Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jake Heaps: Year Two

Some BYU fans (and I count myself among these) are very optimistic about BYU's 2011 football season. Some BYU fans (and I also count myself among these) are making a lot of assumptions about the progress of BYU's offense going into the season.

We're assuming, because of the 10 returning starters on offense, BYU is going to hit the ground running. We're assuming, despite the offensive struggles last year against teams NOT named UTEP, UNLV, Colorado St. or New Mexico, things are going to be different in 2011. We're assuming Brandon Doman is going to excel at play-calling, despite his lack of experience in that department. We're also Jake Heaps is going to be a different, more mature, more experienced quarterback.

Frankly, I don't think those are crazy assumptions. Ten returning starters makes a huge difference. The offense did more than just improve against the weaker opponents; they played in the same manner a Max Hall or John Beck-led offense played.

Brandon Doman was a quarterback for a number of years, for crying out loud. What position better prepares you for calling plays? Plus, who knows what the QB is capable of better than his QB coach, the coach that has spent the most time with him? Brandon Doman knows the players, and he will be fine.

But what the success of the 2011 BYU football team will really boil down to is how Jake Heaps performs in his second season as the BYU QB.

If you are like me and believe there was more involved in BYU's late-season success than a slate of weaker opponents, then you probably feel Heaps is poised to have a big year. I think it was apparent that Jake improved as he got the lion's share of the reps in practice. That's something that DIDN'T happen in the fall, and that seems rather important for a incoming true freshman quarterback.

If you think the lesser schedule was the reason for the improvement, then why was Heaps so bad against Wyoming and Utah State? And better yet, why was his performance against Utah better than any of Max Hall's?

Jake Heaps grew last year, and, with him being the #1 guy, getting most the reps in fall camp, and having the respect of the rest of the team as a leader, he is only going to continue to grow and pick up where he left off.

Physically, he is a lot more mature as well. I'm sure I wasn't the only one to notice a huge difference in his recent appearance. He definitely looks more cut and even a few years older. During Media Day, he said he's put on about 15 pounds (presumably of muscle) since last season. This will make a difference in his game for year two.

Early in the 2010 season, it was pretty apparent he and his receivers weren't always on the same page. But he developed rapport with them towards the end of the season, and that relationship will continue to grow. Throw into the mix a freakishly talented Ross Apo, with whom he already has well-documented chemistry, and an offensive line that is both deep and talented, and the table is set for a big 2011.

And that's a good thing, because the success of BYU's 2011 football team depends on it.

Video Courtesy of

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Thoughts on Media Day

If you're anything like me, beside being 5'11 and named "Scott," you watched pretty much every aspect of the 2011 BYU Football Media Day. Here are a few things I took away from the day's events:

1. The Players Are Excited
Listening to the players, especially Corby Eason, talk about the upcoming season is incredibly exciting. I can't help but be excited by Eason's frequent use of the phrase "I can't wait!" in interviews. Certainly the players aren't going to say "I guess so" or "Meh" when asked if they're excited about the 2011 season, but they seem to know what they have on the team, and they're excited by it.

2. The Coach Is Excited
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall isn't going to be confused with The Pointer Sisters, but luckily he won't be confused with Saved By The Bell's Jessie Spano. BYU fans will likely agree that Bronco just looks like a new guy lately. He talks about how independence has reinvigorated him, and I think it shows. The stresses, disappointments, and coming-together of the 2010 team was a huge bonding moment for him and the players, and I think his excitement for 2011 will rub off on everyone associated with the program.

3. The ESPN Deal Is Even Better Than We Thought
I'm not sure how many of us thought we were going to be able to watch 10 of BYU's games on the ESPN family of networks during the 2011 season, but that's what we're looking at. It'll be 11 when the team becomes bowl eligible, which I am hoping is after the 6th game (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!). This added exposure is going to be huge. For a guy like me, who lives 1,500+ miles away from Provo, ESPN is making it A LOT easier to follow BYU football.

4. Jake Heaps on Utah State
Like pretty much anyone else reading this blog, I was enraged by the Utah State game. It wasn't just the defense playing uninspired football. It wasn't just the lack of communication/success between the QB and WRs. It wasn't just my sister betraying our family and sitting in the USU student section while wearing a USU t-shirt (she also stormed the field - SHAME!). It's all of those things. I knew I was looking forward to the 2011 game, but I wasn't sure if the players shared that same feeling.

