Friday Mailbag: Rugby vs. Football, BYU Pro Day, and Dissecting the Defense

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

On to the mailbag.

Don't know why either of these guys (Paul Lasike and Ray Forrester) would leave a perennially top 2 ranked rugby program to play for a solid, but also ran, football program.

This is kind of a mystery, especially after they have seen so many players hurt this spring.

The most reasonable explanation I can come up with is that they are college students. Exploring your interests and trying as many different activities as possible, always looking for a new challenge is the way some college students like to live. The seasons don’t conflict (rugby is played January-May), so it is feasible to do both.

I guess we won’t know exactly why they are doing it until they quit, get cut, or after the season opener. Football team rules don’t allow players to be interviewed until after their first game.


Not a BYU fan, but I am a draft nut. I love the anticipation of the NFL draft and following players as they do workouts for pro scouts. BYU’s pro day is coming up this week. After it happens, I would like to know who you think had the best day and did the most for his draft stock.

Matt Reynolds clearly had the best pro day. After a mediocre combine, I wrote this about Reynolds: “His draft stock has been continuously dropping the last two years, and it doesn’t seem like anything can be done to change that.” The BYU Pro Day was "anything." Thanks to, we now know that Reynolds' combine performance was hurt by a sprained ankle.

It is unfortunate that he couldn’t have been 100% healthy at the combine. At the Pro Day, Reynolds showed what he can do when healthy, and it was impressive. As I noted in my write up of pro day, his times in the speed drills would have ranked among the top 10 at the Combine. Reynolds should not last past the fourth round. 

Jordan Pendleton could have increased his draft stock a lot if he was healthy. Pendleton can play at the next level. Staying healthy is the only question. If he does stay healthy, he could turn into a great value to the team that takes a chance on him.


[Is the BYU defense] good or are they dominating inferior talent on the other side of the ball? There should be some give and take in Spring ball and it sounds like the D is doing all the taking which does not bode well for next season.

I think the answer to your question is that the BYU defense is dominating inferior talent on the other side of the ball, particularly the offensive line. With the proper coaching, the talent disparity shouldn’t have a huge impact on the defense’s development.

Maybe this reference will generate some hate mail, but I will do it anyways. Boise State has mastered the art of improving while “dominating inferior talent on the other side of the ball.” Boise State has routinely played well whether they play the top teams in the country or the worst. They haven’t gotten lazy or developed a big ego because they can pound their outmatched conference foes. The Boise State coaches have found a way to keep their players focused on getting better all the time, so that when they do play a really good team they still come out on top.

What I am trying to say is, it will all come down to coaching. The mentality that the defensive coaches are cultivating in the defense will determine if the way this spring went “does not bode well for next season.”


Reading your piece about the 1992 defense reminded me how Jekyll and Hyde the BYU defense always seems to be. I have been following BYU football for over 40 years and I can’t ever remember a BYU defense that didn’t have huge swings in performance from just one game to the next.

It sure does feel that way. It seems like for every outstanding defensive performance (Oklahoma 2009) there is a poor performance (Florida State 2009) that shortly follows. The one that is particularly bittersweet for me is the Miami game in 1990. The defense was spectacular that night. Why couldn’t they play that way every game?

Fortunately, I think Bronco Mendenhall has the defense playing more consistently now. Last year the defense was really good at keeping the points down. The defense was put in some tough spots against Utah and TCU that made it very difficult to keep points off the board. However, there wasn’t a game like Utah State in 2010 or Florida State in 2009 where the Cougar defense looked inferior or completely out of sync.

I think one thing we can all agree on is if the entire team played as well as the defense last year, BYU would have been very, very close to undefeated.


WOW! Six consecutive shutouts sounds impressive, then I realized we were talking 75 years ago. What about the “modern era”? I remember BYU getting back-to-back shutouts in 2008. Has BYU done better than that?

Okay, point well taken. Way back then a shutout was commonplace. In fact, it was rare to not have at least one shutout each year.

Looking at just the last 50 years, BYU has never had more than two consecutive shutouts. That has happened on two occasions. The two games referenced in 2008 (59-0 vs. UCLA and 44-0 vs. Wyoming) and the Wyoming (59-0) and Utah State (44-0) games in 1985. The 2008 streak almost lasted three games, but Utah State scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to avoid a shutout. The 1985 team did have a third shutout that season, 28-0 vs. San Diego State, which came three weeks before the Wyoming game.

Three shutouts in one season is the most that BYU has had since 1937 (BYU had three shutouts in 1939 as well).


Bronco [Mendenhall] admitted to making a mistake last year by having the team choose captains at the end of spring. Any thoughts?

I didn’t see anything wrong with the experiment when he tried it a year ago. The 2010 team suffered from a lack of leadership, so it seemed like a reasonable move to ensure the 2011 team didn’t have the same problem. He is in a much better position than I to judge whether it was wise or not.

Personally, I think the overall friendship shared on the team is more important than who are the team captains or when they are selected.

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