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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Brigham Young Cougars Need To Have Killer Instinct

Since Jake Heaps committed to play football for the Brigham Young Cougars, he has talked about winning a national championship. After the Utah game I questioned, “Where is the killer instinct?” If Heaps is going to realize his lofty dreams at BYU, then BYU must have this killer instinct.

What is Killer Instinct?
Killer instinct is one of those abstract concepts, like “it,” in sports that doesn’t really have a definition. However, killer instinct is real, and it can be identified. Seven signs will show when BYU has captured a killer instinct.

1. Score touchdowns, not field goals. A team with killer instinct finishes drives. When they can sniff the end zone, they go for blood. Scoring is much more important than being in scoring position. The Utah game is usually when BYU can’t find the end zone and kicks more field goals than completed passes. This comes back to haunt any team. While all the stats indicate a one sided game, the opposition is still in striking distance in the fourth quarter and only has to mount one good drive to get momentum and possibly win.

2. Score early and often. Scoring first, second, third, fourth, and fifth not only builds a commanding lead, it demoralizes the competition. When given a chance to put teams away in the first half, do it! Don’t just run out the clock at the end of the half, drive down the field and add one more score. Then, on the first possession of the second half, full speed ahead. Set the tone to start the second half and snuff out any notion that the opponent may still have of a comeback. BYU did effectively put UNLV and Colorado State away in the first half in 2010, but took a little longer against New Mexico and missed a golden opportunity to do it against Utah.

3. Score on 1st and Goal. When BYU gets a first and goal inside the five-yard line, it is time to drop the hammer. Every down that the defense gets a stop, the defense gains confidence and the offense loses momentum. Pretty soon, it is 3rd and goal—a must score situation.

4. Force turnovers. Nothing deflates and disrupts an offense more than turnovers. The Cougar D needs to create a minimum of 3 turnovers each game. Turnovers are momentum changers. They can stop scoring threats or give the offense a short field.

5. 3 and out. When the defense isn’t creating turnovers, they need to force a punt after three plays. Don’t give the opponent any momentum by moving the chains. Don’t let the opponent turn the game into a field position chess match. To “bend but not break” is to play with fire. If they don’t score, they can’t win. The less they have the ball, the less likely they are to score.

6. Swarm and smother. The number of turnovers and 3 and out drives will spike if the defense is aggressive. Don’t “read and react.” Don’t play passive. BYU defenders need to live in the backfield, cause chaos, and keep the opposition on their heals every play. Get them thinking more about where you are coming from than where they need to go.

7. Never be satisfied. Both the offense and the defense need to have an insatiable appetite for winning. Yeah, it is fun to beat a marquee opponent or pile it on an inferior team, but none of that should satisfy BYU. The goal has to be a perfect season. From the opening kickoff in game one to the final whistle in the bowl game, everyone needs to feel that there is unfinished business. Being the top ranked team is better than beating the top ranked team, but an undefeated record is required. Entitlement must be thrown out the window. BYU has a national championship and a multitude of former Cougars have done great things, but the playing field isn’t tilted in BYU’s favor for those things. Every game still starts 0-0, each team kicks off from the same spot. Each team still has to go 10 yards for a first down. Each team gets only 6 points for a touchdown. Put that silver platter away, you first have to kill the prey.

BYU football has some great achievements under Bronco Mendenhall. The future looks very bright. Without a killer instinct, the BYU camp could be hit with a disappointing dose of reality.

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

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars 2006 Season
Thursday Trivia: Most Points Scored in One Game (2001)
Flashback: Jim McMahon Validates the Brigham Young Cougars Quarterback Factory in Super Bowl XX
Poll Results: What has to happen for Heaps-hype to match or exceed Jimmer-mania?
Was the 2010 Brigham Young Cougars Football Schedule the Hardest Ever?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars 2006 Season

Hard to believe it, but it has already been 5 years since Bronco Mendenhall's glorious breakout season. The 2006 team will forever have a special place in BYU football history.

BYU Football 2006

Enjoy the highlights!

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Most Points Scored in One Game (2001)

The correct answer to the last trivia question "What two NCAA records did Virgil Carter set?" is most yards total offense in a game and most yards total offense in a career. Virgil “The Blue Darter” Carter racked up 599 yards of total offense (513 passing, 86 rushing) against Texas Western (UTEP) on November 5, 1966. It was also during that game he broke the NCAA record for most yards total offense in a career.

On to this week's question. Ten years ago, the 2001 BYU football team set a school record by averaging 46.8 points per game. This week’s trivia question is:
What was the highest one game point total for the 2001 BYU football team?
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 bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flashback: Jim McMahon Validates the Brigham Young Cougars Quarterback Factory in Super Bowl XX

The Brigham Young Cougars football program has fought long and hard to earn national respect. The BYU Quarterback Factory of the 1970s and early 80s guided BYU to 10 consecutive conference championships and 11 in 12 years, to eight seasons as the nation’s leading passing offense, and to a national championship in 1984. The factory saw three of its products drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. By the end of the 1985 season, the Quarterback Factory had earned an enormous amount of national respect for BYU football.

