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Saturday, September 29, 2012

BYU vs. Hawaii: Mo Moments

Tracking the momentum of the Brigham Young Cougars’ game against Hawaii was easy. BYU got it early and it never went back to Hawaii. Just how early did BYU gain momentum? The very first offensive play of the game.

BYU vs. Hawaii: Five Game Observations

The defense was stellar once again and the offense got back on track in the Brigham Young Cougars’ 47-0 thumping of the Hawaii Warriors. Many questions were answered in this game, but with a few injuries on the Cougar sideline, there are some more questions that loom for next week’s game against the Utah State Aggies. 

Freshman duo Hill and Williams lead BYU to 47-0 win over Hawaii

The future of Brigham Young Cougars football met the past on Friday night when true freshmen Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams combined for nearly 300 yards rushing to pace the BYU route of the Norm Chow led Hawaii Warriors. Chow was an assistant coach at BYU from 1972-99.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Poll Results: Was going for 2 points against Boise State the right decision?

Bronco Mendenhall’s decision for the Brigham Young Cougars to go for a two-point conversion, and the win, against Boise State was NOT the right decision according to 72 percent of poll voters. There were 22 percent of voters who thought the two-point conversion was the right decision, and four percent of voters were undecided.

Over one week later, I am still having a hard time coming to a definitive decision.

Game Preview: Brigham Young Cougars welcome back Norm Chow, again

When the Brigham Young Cougars (2-2) play the Hawaii Warriors (1-2) tonight, it will mark the fourth time that Norm Chow has returned to Provo since he left the BYU coaching staff following the 1999 season. The three previous times, Chow has been an assistant coach. This time he is the head coach.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

BYU Football: Did you know? (Taysom Hill and Steve Young)

When Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill took the reins from an injured senior Riley Nelson against Boise State, Hill followed in the footsteps of a BYU legend.

BYU vs. Hawaii: Five Things to Watch For

This is the second of three straight weeks where the Brigham Young Cougars will be in the national spotlight of a weeknight game on ESPN. The exposure is good, and hopefully it will also be positive. To get that positive exposure, the offense needs to start pulling its weight. In this week’s Five Things to Watch For, I am mostly concerned, as I think all Cougar fans are, with the offense. The first four questions tie into each other pretty well, as each is dependent on the others. The last is about a player I'm particularly excited to watch on defense.

Ezekiel Ansah Is Becoming A Monstah

Two years ago Brigham Young Cougars defensive lineman Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah didn’t even know how to put on football pads. Now, he is popping pads like a pro.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Opponent Tracker: Week 4 results for BYU's 2012 opponents

The Brigham Young Cougars’ strength of schedule is more complex than anyone could have imagined going into the season. So far their wins aren’t as impressive as we would have hoped, their losses are more embarrassing than we would have thought, and the future looks either very easy or very hard, depending on the week, but not a lot of in between. Oregon State and Notre Dame are much better than advertised, while Washington State, Utah and Boise State seem merely mediocre.

Brigham Young Cougars in the NFL, Week 3: Pitta continues hot start, Collie injured again

The former Brigham Young Cougars in the NFL had their ups and downs this week, as Dennis Pitta continued his hot start to the season and Dallas Reynolds made his first career start, but Austin Collie once again finds himself injured.

Tom Holmoe Needs To Give Bronco Mendenhall An Ultimatum

The time has come for the Brigham Young Cougars Athletic Director Tom Holmoe to have a private meeting with head football coach Bronco Mendenhall. This won’t be a pleasant meeting for either of them, but that is what happens after unpleasant football games like last Thursday night. The BYU football program is at a pivotal crossroad in its history. Holmoe needs to give Mendenhall an ultimatum to make certain changes immediately, and start planning for future changes, or his job will be in jeopardy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nelson Needs To Endorse Hill As BYU's Starting Quarterback

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson played the worst game of his life against the Boise State Broncos. Although the team doctors haven't given the BYU coaches a medical diagnosis that justifies not playing Nelson, it is evident he is not physically fit enough to play.

As a team captain and one of the most respected leaders on the team, Nelson needs to accept this fact, and do what is best for the team. That means Nelson needs to endorse Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback for the next game against Hawaii.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poll Results: Should Jamaal Williams start at running back?

Brigham Young Cougar fans said Jamaal Williams should have been the starting running back against Boise State. In a closely contested race, the "Yes" votes edged out the "No" votes by a 48% to 43% margin. The other 9% of voters were undecided.

My vote is "Yes."

