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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 58, Arkansas State Red Wolves 9 (1996)

Editor's Note: With the football season starting up this week, BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will return to featuring a past football game in the weekly flashback.

On this date 15 years ago, the Brigham Young Cougars followed up a stunning upset of Texas A&M in the Pigskin Classic by slaughtering Arkansas State. The Red Wolves were a replacement for Alabama on the schedule. If there was any doubt after the Texas A&M win about how special this 1996 team could be, then game two of the year answered those doubts. Not only could BYU beat the big boys, but they could also destroy the little ones. (Something a 10 win BYU team struggled to do just two years earlier.)

The Ole Miss Defense is Decimated; Brigham Young Cougars Offense Should be licking its chops

The Brigham Young Cougars are going to face an Ole Miss defense this Saturday that has been decimated from a year ago. Jake Heaps and company should be licking their chops.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poll Results: How many games will BYU win in 2011?

BLUE COGUAR FOOTBALL poll voters have much higher expectations for BYU than the AP and USA Today voters.

With blue goggles firmly in place and clearly focused, the number of wins that received the most votes was 13 with 27%. The second leading win total was 11 with 23%. Ten wins was third with 17%. Twelve (14%), nine (8%), less than 8 (6%), and eight (5%) round out the results.

I honestly believe that BYU can win every game. I really, really want to see BYU win every game. However, I am not ready to predict a perfect season.

Time For The Jake Heaps Fairy Tale To Continue

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps’ career, to this point, has all the makings of a fairy tale. As the number one high school quarterback recruit, he committed to play for BYU the summer before his senior year of high school in a self-orchestrated press conference. Heaps used his influence to reel in two other prized recruits for the Cougars the same day as the press conference. In the time between his commitment to the day he enrolled at BYU, Heaps went to the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp and earned MVP honors, won his third straight Washington 4A state championship, and was named All-American.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: Reasons for optimism against Ole Miss

The Deseret News has electronically published a piece I wrote about the game this week.

Reasons for optimism in game one vs. Ole Miss

It has been a big day for recognition for BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL. Over the weekend and into today, FoxSports.com was promoting the site as a featured publisher on their college football page for a piece I wrote last week.

Dear Bronco: Going Undefeated is Very Hard

If you haven't read it, then do it now. Robbie Bosco, Luke Staley, Brandon Doman, and Matt Bellini give their thoughts about what it would take for BYU to go undefeated. Going undefeated is the first step in fulfilling Bronco Mendenhall's goal to play for a national championship.

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

Past Player Profile: Fred Whittingham

Position: Running Back
Years Played: 1986-1989

Reaction to the Rankings: 2011 Preseason

The Brigham Young Cougars football team kicks off the 2011 season this Saturday. As the Monday before the first game, BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL is ready and kicking it into game day speed.

With the start of every season comes the feature Reaction to the Rankings (R2R). R2R was short lived last year, but it makes a return for the preseason. The game at Ole Miss will have a lot to do with whether R2R is back next week.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daniel Sorensen's "White Boys" Comment Getting National Attention

Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen's recent comments about the BYU football team being "a bunch of white boys" is now getting national attention. Sorensen's comments were first reported by Daily Herald reporter Jason Franchuk. Now, Sorensen's words have been broadcast to the nation.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Highlights: Boys of Fall

Well, this is it. The final week we have to survive on highlights to get our football fix. One week till kickoff. BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL is stoked for the 2011 football season. 

Boys of Fall

Enjoy!

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Bronco Mendenhall: Going Undefeated is Very Hard

The Brigham Young Cougars don’t have a conference championship to play for anymore. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is very cognizant of that fact. Therefore, he has set his and his team’s sights on the only other championship that matters: the national championship. Going undefeated is essential if BYU is going to convince voters and the computers to rank them number one.

On Tuesday, this site gave a fantasy scenario for BYU to win the 2011 national championship. Today, it is time for a reality check: going undefeated is very hard. BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL reached out to former BYU football players to help explain to Coach Mendenhall and the 2011 football team what makes going undefeated so hard.

Thrusday Trivia: Season Opener In SEC Country

The correct answer to the last trivia question, "Who is the last BYU linebacker to be named All-American (on any level: 1st team, 2nd team, honorable mention) in high school?" is Zac Stout from the 2010 class. After that you have to go back to the 2000 recruiting class that featured two High School All-American linebackers: K.C. Bills and Lawrence Cowan.