The Quarterback Factory found validation a little harder to achieve. Even while the Factory was at its peak, an uprising had already started in the south. The University of Miami (FL) had only half as many good passing seasons and half as many good signal callers as BYU, yet the Hurricanes were already being labeled nationally as “Quarterback U.”

Twenty five years ago, Jim McMahon found a way to validate the BYU Quarterback Factory. Even though his playing days in Provo had ended four seasons earlier, the record setting QB filled one of the final holes in the Quarterback Factory’s resume.

Super Bowl XX was played January 26, 1986, and Jim McMahon became BYU’s first quarterback to win a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. He did it in typical McMahon fashion—flashy. Under McMahon’s direction, the Chicago Bears set Super Bowl records for the most points in Super Bowl history (46) and the longest scoring drive (96 yards). That 96-yard scoring drive was the Bears’ first possession of the second half. It ended with McMahon’s second rushing touchdown of the game (tying another Super Bowl record). That pushed the lead to 30-3. Game over. His stats were impressive. Besides the two rushing touchdowns, McMahon was 12 of 20 (60%) for 256 yards (12.8 yards per attempt, 2nd best in Super Bowl history), and a passer rating of 104.2.

Even to this day, no former Miami Hurricane quarterback has won a Super Bowl. More importantly, critics could no longer dismiss the success of the BYU passing attack as a system that pumped out inflated numbers through fancy trickery on inferior competition. A BYU Quarterback Factory product had played great in the brightest spotlight on the highest level of competitive football.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poll Results: What has to happen for Heaps-hype to match or exceed Jimmer-mania?

This poll was different from every other on Blue Cougar Football because multiple answers could be selected. The results will add up to more than 100%, but don't let that confuse you. Just as there is no one act that Jimmer Fredette has done to set Cougar Nation in a frenzy, Jake Heaps will have to accomplish more than one great feat to excite the masses to an equal or greater level of euphoria. The results were as follows:
32% Win the Heisman Trophy
56% Take BYU to a BCS bowl
10% Win the National Championship
20% Lead the nation in passing yards
10% Break Ty Detmer's School Records
24% All of the Above
My take on this poll question centers around the to match or exceed qualifier. Logically, Heaps' accomplishments will need to match or exceed Jimmer's accomplishments. Jimmer is at worst a finalist for the most prestigious player of the year awards, and appears to have a good shot at winning them. For Heaps that translates into being a Heisman Trophy finalist at a minimum. A BCS bowl in college football is the equivalent of making the final four in basketball, and winning the national championship means the same thing in basketball as it does in football. Jimmer will probably end the season as the nation's leading scorer, which would be the equivalent of leading the nation in passing yards for a quarterback. Jimmer is flirting with breaking Danny Ainge's record for most points scored in a career along with other BYU basketball records. Heaps will probably need to do the same. The key records that Detmer holds that Heaps would have to break or come close to breaking are: most passing yards in a season (5,188), most passing yards in a career (15,031), and most touchdown passes in a career (121).

One effect that Jimmer has had that was not one of the poll responses is catch the fancy of the national media. For approximately one month, Jimmer has repeatedly made national headlines. That can be a little more difficult for Heaps to do. Jimmer has had four years to build his legacy and following in a sport that sees its best and brightest leave for the NBA after one year. College football's elite must play three seasons before they can leave for the professional ranks. That allows several players to build a devoted following, who all want the media to recognize their guy. Heaps will need a gimmick, just like Jimmer and Tim Tebow, if he is to garner the media spotlight the way Jimmer has. Will BYU going independent be enough of a gimmick, or will Heaps have to come up with something else?

The last ingredient to consider is that football is bigger than basketball, especially when the quarterback is the one in question. If I am trying to make a prediction, then it is possible that Heaps only has to win the Heisman or take BYU to a BCS bowl for his popularity and control of the fan base to be equal to that of Jimmer Fredette.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's question: "What validated the BYU QB Factory the most?"

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Was the 2010 Brigham Young Cougars Football Schedule the Hardest Ever?

The Brigham Young Cougars got off to a slow start in the 2010 season. Inexperience, poor coaching, and injuries were common explanations for the poor start. The schedule was pretty tough, too. Five weeks into the season, three of BYU’s opponents were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (Air Force #25, Florida State #23, Nevada #21), with two future opponents ranked even higher (Utah #10, TCU #5). BYU is used to playing top quality opponents, but rarely does BYU play so many in the same year.

When the 2010 season concluded, four of these five were still ranked in the USA Today poll. TCU was the Rose Bowl Champion and Nevada had done the unthinkable—beat Boise State. Was the 2010 schedule BYU’s hardest ever, or is there another that posed more difficulty?

Using the opponents’ winning percentage seems to be the best way to weed through almost 90 years of football history and determine the seasons that deserve closer attention. Before 2010, BYU’s opponents’ winning percentage has ranked among the nation’s top 20 five times—1967, 1991, 1999, 2003, and 2004.

