Here’s what I’ve noticed. BYU’s defense plays a LOT better in away games. Fault the field which is in atrocious condition. Given the defensive style of play of just holding the line rather than rushing and getting in the backfield (ridiculously stupid that strategy in my view) the lack of field support really impacts the ability to stop a runner than already has a 5 yard head of steam. Yes, the field impact the losses though I’m not claiming it is outcome determinative. I’m saying that the guys in charge of the field really hamper the Y’s defense this year.
I wasn’t able to watch the game, but based on reading the recap and box score, here’s a couple of thoughts (and questions, for those who watched the game).
1. Good to see McKay Jacobson back and picking up where he left off.
2. Was Hall as impressive as the box score appears? 90% completion percentage? Wow.
3. Utah just won big over New Mexico tonight, but struggled in the early going, as they have the last few week now. It’ll be important for BYU’s offense to come out firing on all cylinders when the Utes come to town to take advantage of Utah’s sluggish starts.
4. Optimistically assuming we finish out the years with another 3 victories, what does a 9-2 record and 2nd place finish in the MWC get the team? Another trip to the LV bowl?
Yes, Max was every bit as impressive as the box score indicates. The guy was on fire today.
I think the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego is the most likely destination for BYU this year. The Vegas Bowl is hinting they want to mix things up so Utah might get that one (assuming TCU goes to a BCS game).
Utah looks tough again this year but no where near as good as they were last year so that game is very winnable for BYU. The problem is BYU has laid its two eggs at home this year and the Utah game is in Provo. I don’t know if the turf is really a significant contributing factor or not but it is a bummer that being home is not the advantage it used to be for BYU.
Actually, I think ama may have a point. Bronco’s record in “big” games is not that great. This is especially true of the record against ranked teams and in bowl games. While BYU rarely plays down to the level of their bad competition (something they did under Crowton), they rarely play up to the level of their good competition. I don’t know if it is a talent gap, a coaching issue, or divine disfavor, but ama isn’t that far off.
ama and John C, you’re both pretty quick to forget the opening-weekend victory over Oklahoma, no? Certainly that qualifies as a “big game” and a win over a “decent team.” While it doesn’t cancel out the losses to FSU at home this year and the blowouts against TCU the last two years, to suggest BYU doesn’t play well is big games seems like a bit of an overstatement.
“ama and John C, youâ€™re both pretty quick to forget the opening-weekend victory over Oklahoma, no?”
No, not forgotten. If BYU was consistent, say winning two out of three games against decent teams, then ama and John C. might be wrong. During the many years I have watched BYU play, they almost always choke when a superior team is challenged. There is usually one team, like Oklahoma this year, that has an off day or something and makes the win look good for the whole season. All other big games end up a wash. BYU is a good team, but it has never (maybe one year) been a great team.
Oh good grief. “Big Games” are called big games because the opponents are really good. Duh. Really good opponents are hard to beat. Duh.
You people have really short memories. In 2006 and 2007 BYU won all of the in conference “big games”. (They went undefeated in conference those years.) Seriously, hold off on the completely inane comments folks. Sure BYU loses sometimes, but it is not because the games are big, it is because some teams are better than BYU in any given year. Duh.
OK hasn’t really played well this year though Geoff. You have to admit that. Had we known what OK’s season would be we wouldn’t have been so excited.
While I think it’s kind of silly to turn on the coaches at this stage, I think it clear that big games are a problem for the team right now. Yes they stepped up for OK, but Florida and TCU were inexplicable. TCU was going to be a difficult game to win, but we just played absolutely lousy.
BYU has some real recruiting issues. Issues I’m not sure how they can fix.
Geoff, you’re point about big games being against good opponents is a good point. However Florida wasn’t really a good team, but it was a big game. We made them look good that week but looking at their other games shows what they are.
Personally I think we just have to admit that BYU isn’t nearly as good as we want it to be. Personally I think Bronco does a pretty good job with the talent he has. We want to think of BYU as a top tier program, but looking at the last 15 years, as much as it saddens me to say it I’m not sure we are. We can compete solidly in our conference – although I think TCU and even Utah may be turning into more consistently better teams.
