BYU football: Celebration leads to UW misery

September 6, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 8:14 pm   Category: Sports

Phew! A non-conference road win… It’s about time.

BYU pulled out a win today over the Washington Huskies by blocking an extra point attempt that would have tied the game as time wound down. Good times, good times…

Just as I was about to kick a hole in my TV in frustration over the atrociously biased Pac 10 refs (who had just swallowed their whistles on a blatant hold — a hold that likely prevented a drive-ending sack no less), just at that moment the refs blew the whistle on UW quarterback Jake Locker when he hurled the ball into the air after scoring a last second touchdown. The penalty meant that with the score at 27-28 the Huskies had to kick the extra point from an extra 15 yards out. In shades of the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl the Cougs promptly blocked the kick and won the game. Good times.

Here are a few things I learned from watching this game:

* The 2008 offense is better than the 2007 or 2006 offense. Seriously, this is a fantastic offense folks. If they can secure the ball a little better (as in, stop fumbling) they might be putting up 50+ points per game regularly this year.

* On a related note — No sacks; no QB hurries by UW. That’s a good offensive line.

* However… what’s up with all those shotgun snaps hitting Max Hall in the ankles?

* The defense is pretty much what the experts expected — not as good as last year. For the last several months the insiders have been saying “our defense is going to be better than people expect”. Uh… not so much. Those UW receivers were wide open over and over again. If Locker had any accuracy at all (or receivers with decent hands) he would have put up 400 yards today. BYU may be in for some shootouts this year if the defense can’t pull it together.

* Big mistakes in the defense early hurt in this game. How does safety David Tafuna let that ball go right trough his hands allowing UW to convert a first down on a third and 20-something? BYU should have put this game away sooner than they did.

* The national media was incensed by the celebration penalty on the last touchdown. Boo hoo. It was a perfectly legitimate call based on the rules. The dude scored a touchdown and heaved the ball like 40 feet in the sky. By rule that’s a penalty. With all the other obvious penalties these refs missed I can only credit them for getting this one right. If people want to complain they should complain about the existence of the clear rule that says chucking the ball in the air is unsportsmanlike, not about the enforcement of the rule.

* Sure I feel bad for Locker making a critical mistake like that. But no more than I feel sorry for Harvey Unga fumbling the ball on the 1 foot line after the Cougs had marched 96 yards to get there. Mistakes happen. All UW had to do was hit a 35 yard extra point from straight on. Instead they let BYU run them over and block it.

* It is nice to finally come out on the winning side of one of these close non-conference road games. As they say — it came down to one play and this year BYU made that play whereas in years past they did not.

* Dennis Pitta is possibly the best receiver in the country… and he’s a tight end. They guy never drops anything. It is astonishing.

* Austin Collie was trying too hard. He seemed wound up so tightly that he sort of self-destructed out there dropping multiple passes that he should have hauled in.

Next week: UCLA in Provo

The UCLA defense had BYU’s number last year and they appear to be just as good this year. But the UCLA offense is now led by our old pal Norm Chow. BYU is very focused on winning at home — UCLA will be a tough test and will come in as a ranked opponent.


  1. I’m with you on pretty much every single point. That penalty against Locker was the FIRST penalty against UW the entire game. That’s pretty extraordinary. And there were some pretty bad calls against BYU (late hit out of bounds??? no holding???). So yeah, the media needs to quit calling it a bad call and start calling it a bad rule. And Locker ran all over BYU. They should have done a QB sneak every play and they would have killed BYU. So. Frustrating.

    Comment by Rusty — September 6, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  2. My thoughts.

    First the bad.

    1. As with last year our center is not good. A few bad snaps I could see. But there were three atrocious ones in a row and several more poor ones throughout the game.

    2. The secondary stunk. We were frankly lucky that they played so bad given our secondary. There were a lot of wide open receivers who should have had touchdowns.

    3. Kicking was horrible. Seriously the game would have been completely different if we weren’t giving them such good field position.