1967
Opponents’ winning %: 0.5778 (13th in the nation)
Top opponents: Wyoming (10-0, #6), Oregon State (7-2-1, #7), Arizona State (8-2), UTEP/Texas Western (6-2-1).
Number of ranked teams played: 4* (2 top 10)

* = The rankings in 1967 only ranked the top 10 teams. Arizona State and UTEP fell into the “Others receiving votes” category. Only 22 teams total (the top 10 plus 12 others) received votes in the final poll that year. For consistency, with the polls going to 25 teams now, all four of these opponents will be counted as being ranked.

1991
Opponents’ winning %: 0.6076 (9th in the nation)
Top opponents: Penn State (11-2, #3), Florida State (11-2, #4), Iowa (10-1-1, #10), UCLA (9-3, #18), Air Force 10-3 (10-3, #24)
Number of ranked teams played: 5 (3 top 10)

Other considerations: Every one of the top opponents won their bowl games, except Iowa (tied BYU). San Diego State had Marshall Faulk. Only one of the games against the top opponents (Air Force) was played at home; the rest were split 2 road 2 neutral.

1999
Opponents’ winning %: 0.5794 (18th in the nation)
Top opponents: Marshall (13-0, #10), Utah (8-3), Colorado State (8-3)
Number of ranked teams played: 1

2003
Opponents’ winning %: 0.5912 (13th in the nation)
Top opponents: USC (12-1, #2), Boise State (13-1, #15), Utah (10-2, #21)
Number of ranked teams played: 3 (1 top 10)

Other considerations: USC won the AP National Championship

2004
Opponents’ winning %: 0.5897 (16th in the nation)
Top opponents: USC (13-0, #1), Utah (12-0, #5), Boise State (11-1, #12)
Number of ranked teams played: 3 (2 top 10)

Other considerations: USC won the National Championship. USC QB, Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy. USC RB Reggie Bush and Utah QB Alex Smith were Heisman Trophy finalists.

2010
Opponents’ winning %: 0.5454
Top opponents: TCU (13-0, #2), Nevada (13-1, #13), Florida State (10-4, #16), Utah (10-3, #23)
Number of ranked teams played: 4 (1 top 10)

Other considerations: Only one game against the top opponents was a home game (Nevada) the rest were road games.

It is easy to dismiss the 1999 team from consideration. While the opponents’ winning percentage was high, the number of quality opponents was not. It is also easy to dismiss the 2010 team. The winning percentage is much lower than all the others. Notwithstanding the good pool of quality opponents in 2010, the overall schedule was not as strong as other years.

The year 2003 is the next to go. Despite USC winning the AP national championship, having only one top ten ranked opponent and three ranked opponents overall hurts.

That leaves 1967, 1991, and 2004. The 1967 and 2004 schedules can fight it out for the number 2 spot because 1991 stands head and shoulders above them both. The 1991 schedule is tops in all categories: opponents’ winning percentage, number of ranked teams, and number of top 10 teams. Hands down, the 1991 schedule was the hardest BYU football schedule ever.

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. Texas A&M (1996)

The Brigham Young Cougars started the 1996 season on a high note by upseting the nationally ranked Texas A&M Aggies, 41-37, in the Pigskin Classic. As mentioned in the Wednesday Flashback, this was the first win in what would be a record setting 14 win campaign.

BYU vs. TEXAS A&M, 1996

Yes, that is Dat Nguyen who Itula Mili decleats at the 3:20 mark. Enjoy!

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Virgil Carter's NCAA Records

The correct answer to the last trivia question "What year was the first time that 3 BYU players rushed for 500 yards or more?" is 1971—40 years ago. Pete Van Valkenburg rushed for 601 yards (121 carries), David Coon rushed for 549 yards (113 carries), and Steve Stratton rushed for 502 yards (77 carries).

On to this week's question. BYU has long been known as a school with record setting quarterbacks. In 1966, quarterback Virgil Carter became the first record setter by breaking two NCAA records. This week we want to know:
What two NCAA records did Virgil Carter set?
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 bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flashback: Most Wins in School History

The Brigham Young Cougars hold the NCAA record for most wins in a single season with 14. That was done 15 years ago. BYU also set or tied the school record for most wins in a season 35 and 45 years ago in 1976 and 1966, respectively. While BYU football teams raised the record for most wins in a season three other times between 1976 and 1996, from now until the 2011 season starts, Blue Cougar Football is limiting its flashbacks to memorable moments from past years that are the anniversaries we typically give extra special attention (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 …). Hear is how each of these record setting teams compare to each other.

