (Part 1)

BYU Football Talk will recap the Brigham Young Cougars’ 2010 football season in three parts. Part 1 will be a general summary of the season looking at the major stories. Part 2 will be Tuesday, January 4, and will be position grades. Part 3 will be Wednesday, January 5, and will be a list of the notable moments and highlights.

The 2010 football season was a tale of two seasons for the Brigham Young Cougars. The first was a rude awakening. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Hopes were high coming out of spring practice. Fans, bloggers, and beat writers had only good things to say about the upcoming edition of Cougar football. Less than a week later came the first bad omen. BYU football followers had become accustomed to watching Harvey Unga hit defenders like a load of bricks. Now, the fans and the team were the one hit by a load of bricks with news that Unga had withdrawn from school and would not play his senior season. The second ominous sign that 2010 would not live up to the 10 win standard was assistant coach Barry Lamb retiring for health reasons in July. He coached the outside linebackers.

Nevertheless, fall camp commenced as scheduled. The expectation was that by the end of camp the position battles would be settled. As it turned out, the battles were extremely competitive and the linebackers, tight ends, and quarterback positions were unsettled. BYU went into the season opener using a committee approach to these positions. This decision came back to bite BYU in a bad way. Early in the season run defense was as bad as it gets. The tight end never did become a force in the passing game.

The two quarterback system did meet with some success. Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps guided the Cougar offense to 408 total yards, which was more than the 2009, 2007, 2006, and 2005 season openers. It was also good enough for a win. The Cougar offense continued to thrive in game two under the two QB system. BYU quickly racked up over 200 yards of total offense in the first 25 minutes of the game. Then, adversity hit for the first time.

On back-to-back possessions, each quarterback turned the ball over. This allowed Air Force to take a 21-14 lead at halftime. The coaching staff hit the panic button and abandoned the quarterback rotation. The coaches’ panic attack sent shock waves through the inexperienced team and they folded. The two QB experiment officially ended the next week when Riley Nelson could not continue to play through a shoulder injury he sustained during fall camp.

Most people, including head coach Bronco Mendenhall, will tell you the two QB system was a mistake. Yet, until now, there is no evidence, on the field, that the offense was ineffective. In fact, with Nelson getting injured, it can be argued that using two quarterbacks was beneficial. Heaps was able to play in two games before having the full burden of the quarterback position placed on him. How would you like to have Heaps take his first collegiate snap in front of 68,000 fans in hostile Seminole country? The two quarterback system became the scapegoat when the coaches panicked at the first sign of adversity. (For the record, I oppose any continuation of a two quarterback system in 2011.)

While the offense struggled to find itself, a rash of injuries on defense led to that side of the ball to struggling mightily. Nose tackle Romney Fuga, linebacker Jameson Frazier, free safety Steve Thomas, and linebacker Jordan Pendleton all missed significant time due to injury. As poor play continued, tensions rose. Each week the D played with less emotion. It all culminated in Logan. For the first time in 17 years, BYU both lost four straight games and lost to Utah State.

The day after the Utah State loss, Bronco fired defensive coordinator Jaime Hill and assumed full control of the defense. This single act saved the season for BYU. While the offense would continue to sputter for three more weeks, the night and day difference on defense was enough for BYU to win two of the next three games. The defense dominated the opposition holding them well below their season averages for rushing and passing yards.

The defense turning the corner signaled the end of season one.

The offense surprised upstart San Diego State using a ball control run game to hold the ball for 45 minutes and score a 24-21 upset. Although it wasn’t pretty, it was something to build on. The passing game had major issues: bad timing, poor consistency, no tight end presence, and drops, drops, and more drops. The stable of running backs, however, had been the lone bright spot. J.J. Di Luigi was adept at making guys miss and making plays in space. Bryan Kariya had the power to pick up the tough yards and move the chains. Joshua Quezada was a little of both. These three combined for 269 yards against San Diego State and 234 two weeks later against Wyoming. This carried the offense until the passing game was ready to break out.

After the Wyoming game, there was a break in the schedule. During this break, the offense emphasized the passing game. This led to a breakout game for Jake Heaps. Against UNLV, Heaps passed for a season high 294 yards, and he had his first game with multiple TD passes. Long balls were being completed. Receivers were picking up yards after the catch. Most importantly, points were being scored at an alarming rate. The Cougars delivered the knock out punch to both UNLV and Colorado State before halftime.

Each subsequent game saw Heaps and his receivers do something new. Heaps had the eighth highest single game pass efficiency rating in BYU history versus Colorado State, and Luke Ashworth tied a school record with four touchdown receptions in the same game. Heaps ran for a score against New Mexico. Cody Hoffman had a highlight reel touchdown catch against the Lobos on the way to leading the team in receiving. Despite the loss to Utah, everyone saw the enormous potential of the team with Heaps at the helm.

BYU was fortunate enough to go to a bowl, despite the 1-4 start. Bowl games can signify many different things. For the 2010 BYU Cougars, the New Mexico Bowl represented the start of the 2011 season. BYU put an exclamation point on the 2010 season, and sent the seniors out in style with a 52-24 triumph over UTEP. In the victory, BYU set or tied 42 New Mexico Bowl records and a plethora of school bowl records. What mattered more, much more, was that this young team went into the offseason with a lot of momentum and enthusiasm for next year. The potential cannot be ignored. They have plenty of reasons to be motivated, focused, and dedicated from January to September to ensure the journey into independence begins with a bang.

The 2010 season was truly unique. The failure to reload, like in 2007, was disappointing. BYU was minus 4 in the win-loss column from 2009 to 2010. There is no denying the record could have been better by at least one game (Utah) and maybe two or three if a couple of plays went differently against Air Force. However, the disappointment is mitigated, some what, by two facts. Fact one, rebuilding is universal. BYU wasn’t the only team that saw a drastic change in the win-loss column. Alabama, the reigning national champions were minus three; Florida was minus four; Texas was minus six and missed a bowl game. Fact two, the strong finish leaves us with high hopes for 2011 and beyond. It is almost forgotten that Bronco Mendenhall was 6-6 his first season. The highlights in the four years that followed made the first season a footnote. Soaring to new heights starting in 2011 will make the hard moments and lessons learned in this 7-6 season worthwhile.

Besides the win-loss record, 2010 was unique because of the unanswered questions. What if Harvey Unga had been allowed to play? What if Barry Lamb wasn’t forced to retire by his health? What if Heaps was named the starter in spring? What if BYU had lost the first game? What if Mitch Payne’s field goal wasn’t blocked against Utah? What if Bronco took control of the defense earlier? What if … what if … what if ….

The 2010 season also saw O’Neill Chambers suspended from the team indefinitely. First, he served a two week suspension causing him to miss the Nevada and Utah State games. Chambers was suspended indefinitely two weeks later after he set the school record for most career kick off return yards against TCU.

It truly was a tale of two seasons. How will it be remembered? That depends on each fan and how much he or she chooses to emphasize the good or the bad. Either way, it is assured its own place in history. It was a turning point. Which way BYU football turned, however, is yet to be determined. Is it September yet?

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at

Other recent posts on BYU FOOTBALL TALK:
Friday Highlights: 2010 Season
Thursday Trivia: Most Total Offense In Bronco Mendenhall Era
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 20, Colorado Buffaloes 17 (Freedom Bowl V)
Poll Results: Where does the New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP rank among BYU's 11 bowl wins
Brigham Young Cougars Coaching Changes