Turnovers, Penalties, and Lame Refs = BYU Loss in Pasadena

September 8, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 7:19 pm   Category: Sports

So it’s over. UCLA beat BYU today 27-17. The loss can be pinned on turnovers and penalties but the officiating seemed to play into both of those things as well.

BYU’s first turnover was the least controversial of the three. Max Hall tried to force a pass to Austin Collie and got picked off. The UCLA corner returned the interception for a touchdown. Ouch. The second turnover, a fumble, was highly questionable because it looked clear to me that the BYU tight end had a knee on the ground well before the ball came loose. In fact it looked to me like it was his knee hitting the ground that jarred the ball loose. The third turnover was equally suspicious with Max Hall losing the ball as he was being sacked. His arm was cocked back and moving forward just as the defender grabbed at the ball from behind him. The ball flew 5+ yards forward but the officials ruled it a fumble. Of course in both cases the reviews came down in favor of the Pac 10 team. (The Pac 10 is becoming well known for shoddy officiating (home cookin’?) and I can see why.)

At least the officials were retarded in ways that helped BYU on occasion too. The one interception BYU got resulted from a pretty obvious pass interference call they missed.

But BYU fans the world over are bummed tonight. BYU had this game. After a very rough first half the Cougs dominated the second half. The last turnover ended up being a killer. The Cougs had scored 14 unanswered points in the second half and were down just 17-20. The questionable fumble came as BYU was driving down for the go-ahead score. The Cougars were already at the UCLA 20 yard line with about 8 minutes left in the game. With the way the defense was playing a touchdown easily could have sealed the deal for BYU.

Unfortunately it was not to be. UCLA held on to win by punching in a late touchdown to end all doubts. I’m sorry to say that I’m batting 1.000 on my season predictions still. Nice effort by the Cougs but the 100ish yard of penalties, turnovers, and Pac 10 officials all proved too much to overcome.

Tulsa is next week. Go Cougs.


  1. Check out the box score.

    Total Yards:
    BYU – 436
    UCLA – 235

    BYU – 3
    UCLA -1

    BYU – 11 for 84 yards
    UCLA – 4 for 30

    Those last two will negate the overall yards difference pretty fast.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 8, 2007 @ 7:30 pm

  2. Yes, it’s almost more disheartening than a solid defeat would have been. If UCLA isn’t overrated, this shows that BYU is actually pretty darn good. And should BYU win out the rest of this season and miss a BCS bid because of this game it’s going to be a haunting loss.

    Comment by Eric Russell — September 8, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  3. Hall’s fumble in the fourth was definitely a fumble. The ball went forward because it was hit out of his hand by a UCLA guy. Hall’s hand was moving backward when he lost it.

    The other fumble was pretty clearly not a fumble. That was a gift to UCLA by the officials. But BYU’s interception of Olson was also a gift from the refs. The intended receiver was obviously, blatantly held by the BYU DB. I can’t believe the refs didn’t see it. If he hadn’t been manhandled, the receiver definitely would have been in the vicinity of the pass and likely would have at least gotten a hand on it.

    The D was really good, despite the final score. 7 of UCLA’s 27 points came from the interception return. Most of the rest of the points, if I remember correctly, came on drives when UCLA started with a short field (which was almost all the time). UCLA’s only sustained drive was the last one. Any time you hold a top 25 team to 20 offensive points, you’ve done your job.

    Our punter’s suckiness is really biting us in the butt. We have no chance in the field position game. That (plus all the turnovers) leaves very little room for error on the defensive side.

    Poor me. I think this is the last game that will be shown here in the East until the Utah game.

    Comment by Tom — September 9, 2007 @ 5:47 am

  4. Well I’ll agree that the last fumble might have been close enough to not overturn on the replay Tom. It just seemed to me that the refs were calling most of the close ones in favor of the home team. In any case, BYU needed to play better than they did. Had the Cougs played better the officiating probably wouldn’t have mattered.