1966
Overall record: 8-2
The Victims: San Diego State, Colorado State, Utah State, New Mexico, Arizona, UTEP, Utah, Pacific
Longest Win Streak: 4 games
Average Winning Margin: 17.75
Largest winning margin: 38 (Pacific, 38-0)
Most points in one game: 53 (UTEP)
Coach: Tommy Hudspeth
Leading Passer: Virgil Carter, 2,182 yards
Leading Rusher: John Ogden, 906 yards
Leading Receiver: Phil Odle, 920 yards
• Only the second time that BYU beat both Utah and Utah State in same season (1958 was first).
• Virgil Carter was named WAC Offensive Player of the Year
• 6 players were 1st team All-WAC, 3 were 2nd team All-WAC
• Carter was the first BYU QB to pass for 2,000 yards

1976
Overall Record: 9-3
The Victims: Colorado State, Arizona, San Diego State, Southern Mississippi, Utah State, Arizona State, UTEP, New Mexico, Utah
Longest Win Streak: 6 games
Average Winning Margin: 20.4
Largest Winning Margin: 44 (Southern Mississippi, 63-19)
Most Points in One Game: 63 (Southern Mississippi)
Coach: LaVell Edwards
Leading Passer: Gifford Nielsen, 3192 yards
Leading Rusher: Jeff Blanc, 594 yards
Leading Receiver: Mike Chronister, 706 yards
• Only the third time BYU beat both Arizona and Arizona State in same season (1965 and 1974 were the other times).
• Gifford Nielsen was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year
• 9 players were 1st team All-WAC
• Nielsen was the first BYU QB to pass for 3,000 yards

1996
Overall Record: 14-1
The Victims: Texas A&M, Arkansas State, New Mexico, SMU, Utah State, UNLV, Tulsa, TCU, UTEP, Rice, Hawaii, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas State
Longest Win Streak: 12 games
Average Winning Margin: 21.2
Largest Winning Margin: 49 points (Arkansas State, 58-9; Rice 49-0)
Most Points in One Game: 63 (UNLV)
Coach: LaVell Edwards
Leading Passer: Steve Sarkisian, 4027 yards
Leading Rusher: Brian McKenzie, 950 yards
Leading Receiver: K.O. Kealaluhi, 901 yards
• Played in first January bowl game in school history
• Played in second Pigskin Classic in school history (1991 was first)
• Played in the inaugural WAC Championship Game
• Played 7 home games
• Steve Sarkisian won the Sammy Baugh trophy
• Steve Sarkisian was WAC Mountain Division Offensive Player of the Year
• Shay Muirbrook was WAC Mountain Division Offensive Player of the Year
• Ronney Jenkins was WAC Mountain Division Freshman of the Year
• LaVell Edwards was WAC Mountain Division Coach of the year
• 9 players were 1st team All-WAC, 4 players were 2nd team All-WAC

Each team had one shutout (1966-Pacific, 38-0; 1976-San Diego State, 8-0; 1996-Rice, 49-0)
Each team beat Utah by 20 points or more (1966: 35-13, 1976: 34-12, 1996: 37-17)

With this pattern of most wins on these anniversary years, maybe BYU should use the flexibility it has and schedule a 13th game for 2011, which would make tying the school record of 14 wins possible with a perfect season, including a bowl win. Not a bad idea, except, the last time BYU had a 14 game season was another anniversary year—2001. That year, the Cougars were poised to tie the school and NCAA record for most wins in a season, until Luke Staley's season ended early in the final minutes of game 12 caused an otherwise outstanding season to be marred by a two game skid.

On second thought, let’s just stick with the 12 games, plus the possibility for a bowl, and wait for 2012 to match the 14 win record.

More flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.


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

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Poll Results: Does the BYU coaching staff need more "diversity"?
Doing Jake Heaps Justice: Is Heaps the Best Brigham Young Cougars Freshman Quarterback Ever?
Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs (2001)
Thursday Trivia: Three 500 Yard Rushers   

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poll Results: Does the BYU coaching staff need more "diversity"?

The poll results are in for the question: Does the BYU coaching staff need more "diversity"? The majority (84%) voted "No."

To simply dismiss diversity as a non-issue is being naive. Although it shouldn't matter, it does matter to some people for them to see coaches who have the same background as them. Bronco Mendenhall has made his selections, so the best way to address the diversity issue is to have the players in the program leave with a positive experience that they can and want to share with future prospective recruits. Whether or not more diversity is needed I would say "No" as well. The lack of diversity may make some recruits more hesitant, but if they can talk to former players and get positive feedback, that should be enough to overcome any reservations.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's question: "What has to happen for Heaps-hype to match or exceed Jimmer-mania?" (You can select more than one answer)

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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Doing Jake Heaps Justice: Is Heaps the Best Brigham Young Cougars Freshman Quarterback Ever?

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps had a rough start to his college career. The start was so rough that 2/3 of the way through the season, this site questioned: Is Jake Heaps the worst Brigham Young Cougars freshman quarterback ever? The answer, at that point, was that Heaps fell in the middle of five freshmen quarterbacks, and the outlook for Heaps’ final position was stated as: “With four, maybe five, games left, he could still move ahead of [Matt] Berry, or drop below [John] Beck. … Heaps has demonstrated that he has the tools and the potential. When he starts using those tools to consistently play to his potential will determine where he sits on this list at the end of the year.”

Heaps immediately started to consistently use his QB tools and played much closer to his potential during the final five games of 2010. Now that the final 1/3 of the season, plus a bowl game, has been played it is time to do justice. Heaps’ complete freshman season can be compared to his peers and see if he improved his final ranking. 

