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Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbag: Time to sound the alarm, BYU's linebacker problem, and the Boise State game

My apologies for delivering the weekly mailbag a little late. Nevertheless, here are my answers to some of your questions 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.

On to the mailbag.

1. This is an atrocity. BYU shutout of the NFL draft 2 years in a row. Can you say reality check?

2. And the rain continues to pour on the BYU football program.

3. I am trying to stay calm about the NFL draft, but it is very hard. This is a huge wake up call to Bronco Mendenhall, and the BYU program. Sure, having players drafted isn’t the end all, be all, but it should matter to the man guiding the program because you better believe it matters to the players being recruited.

When it comes to the NFL draft, there are a lot of factors that hurt BYU players. I am not going to dwell on them or use them to create excuses, because it is an indisputable fact that, in spite of these factors, BYU hasn’t gone two consecutive seasons without a player selected in the NFL draft since the mid 1960’s. This fact renders every excuse invalid.

It is time to sound the alarm. BYU can and should have at least one player’s name called every year.

I am not implying that the BYU football program has collapsed and the only way to repair it is to start from scratch. Some good things are happening at BYU, but you don’t wait until your house if fully engulfed in flames before you do something to fight the fire. If nothing is done now, this can impact recruiting and how those on the outside perceive the program.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall has established tradition as one of the three guiding principles of the program. Just last February on National Signing Day, Mendenhall made it a point that he wants BYU to be the most complete football program in the country. Tradition cannot be a guiding principle, and BYU cannot be a complete football program without players being drafted by the NFL.

This second consecutive shutout is something that BYU needs to take notice of and address (as well as some other issues).

*****

Your point about BYU not having a very good track record of putting linebackers into the NFL could shed some light on why BYU was unable to sign Vince Biegel—son of a BYU alum—or Manti Te’o, for that matter. Why would he (they) jeopardize an almost certain NFL career by going to Provo?

Relatively speaking, BYU’s track record has been better during the last decade. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that BYU hasn’t done well for over a generation at getting linebackers into the NFL.

I would like to think that a player as good as Te’o would still attract enough attention at BYU to be drafted in the early rounds. The same could be said for Biegel, assuming he turns out to be as good as his recruiting ranking.

Specific to Vince Biegel, his father Rocky is second on the list for most tackles in a single season (192), and fifth on the list for most tackles in a career (371). Rocky played at the same time as Ty Detmer. Despite putting up great numbers during a time when exposure was, possibly, at its highest for BYU football, Rocky wasn’t drafted. Obviously, Vince weighed many factors before coming to his decision. How much his father’s lack of NFL career played into it is unknown, but it is impossible to believe that it didn’t hurt BYU.

Hopefully, Kyle Van Noy and Zac Stout can get drafted and thrive in the NFL and help change this perception about BYU linebackers, which should make it easier for BYU to land top linebacker prospects in the future.

*****

Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei is getting a lot of pub for the 2013 NFL draft. Talk about adding insult to injury. Lotulelei should be a Cougar.

This is another tough blow to the perception of the program. Of course, the fact that he is at a rival like Utah only makes it worse. However, unlike Manti Te’o and Vince Biegel, Lotulelei signed with BYU out of high school. He didn’t make it to BYU because he failed to qualify academically. In junior college, he also got out of shape and gained a lot of weight.

While it hurts to see him doing so well for someone else and be forced to wonder what BYU is missing, I can’t blame Bronco Mendenhall for not aggressively going after him a second time. Grade problem—strike one. Weight/work ethic issue—strike two. It seemed like a matter of time until he would strike out, which would come at an even greater expense to the program.

The defensive line had to deal with a lot of adversity last year with Matt Putnam failing to make grades (twice), and Thomas Bryson was expected to be a contributor before leaving school. Imagine the impacts, both real and perceived, of BYU losing a third D-lineman, especially one of Lotulelei’s caliber.

*****

Well, that is the worst case scenario for the Boise State game. Thursday night following the Utah game. Not to mention, Boise State has an easy home game against Miami (OH) the week before.

One final time, the Mtn. Network sucker punches BYU. This game wouldn’t be on Thursday if it wasn’t for the Mtn. going under.

For better or worse, I am not going to whine, complain, or use this as an excuse for BYU. I don’t think anyone inside the Boise State program is. If BYU and its fans want to move up as a program, we have to roll with whatever punches we receive, and find a way to come out on top.

