One Pac-10 team down, one to go

September 2, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 8:12 pm   Category: Sports

So far so good with my pre-season predictions for BYU football. I predicted a BYU victory and that part was right. I predicted a final score of 16-9 so a 20-7 actual score wasn’t too far off. What I didn’t predict was that this was never a close game at all. BYU totally dominated Arizona on Saturday in ways the final score just doesn’t reveal. Here is what I saw on Saturday:


It was a dominating performance by the defense. The seven points given up came in the waning seconds of the game. The Cougs were just that close to pitching a shutout. The defense is living up to the hype so far. That is good news to Cougar fans and bad news to opposing teams.

Special Teams

Yikes. I suspected this aspect of the team might lead to a loss or two this year and based on Saturday that looks even more likely. Punting was erratic to put it kindly. Place kicker Mitch Payne missed a mid range field goal and the team botched an extra point later. Let’s hope the Cougs can address this problem quickly.


It was full speed ahead on offense. Max Hall was solid and certainly better than Arizona expected. The O-Line was excellent in pass defense and in opening holes for runners. The running backs — particularly freshman Harvey Unga — killed the Wildcats both running and catching passes. The tight ends lived up to the praise they have been getting in practice and the receivers didn’t drop any passes. No one in their right mind expected the BYU offense to already be as good as it was 2nd half of last season but I’d say they were better the first game of 2007 than they were in the first game of 2006. That is a good sign.


The team was well prepared. Coach Anae had the offensive play calling dialed in nicely. The team’s biggest weaknesses (read: kicking game) were minimized as much as could be hoped for. Nice work all around by the BYU coaching staff.

Next up: UCLA

I predicted BYU would lose this game and I still think that is a safest bet. But after the performance on Saturday I now think the chances of the Cougs winning this game are much higher than I initially anticipated. In fact I would pick BYU to win if the game were to be played in Provo. But since the game in is Pasadena I think the Bruins have a 60-65% chance of taking this game. I won’t be surprised if BYU wins, but I still don’t think it is more likely than not.

If BYU does win the game the Cougs could have an undefeated season and a BCS bowl in the cards so the team will be plenty motivated. Should be a good one on Saturday. Go Cougs!


  1. I think your prediction is right on. BYU will lose this week. In fact I would be surprised if the won or even if BYU kept the score within 14 points. There is a big difference between Arizona and UCLA.

    Comment by Buckeyefan — September 2, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  2. While I think it is a safe bet the UCLA offense will be significantly better than the Arizona offense, I’m not sure there is a that big of a difference between their defenses. We’ll see. One thing we can be sure of though — the atmosphere will be a lot more difficult for BYU to deal with in Pasadena than it is at home.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 2, 2007 @ 9:22 pm

  3. Whenever one of these games is going to be on ESPN or something I might have on my TV you need to give me a heads up so I don’t miss it. How did Hall look out there?

    Comment by Jacob J — September 2, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  4. Yeah Jacob the TV situation is a massive problem still. I happen to have access to Versus on my cable plan so I get to see this and the next game. But I don’t get the mtn or CSTV here so I suspect I’ll miss more games than I get to see as well.

    Hall was solid. His short passes were generally on the mark but several of his longer passes sailed well over the heads of the receivers. I think that might have been due to him being too amped up but that will need to improve over time. But the overall numbers were very respectable:

    26 of 39 completed for 288 yards, 2 tds and no ints

    Comment by Geoff J — September 2, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  5. …several of his longer passes sailed well over the heads of the receivers

    You just gave me a vietnam-style flashback of John Walsh.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 3, 2007 @ 9:11 am

  6. I think you can watch these on BYUTV via the website, right? or does BYUTV only show games from 20 years ago?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 3, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  7. I kept checking to see if you’d have your post up after the game. Way to keep me anticipated! LOL

    I agree with most of what you said. I had high expectations for the Defense and they exceeded them. Very impressive. Although admittedly Arizona wasn’t playing quite as good as I expected. They did get a tad sloppy that last run, although frankly Arizona got very lucky as well. My kids were acting up then so I couldn’t tell if Bronco had more second stringers up getting experience then though.

    The biggest thing I loved was having a strong secondary. After all those years where receivers could out reach and out power our secondary it was nice to see them so strong. Even the times Arizona got a big catch our guys were always doing the right thing.

    Kicking was embarrassing. Having said that I completely agree with Bronco getting mad that the “fans” booed their kicker. I liked what Anae said. “A lot of people are wearing T-shirts that say ‘Fully Invested.’ Booing your team, to me, is not being fully invested.” Nice call out of the supposed fans. Bronco brought this up in every interview I heard. However he also said there may need to be some personnel changes.

    Having talked about kicking, I thought the other aspects of special teams were quite good: surprisingly.

    Our O-Line was awesome which gave Hall a lot of time to get into the flow. He was surprisingly good. Still a little weak on the long ball – as we all knew from training camp. But to do that his first time out against a Defense that is no slouch is pretty impressive. Even with our O-Line.

    I agree that Anae did much better play calling than in the past. It seemed like in the past he started off slow and too conservative and then was dialed in by the third game. This season he was right on.