Just as before, the analysis will start with each player’s resume:

TY DETMER
83 completions, 153 attempts (54.2%), 1,252 yards, 13 TD, 10 Int., 138.0 Efficiency

Notes: Detmer has the highest efficiency, however, he also threw the most interceptions. He was 1-0 as a starter, a 65-0 blowout of New Mexico (2-10). He threw for 333 yards and 5 TDs. Detmer came off the bench to win 3 other games, including the Freedom Bowl. Detmer was named the MVP of the Freedom Bowl.

MATT BERRY
108-184 (58.7%), 1,309 yards, 7 TD, 9 Int., 121.2 Efficiency

Notes: Berry has the highest completion percentage. He was 2-4 as a starter. In his best game he threw for 360 yards against Wyoming (2-11).

JAKE HEAPS
219-383 (57.2%), 2,316 yards, 15 TD, 9 Int., 116.2 Efficiency

Notes: Heaps set BYU freshmen records for moss passing yards, most attempts, most completions, most TD passes, and most wins. Heaps was 6-4 as a starter. He was named the New Mexico Bowl MVP, after he set several New Mexico Bowl records, as well as BYU bowl records (best completion percentage, most points scored, and tied most TD passes). Heaps had the eighth most efficient passing game and best for a freshman (242.6 rating) in BYU history against Colorado State (3-9).

By the resumes alone, Heaps did enough to move ahead of Berry. Heaps vs. Detmer requires a more in depth look. While Heaps clearly has bigger numbers in nearly every category, does bigger always equal better? Three facts hold me back from declaring Heaps the clear cut winner:
  1. While Heaps started or took most of the snaps in 11 of 13 games, he never hit the 300 yards passing benchmark in one game. Detmer did it in the only game he started.
  2. Ty Detmer had a “Tim Tebow effect” as a freshman. When Detmer came off the bench as a freshman, he instantly infused life into the BYU offense. He led comeback wins against UTEP and Colorado. He threw what would be the winning score against Hawaii.
  3. Detmer was much more efficient. The difference between Detmer’s 138 and Heaps’ 116.2 pass efficiency ratings is too much to ignore. It makes me wonder what Detmer might have done if he had been given the same number of reps as Heaps. Simple projections gives Detmer a stat line of: 207-383, 3133 yards, 32.5 TD, 25 Int. My mantra has always been that if you start a freshman quarterback, you are sentencing your offense to less than 3,000 yards passing, less than 20 TD passes, and more interceptions than TD passes. Detmer would have been the exception in all three areas. Heaps was only an exception in the final area.
In short, Detmer has a lot of quality inside his numbers to compensate for not having the quantity that Heaps brings to the table. Is there enough quality inside Heaps’ numbers to counter these advantages that Detmer has over him.
  • No 300 yard passing game. To counter the fact that Heaps didn’t pass for over 300 yards in a single game, he did some things that BYU quarterbacks have not been able to do, even as sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Heaps had a 242.6 pass efficiency rating against Colorado State. Heaps also has the bowl records.
  • “Tim Tebow effect.” To counter Detmer’s Tim Tebow like impact, Heaps was able to leave his own mark on the offense. During the transformation down the stretch, the BYU offense had a potency matched only by the best Cougar offenses. They were slaughtering opponents. The outcome was determined by halftime against UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico, and UTEP. It took a monumental stretch of bad luck (most were plays that Heaps had no part in) to lose to nationally ranked Utah in Salt Lake City.
  • Superior Passing Efficiency. To counter the difference in pass efficiency rating, Heaps can start with his better TD:Int. ratio (1.67 to 1.3). Heaps’ best rebuttal to the pass efficiency numbers, however, is that he didn’t get to pad his stats when games were out of reach. In three blowouts in 1988 (Texas, Utah, and Miami), Detmer amassed 514 yards passing and five TD passes when the outcome was already decided. That is 41% of his total passing yards and 38% of his total touchdown passes. Heaps accumulated his stats when the battle was most intense. He had to go against fresh defenses that were giving their best. There was no 34-3 or 30-7 cushion the opponent could fall back on. All week long, defenses were studying film of Heaps and game planning to stop him. Even though, Heaps was able to pull his pass efficiency rating up from 87.9 to 116.2 over the final five games.
All things considered, the scale tips in favor of Jake Heaps. He has earned the label Best BYU Freshman QB—ever. Heaps put up bigger numbers than any previous freshman quarterback this school has ever seen, and those numbers were not inflated. They had substance to them, and that had led him to the top of the list.

The best part is that the man he replaces at the top of the list went on to pass for over 15,000 yards and 121 touchdowns and rewrite the NCAA record books in his career. Oh yeah, he also won the Heisman Trophy. If any BYU quarterback will ever accomplish more, Jake Heaps seems to be the guy to do it.

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

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs (2001)
Thursday Trivia: Three 500 Yard Rushers
Flashback: Winning 10 Consecutive Games In One Season
Poll Results: Who is the Best Recruit in the 2011 Class? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs (2001)

Ten years ago, the Brigham Young Cougars played a highlight filled game in San Diego against the Aztecs. It was part of the 12 game win streak from 2001 mentioned in Wednesday's flashback. There was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, an interception returned for a touchdown, and both a rushing and passing touchdown of over 60 yards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxcjzd54MJQ

Enjoy. Have a great weekend!

