BYU vs. SJSU recap: Half Nelson

October 9, 2011    By: Geoff J @ 1:28 am   Category: Sports

BYU started Riley Nelson for the first time this year and for most of the first half it looked like a genius move. Then Riley started throwing interceptions and the offense stagnated in the second half. In the end it was good enough to get a 29-16 win over a below average San Jose State team.

Some thoughts on the game:

– Riley did not pull away from Heaps in the QB competition. He looked like he would and then he started fumbling and throwing knucklehead interceptions.
– Doman needs to only play QB’s he is willing to let pass. After Riley’s second interception Doman stopped calling pass plays and the offense stopped moving the ball. BYU needs pass yards to be effective.
– The offense looked good in the first half but scored only six points in the second half against a weak team. That is really disappointing.
– BYU has a new #1 running back. Mike Alisa emerged out of nowhere to be the best option at tailback after playing a little fullback up until now. He looked great gashing big runs up the middle. Looks like fewer carries for Kariya and Quezada going forward (although DiLuigi will still be the outside runner).
– The defense looked ok but Bronco said he was going with a bend don’t break scheme so there were more yards given up than BYU fans would have liked.
– Special teams were ok. Two made FGs were good. Kickoffs didn’t go out of the end zone though. And believe it or not there were zero BYU punts this game.
– Kyle Van Noy and Jordan Pendleton are fantastic outside linebackers. That position is the best on the team this year.
– Too many drops by receivers today. Jacobson dropped a sure TD in the endzone. Hoffman dropped a hard catch in traffic. And Matthews dropped an easy and sure first down catch late in the game.

Overall there were some nice things today but not enough to make me think “yeah, BYU finally has things figured out”.

Regarding the BYU and Big12 thing:

– The odds of BYU joining the Big12 took a major hit this week with The Big12 inviting TCU ahead of BYU
– Rumors circulating are that there are snags of some kind — presumably with TV rights — that are keeping the Big12 from inviting BYU
– It is still possible that BYU and the Big12 will work things out but I think the odds are much more slim this week than they looked last week.

Sound off in the comments BYU fans.


  1. Thanks for the recap.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — October 9, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  2. Concerning the Big 12 issue, I wonder if BYU is thinking that it more makes sense for them to continue as an independent so long as at least 5 major conferences survive. With at least 5 major conferences, the move to four super conferences with a national payoff is seriously diminished, saving BYU from being left out. (Since both the Pac12 and Big10 are not interested in expanding in the near future and the Big 12 is will continue for 6 years, at least 5 major conferences should continue for the near future.) Also, the fact that Utah is having serious difficulties moving to the Pac12 shows that BYU will probably have similar difficulties continuing a consistent winning record in the Big 12. BYU may be thinking that it is better to be an independent with a more consistent winning record even though the competition is at a lesser level and the likelihood of a BCS bowl invite is very low. This is particularly true since this is BYU’s first year of football independence and WCC affiliation – better to continue on this recently selected path and see how it turns out after a few years.

    Comment by CBH — October 9, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  3. Again spot on Geoff.

    Here is my analysis. Doman and Mendenhall have no clue how to make half time adjustments. The interception thrown by Riley was a bad throw — but it was also a changed defensive alignment that led to it. Doman has no clue. Mendenhall doesn’t know how to counter half time changes. Whatever they are saying and doing at half-time, they need to change.

    My view is tht Heaps has lots of talent that he may never develop for a simple reason — he is already planning on playing at the next level and thinks this is just a stop along the way. As a result, rather than jump on a fumble and risk injury he tries to bat it out of bounds so he won’t get hurt. Result: TD for opposition.

    Heaps has been to dozens of combines with pros who tell him to throw it as hard as he can very play no matter how far away the receiver is. In the NFL that is necessary because of the great speed and much narrower field. In the college game touch and finesse are needed.

    As to the Big 12 — BYU needs to take this opportunity or be left out in the irrelevant cold of independence. However, I agree that BYU would likely struggle to be effective at winning consistently against the likes of the Oklahoma schools and TCU and Texas. However, in terms of TV markets, fan base, loyalty and and real impact, BYU is miles ahead of TCU. Geographically TCU worked, but what did it add to the Big 12? Absolutely nothing.

    Comment by Blake — October 9, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  4. CBH — Your theory seems plausible to me. Not sure how this will turn out still though. It is feasible that if Mizzou bails BYU could still slide into that #10 spot. The main advantage BYU has over Big East teams is they have to wait 27 months to get out the Big East whereas BYU (and TCU) could play football in the Big12 next year.

    Blake — Good point about Jake and the NFL. The irony is that if he can’t figure out how to even win the starting job at BYU he will never play in the NFL.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 9, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  5. I think Blake is correct. The difference in the second half didn’t seem so much that Doman got conservative, but that San Jose State made adjustments at half time and BYU didn’t.

    I was okay with mostly running in the second half. We had a lead, and the running game was very effective. That seemed to me to be Doman’s main adjustment to San Jose State’s adjustment. Why throw if you can consistently pull off runs at 5, 6, 7 yards at a time?

    Watching the defense was mostly frustrating. San Jose State was always putting pressure on Nelson, but the only times we got pressure on them was when we blitzed. It felt like the game plan on defense was to play not to lose, rather than to play to win.

    The most positive of the whole game to me? That was the most fun crowd I have been in for a lot of games, at BYU or elsewhere.

    Comment by CS Eric — October 9, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  6. Thanks for the recap of the game, Geoff, since I wasn’t able to watch it. (Being across the Atlantic means not being able to see the late games.)

    I have still yet to see any interest from the Big12 toward BYU. I’ve heard BYU and BYU fans talk about it, ESPN push for it (since it would mean consolidating tv deals), but nothing from the Big12 itself. I’m guessing that between our tv deal (the only reason they tolerate Texas is because, well, they’re Texas), Sunday schedule, the general perception of BYU in Texas, and the geographic distance (they are one of the few conferences who seem to stick to geographic boundaries), they are just not interested in us.

    Comment by Ben — October 9, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  7. I’ve heard the Big12 snags are with Sunday games in the post-season.

    Seems to me Nelson was about what I expected, although I agree about Doman stopping the passing game. He did that last week too. Nelson’s strength last week was really a weakness in that he tries to force places by throwing into coverage. Both times worked last week but this week they didn’t. Better teams will really be able to leverage this weakness.

    Our secondary looks weaker and weaker each week. Yes part of that was the defensive strategy at play but part was just how receivers were covered when they knew the ball was coming.

    Comment by Clark — October 9, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  8. Ben, lots of Big12 sites have been discussing BYU but most are now saying that it won’t be them for the next spot.

    Regarding half time adjustments – I can understand why Doman may be struggling with them. I honestly can’t fathom why Bronco is struggling with it. But teams seem to come out of the locker room able to deal with Bronco’s defense much better.

    Comment by Clark — October 9, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  9. There is no question that BYU and the Big XII have been in talks for a long time — BYU was in a great negotiating position. If it doesn’t happen, it’s their own fault.

    The most credible information I’ve gleaned over the last several weeks is that the Board of Trustees turned it down. If that turns out to be true, BYU is dead to me. If the BOT doesn’t care about BYU athletics then neither do I.

    Comment by Orwell — October 11, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  10. I love the new Cougar focus here. I don’t love the new Cougar offense or our new status in re the Big 12.

    Comment by Adam G. — October 12, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  11. Current game was something!

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — October 15, 2011 @ 7:58 pm