Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Mailbag: The Nebraska Game, BYU Defense 2012, and more

Welcome to the Friday Mailbag where once a week I answer your questions and respond to your comments about Brigham Young Cougars football. As a quick reminder, there are three ways to submit a question:

1. Email: bluecougarfootball@gmail.com
2. Twitter: @BlueCougarFball and use #BCFmailbag
3. Leave a comment at the end of a BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL article.

I apologize for not having the mailbag last week. Some unique circumstances arose that prevented me from responding to your inquiries. Therefore, this mailbag covers the last two weeks.

On to the mailbag.

I really enjoyed your article [BYU Defense 2011: Inside the Numbers]. The research was really great. It illustrated your point very well. How do you see the defense in 2012?

The 2012 Cougar defense will be very good, again. Up front they won't be as deep next year, but the defensive line should still be good. Hebron Fangupo, Travis Tuiloma, and Graham Rowley will be missed, but Ian Dulan and Russell Tialavea and others should be able to pick up the slack.

The linebackers will be very good, even without Jordan Pendleton. This unit has been the strength of the defense. It seems that if one goes down, then another guy stands ready to take his place. Kyle Van Noy is a special talent. You know he is going to make at least two or three big plays every game.

The key personnel loss on defense was free safety Travis Uale. Bronco Mendenhall has said several times that position is like the quarterback of the defense. Finding the right guy is critical. All indications are that either Mike Hague or return missionary Craig Bills will fill that spot well.

I think BYU has the right players to be very good again on defense, and Mendenhall has shown time and again that he is one of the best defensive minds at this level. Almost all of the time, he will find the weakness of an opponent and develop a scheme to exploit it.

*****

I appreciate the information you shared about BYU and Nebraska’s connections in college football history. What is your opinion on the value of the deal for BYU?

Nebraska has lots of value. The clout the Cornhuskers have in college football is hard to overstate. A win over Nebraska, regardless of their end of the year record, will get BYU more national respect than any WAC win. It even sounds like future games could be scheduled.

The one sticking point with the Nebraska deal is that it is just a deal and not a series. Only one game was announced, and it is not in Provo. It sounds like this game came about because some other school pulled out of an existing agreement with Nebraska, so only one slot was open. However, even if a 2014 or 2016 date wasn’t open, why not go to the first available year for a return trip to Provo? The only time BYU played Pittsburgh it was a two game, home-and-home series played in 1984 and 1987.

Due to the financial ramifications, scheduling has become a whole new beast in the last five to ten years. Even if BYU has been just as good or better than Nebraska on the field, that is second fiddle to the dollar.

*****

Two posts about Colby Bockwoldt this week? Good player, but I don’t know anyone who talks about him. Are you his brother or something?

I have no family ties to Bockwoldt. However, during college a friend pointed out to me that back in high school I competed against him in track and field.

Highlighting a player like Bockwoldt goes to the core of what BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL is. This site is more than just reaction to the current goings on of BYU football. BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL aims to celebrate all that is good about BYU football, to educate readers about the past, present, and future of BYU football, and to preserve the accomplishments born of dedication and sacrifice by all who have donned Cougar blue.

While many may have forgotten who Bockwoldt was, or the passage of time may have caused him to blend in with the BYU football history canvas, he is still a BYU Cougar. When he played he did noteworthy things that deserve to be remembered on occasion.

*****
I don't think [Bronco Mendenhall is] referring to fans in this quote. I would say he's referring to national media & the credibility they assign to teams as truly perennial national powers. I don't think he's planning on hanging it up that soon, and I especially don't think he's waiting for all Cougar fans to enshrine him.

Maybe Mendenhall is targeting the media, as well, with his comments. However, I find it very hard to believe that fan/booster satisfaction isn’t on his mind. He continually refers to the time fans booed during his first game as head coach in 2005. During the 2011 season, he found reason to talk about how children at school are saying negative things to his children about how Mendenhall is coaching.

Mendenhall wants to be liked, which I find normal. Do you want the people who watch the work you do to like what they see? Pleasing everyone is impossible, but when you put in as much effort as he does at his job you aren’t going to want to quit unless you feel the vast majority is satisfied.

*****
"Any opponent on the 2012 schedule that BYU has played three times or more, each team has won at least once."


Does that mean that fate will have us lose to Weber State, but beat Boise State this year? That would be a strange twist.

Hmmm. That would be a long two weeks for BYU between those two games. Yet, some people might actually prefer it. Losing to Weber State only to beat Boise State would have been like BYU losing to Idaho State and beating TCU in 2011. While losing to Weber State would be embarrassing, BYU would have a quality win by beating Boise State, which is something the team didn’t have in 2011.

Think back to 1994. No one really remembers that BYU lost to a pathetic Arizona State team. That is because BYU beat Notre Dame in South Bend and crushed Oklahoma in the Copper Bowl.

In any case, I don’t expect the cited trend to continue.

*****

The two away games at New Mexico St and San Jose St will be butt ugly with a potential crowd topping 15,000 likely at each. BYU catches BCS-ers Georgia Tech, Wash St, Ore St, at a perfect time all are very down. Notre Dame has a hard time at home vs underdogs, examples from 'Cuse, South Florida go on and on. If BYU finds the Domers with a shaky QB situation, the Cougars could very well make headlines with a landslide win. Boise St will depend on a quick defense to stay competitive, and the yearly psychcodrama that seems to hit BYU harder than it does Utah makes the rivalry game the toughest match. How many times have the Cougars overmatched the U to let them catch up and even win in OT? Playing at their potential another 10 game season, with 11 in reach. It's hard to be up for each game making an undefeated year very hard.

Those are some good thoughts about the schedule. BYU does need to have a maximum of one loss going into November for the New Mexico State and San Jose State games to have any kind of luster, especially now that Tate Forcier isn’t with San Jose State any longer.

I agree that none of the teams from BCS AQ conferences are very imposing this year. BYU matches up well on paper with them all. The little things and some intangibles will be the difference in those games.

Utah has gotten into BYU’s head. There is no reason BYU shouldn’t have won the last six straight in this series, except for psychological issues.


Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Keep it coming!

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

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