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Three 500 Yard Rushers

The correct answer to the last trivia question "Steve Young became only the second player in NCAA Division 1-A football to do what in the 1983 season opener at Baylor?" is pass for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game. Young had 351 passing and 113 rushing. Archie Manning was the first to do in 1969 with Ole Miss.

On to this week's question. J.J. Di Luigi (917 yards), Bryan Kariya (537), and Joshua Quezada (505) all rushed for over 500 yards this past season. It was the second time in BYU history that three players rushed for over 500 yards in the same season. Naturally, that makes this week's question:
What year was the first time that 3 BYU players rushed for 500 yards or more?
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 bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Flashback: Winning 10 Consecutive Games In One Season

The Brigham Young Cougars have won 10 or more games on seven occasions. Some of you might remember that being the answer to the October 7, 2010, trivia question. Going back in time by five year intervals, you have to go back 20 years before BYU football did not win 10 consecutive games during the season.

2006: The Cougars won their final 10 games. It started with a shutout victory over Utah State, 38-0. BYU then went to Fort Worth, Texas, and beat 15th ranked TCU, 31-17. The next six opponents went quietly. San Diego State, UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, and New Mexico lost by a combined score of 253-55. None of them scored more than 17 points, and none of these games were closer than 19 points. Utah looked to put an end to the Cougars win streak, but when John Beck miraculously connected with Jonny Harline on the final play of the game, the Utes became victim number nine. The 2006 squad put an exclamation point on the season and extended their win streak to double digits with a 38-8 triumph over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.

2001: The BYU Cougars rode a relentless offense to a 12-0 start. They came out of the gates fast posting 70 points in a win over Tulane. UNLV and New Mexico each gave BYU a scare in games four and six, respectively. Win number 10 was against the Wyoming Cowboys, 41-34. A Luke Staley touchdown run with 2:08 to play being the difference in this see-saw battle. BYU registered wins in the next two games against Utah and Mississippi State to extend this single season win streak to 12 games (14 overall).

1996: Fifteen years ago, BYU escaped defeat in the fourth game of the season and to beat New Mexico 17-14. After that, the flood gates opened. The Cougars cruised through the next nine games to reach 10 consecutive wins. BYU’s margin of victory in those nine games was 28.9 points. The tenth win was extra sweet as it came over arch rival Utah and it clinched a spot for BYU in the inaugural WAC Championship game. The 1996 squad didn’t stop there. Thrilling victories over Wyoming (WAC Championship Game) and Kansas State (Cotton Bowl) allowed BYU to finish the year with a dozen straight wins.

That takes us to 1991—20 years. The 1991 team did not win 10 consecutive games, however, it did go undefeated for 10 consecutive games (8-0-2). Not quite the same, but at the time, it felt just as good. BYU started the season 0-3, so to finish the year with only three losses was great. Since one tie featured a rally from a 28-point second half deficit and the other came against the team that finished ranked number 10 in both major polls, it was easy to see these ties as a “glass half full” and celebrate a 10 game undefeated streak.

I am not going to make a predictI think it goes without saying that I would love to see this pattern continue and watch BYU win at least 10 consecutive games at some point during the 2011 season.

More Flashbacks can be found on the Flashbacks page.  

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

Other recent posts on BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL:
Poll Results: Who is the Best Recruit in the 2011 Class?
The Brigham Young Cougars’ 2011 Coaching Staff
Friday Highlights: Steve Young
Thursday Trivia: Steve Young's Rare Feat
 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Poll Results: Who is the Best Recruit in the 2011 Class?

Ryker Mathews ran away with this one. The American Fork High School product received 82% of the vote. The remaining 18% was split evenly, 6% apiece, between Colby Jorgensen, Timpview High School, Alex Kuresa, Mountain Crest High School, and Brian Rawlinson, Oologah-Talala High School (Oklahoma).

Honestly, I can't give a good assessment. I don't follow recruiting mainly because it is so hit and miss. As an offensive linemen, Mathews probably has a good chance to be the best player from this recruiting class. BYU has a great track record of producing outstanding linemen. Hopefully, several players from this class will have great careers, and if we revisit this question in a few years it will be a hard question to answer.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll question: Does the BYU coaching staff need more "diversity"?

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Brigham Young Cougars’ 2011 Coaching Staff

When Brigham Young University announced the hiring of former wide receiver Ben Cahoon as wide receivers coach on February 1, 2011, it was accompanied with the words “to complete our coaching staff” by Bronco Mendenhall. From the same press release announcing the hiring of Coach Cahoon came the following:
“Brandon Doman, as previously announced, will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Assistant head coach Lance Reynolds will coach tight ends, Mark Weber will continue working with the offensive line and recently hired Joe DuPaix from Navy will coach running backs and coordinate recruiting. Mendenhall will continue to oversee the defense as the coordinator with the defensive staff maintaining their previous position assignments: Steve Kaufusi, defensive line; Paul Tidwell, inside linebackers; Kelly Poppinga, outside linebackers; and Nick Howell, defensive backs. Howell will also serve as special teams coordinator.”
With this official announcement, it is time to look at the new staff with emphasis on the new additions and promotions, and discuss some other relevant topics, concerns, and positives surrounding the coaching staff/hiring process.