    The second biggest cheer, after the secondary, was the RBs. As you know this was one of my biggest fears after the special teams. But Unga in particular surpassed all the hype from camp. Fui still wasn’t 100% but I think Anae was pretty wise in how he used him. Next week when Tonga is back we should have a lot of tools there which will make it hard for UCLA to guard our passing game.

    All in all a pretty impressive win. Last week I didn’t think we had much of a hope with UCLA. This week I think it is very winnable.

    Comment by Clark — September 3, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  8. Just to add, two more thoughts about Hall. First, he was playing very intelligently! Kind of unexpected for a new QB playing under pressure for the first time. He seems like he’ll be a “heady” QB like Detmer in some ways.

    Having said that thought there were three passes that showed inexperience. There was one where he was going down and he threw the ball away. While not unexpected I think we did get lucky not to get an interception on those. And he’ll learn not to do that.

    The other thing I wanted to bring up was the lack of penalties. After what, 5 years, where penalties were such a big problem, Bronco has really got a disciplined team. There was one hold we should have been called on. But then there were several pass interference that Arizona should have been called on. (And that probably would have led to at least one more TD)

    Comment by Clark — September 3, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  9. Wow. When Captain Pessimism (Clark) comes around to believing we could beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl you know things are looking up!

    Nice comments all around — especially about the penalties. BYU used to get penalized constantly and it was great to get that under control this game.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 3, 2007 @ 10:08 am

  10. Now everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Classic. Anyway, I’ll be in Pasadena to see BYU beat UCLA in person.

    Comment by California Condor — September 3, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  11. The “D” was fabulous and the difference in the game. I was pleasantly surprised. The biggest surprise for me was the defensive backfield including safety and corners. These are crucial positions and they acquitted themselves well. They will be much more tested against UCLA.

    From my vantage point on the 40 yard line a few rows up, the refs blew several calls and overlooked holding by Arizona consistently. Since I’m biased, I’m open to the possibility that the refs were just letting them play and that accounts for the reduction in BYU’s penalties — which year in and year out is one of the most penalized teams in college football (though not because they commit more penalties).

    Like y’all say, the O line was awsome. Hall looked psyched and he’s going to have to get some touch on his long-range passes.

    The kicking game was just downright spooky. We’ve got to get that ironed our or we’re in for some real troubles in that area of the game.

    Beating UCLA in Pasadena is a pretty tall order for the Cougs. If UCLA comes out cockey and thinking they can beat them any day of the week, I predict the Cougs really take it to them. However, after beating Arizona, it is unlikely that they will look beyond the Cougs.

    Comment by Blake — September 3, 2007 @ 10:56 am

  12. I still think UCLA will be very difficult. However the D and RB make me think it is very possible. Unfortunate a lot more will ride on the special teams I suspect. But given that UCLA is our toughest team I might seriously think we could go 10-2 at this point whereas before I was thinking 8-4 or 9-3. Hall and Unga just looked that good.

    BTW – what about that Utah meltdown? I was really hoping they’d at least be competitive. Which they were until those two injuries. Their season might well be over. But Wyoming looked very good and that’ll be a tough game for us. (Not UCLA tough, but Wyoming is always rough)

    Comment by Clark — September 3, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  13. BTW – other good news is that next week’s game won’t be Mountain only. Vs is carrying it. I was actually pretty pleased with their coverage Saturday. Not as many camera angles as ESPN but much better than most of what we got last year.

    Comment by Clark — September 3, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

  14. This is largely an obvious point… But I’m thinking the UCLA game might hinge on things like turnovers, penalties, and special teams. I am guessing that the starting offenses and defenses on the teams are actually fairly evenly matched (though UCLA fans probably don’t believe this yet). I won’t be at all surprised if BYU out gains UCLA in total yards. But if BYU turns the ball over more than the Bruins or gets dinged with penalties at inopportune times or misses some field goals that will be trouble. Conversely, if the Cougs win the turnover battle or at least breaks even, I think they are talented and well coached enough to use that to win this game in spite of 90,000 fans pulling for the Bruins in the Rose Bowl (compared to hopefully 10,000+ fans for the Cougs)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 3, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  15. Here is an interesting article at where the pundit says BYU has the 10th best defense in in the country in his opinion. UCLA is at #8.

    My guess is that BYU’s offense is tougher to contain than UCLA’s offense will be. If that is true it may be another reason why BYU will win Saturday.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 3, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

  16. I didn’t see the UCLA game last week. But if they have the 8th best defense that might be trouble for Hall. It depends upon our O-Line.

    As you said, the game will hinge on things like turnovers. Hall was lucky in a few plays (in my opinion) but I suspect Bronco will help him there. I do think special teams will be important with a defense that good. If we can’t make field goals we might be in a world of hurt.

    Comment by Clark — September 3, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  17. Can someone explain to me why every time we go to UCLA we get all of these phantom penalties? Could someone explain how obvious re-plays don’t get overturned? The last one especially, where Hall’s harm arm was clearly in motion with ball in hand was so clear that I was stunned that the officials upstairs refused to turn it over. 12 penalties to 3? As I said, year in and year out BYU is one of the most penalized teams in America but not because they commit more penalties. I’m disgusted! Oh, and can someone tell me where to try out to become BYU’s punter? If we are going to consistently kick 20 yard punts, at least we could have some guy like me doing it so that we have an excuse.

    Comment by Blake — September 8, 2007 @ 7:00 pm