At Media Day, when asked about the 2011 schedule, Jake Heaps said, among other things, "We want that one back" about the USU game. In most seasons, that game isn't even mentioned (Idaho State, San Jose State, New Mexico State weren't mentioned), but the fact that it was and Heaps said that about it tells me everything I need to know about the players' mentality against Utah State. Yes, BYU will absolutely destroy Utah State this year, but not just because of USU's inherent inferiority. It is because the players know that game is when they hit rock bottom in 2010. That's a game they want back, because it was the worst one they played last season. That'll stick in their minds until rectified...and it will be rectified.

5. The "Legends Roundtable" Was Awesome
Whoever came up with the idea of putting those guys (Lavell Edwards, Ty Detmer, Trevor Matich, Bryan Kehl, and the satellite appearance of Steve Young) is a genius. Even though Edwards, Detmer and Young sort of dominated the conversation, it was great because of the way they played off each other and joked around with each other. Lavell still has a fantastic sense of humor, and I hope to see stuff like this every year. Also, I wouldn't be against seeing a basketball version of this some time in the future.

6. The Fans Should Be Excited: It doesn't take an Under Armour commercial to show that you don't have a pulse if you aren't fired up for this season. Yes, the home slate kind of sucks, but that will be a short-term problem. Teams like Texas, Boise State, Notre Dame and others are definitely coming to Provo, and others are in the works. The 2011 season looks very promising for BYU, and 2012 looks even brighter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Phil Steele with a Sportcasting Caricature

Here is Phil Steele breaking down the Mountain West Conference and Independents with a Ohio broadcaster, and he speaks highly of BYU.

But the real reason I embedded this video, besides the fact it looks like it was produced in the 1990s, was because of this ridiculous Ohio broadcaster to his left. If I didn't know better, I'd have guessed this guy was doing an exaggerated version of a local sportscaster as part of a comedy routine, but this thick, THICK Mideastern/Midwestern accent is as genuine as Mr. Steele's predictions.

Phil Steele breaks down the other conference in additional videos which can be found here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Make room for 'Tannermania'!

I think we all knew that Tanner Mangum was an impressive get for BYU, but, after the attention he was receiving for his stellar play this past week at Nikes "The Opening" football camp, it's safe to say we are pleasantly surprised/excited.

Also exciting was the amount of attention he received on Twitter because of his stellar play. Sure, it's nothing close to the amount of attention that Jimmer received on that very same medium (despite playing on an inferior and abject network), but considering he was an alternate to even be there, these praises scratch us all right where we itch.

The future of the QB position at BYU is in good hands, and here are some of those impressive tweets.

Dwayne Bowe's thoughts on Mangum:
BSU player Jeron Johnson and his obvious irritation upon learning Mangum wasn't going to Boise State despite being from the area:
The token ridiculous BSU-fan statement design to convince himself that he didn't want Mangum anyway:
More praise from ESPN personalities and outlets:

This picture also came up early on in the Google Image search. They must have thought I meant Magnum instead of Mangum.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do We REALLY Believe Our Predictions?

Each and every member of Cougar Nation has an opinion about how BYU's football team will do in 2011. We're all excited about Jake Heaps' development, what Ross Apo will bring to the table, and the depth of the defensive front seven.

Some fans are optimistic about the Cougars, saying 11-1 or even 12-0 are likely possibilities. Others feel like about 8-4 is a good result for the first season of independence. we really believe those outcomes are the most likely ones?

To find out, we wanted to simulate the 2011 BYU football season 500 times, based on what BYU fans thought the likelihood of the Cougars coming away with a win in each of their games.

Yesterday, we went to Twitter to find out what some Cougar fans were thinking about the BYU football team's chances for 2011. We asked people to send us what they think BYU's odds - in a percentage form - of winning each game.

Granted, less than 24 hours is not a great amount of time to gather an enormous amount of opinions on Twitter - unless I was Charlie Sheen or David Archuleta - but we were able to gather 11 different Cougar fan voices, including three contributors to Cougaracity.

Here are the averages of what we got from everyone. "Fans" are those who gave us odds and don't write for Cougaracity. "Blog" are from the blog contributors. "Everyone" is a combination of the two.