Still, if we beat Utah and finish with only 2 losses I’ll be very happy. That’s better than what I’d predicted for the season.
First, I never mentioned OK so you must be addressing someone else. However I will respond anyway. Since BYU knocked Oklahoma’s Heisman winning QB out of the game and Texas finished him off it makes no sense to downgrade the OK win too far because they have lost a few games since we beat them. They were at full strength for at least the first half when BYU played them.
Second, BYU never played Florida. BYU did play Florida State though and FSU has proven to be an up and down team. Plus they are very fast. So when you combine a very fast team with an up day and you get a win in Provo for FSU. Big deal. It happens.
BYU is ranked #22 today and that is probably about right. Assuming BYU is a lot better or worse than that in 2009 is a mistake I think.
I think what Ama, John C and Jettboy are saying is that BYU beats the teams it’s supposed to beat and they struggle against the teams that are good. Yes…duh. But it is a contrast to what all of us BYU fans had to endure with Lavell, where we’d randomly lose games to Hawaii or Wyoming that we had no business losing. Now, we win those games, all of them. But we still aren’t consistently good against good teams.
I think BYU is about on par with 2009. I suspected that would be the case although I honestly was surprised at how our O-Line has played this year.
Rusty, one thing to keep in mind under Lavell was that we were the only powerhouse in the WAC. Everyone gave us their A-game in a way that I don’t think is the case today with both TCU and Utah being so good. Will the conference get better? I suspect so. But the animosity against BYU back in the day just doesn’t have a 21st century counterpart except perhaps the Utah/BYU game. Also there was a lot of dirty football against BYU. (Here thinking of the infamous BYU-Hawaii game where Detmer had both arms seriously injured. It’s a miracle he was able to still play pro ball.)
That was against Texas A&M in the bowl game, not against Hawaii. And I don’t know if I agree with your thesis. The simpler explanation would be that Lavell was inconsistent, not that everyone else put BYU on a pedistal.
I agree Rusty. BYU still gets the A-game from every MWC opponent. BYU still has the biggest name and best long term reputation in the conference and in 06-07 BYU was undefeated in conference. The main difference now is that there is a clear Big Three whereas BYU was the the only gorilla in the WAC back in the day (sort of like Boise State is the gorilla in the WAC now).
What I think it demonstrates is that BYU doesn’t handle the pressure of big games well
Using Utah as a comparison point (because I think that on average they wind up being about as good as each other), the Utes have a much better record against ranked teams and a much better record in bowls. I’m not saying that Whit is a better coach (Utah is always at risk to lose to bad teams), but he seems to be a better coach in big games. Nor am I saying that Bronco is a bad coach (I don’t think he is), but I do think that he hasn’t entirely figured out how to prep the boys for big games emotionally and it continues to show.
If you are insisting on comparing BYU with Utah then let’s focus on the 2009 teams (since the previous teams are gone for good). In 2009 BYU is 1 for 3 in big games and Utah is 0 for 1. After Saturday Utah will likely be 0 for 2 in big games. So this year’s BYU team has a better “big game” winning percentage than this year’s Utah team.
John, I feel the way you do during the basketball season being from ACC country and all (though I think we both did our undergrads at MWC schools and did grad work at schools with non-existent football teams. I am thinking of doing an MLS at Maryland just to get some official ACC credentials).
I do see the Big East being replaced in the BCS. Of course, the WAC might have a claim to that spot as in well.
John: Iâ€™m talking about the coaches and how they prep their teams
Ok. Well the records of Whit and Bronco over the last five years are public. Maybe Utah has won more “big games” than BYU has over that time. (Though I would be interested in the official definition of big game you are using. Did BYU’s wins over Utah and TCU count as big games in 06 and 07?) Yet you can’t seem to decide what your point is as far as I can tell. Are you trying to say Whit is a better coach than Bronco or not? I can’t tell because you seem to be implying it then outright denying it with your “Iâ€™m not saying that Whit is a better coach” line in #19. If you aren’t saying that then what are you saying?
Rusty. Dang. My memory is going on me. I just remember the interview with him in casts. First I keep forgetting to write FSU and then this. Just ignore me. I’m clearly too sleep deprived for my own good! I’m pretty sure the Hawaii game also had some dirty playing. But maybe I’m just projecting.