Yes, the two less days to prepare presents a new, additional challenge, but it applies to Boise State as well. The Broncos also have their own challenges as well. They have to replace a lot of talent, including the most important player on the field.

As for Miami (OH) being a de facto bye for Boise St., that may not be the case. Miami (OH) won 10 games in 2010, and have a very experienced quarterback who already has over 8,500 yards passing in his career. Despite losing eight games last year, Miami (OH) was competitive in all but two of them. I am not saying Miami (OH) will win, but Boise St. will have to put out some effort.

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

10 comments:

  1. You do realize that BYU had to agree to teh Thursday Night ESPN game, right? They could have said no, or requested Friday night. Instead, BYU opted to agree to the Thursday time. These are negotiated, not mandated, especially since the MWC sold the rights to this game to ESPN. Just sayin.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That is a good point, which is one more reason no one should lament about the short turn around and how it makes the game harder.

      Bronco and BYU have signed off on it and are ready to accept whatever the consequences are.

      Delete
  2. I do blame Bronco for not re-recruiting Star. And Asiata. Both bad choices. Just like the worst choice of all, not re-recruiting the Big XII hard, like TCU did.

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    1. Asiata??? I am going to need you to explain that one.

      He played for Utah from 2007-10. His best season was 707 rushing yards, 4.8 average, and 12 TDs.

      He would have been going head to head with Unga for playing time, and by the numbers, Unga was far superior.

      Delete
  3. According to ESPN the number of BYU alums on NFL rosters is 12; the number of UofU alums is 27... Eight of those Utes started regularly last season, BYU had one player that is unarguably a starter (although they have a "starting" long snapper).

    There is not a singe Defensive Back in the NFL that went to BYU, there are 7 NFL DBs that are Ute Alums.

    Last year Utah beat BYU 54-10, Utah has beaten BYU head-to-head twice in a row, 3 of the last 4, and 7 of the last 10...

    Over those 10 years Utah has gone undefeated twice (Finishing with BCS Bowl wins and Top-5 rankings), and received a Pac-12 invitation.

    I really don't see how even the bluest-of-blue BYU fan can not look at Utah's program and not covet some of the talent that has gone through or is currently in that program.

    Either Utah has recruited better, recruited smarter, or developed talent better than BYU over the last decade. Nothing else explains the numbers.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "I really don't see how even the bluest-of-blue BYU fan can not look at Utah's program and not covet some of the talent that has gone through or is currently in that program."

      I was talking specifically as it relates to Star.

      Looking at Utah as a whole, then I have to agree. I have long been frustrated that LaVell Edwards let the Whittingham family get a way. I was jealous to see the Utes have much more success in bowls than BYU for many years.

      As far as the players go, if they could follow the honor code and make grades, then of course I would prefer to have guys like the Kruger brothers and the stud Polynesians pick BYU over Utah.

      Delete
  4. "While it hurts to see him (Star) doing so well for someone else and be forced to wonder what BYU is missing, I can’t blame Bronco Mendenhall for not aggressively going after him a second time. Grade problem—strike one. Weight/work ethic issue—strike two. It seemed like a matter of time until he would strike out, which would come at an even greater expense to the program."

    Could the results we see with Star be attributed more to the fact that Whittingham and his staff have a track record for getting the highest productivity out of their recruits, mold players, and turn them into NFL caliber players? In other words, is it dangerous to assume that BYU would have been able to turn Star into the same player he is today that Utah has been able to mold him into?

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    1. You make a good point. I agree that it is dangerous to assume, but I don't see much harm "to wonder what BYU is missing."

      No two situations are exactly alike. Besides coaching, there are several other variables that could change the results Star would have at BYU.

      Clearly he found a good situation at Utah. Would the situation at BYU have been better, worse, or the same? No one can really say.

      Delete
  5. Pendleton would have been drafted if it hadn't been for injury.

    If Reynolds had left last year he would have been a day 1 pick.

    Harvey Unga was drafted in the 2010 supplemental draft and would have been in the 2011 if he had been able to return for his Sr year.

    I am more concerned about on field performance.

    From 2003 to 2005, the drafts following Crowtons losing seasons, BYU put out an average on 2 draftees per year. Yet they had losing seasons.

    While injuries, chance, and poor decisions have robbed BYU of draftees, BYU has still put up winning seasons and has fielded NFL quality talent.

    Draft picks are nice to see, but I like wins, bowl victories, and top 25 finishes better.

    ReplyDelete