Saturday, October 20, 2012

Notre Dame Predictions


Last Saturday's game was really flukey in my opinion. The week prior the Oregon St. offense, with their starting QB mind you, put up a whopping 19 points in a close one at home to Washington St. On BYU's end, their defense the previous 3 weeks had not given up a single touchdown. They literally went 13 quarters without giving up a touchdown! So now they give up 5 to Oregon St. at home where none of those 5 touchdowns were even results of Riley Nelson turnovers? It was extremely flukey and Oregon St. severely out-coached BYU. Their gameplan was perfect, and the BYU defense got their butt kicked. Was the BYU defense "exposed"? I saw that going around all night and on twitter. I don't think that is the case at all. BYU's defense is still a top 10 defense in the nation. Oregon St. is a top 5 offense through the air and took away BYU's defensive strengths immediately by limiting pressure and not turning the ball over. I think this caught Bronco in particular off guard and he was unable to make any adjustments on defense. Despite all of this, BYU was still only down 4 points halfway through the 4th quarter.

So fast forward to this Saturday's game against a Notre Dame team having their best season in the last decade. It is great to see them relevant in the college football world again, but Notre Dame however, is still flawed. They have had QB issues all year with Golson and Reese. Golson has struggled to really garner that QB1 reputation and he will be playing Saturday after suffering a concussion against Stanford just last week. Despite their offensive struggles, Notre Dame is still undefeated. Their defense is also one of the best in the nation, and I expect this game to be a chess match with both teams trying to limit turnovers by running the ball early and often putting the game in the hands of their defenses. Yes, BYU's defense will bounce back. Will it be enough? Probably not. If this game were being played in Provo I would be the first to call upset, instead I see Notre Dame winning a game that will be closer than most people think.

Notre Dame 13, BYU 10


Call me crazy but I honestly think that BYU has a shot at in this game. Sure the offense is turning the ball over at an alarming rate and the defense looked porous last week. I still have faith. I have been watching Notre Dame this season and I have never been impressed by their offense. If BYU fans are tired of Riley Nelson giving up the football then Everett Golson will be a welcome sight. They have great  athletes at the skill positions but they offense hasn't hit their stride and the BYU defense should hold them in check.

Now I have to mention how menacing the Notre Dame defense is.  They are all kinds of scary and matching that up with the fact that BYU offense has a frightening tendency to turn the ball over makes me think that this could be ugly. HOWEVER, I have this strange feeling that Riley will try to play within himself and not force anything. Wait, did I really just say that? There is no way that Riley doesn't try to do too much. He's that guy you work with who is super nice and wants to impress everyone but he's not capable of half of the projects he is taking on. I love him but Riley needs to slow his roll. If he does, it might be close. If not, you know what happens.

Notre Dame 17, BYU 7


As I am about to leave for the game, I will try to make this brief. Notre Dame is good. BYU is not bad. Both teams have a good/great defense. Both teams have offenses that leave something(s) to be desired. Turnovers will decide this game, and hopefully BYU can limit them.

Interesting note: BYU is undefeated in football games which I attend. Let's continue that.

BYU 14, Notre Dame 13

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oregon State Predictions

Call me crazy, as disappointed as I am about the Taysom Hill injury going forward as the future QB of the program, but I think Riley Nelson gives the BYU offense the best chance at putting up points THIS season. He has more chemistry with the wide-receivers and if he is at least somewhat healthy going forward, and Brandon Doman can limit the amount of times he runs the ball, then I think BYU has a shot at winning any of the remaining games on the schedule. Why you ask? We have known since essentially week 1 this season that this BYU defense is good, but we've now seen them hold opponents to no TD's for 13 straight quarters and we can safely say that this Cougar defense is top 10 in the nation, at least.

Looking forward to the Oregon St. matchup this week, BYU benefits from another team with an injured QB. Sean Mannion needs knee surgery and will be replaced by a QB named Cody Vaz who has yet to start a football game since High School. If the BYU defense was able to hold the Boise St. offense to 0 TD's, on the blue turf, after the  Cougar offense turned it over 5 times, only to follow it up with shutting out Hawaii and holding Utah St. (arguably the best offense in the state of Utah, okay not arguably, they are) to 3 points last Friday night, then how can we expect Cody Vaz and Oregon St to put up points this Saturday afternoon in the first ever BYU blackout game?! Regarding the blackout in an afternoon game, doesn't that basically erase the entire idea of a BLACKOUT? I'm furious about this.

Anyway, I expect Oregon St., despite their #10 ranking in the nation, to struggle big time on the offensive side of the ball and I expect the BYU offense and Riley Nelson to score more than just 6 points, although 6 points might win us this one anyway.

BYU 20, Oregon State 6

This BYU team isn't easy to believe in. The offense is anemic. They rely too much on their defensive counterparts to continually bail them out. I'm only partly sure that Riley Nelson isn't actually legally dead and now simply living as a zombie. None of this inspires great confidence. And yet, here I am picking them to beat a Top 10 team. Why?