On to this week's question.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flashback: Killer Kicking

The last two weeks the flashback has focused on cornerbacks and tight ends from the past with hopes that it can somehow rub off on this year’s units, which are two of the concerns/question marks of the 2011 team. One final position in question is the place kicker: Justin Sorensen. He has been inconsistent in practice, so this week is in honor of killer kicking to help Sorensen get on track.

Brigham Young Cougars to play Houston Cougars in 2013 and 2014

The Brigham Young Cougars have announced that they will play the Houston Cougars. The two game home-and-home series will be played October 19, 2013 in Houston, and September 27, 2014, in Provo, Utah.

The full press release can be viewed here.

The 2013 game will mark the first meeting between the two schools, unless they play this year in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Although the two teams have never met on the field, they have been connected in college football history.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Brigham Young Cougars' Road To The National Championship

Before getting started let me make one thing clear: Even though I believe anything is possible in college football, understand the chances for what I am about to put forward is slim to none. This is intended to be a fun, wouldn’t this be great, type of post. Brigham Young Cougars fans have a small reputation of thinking every year that BYU is going to win every game and finish ranked number one in the polls. In reality, there is nothing wrong with that. It is a sign of a healthy fan base. (Don't worry, I’ll tackle this issue from the opposite angle on Thursday. Stay tuned.)

This year, 2011, is a little different. BYU has moved on to independence. Now Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall is talking about playing for a national championship, and it is rubbing off onto the players. All the more reason to look into the future and predict why BYU will finish the season undefeated and look at what else will happen so BYU will win the national championship.

Poll Results: Should BYU leave independence if invited to the Big XII?

The results are in and the clear majority (59%) said BYU should tell the Big XII "no."

I happen to disagree on this one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

BYU Cougars Football: Fall Camp Superlatives

The Brigham Young Cougars held their final fall scrimmage on Saturday, and will start preparations for game one at Ole Miss today. With the conclusion of fall camp, BLUE COGUAR FOOTBALL unveils its annual fall camp superlatives.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Special Teams Preview

Not even the Brigham Young Cougars special teams were immune from dark moments in 2010. For the most part, the special teams were solid and quietly did what they needed for BYU to win. Matt Marshall successfully executed a fake FG against San Diego State. However, it can be real easy to focus on how the BYU record holder for most kickoff return yards in a career was kicked off the team, and that a last second field goal attempt to beat Utah was blocked.

Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. Utah Utes (2006)

This one was an instant classic, and not only for the fantastic John Beck to Jonny Harline finish. The 2006 rivalry game with Utah will forever stand out as being a turning point in history. It ended a four game win streak in the series for Utah. It capped a perfect 8-0 season in the MWC. It was the year BYU football became BYU football again.

BYU vs. Utah (2006)

Enjoy!

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Defensive Line Preview

Along with the rest of the team, the Brigham Young Cougars defensive line was very disappointing during the first 1/3 of the season. Once head coach Bronco Mendenhall fired defensive coordinator Jaime Hill and assumed responsibility for the defense, the defensive line became one of the most feared in all of college football. Not even #4 TCU could manage much of offense for most of a half.

Thursday Trivia: High School All-American Linebackers

The correct answer to the last trivia question, "How many receiving yards did Itula Mili and Chad Lewis combine for in their sophomore seasons (1994)?" is 831 yards. Mili had 503 and Lewis had 328.

On to this week's question.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Luke Staley Compares BYU Football 2011 with 2001

As the Brigham Young Cougars get set to kick off the 2011 football season, this year’s team is facing a situation similar to the 2001 BYU football team. The 2001 Cougars finished the year before with a disappointing 6-6 record, but the team did finish the year with some momentum after two big wins. The 2001 season saw several new coaches on the sideline for BYU as Gary Crowton took over for the retired LaVell Edwards. As part of this change in leadership, Crowton came in and made some adjustments to the BYU offense.

The 2011 team enters the season with the momentum of finishing a disappointing 7-6 season on a 5-1 run, including a 52-24 bowl win. Several new coaches have joined the BYU coaching staff, and new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has vowed to make some adjustments to the BYU offense.

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Linebackers Preview

Just a year ago, the Brigham Young Cougars linebacking corps returned only one starter (Jordan Pendleton). In 2011, it is the exact opposite. Just one starter from 2010 needs to be replaced (Shane Hunter). Returning three of four starting linebackers is just one reason the expectations for this unit are very high going into the season.