    I feel sorry for that new punter of ours. He keeps choking and it keeps hurting the team. With any luck we won’t need much punting for the rest of the season though…

    Comment by Geoff J — September 9, 2007 @ 11:24 am

  5. I think we got the better of the deal in the transferred QB’s. Hall was impressive while Olson wasn’t very good at all. Though maybe our defense is THAT much better than theirs?

    Mendenhall is a helluva coach. I haven’t been this proud of BYU in a long time after battling back like they did.

    Tom, I think the TCU game will be on Versus, so assuming you get that channel, you should be able to see that game as well.

    Comment by Tim J. — September 9, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  6. Yesterday’s game gave me a very similar feeling I had after the Seahawks’ SuperBowl loss two years ago, extremely frustrated. It drove me crazy that BYU kept doing that same stupid running play over and over never for more than 3 yards. Then Max Hall has no presence in the pocket, he HAS to get a better feel for it or he’s going to continue to be sacked for losses and fumbles. Don’t get me wrong, I think Max Hall is fantastic, but he needs to get a better feel for his surroundings and learn to scramble a bit. And that second fumble was no fumble. Oh, and I want to tear the head off those idiot BYU players for their stupid unnecessary roughness calls. And #67 and his 4 penalties.

    UCLA isn’t that good. There’s no way they should have moved up a rank in the polls today. Ben Olsen is a very, very mediocre QB and I’d much rather have Hall.

    Comment by Rusty — September 9, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  7. Rusty,

    I actually think UCLA is quite good — especially on defense. I expect them to contend for the Pac 10 title. But I think you are right that Hall is a little rough around the edges still. As I’ve noted before, the sophomore version of Max Hall is not as good as the senior version of John Beck. But the sophomore version of Max Hall is a LOT better than the sophomore version of John Beck so that bodes very well for BYU.

    BTW — The other crappy call that went against us was that interception that Bryan Kehl pancaked into the air before it hit the ground. That would have been a Pick-6 for us. Half of the problem was the fact that there were like 2 cameras there from the low-budget Versus network so the replay officials had no decent views on some of those plays to even review. (The George fumble and Kehl play I just mentioned are examples of this.) I guess that is just one of the problems with being in the MWC these days with its sucky TV situation.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 9, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

  8. Well, I didn’t get to see the game, but just a plug for these football posts. Having not seen a BYU game for a long time, I am pretty out of the loop, but the BYU game came up at lunch last week (one of my co-workers is a big BYU fan) and since I had read all of the pontification on previous threads I was able to act like I knew something. I predicted to my co-workers that BYU would be in the game and even have a shot at winning in the second half but that we would blow it, probably in special teams. Mind you, I was just parroting stuff I had heard here, but now I am excited to go to work on Monday and act like a sports genius. So, thanks everyone for making me smart.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 9, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  9. I caught a little more than the last quarter. The inadvertent face mask call, that was an ouch. I felt sorry for the defensive player on that one, as I did on the line of scrimmage pass interference call where the defensive guy got boxed and had no place to go out of the way.

    But, all in all the game boded well. I liked the comment by the one defensive player for UCLA (UCLA has, what, 9-10 returning starters on defense who are also graduating this year) about how he felt sorry the team having to go to Provo next year.

    Not a bad game, all in all.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — September 9, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  10. While the refs weren’t that great, I think all the angst by BYU fans over the refs is a bit exaggerated. Yeah there were a bunch of calls that didn’t go our way. But there were a bunch that did that shouldn’t have. (Including a pretty blatant pass interference at a crucial point that wasn’t called)

    I do think that there was a bit of bias over the “unsportsman like conduct” and “delay of game” stuff. However let’s be honest. Most of those 11 penalties were sloppiness by BYU. Especially the last two – either of which would have stopped the UCLA drive had they been avoided.

    The big surprise was how bad our O line was during the first half. Embarrassing. Plus the odd play calling with Fui. Reminded me of the first half of the BC game.