BYU vs. Boise State: Mo Moments

With such little scoring in the Brigham Young Cougars game against Boise State, it felt like the momentum was stagnant most of the night. Nevertheless, there were still seven moments when momentum shifted, swung, or boosted during the game.

BYU vs. No. 24 Boise State: Five Game Observations

To start the BYUtv postgame show, Blaine Fowler said it best. “It feels like we should be in overtime right now. It feels like that 36-yard field goal should have gone in on Saturday and they should have kicked an extra point tonight. But here we are.”

Yes, here we are. The Brigham Young Cougars have lost two games in a row, both of which were so close to having a different outcome. The difference between BYU being 4-0 and ranked in the top 20, and maybe even 15, is the difference in a couple of plays and decisions.

As we contemplate the Cougars being 2-2, let’s take a look back at the Five Things to Watch For that was posted before the game, along with other observations from this game.

Game Recap: BYU Looses on Two-Point Gamble

The Brigham Young Cougars (2-2) scored on a Taysom Hill 4-yard touchdown run with 3:37 to play in the fourth quarter to draw within one point. Rather than tie the game by kicking the extra point, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall did not hesitate to go for two-points and the win. Hill’s pass to Cody Hoffman fell short, and Boise State got the win, 7-6.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Game Preview: Can BYU do the unthinkable?

The Brigham Young Cougars (2-1) are just five days removed from losing its first game of the season. The game took a physical and emotional toll on the team. If they thought the atmosphere in Salt Lake City was hostile, then just wait until they get to Boise. As crushing as the loss to Utah was, the Cougars need to move on quickly and prepare for this game. They have a chance to do the unthinkable.

Sports Psychology: What BYU needs to do to be ready for Boise State

My whole life I have been involved in sports. I have experienced heart breaking losses and the euphoria of winning the big games.  I am now in my senior year at BYU and am in my final season of eligibility to compete on the track team. It is a somewhat surreal feeling, but the things I have learned from playing a sport for such a great university have been life changing. One of the biggest lessons I have learned while at BYU is the power our mind has and what we are capable of doing and becoming when we have trained our mind properly.

The Brigham Young Cougars - not the ones who run on the track with me, but the ones who play on the football field - are in a very tough situation right from a sports psychology standpoint. Coming off of a tough loss like they just did and attempting to turn around just five days later to go on the road and face a ranked opponent is no easy task. To let BYU fans know what the sports psychologists teach the athletes here at BYU, I want to share a few of the things that I have learned, and that hopefully the players and coaches will be applying tonight.

BYU Football: Did you know? (Last Minute, Game-Winning Touchdowns)

Earlier this week, the Voice of the Brigham Young Cougars Greg Wrubell pointed out all the failed attempts by BYU over the last several years to tie or win a game on a field goal in the final minute of a game. While the game winning field goals have not worked out, last minute, game-winning touchdowns have.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Riley Nelson is a “BYU Quarterback”

After the Brigham Young Cougars lost a tough game to archrival Utah, it was no surprise that quarterback Riley Nelson would come under scrutiny. How far he could carry this team with his grit, toughness, heart, and leadership has always been in question. Nelson didn’t have one of his better statistical games against Utah. If he couldn’t get it done against Utah, is there any reason to expect him to get it done at Boise this week?  

As many others are doing this week, I have done some “soul searching,” so to speak, about Nelson. Should he be the starter, or should someone who is more of a “BYU quarterback” take over that role?

Flashback: BYU Abuses A Hapless UTEP Team

On this date, 31 years ago, the Brigham Young Cougars went to the edge of the Mountain Time Zone to play a team dressed in blue and orange.

BYU vs. No. 24 Boise State: Five Things to Watch For

Is there really a game tomorrow? I feel like I am still waking up on Sunday morning and replaying BYU and Utah over and over again in my head. What little things could have changed the outcome and wishing that the Ute student section would have run on to the field early one more time.

But alas, the Brigham Young Cougars do have a game tomorrow night and probably feel similar to the fans. They probably are thinking they just got off the bus from Salt Lake City and now are on their way to Boise.

This short turnaround is one of the big keys highlighted in this week's Five Things to Watch For.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dissecting the Flaws in the Editorial “Has BYU Hit Its Ceiling?”

Have the Brigham Young Cougars hit their ceiling? That was the question asked Monday on Deep Shades of Blue. The author then went on a 1,034 word rant calling out Bronco Mendenhall and his coaching staff, the local media, and pretty much anybody that has stayed loyal and optimistic about BYU football.

Very rarely do I write reactionary pieces to other people’s work, but I feel this was a better way to respond than just be comment number 83. The author starts the piece with the sentence, “There’s an elephant in the room,” and repeats it at the end of the piece, “There is an elephant in the room and somebody needs to say so.”