Bronco Mendenhall, HC/DC
It was painfully obvious that double duty is the only option for Mendenhall right now. Until he has the right person at the right time that can replicate his intensity, diligence, and emotion, Bronco has to call the defensive plays and be intimately involved with the game plans and personnel decisions. I am sure that he already has a plan in place to do this. I am speculating now, but I think the next defensive coordinator will be someone already on staff. Depending on who it is, this plan could take anywhere from two to five years to complete.

Brandon Doman, OC/QB
As I have said previously, Brandon Doman was the “best man for the job” as far as offensive coordinator goes. Some of it has to do with the business side of football (Doman appeared ready to be promoted to offensive coordinator somewhere), and the risk of losing him with his track record with the quarterbacks was huge. However, more importantly, as was learned with the ugly Jaime Hill situation, it is best to have a “Bronco Mendenhall type” coordinating the offense for purposes of team unity, coaching staff unity, and end result on the field. Brandon Doman, by all accounts, is a “Bronco Mendenhall type” of coach. By promoting from within, it also provides continuity. The enormous potential of this team was witnessed the final few weeks of the season. While some shake up was needed, a total upheaval was not.

Joe DuPaix, RB
The news that Joe DuPaix was hired came as a surprise to many. He was relatively unknown, and with his most recent experience coming at an option school the initial reaction landed in the mildly pessimistic to benefit of the doubt range. Given more time to learn who DuPaix is and his qualifications, he seems to be a good hire.

I find five things to like about hiring DuPaix: 1) He, too, seems to fit the Bronco Mendenhall mold as a players’ coach and an intense guy; 2) He has a very good reputation as a recruiter; 3) He has a track record of having good offenses; 4) His hire shows that Doman will be true to his word about keeping defenses “guessing all the time” (listen to video clip); 5) He has experience with an independent football program.

My only reservation about DuPaix is that Navy has a non-traditional run game. BYU needs to have a power running element to it. The run game did not take off last year until Bryan Kariya became unstoppable in short down and distance situations. When it is 3rd and 2 and Doman decides to call a run play, BYU needs to be able to pick up those two yards—whether the defense (and everyone in the stands) knows it or not. If for some reason, Kariya struggles to find that short down and distance magic in 2011, can DuPaix help him find it?

Ben Cahoon, WR
Cahoon was the popular choice: he is a former Cougar, he just wrapped up a very successful professional career, and he has stayed in touch with the program since he left. His Canadian Football success will command the respect of his receivers. That is crucial for BYU. One cliché often used in football is “you can’t coach talent,” and the current receiving corps has more natural talent than BYU is accustom to. Cahoon’s CFL achievements were a result of his work ethic. Infusing that work ethic into these receivers is the key to getting the receivers to reach their full potential and to avoid the problems seen last year. By setting the CFL record for most career receptions, he seems to have learned how to get open and make receptions against even the best defenders. BYU receivers need to be able to get open downfield against any defense that it faces.

Kelly Poppinga, OLB
Bronco would not have promoted Poppinga to outside linebackers coach unless he was 100% certain Poppinga could do the job well, and that Poppinga was 100% invested in the program. Of course, being coached by Bronco and being a graduate assistant under Bronco helps with the latter. When I talked about the two to five year plan for a new defensive coordinator, Poppinga is probably a candidate. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I find it very significant that Bronco Mendenhall retained Poppinga with his lack of coaching experience. Bronco could have easily found a more experienced coach who would buy into the “Bronco system,” but Bronco apparently sees great potential (as well as good current coaching ability) in Poppinga.

Mark Weber, OL
I like Weber as offensive line coach. He has worked very well with the line in recent seasons that have had the challenges of replacing several starters and having the depth of the unit decimated by injuries. The offensive line has been a huge part of BYU’s success the last five years.

Lance Reynolds, TE
We have all heard of unsung heroes, well Assistant Head Coach Lance Reynolds is an unsung legend at BYU. He understands the BYU offense and BYU football as well as anyone. He can whip the tight ends into shape and get them much more involved next year.

One Major Challenge
The BYU coaching staff has one big challenge: complacency. The likelihood of returning to double digit wins next year is high. The program is loaded with young talent that should be very hungry. This could result in an extended honeymoon period for the new coaches and a renewed sense of job security for the others. Weaknesses can easily be covered up or overlooked as the wins roll in. Each and every coach needs to be dedicated to refining their trade and to be focused on bringing more to the table and getting more from their players each year. There is a fine line between the 11-2 seasons BYU has had recently and a perfect 13-0 season. If complacency sets in, then 13-0 will never be reached.

Diversity
The one real controversy that came about during the restructuring process was the issue of diversity. Minorities Jaime Hill and Robert Anae left and no minorities were hired. Polynesian Steve Kaufusi was and is still on staff. When we talk about diversity at BYU, many people factor in whether a person is a member of a faith other than the school’s sponsoring religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). This time around, none of the three hires are members of other faiths. Hill and Patrick Higgins are members of other faiths.