    In fact at half time I was pretty depressed. All my fears appeared to be coming true. Only Hall was impressing – primarily his maturity. Surprisingly so. He was pretty impressive considering how the O-line was folding and not giving him time to find targets. That he could be that mature after a heck of a lot of heavy hits speaks to his stature. Next year he could be a Heisman candidate if he continues like this. Detmer part II?

    I think the 3rd quarter really impressed me. Especially Hall’s ability to adjust. (Although I’ll lay good odds that Doman and Anae had a lot to do with that)

    However I said last week this would be a pretty hard game to win, and I was right. I thought all the jubiliation of how great BYU was a bit misplaced. We’re maturing and I think we have a very good chance of winning the conference. (Only TCU is a possible problem – and they lost an easier game than we faced) I think we grew in this game and it will only help the team.

    The biggest weakness remains in special teams. We consistently had bad field position. Change that and we’d have won for sure.

    The scariest thing to take away from all this is that we did face a return to the sloppiness of the Crowton era. There’s no reason for the team to be that sloppy about penalties nor to be led into conflict by UCLA. We have to be more smart than that. I’m confident Bronco can correct that. Whether he can fix the special teams I’m not so confident about…

    Comment by Clark — September 9, 2007 @ 11:27 pm

  11. Geoff, regarding Vs’ coverage. Yeah it’s low budget. But it’s a heck of a lot better than the old KSL based coverage from the 90’s. It’s amazingly better than The Mountain Coverage. It’s even better than a fair percentage of the old ESPN-2 coverage. This week was pretty disappointing compared to last week (which I thought was pretty good) But until BYU is consistently ranked and plays good opponents, I think it unfair to [i]expect[/i] good coverage. It simply is pricey to do.

    The commentators this week were [i]way[/i] worse than last week. Although, contrary to many, I think they were pretty pro-BYU. It’s just that they were pretty clueless about facts. And they kept repeating themselves.

    I do wish they’d bring up the replays faster though. I hated ESPN’s commentators last year. (Now that was horrible) But their video coverage was awesome.

    But seriously, for all those complaining about the video feeds. Just wait until we have a Mountain only coverage game. I [i]hated[/i] those last year. Dang. At least Versus was High Def for those of you with good TVs.

    Comment by Clark — September 9, 2007 @ 11:39 pm

  12. I think you are being overly pessimistic again Clark. Plus your memory must be fading. The team had penalty trouble in most of 2005 and early 2006 under Bronco. It is not a Crowton thing. I expect that will be corrected quickly like it was last year.

    I also am less concerned about the special teams than you are. It is really only the kicking game that is suspect and really only the punting that we had troubles with in the game (coverage seemed fine too). Based on the glimpses we got of the offense in the second half I don’t expect BYU to be doing a whole lot of punting for a few months.

    The O-Line did of I thought. The sacks came from major blitzes and the wrong play calls. Once BYU started looking to pass to tight ends and running backs the sacks went away. The main weakness was the speed rush around the back side. Our tackles couldn’t backpedal fast enough to stop their speedy Defensive End. That last so-called fumble on the sack was especially painful.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 9, 2007 @ 11:46 pm

  13. This one hurt. I was there in the Rose Bowl and there were thousands of BYU fans there.

    Comment by California Condor — September 10, 2007 @ 8:03 am

  14. I don’t think I’m being pessimistic. As I said, I think Bronco can get it under control. And yes, the penalty issue was under Bronco’s first few years. But the problem really was created under Crowton. It just took Bronco a while to get it under control. Really not until haflway through last season.

    Regarding special teams, I think the jury is definitely still out on field goals. One made field goal does not a problem erase. And one just can’t underestimate the problem of punting (and to a lesser extent returning – compare our returns to UCLA). I’m sticking with my comment that had we had a better punter we’d have had much, much better field position which would have opened up that game much more.