The only elephant in the room I saw reading this piece was that it was a biased, knee-jerk reaction to the loss on Saturday to Utah. It used hot-button talking points to get an emotional response from readers. There was very little rational thinking or evidence to support the claims made.

BYU vs. Utah Post Game Podcast

If you can stomach it, take a deep breath and listen to The Editor give some more analysis and reaction of the Brigham Young Cougars 24-21 loss to Utah.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reaction to the Rankings, Week 3: BYU Falls Out, Can Climb Back with Win over Boise State

The Brigham Young Cougars could have climbed two or three spots in the rankings this week, but fall instead after the loss to Utah.

Opponent Tracker: Week 3 results for BYU’s 2012 Opponents

After week three, strength of schedule for the Brigham Young Cougars no longer really matters. Barring a bizarre turn of events, BYU is headed to the Poinsettia Bowl after its loss to Utah and its 2012 BCS dreams are shattered. But, we’ll still take a look at what BYU’s 2012 opponents did over the weekend to let Cougar fans know how impressive or demoralizing past BYU games were, and what to expect from future opponents.

Brigham Young Cougars in the NFL, Week 2: Pitta, Keisel Show Well; Will Harvey Unga get promoted?

There was a solid showing from former Brigham Young Cougars in week two of the NFL season, as Dennis Pitta continued to show he is a receiving threat and Brett Keisel looked healthy again for the Steelers. Dallas Reynolds and John Denney also saw action for their respective teams.

BYU vs. Utah: Five Game Observations

I have never hated being right as much as I do right now. In Thursday’s Five Things to Watch For, I posed a couple questions that I said would be key factors in the game. If those key items went one way, Utah would win and if they went the other, the Brigham Young Cougars would win their first Holy War in three years. The big keys went Utah’s way and now the Cougars have to wait until next year to have another shot at them.

BYU vs. Utah: Mo Moments

The Brigham Young Cougars and Utah Utes football game was decided on the final play of the game, a 36-yard field goal attempt with one second left, but the momentum changing plays during all four quarters of the game are what led to Utah leaving 24-21 winners.

Here are the “Mo Moments” for game three.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Almost Magic in Loss to Utah

Another epic episode of the “Holy War” is in the books, and this one is bound to be remembered. It started slow, but ended as a nail-biter with one crazy finish.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Poll Results: Did last weekend make you more confident that BYU will beat Utah?

Most Brigham Young Cougars fans (77%) became more confident that BYU would beat Utah tonight after seeing the way BYU played against Weber State and the way Utah lost to Utah State. Only 15% did not become more confident, while 8% were undecided how last weekend impacted their level of confidence.

I fit in with the 15%. My confidence did not increase.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Game Preview: Time for BYU to make amends with Utah

The Brigham Young Cougars (2-0) have been waiting a year for this game. The 2011 loss to rival Utah (1-1) still causes pain. BYU’s 11-1 record since then is nice, but does not console. Only a win on Saturday will suffice.

Remembering the Rivalry: Magic Trumps Missed Opportunities

Editor's Note: To prepare for the BYU-Utah rivalry game, each day this week BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will take a look back at one of the Cougars' great wins against Utah. To read additional installments of this feature, visit the “Remembering the Rivalry” page.

In 2007, when the Brigham Young Cougars faced their archrival Utah, BYU was clearly the better team. The stat sheet said it, and any unbiased fan in the stands would have said it. With 1:34 left in the fourth quarter, the scoreboard did not say it. Missed opportunities by BYU had allowed Utah to stay close enough to take a 10-9 lead late in the game.

Riley Nelson Needs To Beat Utah To Strengthen His BYU Legacy

When the Brigham Young Cougars 2012 season concludes, the debates will begin. Where does Riley Nelson fit in the BYU quarterback hierarchy? If Nelson is going to have any chance to join “the greats” in the highest tier, then he needs to lead BYU to victory over Utah.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering the Rivalry: Marc Lyons Talks About BYU’s 1967 Win Over Utah

This is a special edition of the Remember the Rivalry series. Former Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Marc Lyons was kind enough to talk with BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL to provide extra insights and perspective on BYU’s 17-14 win over Utah in 1967. 

BYU Football: Did you know? (Back-to-Back 300 Yard Passing Games)

The Brigham Young Cougars passed for 303 and 307 yards, respectively, in the first two games of the 2012 season.

BYU vs. Utah: Five Things to Watch For

The Holy War. Rivalry week in Utah.  BYU and Utah in Salt Lake City, Saturday night on national television. All of these aspects make this a big time game for the Brigham Young Cougars, but besides the rivalry, this game could change the course of the season. This is the week BYU proves they are a legitimate top 25 team or show they aren’t even the best team in the state of Utah.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How does Notre Dame’s choice to join ACC affect BYU's future scheduling?

This morning Notre Dame announced its decision to join the ACC in all sports but football. Part of the deal Notre Dame made with the ACC is it would play five ACC teams each season in football.

It seemed that the Brigham Young Cougars had hoped to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with Notre Dame, as both teams are recognized as legitimate football names on the national scene and are both FBS Independents. Games are scheduled between the two teams for 2012 and 2013, with another four games in the future yet to be determined. But now with Notre Dame’s agreement with the ACC, what are the chances of the schools’ relationship taking root?

Remembering the Rivalry: BYU Dominates, Ute Fans Resort to Throwing Snowballs

Editor's Note: To prepare for the BYU-Utah rivalry game, each day this week BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will take a look back at one of the Cougars' great wins against Utah. To read additional installments of this feature, visit the “Remembering the Rivalry” page.

When the Brigham Young Cougars and the Utah Utes squared off in 1992, Utah was breathing a sigh of relief. Ty Detmer, finally, was not wearing blue and white. In Detmer’s three starts from 1989-91, BYU had beaten Utah by an average score of 54 to 23. Maybe now Utah could play competitive with BYU. After all, the Utes had a 6-4 record that was on par with BYU’s 7-4 record.

BYU vs. Weber State Post Game Podcast

More game analysis for the Brigham Young Cougars' 45-13 win over Weber State. Thoughts about the slow start, the BYU coaching philosophy, as well as players who stood out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering the Rivalry: LaVell Wins His First, Starts a Paradigm Shift

Editor's Note: To prepare for the BYU-Utah rivalry game, each day this week BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will take a look back at one of the Cougars' great wins against Utah. To read additional installments of this feature, visit the “Remembering the Rivalry” page.

Going into the 1972 clash, the Brigham Young Cougars and Utah Utes shared identical 5-4 records. They were both coming off a loss the week before. Utah, however, was still in the running to represent the WAC in the Fiesta Bowl. BYU showed up in Salt Lake City ready to crash the party.

Brigham Young Cougars in the NFL: Week 1 Report

Not a lot of action was seen by former Brigham Young Cougars in week 1 of the NFL season, but those who did play made their time count. Capping off the weekend was Dennis Pitta’s spectacular performance on Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Remembering the Rivalry: Marc Wilson's NCAA Record Incites Utah

Editor's Note: To prepare for the BYU-Utah rivalry game, each day this week BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will take a look back at one of the Cougars' great wins against Utah. 

The 1977 tilt between the Brigham Young Cougars and Utah Utes was a classic for Cougar fans. BYU entered the game on a roll with a 6-1 record and winners of the last three games by an average score of 35.7 to 12.7. The three game win streak coincided with quarterback Marc Wilson's first start in place of the injured Gifford Nielsen.

Opponent Tracker: Week 2 Results for BYU’s 2012 Opponents

There were some big wins by the Brigham Young Cougars’ opponents this week, making their strength of schedule a little more impressive and their upcoming games a little more anticipated.

Reaction to the Rankings, Week 2: ESPN Exposure Paying Off For BYU

The Brigham Young Cougars (2-0) have cracked the AP Top 25. However, in the USA Today Top 25, BYU has fallen from number 27 in the “others receiving votes” category to number 30.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

BYU vs. Weber State: Five Game Observations

Most of the questions I posed in the Five Things to Watch For article earlier this week dealt with little things in the Brigham Young Cougars program. I was pleased to see, however, that almost all of those little things resulted in big plays and scores. The backups were especially impressive, which bodes well for BYU’s future.

But onto the observations!

BYU vs. Weber State: Mo Moments

The momentum in the Brigham Young Cougars win against Weber State wasn’t as perceptible and volatile as in most other games. Still, there were four “mo moments” that led to BYU winning the game as convincingly as they did.

BYU Starts Slow, Beats Weber State Handily

It took nearly 12 minutes for the Brigham Young Cougars to take a 7-0 lead. In the next 48 minutes, BYU scored 38 points. When the final gun sounded, BYU had a comfortable 45-13 victory.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Game Preview: BYU Needs to Focus on Health and Improvement Against Weber State

The Brigham Young Cougars (1-0) go from playing a WSU in game one to playing another WSU in game two. As a Football Championship Subdivision team, the Weber State Wildcats (0-1) aren’t expected to put up more of a fight than the Washington State Cougars did.