Flashback: Shutdown Corners (1996)

The preview yesterday of the 2011 Brigham Young Cougars defensive backs pointed out that Corby Eason and Preston Hadley would be the starting cornerbacks. Both Eason and Hadley are junior college transfers. Eason has playing experience at BYU, but Hadley has none. This scenario sounds familiar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Defensive Backs Preview

The defensive backs were the most experienced part of the Brigham Young Cougars defense a year ago. This year, it is the biggest question mark. Gone are multi-year starters Andrew Rich (strong safety) Brandon Bradley (cornerback) and Brian Logan (cornerback). These three combined for 201 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 19 pass breakups in 2010. Free safety Travis Uale (42 tackles) is the only returning starter.

Poll Results: How WIll Brandon Doman do Calling Plays?

The final vote was a tie between "Excellent" and "Great." Both received 35% of the vote. "Good" came in third with 22%. "Average" received 5%. "Bad" and "Terrible" evenly split the remaining 3%.

That means, I get to cast the deciding vote. I think Doman will be great at calling plays.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Past Player Profile: Luke Staley

Position: Running Back
Years Played: 1999-2001

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Offensive Line Preview

With the exception of the Florida State game, the Brigham Young Cougars offensive line had a solid season. The men up front paved the way for BYU’s best season running the ball since 2001. They also improved from allowing a sack on 5.5% of pass plays in 2009 to just 4.9% in 2010. The overall win-loss record, however, left a negative perception. Left tackle Matt Reynolds saw his very high NFL draft stock fall appreciatively enough that he decided to return for his senior year.

Joining Reynolds on the line in 2011 will be three other starters from the 2010 campaign. In total, BYU returns 107 career starts on the offensive line.

BYU Would Stabilize the Big XII

The Texas A&M Aggies aren’t going to the SEC after all. At least not yet. The real concern for the Big XII is not whether Texas A&M is staying or leaving. The SEC vote to decline an invite to the Aggies does little to stabilize the volatile Big XII. For all we know, the SEC could be delaying the invite to A&M until team number 14, or 15 and 16, can be chosen and persuaded to join. One thing is certain, the Big XII needs to stabilize itself, and there is an easy way to do that.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Running Backs Preview

The Brigham Young Cougars used a running back by committee approach in 2010. J.J. Di Luigi, Bryan Kariya, and Joshua Quezada shared reps as BYU replaced its all-time leading rusher a year earlier than expected. While the numbers didn’t show any drop off, the run game came up short at key moments early in the season. However, it was the strength of the run game that carried BYU to wins over San Diego State and Wyoming. These two wins proved crucial in the Cougars late season push to qualify for a bowl.

Friday Highlights: Brigham Young Cougars vs. Oregon Ducks (2006)

Well, just a few more weeks and we won't need to survive off of highlights. I have been saving the best of the 2006 season for last. This week is the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon.

BYU vs. Oregon, 2006

Enjoy!

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Wide Receivers Preview

The Brigham Young Cougars receivers struggled, collectively, in 2010 with dropped passes. Timing with new quarterback Jake Heaps was off, as well, for the majority of the season. The two veterans that the team was counting on to elevate their games failed to rise to the occasion.

By season’s end, the sun was shining again. Luke Ashworth had tied the school record with four touchdown receptions in a game. Cody Hoffman had emerged as a playmaker. The early season transgressions had been washed away by fans drooling over the possibilities in 2011.

Thursday Trivia: Itula Mili and Chad Lewis Combined Receiving Yards (1994)

The correct answer to the last trivia question, "What is BYU’s record at LaVell Edwards Stadium under Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall?" is 30-6 or 83.3%. BYU was 3-3 in 2005, 6-0 in 2006, 2007, and 2008, 4-2 in 2009, and 5-1 in 2010. Congratulations to the anonymous responder who had the correct answer.

On to this week's question.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flashback: Sophomore Tight Ends Stepping Up

The Brigham Young Cougars need a tight end to step up this year. I have been calling for 500 yards receiving this season in the season previews by one of the four sophomores vying for the starting spot. Three former BYU tight ends have done just that.