    4. Collie. Someone said the sun was in his eyes. And everyone has a bad game. But still. Wow.

    The Good

    1. Fui ahead of Unga blocking. I was curious how Fui would play. And at first you didn’t notice him except in that recovery. But then you noticed that he was ahead of Unga in most of Unga’s plays. Sweet. Even the biased commentators couldn’t praise the two enough. (But Unga, please don’t go pro early)

    2. Hall. Wow. Consider what his stats would have been like had Collie been playing better. Wow.

    3. The other receivers. There were some sweet plays and a lot of other people stepped it up.

    The Rest (non-BYU)

    1. Overall both teams played very poorly. Seriously BYU should have had about 3 more TDs. And that last quarter Seattle was just playing horrible and then getting very lucky. While there were times we played great we had way too many penalties (even if perhaps some of that was the refs) and too many mistakes (although I don’t blame Unga for that fumble – that was an amazing defensive play by Seattle). Were both teams playing their A-game it would have looked much better for us.

    2. The refs. Normally I hate when people blame the refs. But there were a lot of holding calls that weren’t called that should have been. Some were pretty blatant.

    3. The blaming the refs. The last play. The refs don’t make the rules. It was blatantly thrown (despite what ESPN says). And we blocked the kick so the penalty didn’t matter. Hear that? It didn’t change the game. Seattle didn’t lose because of the penalty but because of some amazing defense by BYU.

    4. The camera work. It wasn’t as bad while I was watching in HD but I went up and watched in SD and it was horrible. Anything in the shadows was completely illegible. Probably more a function of the stadium than the cameras. But still.

    5. The announcers. Was this on Fox or was it on the Pac-10 equivalent of The Mountain. I mean really.

    Comment by Clark — September 6, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

  3. BTW – Next week is THE GAME. Unfortunately I’m going to be up at Whole Foods in Park City doing a demo. I’m hoping I can tape the game and make it through without anyone telling me the score. We’ll see…

    Comment by Clark — September 6, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  4. Fox Sports West is the Pac 10 equivalent of The Mountain Clark.

    I don’t think the teams played as poorly as you thought. At least not by normal NCAA standards. It looked like most NCAA games I see on TV. Now if you were comparing to an NFL game that would be a different story.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 6, 2008 @ 11:02 pm

  5. I would like to see us just line-up in the I and run at people until they prove they can consistently stop it.

    I agree with Clark on the holding penalties. The last couple of drives their tackles practically tackled BYU’s DE’s on every play.

    The ref certainly called the letter of the law (i.e. the Tuck Rule) but it really wasn’t that bad of celebrating. I was surprised it got called. And while a 35-yd field goal isn’t a gimmee, yeah, he should have made the kick. There wasn’t a controversy until it was blocked.

    Comment by Tim J — September 6, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

  6. Tim,

    Did you see how heavily Harvey was breathing? He was totally winded with the load he was carrying. If it weren’t for that fact, and the fact that there is a big drop off when Harvey is not carrying the ball I would be more inclined to agree with you on the run ’til they can stop it plan.

    Yes, there was some blatant tackling going on against the BYU d-line. That was the infuriating holding I was talking about in the post.

    As for the celebration call, the fact that overall it wasn’t “bad celebration” is moot. Here is the statement from the ref:

    “After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. it was not a judgment call.”

    The rule in question is Rule 9, Section 2, Article 1 of the rule book.

    Section C of that rule states that “throwing the ball high into the air” is an unsportsmanlike act.

    The only gripe could be with how high he threw the ball. The ESPN doofs all show a close up to minimize the way the throw looks. With the panned back view you can see the ball was way up there — 30-40 feet. The dude chucked that ball. This was no flip over the shoulder as some knuckleheads on TV were claiming.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 6, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  7. Check out this video. Some guy estimated 26 feet based on the 2.36 seconds of airtime. But the funniest part is the blatant hold by the offensive lineman (#58) on BYU’s #35 at the start of the video. That is how it was that whole last drive (at least).