I don’t think it fair to criticize Bronco for coaching beyond perhaps not preparing the team mentally for some games. But it’s unfair to compare him to Whitingham I think. I’m glad we got Bronco instead of Whit. Kudos to Whitingham’s success at Utah though. I’m one of those who, despite the rivalry, hopes the conference always does well in non-conference play. Ranked teams are good. Utah has easier recruiting in some ways and the fact Utah has been so good of late means BYU has a harder time in some ways.
I think I’ve been clear on my definition of “big” games (ranked teams, bowls). What I’ve said, clearly, is that I think that Bronco has trouble prepping his teams for those games. Whit seems to get his teams up for those games, but Whit has a hard time maintaining consistency throughout the season. But Whit is beside the point (only useful as comparanda because I think the Utes and BYU are usually pretty evenly matched). The point is that Bronco has a really, really hard time getting his guys prepped for big games and the record seems to bear that out.
The MWC has three teams that are decent year in and year out (maybe four if you count Air Force). The WAC has one. I think it is much more likely that BSU will join the PAC-10 and the WAC will fade back into obscurity.
Well I don’t know the Bronco vs. Whit records against ranked teams but I do know that Bronco is 2-2 in bowls and I think Whit is 4-0 (right?).
I agree that the even-keel approach by Bronco is probably a contributing factor in those games. Even keel means the lows don’t get as low (and thus there are no losses to scrubs) but the highs don’t get as high (thus winning things like bowl games is tougher).
I am not sure which problem fans would hate more — the Bronco problem where the team consistently wins 10 games but loses in some big games or the Pete Carroll problem where the team wins a lot of big games but is excluded from title contention because they lose to a scrub every year. Neither is particularly desirable.
Say what you will about Bronco’s even keel, but it was necessary to salvage the team considering where they were. What has to happen is take what he’s achieved now and build upon it. And I do think the psychology has a lot to do with it. The problem with both FSU and TCU was that we came out “low” in a way. There just wasn’t the energy there should have been.
To add, one big problem with LaVelle was he didnâ€™t take bowl games too seriously.
I know this is conventional wisdom but the data are not entirely supportive of this hypothesis. This doesn’t mean you aren’t correct. Maybe Lavelle even suggested as much but once you control for opponent quality BYU’s performance in bowl games is pretty similar to its performance in regular season games during the LaVelle era.
This is not the most sophisticated thing in the world but here is what I did to get at this question. I formed two samples from 1976-2000 (I only have data back to 76). The first sample is BYU’s bowl games. The second sample is all regular season games where the season ending computer model ranking is less than 40 (I used the massey MOV computer model ranking, not perfect but a reasonable proxy for opponent quality). The bowl game opponents have an average year end rank of 21.8 (20 games) and the regular season sample has an average year end rank of 22.2 (60 games). One gets pretty similar winning percentage across the samples:
Bowl games: 0.375
Regular season of similar quality: 0.425
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t true that LaVelle didn’t take bowl games seriously. However, at worst the lack of seriousness didn’t have a dramatic effect on winning percentage once one controls roughly for opponent quality.
(1) Clearly there is a bias related to using year end rankings, but I think it is the best I can do and it affects both samples.
(2) One potential problem with the analysis is the following: suppose BYU played tough bowl games in the glory years (1979-1991) and in the last 10 year of LaVelle’s career BYU played highly ranked foes in the regular season with increased frequency. If this is the case, then my comparison sample would be flawed. However, even if you just confine the data to the glory years the results don’t change much (both sample means increase).
(3) I could have a error or two in my data but I doubt there are enough data errors to matter much.
Karl, I’m more going by what players told me about how Lavelle treated them. That is he just didn’t take them as seriously as other games and the players reacting accordingly. Lavelle was very focused on conference games. I think today we just want more than that.
I actually like the whole idea of the MTN Network now that I have access to it. If the rumors are true that ESPN is somehow involved in the back office dealings the best solution would be to work something out like the Big Ten Network has where ABC/ESPN has first dibs on games and the BTN airs the rest.