Former Cougar standout Vai Sikahema felt this issue was important enough that he dedicated an entire blog with the Deseret News to advocate on behalf of another Polynesian, who is also a former BYU running back, Mark Atuaia. Sikahema tries to do damage control and cover his tracks in the beginning, but the sharpness of his words at the end leave a stronger impression than those early statements.

Incidentally, a few days before I learned of Sikahema’s statements, I had done a Google search on Mark Atuaia and found this from laieboyz.com:
“Mark graduated in 2004 from BYU-HC with a degree in Political Science.
“In the course of his education, Mark had discovered his mission in life. ‘I want to help underprivileged people excel in their lives.’ He said during our recent conversation.”
Assuming this still to be true, it is easy to argue that coaching football at BYU isn’t the best way to accomplish this life mission. Maybe Atuaia would make a great running backs coach for BYU, but maybe, as this quote expresses, he has another destiny and during his interview Bronco felt that.

The interesting thing about diversity, however, is that it can be turned on its head and side a million different ways. If Atuaia was hired, presumably in place of DuPaix, that would make all three new coaches BYU pure breeds. The only real outside experience among Poppinga, Cahoon, and Atuaia is Cahoon’s CFL playing career.

While Sikahema used his voice for Atuaia, others were using theirs for former BYU linebacker Dennis Simmons, an African American. He could have been the wide receivers coach. His resume includes coaching a Fred Biletnikoff winner (Michael Crabtreee, Texas Tech). He has also been a running backs coach. I don’t know if Simmons applied or if he had stayed in touch with the program at all the last 15 years.

I don’t have a problem with “diversity” initiatives, but they cannot be blown out of proportion and cloud the overall goal of any project. Diversity can also lead to division. Division, or divisiveness, must be an anachronism with the 2011 BYU coaching staff. As BYU enters the independent ranks with the big, bright, ESPN spotlight on it, unity and understanding are paramount. Every coach on the staff needs to be on the same page and working towards the same goals. Otherwise, the independent project could fizzle fast, just like the 2010 season.

That leads to why my final assessment of the 2011 coaching staff is positive. I like it because there seems to be great camaraderie among these 10 men. That camaraderie can help to make this group of players a close knit bunch. A close knit bunch is one of the most common threads found in not only the great BYU football teams of the past, but any great sports team.

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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Highlights: Steve Young

To keep with the theme of the flashback and trivia this week, here is a link to some Steve Young highlights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyItiL7BoSk

Pretty tough to find college highlights for him. This clip starts with many of the highlights on popular BYU football videos (Quarterback Factory II and Greatest Moments In BYU Football History), but then it mixes in several highlights that even I have never seen before.

I also found some great clips about what he is doing professionally now.

http://www.hgequity.com/news/media

A link to these CNBC videos has also been posted on the Cougar Chasing page.

Enjoy!

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Steve Young's Rare Feat

The correct answer to the last trivia question "What year did BYU have its highest average attendance for home football games (66,002)?" is 1990. The opponents that year were Miami, Washington State, San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico, and Utah State. The Miami game set a new record for single game attendance (66,235).

On to this week's question. Steve Young's performance against Baylor on September 10, 1983, was featured in yesterday's flashback. His play truly was special that day. So special that he did something that had been done only one other time. That makes this week's question: 
Steve Young became only the second player in NCAA Division 1-A football to do what in the 1983 season opener at Baylor?
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 bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flashback: Steve Young Does It All (1983)

The Brigham Young Cougars started the 1983 season in Waco, Texas against the Baylor Bears. It was quarterback Steve Young's senior year. He established himself as the leader of the team as a junior in 1982. To start 1983, he showed he was ready to take BYU to new heights.

Against Baylor, Young had one of the all-time best individual performances by a BYU player. Long known as a dual threat, Young had his first career 100 yard rushing game. On 13 carries, he amassed 113 yards (8.7 yards per carry). His longest run was 49 yards. In the passing department, Young completed 61 percent of his throws (23 of 38) for 351 yards. His longest pass was 42 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for two others. Twice he completed passes for two-point conversions.

Young really did it all for BYU that day. His 464 yards of total offense was 94% of BYU's offensive output. Young's explosiveness, play-making ability, and being a dual-threat made the 1983 BYU offense the most productive offense in school history.

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Poll Results: Was hiring Joe DuPaix a good move?

The latest poll has closed, and it was nearly unanimous (92%) that hiring Joe DuPaix as an assistant coach was a good move.

Right now, I would agree that hiring Joe DuPaix was a good move. I am planning to comment in depth about each hire when the coaching staff is fully in place for 2011. For now, let me say that I think it is good to have someone coming from a run heavy system. That doesn't mean BYU is looking to become run heavy, but DuPaix can share new ideas with Doman and Bronco. Additionally, even if you aren't going to run the ball often, you still want to be good at it when you do. Another side of this hire is that DuPaix comes from Navy--another independent program. He can help as BYU encounters unforeseen challenges of being independent since he has gone through several seasons with an independent school.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Who is the best recruit in the 2011 class?"

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