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Tight Ends Preview

Every position for the Brigham Young Cougars had their own struggles and difficulties during 2010. The tight end spot suffered the most. While every other position group found their groove eventually, the tight ends did not. As a unit, they finished the season with 26 receptions, 315 yards, and 0 touchdowns. If you want to put a positive spin on it, 12 receptions for 152 yards came in the final three games of the season. Will the tight ends have a presence in 2011 or should BYU just substitute a slot receiver or extra lineman depending on the down and distance?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Luke Staley Questions

I am scheduled to talk with Luke Staley tonight. Just as I did with Ty Detmer, I want to give you--the readers--a chance to have a few of your questions answered.

Leave your question in the comment section or email me, and I will work in as many as I can.

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

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Quarterbacks Preview

The Brigham Young Cougars started 2010 with a rotating quarterback system. They ended the year with a clear cut starter. While neither Riley Nelson nor Jake Heaps did anything in the first three games to lay claim to the job, Nelson’s season ended with shoulder surgery in September. Heaps capitalized on the opportunity and won the starting spot. His MVP performance in the New Mexico Bowl exemplified how the true freshman had won over the confidence of teammates and matured from a star studded high school prep to a legitimate FBS quarterback.

Poll Results: Which 2011 Game Will Be The Hardest?

The game at Texas received the most votes (46%), followed by the game versus TCU in Cowboys Stadium with 39%. The remaining 15% of the vote was split between Utah (5%), at Ole Miss (4%), at Hawaii (3.3%), and at Oregon State (2.7%).

For the first time in a while, I disagree with the consensus.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Troy Hinds: The Brigham Young Cougars Newest 2012 Commit

Davis High School prep star Troy Hinds committed to the Brigham Young Cougars today. Hinds is rated by Scout.com as the #14 defensive end and #111 player overall nationally. He joins Tanner Mangum (Eagle, ID) as BYU’s only other four star recruit. The full press release by Hinds and highlights can be found below.

Brigham Young Cougars: 2011 Season Preview

Now that fall camp has opened for the Brigham Young Cougars, it is time for the BLUE COGUAR FOOTBALL season preview. Today is a general overview, and position-by-position previews will follow each day over the next two weeks.

BYU finished 2010 on a roll. BYU ended the year 5-1, and it took a rash of fluke plays for the Cougars to lose that one game to nationally ranked Utah. As the off season started, BYU had a massive amount of momentum and an overload of optimism.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Highlights: LaVell Edwards Stadium

This week the highlights are a little different than normal, but it is still a highlight of BYU football. After looking at the schedule and emphasizing home games, it seems fitting to remember when Cougar Stadium was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium.

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Enjoy!

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

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Trivia: Bronco Mendenhall's Record At LaVell Edwards Stadium

The correct answer to the last trivia question, "How many times has BYU won 10 games or more in a season after winning just 7 the year before?" is 1. After posting a 7-4 record in 1995, BYU won 14 games in 1996. Before 2010, BYU had won exactly 7 games in a season just three times (1972 and 1974 were the other two times).

On to this week's question.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Flashback: 7 Home Games (1996)

The 2011 Brigham Young Cougars schedule includes seven home games. The only other time that BYU played so many games at home was 15 years ago. The 1996 Cougars ran the table and finished a perfect 7-0 at home.

Past Player Profile: Matt Bellini

Position: Running Back
Years Played: 1987-1990

Matt Bellini Talks About Brigham Young Cougars' Independence

As a running back for the Brigham Young Cougars, Matt Bellini covered a lot of real estate catching passes out of the backfield. He would dodge the grasp of defenders as he tried to pick up first downs and touchdowns.

Real estate and the grasp of others are still a large part of Bellini’s life. As a successful Salt Lake real estate agent, he facilitates the sale of property. As a father of three girls, he gladly surrenders to their grasp to pick up hugs and kisses. His daughters and real estate dealings keep him pretty busy, but the former All-American estimates he is able to watch about half of the BYU football games each year. While he doesn’t follow his former team as closely as some former players do, Bellini admits he is still interested in BYU football and pays attention to what is happening.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Poll Results: Which Elite 11 MVP will have a better BYU career?

The overwhelming majority (84%) voted that Jake Heaps will have a better BYU career than fellow Elite 11 MVP Tanner Mangum.

There are many ways to measure career success, but the majority is probably right.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Brigham Young Cougars 2011 Schedule Analysis

The start of the 2011 college football season is exactly one month a way. Time to look close an scrutinize the Brigham Young Cougars 2011 schedule. First, I’ll give some quick facts followed by what I like and dislike about it. Last, I will take it game-by-game giving my thoughts on what factors might impact the outcome besides play on the field.