Opponent Fans Blog Everyone
AT Ole Miss 70% 68% 69%
AT Texas 53% 49% 52%
Utah 68% 80% 71%
UCF 69% 76% 71%
Utah St. 90% 96% 92%
San Jose St 93% 96% 94%
AT Oregon St 64% 64% 64%
Idaho State 95% 96% 95%
Vs. TCU 50% 56% 52%
Idaho 91% 93% 92%
NM St 93% 96% 94%
AT Hawaii 70% 75% 71%

Then we put each set of odds through a simulation for 500 seasons to give us a solid sample size, and below are the results with the percentage of likelihood for each outcome:

Record Fans Blog Everyone
12-0 = 2.4% 2.4% 2.8%
11-1 = 12.2% 17.0% 13.8%
10-2 = 25.8% 27.6% 24.6%
9-3 = 28.2% 27.6% 30.4%
8-4 = 20.4% 16.4% 17.4%
7-5 = 8.2% 7.2% 7.2%
6-6 = 2.6% 1.2% 3.0%
5-7 = 0.2% 0.6% 0.8%

Judging by the likelihood of each outcome, unless you're thinking 10-2 or 9-3 for 2011, chances are you may not actually believe your prediction. Sure, it still is possible - unless you're thinking 4-8 or worse - but based on the odds that you provided, it's not likely.

Here are some other things we found to be pretty interesting:

1. 12-0: As much as I hope and pray for an undefeated season, based on the odds from everyone, it's more likely BYU will 6-6 or worse. The odds for 11-1 aren't bad, but 9-3 and 10-2 seem to be the winners for the most likely scenario.

2. Going Bowling: According to the results of these odds, there's a 99.2% chance of BYU going to a bowl. I know none of us really saw not going to a bowl, but it's good to see anyway.

3. Reason To Be Optimistic: After going through what we did in 2010, I don't think any of us have a right to be disappointed with at least a 9-3 regular season record, and that seems like a good possibility with 71.6% of the simulated seasons going that way.

4. Rank of Opponents:
It's always interesting to know which games fans deem to be the most difficult ones. Fans believed this to be the order from difficult to easy:

1) TCU - Not surprising considering our recent history against them and how they did last year, but they lost some player and won't be 2010 TCU. Nevertheless, they'll still be good.

2) Texas - Texas has a great program and out of the teams that struggled last year, you have to think they are likely the ones that can get back quickly.

3) Oregon State - THIS surprised me. They had an awful year and lose Quizz Rodgers and others. We'll see.

4) Ole Miss - This is about where I'd have them. Not very good last year and not a lot of evidence would lead one to believe they have improved that much. Nevertheless, it's an SEC team.

5) UCF - Surprising. Yes, they had a great season, but they lost a lot of experience from last season. I don't expect them to be bad, but to expect them to be what they were is asking a lot.

6) TIE - Utah AND Hawaii - What is Utah doing down here?! Utah is a good team. I think we'll win, but do we really think so little of the Utes?! We've put UCF and Oregon State ahead of them, and we've tied them with Hawaii?! OK. Games at Hawaii are crazy, but I question that.

8) Utah State - One of the games I am most looking forward to. This was the turning point last year, and after watching the USU fans storm the field after beating a 1-4 BYU team, I am ready to watch BYU fans storm the field after DEMOLISHING USU. Utah State beat us last year, but we're still OK with Cougar fans thinking VERY little of them.

9) Idaho - Sure.

10) San Jose State - Yes.

11) New Mexico State - OK.

12) Idaho State - Only surprised they weren't lower on this list.

Thanks to @zbloxham, @JakeHatchKSL, @kugrlover, @bigbman24, @ksav07, @puttforbogey, @TPFOP, and @uncle_shep for participating. Click on them to follow on Twitter.

Also, thanks to Cougaracity contributors @smg1981, @d_anderson11, and @wisc_coug for their help as well.

***If you want to list your own odds in the comments section, we will provide you with the the likelihood of the outcomes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time to take Cougar Nation's temperature!

I want to know how all of you Cougar fans out there are feeling about the upcoming football season. 12-0? 11-1? 9-3? 7-6?

Give me your odds (%) for BYU to win against each of their opponents, and I will simulate 200 2011 seasons using your odds, revealing the likelihood of various outcomes for this season.

For example,

Twitter buddy @JakeHatchKSL gave me the following odds:

@ Ole Miss (75%)
@ Texas (55%)
Utah (60%)
UCF (60%)
Utah State (90%)
San Jose St. (99%)
@ Oregon St. (67%)
Idaho St. (99.9%)
TCU (50%)
Idaho (90%)
New Mexico St. (97%)
@ Hawaii (55%)

Those odds gave BYU a 40% chance of at least 10 wins in the regular season and almost certainty of going to a bowl.

Write your odds in the comments section to see what your 2011 BYU football likely scenario is!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Independence Day, Cougar Fans!

Happy Independence and WCC Day! After nearly an entire year of waiting, BYU fans no longer have to pretend to like the Mountain West Conference. We are now independents in football and joined the West Coast Conference in most of the other sports.

Here is the video from the BYU athletics home page: