So are you sold on BYU football this year?

October 20, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 8:23 pm   Category: Sports

BYU has taken care of business the last three weeks, but I am not yet convinced this team is going to prove to be top 25 material this year.

Three weeks ago the Cougs made it out of Albuquerque with a win. It was not pretty — the Cougs gave up a couple of late touchdowns on turnovers — but a W if is a W. Here are some highlights those of you not living in Utah (essentially the only place one can see the games again this season):


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Last week BYU went to Las Vegas and took down the Runnin’ Rebels. With four Cougar turnovers (mostly interceptions) the team should be very pleased to have won this game too. The defense and freshman running back Harvey Unga really carried the load last week. Here are some video highlights:

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Today the Cougs took care of division 1-AA team Eastern Washington 42-7 in a cold game that ended as a snow storm. Unga and the defense once again covered for a recently mediocre Max Hall in this game. The defense came up with three interceptions this game and made the job pretty easy on the offense as a result. (Video of 1st half highlights inserted below).

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The Cougs are definitely getting the job done here in the soft part of their schedule but I wonder if they are really getting much better week to week. Hall has been slumping for a few weeks but Unga is surprising everyone with his production so perhaps the running game can make up for the spotty QB play going forward. The defense has performed well but they may need to get a lot better as the Cougs will face very motivated teams in the final five regular season games. BYU will likely be favored in all of their remaining regular season games but I have not seen the consistency in this team that I saw in the team last year. An upcoming upset loss feels almost likely at this point to me. What do you think Cougar fans? Are you sold on BYU football circa 2007 yet?

BTW — I’ll be a the game in person next weekend so I’ll plan to blog on that game from San Diego.

19 Comments »

  1. An upcoming upset loss feels almost likely at this point to me.

    Yup. BYU, like almost any college team (or NFL franchise, for that matter) has trouble breaking in a new QB. I will be pleasantly surprised if they don’t lose two more games.

    Comment by doug — October 20, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  2. Really?

    I predict they’ll win all their games from here.

    None of there opponents have a winning record in the MWC, and 3 of the 5 games are at home

    Comment by Mike the Horebite — October 21, 2007 @ 5:24 am

  3. Yeah — that was sort of my point Mike. BYU will be favored in every remaining game and probably should win every remaining game but the inconsistency of the team (especially the offense) leaves me more nervous this year than I felt at this time last year is all. And as steady and mature and efficient as the team was last year it took a near miracle to get out of Salt Lake City with a win. I just have a sneaking suspicion that one of these highly motivated MWC teams will catch BYU in an off week and take them down. Who knows — maybe even someone like CSU could do it. They caught UNLV by surprise yesterday and thumped them.

    Of course I hope my trepidation is unfounded and that you are right.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 21, 2007 @ 8:22 am

  4. I’m less impressed with the team this year than with last year’s team, even though their records to date are the same. I’m in particular disappointed with the defense, not to mention (all together now) the turnovers and penalties. While I think that BYU could run the table for the rest of the season, I’m just not that confident in their consistency to predict they will.

    But Hall’s a sophomore, Collie’s a sophomore, and Unga — who is a delight to watch just about every time he gets the ball — is a true freshman. Provided Mendenhall can get the defense tightened up and the penalty+turnover problem solved, I think BYU could be a legit top-25 team next year and a possible top-10 team the year after.

    Particularly if they get Justin Sorenson from Bingham High. :-) ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — October 21, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  5. I definitely agree that they aren’t the same team as they were last year, in quality and consistency. Nor should we expect them to be, given everything #4 said. But I think given the fact that they’ve already beaten the 2 toughest MWC rivals, I think it’s a stretch to predict they will lose 2 more (as doug suggested in #1). I can see 1, but I stand by my prediction of 0 loses. Only time will tell.

    The bowl game is a different story though (assuming they make it). I’m not so sure they will win it this year. I’d say I’m 50/50.

    Comment by Mike the Horebite — October 21, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

  6. I’m confident in the Cougs. I believe that they were sloppy against EW. They dropped a lot of balls that they should have caught. Without excusing it, that kind of mental lapse against an opponent you should beat 50-0 is predictable. The problems are the very points you make: Hall doesn’t seem to be able to avoid turnovers and he doesn’t seem to be progressing – tho he’s definitely not responsible for dropped passes. However, with the running game emerging, it will open a lot up for them and I believe that they will get better on both turnovers and penalties. When they — look out!

    Comment by Blake — October 21, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  7. BTW — fabulous presentation Geoff!

    Comment by Blake — October 21, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  8. The Tulsa game showed how deficient the defensive secondary truly is. Since that game they haven’t been tested as most MWC coaches apparently don’t know how to analyze game film.

    Watch for SDSU took take it deep against them. TCU has the speed to do so but their QB is a frosh and I doubt he’ll put it together in time. Assuming Utah wins out and BYU drops one to either of the two aforementioned teams, the game in Provo will determine the conference champion.

    Comment by Jon in Austin — October 21, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  9. bfwebster and Jon the Ute,

    I have to disagree with you about the defense. I think that with the exception of the Tulsa game they have been the strength of the team this year. I actually think Bronco is to blame for the Tulsa debacle. In other words, I don’t think it was just coach-speak when he admitted he did not have his guys or schemes properly prepared for the speed and trickery of Tulsa that night. But in all the rest of the games the defense has been very strong. In the UNLV and Arizona games the second-stringers gave up last minute touchdowns after the game was out of reach. In the other games the offense gave up turnovers that led to easy touchdowns for the opposition as well.

    This overall team may not be as good as last year’s team but I do think the 2007 defense is as good or possibly even better than the 2006 defense. I don’t expect to see a repeat of the Tulsa fiasco again this year no matter who we play.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 21, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  10. Blake,

    Thanks for the compliment on presentation. I should note though that I simply searched YouTube for those videos. They are the work of other devoted BYU fans. I can only take credit for linking to them here. (I plan to link to EWU highlights as soon as someone posts them at YouTube as well.)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 21, 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  11. Here’s a link to some first half highlights:

    BYU’s having a surprisingly good year, notwithstanding the uneven play the past few weeks. I think that Hall has lost some of his initial focus and turnovers continue to be frustrating, but that’s been offset by a defense that’s rebounded from its poor scheme at Tulsa, and by the emergence of a physical ground attack.

    It’s obvious that they’ll be favored for the remainder of the year, but I suspect that they drop at least one somewhere. My money is on Wyoming (Laramie in Nov stinks) or Utah (the rivalry game always brings out the best in the Utes). SDSU can’t get it together, CO St’s first victory since mid-2006 just doesn’t impress, and TCU’s offense has looked awful for several games.

    Even with 1 loss, BYU will still take the championship, having beaten the only other 1 loss team. As frustrating as some of the victories have been this year, it’s unfair to compare it to last year. I’m pumped about the weapons that BYU has for the next couple of seasons.

    Comment by Dave T — October 21, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  12. Thanks for the link Dave T! (I added it to the post too)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 21, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

  13. The season is going about what I expected pre-season, truth be told. (Recall I said it would be a building season with questions at QB as Hall learned the ropes and probably a 8-4 season although I had hopes for a 9-3 one) Of course I also thought the Wyoming game would prove to be our hardest in conference game. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think Utah may end up being a pretty hard game. I didn’t call the Tulsa debacle. But UCLA went about as I expected. (And wouldn’t it be great if UCLA ended up winning the Pac-10?)

    Unga, who I initially had doubts about pre-season, has proved to be amazing. Let’s be honest. BYU has done best when, in second halves, we turn away from interception prone Hall and just run the ball. Now that Fui is back (and looking good, despite being probably only 60%) I think our triple threat on running is looking pretty good.

    It’s hard to see how we won’t win conference though. Not because we’re great but because the conference completely and thoroughly sucks. The Wac looks tons better than we do! And that’s pitiful. I really hope that next year, across the board, the conference starts winning all out of conference games. (Give Utah credit there, despite being pretty crappy this year, they surprisingly did well out of conference)

    The worries? Hall, of course. Instead of settling down he seems more uncertain about pressure. He’s still taking too long. He’s still not detecting pressure. And all those hits appear to be catching up with him both psychologically and physically.

    Comment by Clark — October 22, 2007 @ 7:30 am

  14. BTW – Geoff, even in Utah it’s pretty hard to see the games. !@#$%@#$ Mountain. Can we please get out of that contract? I can’t see any Mtn games unless the kids are well behaved enough that day for me to run down to a friend’s house who has Comcast.

    Regarding dropped balls, those of you who were here in Provo on Saturday understand why. Dang that was nasty weather. They were wise to switch to the running game. It’s just pretty hard to do a passing game when your hands are frozen, it’s raining and snowing and everything is sloppy. That’s always true although the greats can still pass. But it’s less common in college.

    Jon, while I’m skeptically about the secondary, to be fair Gooch has played well this year outside of that game. There were a lot of trick plays in that Tulsa game. They got into the secondary’s heads. But I do agree that they have been out of position at critical times in several games. It seems to me that the bigger issue with the defense has been the blitz. But that’s me.

    As Geoff pointed out though, most of the big 4th quarter screw ups were due to non-starters getting experience. You have to put those guys out though to get experience. There’s a big difference between what happens in practice and a real game. We need depth and to get these guys ready for next year.

    Having said that though I am surprised that the defense hasn’t done better this year though. But they aren’t the big problem. Most of the penalties, if I recall, have come from our O-Line. And they are mostly seniors and were expected to be our strength this year. Admittedly some of the O-Line’s apparent weakness is really more Hall taking too long to get rid of the ball. (i.e. it really isn’t the O-Line’s fault) But pretty much across the board our offense hasn’t been doing as well as it should. Even Pitta (sp?) didn’t look as good on Saturday as I expected. How much of that is injuries I can’t say. Certainly in the case of Fui and Collie injuries have taken a toll.

    The big issue is whether Hall can get his head together. That’s all he needs. He knows he needs to read pressure better but I fear he’s over thinking it and is getting worse rather than better. As others said, despite Wyoming not ended up as strong as they appeared pre-season, November in Laramie is no picnic. And the Utah game will be touch. The Utes are finally coming together as a team and they do have a lot of talent.

    Comment by Clark — October 22, 2007 @ 7:41 am

  15. I am sold on it, but unfortunately able to watch very few games even with SATELLITE TV!!! This is because some moron decided to put the games on some Mountain West only channel in one of the worst ideas for bringing the games to the fans ever in the history of College Sports… lol and grrr.

    Comment by Jordan F. — October 22, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  16. Define ‘sold.’ I too think 1 more regular season loss is more likely than either two more losses or no more losses.

    The team is inconsistent, but that’s better than being consistently mediocre, which I expected.

    I love watching my mtn down here in abq.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — October 22, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

  17. Geoff:

    Your points on defense are well-taken, and they’ve improved since Tulsa, but I still don’t see them (as often as I can actually see them) as good as they were last year — and they kept claiming they would be better than last year. Also, you can bet that Kyle Whittingham has spent lots of time looking at the Tulsa game. I’m just glad the Utah game is at Provo this year.

    I also agree with Clark that the offensive line has been a disappointment this year, at least as far as pass protection and penalties go; they seem to be doing a good job with rush-blocking, though it’s hard to tell how much of that is just Unga.

    The real problem was that at the start of the season, some team members got out and bragged about how dominant they were going to be, going to BCS, and so on. As an engineer, I try to live by the credo “Underpromise and overdeliver.”

    BYU has pretty much done the opposite for the season. Last year BYU was very dominant; take a look at their schedule from 2006 and then look at their schedule so far this year.

    I may be grousing a bit too much; BYU really did have a great season last year, and with 6 points going the other way they could have had an outstanding (top 10) one. And given all the “top ranked” teams that keep getting knocked off (7 of the top 25 teams were beaten by unranked teams just this last week), I should be more patient. :-) Here’s to running the table and winning the bowl game. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — October 22, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

  18. I think there was a bit too unrealistic expectations this year. Especially after Hall looked so good starting off with and Unga was such a pleasant surprise.

    Comment by Clark — October 22, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  19. I hate to say I told you so, but…

    Comment by Horebite — December 2, 2007 @ 7:07 am

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