    Comment by Geoff J — September 6, 2008 @ 11:43 pm

  8. At least UCLA plays here. And one positive about all the controversy (and bad calls) is that it puts a big chip on the BYU shoulders. This will be the game of the season until the Utah game. (Well TCU might be a good game – I haven’t heard how they are playing this year)

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 12:11 am

  9. Even after a win the Coug fans find a way feel oppressed…

    Comment by L-d Sus — September 7, 2008 @ 6:28 am

  10. Favorite line from the commentary, “BYU just is what they are.”

    Comment by Eric Russell — September 7, 2008 @ 6:30 am

  11. L-d Sus — Bashing Pac 10 officials for bias is a national pastime, not a BYU specialty. If you don’t believe me ask Oklahoma fans what they think of Pac 10 reffing. At least this time the Pac 10 folks have something to whine about too.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 7, 2008 @ 7:41 am

  12. It’s maybe a bit off-topic, but only slightly: We listened to the game on KSL radio via internet.

    I wondered if that was the best source for Cougars who live far from Provo, or if there are any internet viewing options, etc.?

    Comment by Naismith — September 7, 2008 @ 9:56 am

  13. L-d Sus: The best and only time to bash the refs is after a win. After a loss, it is chalked up to sour grapes. After a win, it is just an assessment of the blatantly unfair practice of the PAC-10 to insist on having an all PAC-10 crew ref all games at home against a PAC-10 team. The holding calls were obvious. The refs were staring right at it. UW tackled defending players from behind who were about to make a sack on at least three occasions and . . . no call. It was atrocious.

    Comment by Blake — September 7, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  14. That is the best I know if method Naismith. There used to be a video feed for MTN games for $14.95 but I think that may be done now that the DirecTV deal is in place. I actually listened to the KSL radio stream while I watched Fox on TV. I know KSL is completely biased toward the Cougs but the insider knowledge is useful too.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 7, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  15. Pretty much nothing. You can sign up for Direct TV and several games are available on Dish. (Yesterday’s and next week’s are for instance)

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 11:37 am

  16. Geoff, the Pac-10 announcers really liked Unga. They were pretty lame at the beginning and every time the Seattle Offense was struggling they’d say something annoying like “they shouldn’t let a Mountain West Conference defense…” However by the end of the game they were actually pretty praising of the Cougars. I was surprised since Seattle isn’t that great a team.

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 11:39 am

  17. Yeah, I turned up the TV volume on occasion and Petra was gushing over Harvey, Dennis and Max. (Though that referred to Pitta as Pita all day…) That was cool.

    Now we hope UW turns things around and wins the rest of its games.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 7, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  18. So here’s the big question. Given how our secondary played (shades of Tulsa and the worst of last season) should we be scared of UCLA? Norm Chow is undoubtedly watching yesterday’s tape and planing to exploit that secondary. Now admittedly the secondary was somewhat dividing by having to prepare for Seattle’s QB running game. That may account for some of the problems (and note how the QB was able to exploit that to run a couple times for 1st downs)

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

  19. Yes, we should be scared for this week. But then again BYU should be (sufficiently) scared every week.

    This is a good team now but not great right now. Hopefully they will get better and better all year long like the ’06 and ’07 teams did. If they do they could win a BCS game.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 7, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  20. I think you have to note the fact that our defense was dealing with an aberration of a game for Jake Locker. The man can’t throw (like 50% completion) and got lucky multiple times (the TD pass was totally out of character and was thrown into great pass defense). WA got lots of lucky breaks and got away with atrocious holding calls all throughout.

    I think at home, the D will look better and the offense will continue to look in control. I am most worried about our recently super conservative defensive play calling. We have great success with the blitz, but we never use it. “Prevent defense” prevents you from winning games.

    Comment by TrevorwM — September 7, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  21. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), it looks like the AP agrees with the rest of the media. They dropped BYU 3 spots in the latest top 25 poll.

    Comment by Christopher — September 7, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  22. I kind of expected that though. BYU really needed a strong win Winning by a blocked field goal just isn’t strong enough. If we win next week though then that will make a big difference. Remember that last week’s win was expected (and we played worse than expected). To maintain our position we really needed a much stronger win against a weak Seattle team. The fact we kept it so close really suggests a weakness in our team and I can see many people not expecting a win against UCLA.