Poll Results: Which defensive stat was most impressive versus Washington State?

In a landslide (86%), the most impressive Brigham Young Cougars defensive stat versus Washington State was -5 rushing yards. The other 14 percent were evenly split for 229 passing yards (7%) and 5 of 15 third down conversions (7%).

I, too, find the -5 yards rushing to be the most impressive.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BYU vs. Weber State: Five Things to Watch For

This week’s Five Things to Watch For will probably be quite different than the rest because the Brigham Young Cougars are playing an FCS foe. I am interested in things that I otherwise probably wouldn’t be if BYU was playing an FBS opponent.

BYU Football: Did you know? (Jordan Johnson’s Interception Return)

Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Jordan Johnson made a great interception against Washington State in the third quarter, and then proceeded to race 64 yards before being caught nine yards away from the goal line.

Not Much Has Changed For BYU Since Last Playing Weber State 33 Years Ago

The Brigham Young Cougars and the Weber State Wildcats are separated by only 75 miles. With BYU a FBS school and Weber State in the FCS, the two schools don’t play each other often in football. It has been 33 years since the two schools last played, but not much has changed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Flashback: BYU Continues Dominance of UTEP

Exactly 20 years ago, today, the Brigham Young Cougars opened the season taking on the UTEP Miners in El Paso, Texas.

Bulletin Board Material Easy To Come By

Following the Brigham Young Cougars’ seemingly easy 30-6 win over Washington State, quarterback Riley Nelson sat before the press and took questions. Nelson had led his team to victory, but something was bugging him.

Opponent Tracker: Week 1 Results For BYU’s 2012 Opponents

Another new item this fall from Blue Cougar Football will be to analyze the performance of the Brigham Young Cougars’ future and past opponents. This will give Blue Cougar Football followers a look at BYU’s strength of schedule on the season and what to expect in upcoming games.

For week one, pretty much everything that was supposed to happen for the Cougars’ opponents did happen. There were still a few surprises, however.  

Six Former Brigham Young Cougars Make Final NFL Rosters

Following each week of NFL games, Blue Cougar Football will give a recap of how former Brigham Young players did in their respective games.

This week, the NFL teams made their final roster cuts, trimming each roster down to 53 players.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Taysom Hill Misses Out on NCAA Record

The Brigham Young Cougars quarterbacks are well known for setting NCAA passing records. True freshman Taysom Hill should have been the most recent to add his name to the record books. A change in the NCAA record book just this year will keep him out.  

Pleasant Surprises Abound in BYU Season Opener

The season opener always has a few surprises for players and coaches, as well as for fans. These surprises can be either good or bad things. Fortunately, this year, the first game of the season for the Brigham Young Cougars offered several positive surprises. Here at Blue Cougar Football, we have already discussed the biggest surprise, the emergence of Kaneakua Friel at Tight End. Here are three more surprises that make the rest of the season look promising.

No Pads, No Problem: BYU shows no ill effects of practicing without full pads during fall camp

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall took an unorthodox approach to fall camp this year. His players practiced almost exclusively without full pads. Wrapping up and taking down ball carriers was explicitly prohibited. In fact, players who engaged in contact were usually kicked out of practice. The only time the team donned the full football getup was for two team scrimmages.

Naturally, this approach brought questions and concerns from anxious fans. Missed tackles had plagued the team early in recent seasons. Would the team really be ready for game one?

Reaction to the Rankings, Week One: BYU Gets Respect, Moves Up After Win Over Washington State

The Brigham Young Cougars got a boost in the two major national rankings following their 30-6 romp over Washington State. How much and was it fair? Those questions are will be answered below in this week’s Reaction to the Rankings.

Monday, September 3, 2012

BYU vs. Washington State Post Game Podcast

Analysis and reaction the Brigham Young Cougars' 30-6 win over the Washington State Cougars in the form of a podcast. The Editor shares more of his thoughts and insights to the game including players who really stood out to him.

BYU vs. Washington State: Mo Moments

There were approximately 150 plays in the Brigham Young Cougars season opener against Washington State. Some of those plays were more important than the others. The most important plays were those that created momentum. The momentum, or potential momentum, of a play is influenced by several factors. It isn’t just the 50-yard scoring pass, or fumble returned for a touchdown that define the momentum of a game. The score at the time of the play and the down and distance can make a 5-yard pass just as much of a momentum changing play, as the 50-yard touchdown.  

The final score of a game is what matters the most, but the momentum changing moments do a lot more to tell the story of the game. The purpose of “Mo Moments” is to identify and analyze these moments and their impact on the game’s final score.