    Regarding the O-Line. I think in the second half they got it together. However it wasn’t (as I’m hearing in various places) just two main blitizes. It was in the second quarter Hall being taken down nearly every play. There was huge pressure on Hall which kept him from being able to find targets. While some of that was play calling by Anae (who definitely had a mixed day) I think the majority was the line. Even Hall, showing a tremendous amount of maturity, was calling folks out on the sideline and trying to keep them motivated. Hall looked great, even under pressure. (Although also clearly very green in some ways)

    I agree that UCLA had our number with that speed rush around the blind side. Arizona did that a bit last week and we managed it – primarily due to their speed versus UCLA’s speed. (At least from what I could see – there weren’t enough wide angle replays on the coverage this week to see what was going on) I think Anae really has to train the O-Line for that weakness for the Tulsa game. Folks see the tape and see our weaknesses. I think that UCLA game-planned pretty well in that regard.

    Comment by Clark — September 10, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  15. Condor, was it true there were as many BYU fans as UCLA fans? The commentators made a big deal about the BYU fans. And on the audio it sounded like there was often more BYU cheering than UCLA cheering. Pretty impressive if you think about it. Although I heard this was in part because students weren’t back for the beginning of classes at UCLA yet.

    Comment by Clark — September 10, 2007 @ 8:41 am

  16. There were a lot of BYU fans, but there were more UCLA fans.

    Maybe about 15,000 BYU fans and about 55,000 UCLA fans.

    Comment by California Condor — September 10, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  17. The officiating, huh? Has there ever been a loss where BYU supporters haven’t felt that satanic forces have conspired to bring down the Holy Pigskin of Provo (as opposed to the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch, for Monty Python fans). Or, has BYU ever “really” lost a football game?

    Comment by larryco_ — September 10, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  18. Yup larryco_ , BYU has really lost a lot of games. They really lost this one. The interesting thing about this one is that it was a very close game so a few questionable calls could have made a difference.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 10, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

  19. Larry, I think BYU fans whine about officiating way too much. They tend to notice every call that doesn’t go their way while ignoring the ones that do. There were some pretty blatant bad calls last game that helped BYU a lot. Including one pass interference that might have led to a TD.

    However what I can say is that the officiating in general really sucked. And some of the reviewed calls didn’t make much sense. Not in the decision. Just the very idea that they reviewed it.

    Anyway my philosophy is that if you are in a situation where you’re depending upon calls to win you have no right to complain anyway. You need to be leading by a larger number.

    In the game the biggest problem was BYU’s secondary and sloppy penalties in the last UCLA drive. That, not officiating, was the issue.

    Having said that though I think UCLA looks very good this year. So losing in this game isn’t something to be ashamed of. I could see this being the only loss this year. (Although I still worry about Wyoming)

    Comment by Clark — September 10, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  20. Check out this picture showing that So’oto’s so-called fumble was no fumble at all. How annoying.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 11, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  21. Oh heck Geoff, we already all knew that except you, the refs and the gutless PAC 10 review team! Hall’s last fumble was no fumble either; it was in his hand as his arm was moving forward. He wasn’t hit forward contrary to what some… uummmhh, other pundits on the site have said.

    Comment by Blake — September 11, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  22. Hehe. No I knew it Blake. I just was pleased to get a picture proving it to the doubters. I hear that Kehl pancake move that led to an interception — only to be called dead was just as obvious. The TV angles didn’t show it at all was the problem.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 11, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  23. Yup. I say next time we play UCLA, we make sure we bring our own cameras and get our own refs — at least we’ll have independent refs next year in Provo. Say… why do you think that UCLA insists on PAC 10 refs in Pasadena and independent refs when they come to mountain country?

    Comment by Blake — September 11, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  24. Pac 10 refs at home and independents in Provo? Are you serious? Man that looks shady after Saturday…

    Comment by Geoff J — September 11, 2007 @ 8:01 pm