    Given that UCLA and UW are our only real hard teams we play this year you have to ace both of them for the national press to care. Maybe if the MW was a stronger conference it would be different. But it’s not. So pray for TCU and UU to do well this season in their non-conference games.

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  23. Wow. Check out this post from the UW boards. (Quoted from CougarBlue)

    This game epitomizes what has become a halmark of Husky Football — UW fans, coaches, and players rationalizing performance and complaining — its a culture of excuses.

    From players to fans to Softy Dave Mahler to “expert” Hugh Millen — there is no accountability, just excuses. And the Culture of Excuses peaks against BYU.

    1984: One-loss UW gripes and complains to this day about a national championship that just plain wasn’t earned ON THE FIELD. UW lost a game — don’t make excuses and rely on voters, take care of business on the field. UW lost, BYU didn’t. The trophy is in Provo, and forever will remain there no matter how much spittle Husky fans expell making excuses and complaining.

    2008: Leading up to this game — all I heard was MWC disrespect, and that UW deserved a national championship. No talk about the actual game — just more excuses and complaining. It’s a culture at UW and it’s systemic through the fanbase and team. When UW can stop worrying about referees, voters, the Mormon religion, and whatever other excuse strikes their fancy — maybe they can exert enough attention on the field, and at an administrative level to take their program back to the winning tradition UW once had.

    BYU played 11 on 17. Huskies have ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION complaining about officiating on an admittedly stupid call that was still technically by the book, when the PAC 10 officials took every opportunity to ignore pass interference calls and blatant holding calls in favor of the Huskies. UW CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!

    BYU out-rushed UW. BYU out-passed UW. BYU out-physicalled UW. BYU completely manhandled the UW defensive line, who didn’t lay a finger on Max Hall. The only team that kept the game close was BYU with self-inflicted mistakes, a fumble on the goal line, and a dropped pick-six that went the other way for Christmas-gift bobbled reception eventually leading to a UW touchdown. Then on UW’s final drive, UW gets a blatant holding no call on a 4th down conversion down the sideline — which everyone saw. How come no complaining on that?

    Now as the excuses mature and develop — Even idiots corso, holtz and an herbie-douche-street are trying to explain that the ball didn’t really get “thrown” up in the air, it defied gravity and accidently slipped out of Locker’s hands 30 feet in the air in a magically tight spiral.

    BYU simply outplayed the Huskies and beat the Pac-10 officials at the same time. While the rest of college football has begun to consolidate officiating crews to achieve more objectivity and consistency, the pompous Pac-10 continues to mandate a biased Pac-10 only officiating policy — and Karma came back to bite the Huskies in the ass as their own homer officials called a by-the-book penalty, which DID NOT LOSE THEM THE GAME.

    That’s right — BYU won the game on the field. UW had a straight shot PAT, to tie (not win), and BYU’s Jorgenson blew by his husky blocker and blocked the kick ON THE FIELD! It’s a method of winning that UW needs to learn. EARN IT ON THE FIELD!

    And what is almost most upsetting of all was the the complete lack of class by Husky coaches and players, who with the exception of Willingham and 10-15 other players, entirely refused to shake hands with BYU players after the game and just retreated to the locker room? Is that what UW is about? Disgusting. But I’m sure UW will have an excuse for that as well.

    BYU may not be a “BCS” program, but they seem to have a coach, a team, and a program that accepts responsibility, doesn’t rely on excuses, and demands accountability. No ammount of BCS talent or credibility can compensate for class. And UW showed neither class nor responsibility — just a culture of excuses.

    Comment by Clark — September 7, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

  24. Hehe. That is a good pull Clark.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 7, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  25. This gem deserves its own post:

    “The only reason to have a football program at BYU is to bring people unto Christ.”

    Bronco’s drinking more Kool-Aid than anyone else in Provo these days…

    Comment by Jon in Austin — September 7, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

  26. What I hope happens this weekend is that BYU will build up a nice lead on UCLA and on their final touchdown a BYU player will huck the ball in the air and then the Cougs hit the extra point anyway. That would be classic.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 12, 2008 @ 8:47 am