The primary answer is that I refuse to pick against BYU's monstrous defense. My mind knows that, at some point, this until will be asked to save the day one too many times and they won't be able to come through. However, my heart refuses to believe that day will ever come. They have been so utterly dominant over the past month that I won't allow myself to see any conceivable way that changes. You simply don't score on these guys. Period.

But that's only part of the equation. The other part is that the Beavers' offense is not what it once was. This isn't the same unit that got them to this point. With Sean Mannion out with an injury, Oregon State will have to rely on an untested quarterback in his first career start. Lining up across from Kyle Van Noy and the boys in a hostile environment should prove to be a most unfriendly welcome for Cody Vaz.

There won't be many points scored in this game. I'm still not convinced Riley is healthy. But given the defensive support he's likely to receive, he should be able to "grit" out enough points to get it done in front of a homecoming crowd chock full of blue (black?) hairs

BYU 13, Oregon State 10

Oregon State is better than they were last year, but I just don't know how much better. BYU work them over last year in their own house. They weren't a good team at all last year, and I am supposed to believe they are now the 10th best team? No, no, no.

True, this weekend won't be an accurate depiction of the improvement of this team. Their much-improved starting QB is out, so conventional wisdom would tell you BYU's defense shouldn't have too much difficulty in stopping the OSU offense. The only question for BYU's success on Saturday is will the offense step up and score some points against an improved OSU defense?

BYU's offense has looked about as potent as Screech Powers' dating life in a couple of games this year, but those were against top-30 defenses. BYU's offense won't be confused with a top offense, by any stretch of the imagination, but they are capable of putting some points on the board -- in spite of what past experience might tell you. The good news is since it is so hard to tell what BYU's offense is up to (for good or for bad), that could make things difficult on OSU.

I think the touchdown-less streak continues through this game, extending to 17 quarters without an opponent offensive TD, and BYU's offense looks better than it did against USU and Boise State.

BYU 20, Oregon State 3

Friday, October 5, 2012

Utah State Predictions

Here are the Cougaracity predictions for tonight's game. It's almost time!

Jake (@BYUAllBlue)
Just like last year, this could be the turning point for the BYU. The big difference this year is that BYU is set to play two ranked opponents following their meeting with USU. A win here could give them some momentum going into those games and a loss would almost guarantee a losing record in the month of October for Cougars. There is a lot more on the line in this game than just in-state bragging rights.

Taysom Hill should get the start and will probably struggle. If I were USU I would stack the box with 8 guys and force Taysom to beat me with his arm. A few deep passes to one of the twin towers and that should open things up a bit. He will get things going later in the game but I'm not expecting a giant offensive output. The defense will also look a little venerable as the Aggies will move the ball up and down the field but will have to settle for field goals. In the end a David Foote touchdown will be the difference.

BYU 21, USU 13

Steve (@steve_pierce)
While I have tentatively picked the Cougars to come out on top in this one, you could easily sell me on the score being reversed. Let's be clear: the Aggies are for real. They can play some ball, and Chuckie Keaton is unquestionably the best quarterback in the state. However, he's also about to line up against one of the best defenses in the country, which is why I'm giving BYU an ever-so-slight edge tonight.

I expect the offense to remain a problem, regardless of who starts at quarterback. If it's Taysom Hill, the outcome should be slightly better and give the Cougar defense a little more breathing room. The kid just has a flair for extending plays with his legs and getting first downs, which should at least keep the offense on the field for a bit. If Riley Nelson makes his return to the lineup, it's likely that he will still be less than 100 percent and will essentially be functioning purely on his trademark "grit and determination." While both those qualities are great in the abstract, they don't necessarily add up to a great on-field performance -- something Cougar fans are abundantly aware of by now.

If Taysom is under center, I feel mildly OK about this prediction. If it's a still-hobbled Riley... Well, let's just say that all bets are off.

BYU 21, USU 17

Scott (@smg1981)
I'm pretty optimistic about this game. Growing up outside of Provo or Logan or even Utah, I never realized how much Utah State fans disliked BYU. I knew BYU and Utah were rivals, but I didn't even know Utah State was supposed to be a rival. However, these last few years or so have shown me Utah State doesn't like BYU or even me and my fellow BYU-fan friends.

Utah State is an improved program. They've shown us that over the last two seasons. While I would love to get back to the days when BYU would absolutely destroy the Aggies, it's probably not going to happen this year. However, I don't think it will be as close as everybody seems to think.

Utah State's defense is good, but the offenses they've played are not. If Taysom Hill is the QB tonight and he's throwing the ball more, BYU will be the best offense the Aggies have face all year. We saw last year what mobile QB did against USU. Tonight we will see what a super-mobile QB can do.

Utah State's offense is good, but BYU's defense is considerably better. Chuckie Keeton struggled against Colorado St in both 2011 and 2012. He also struggled against BYU last year, and I have no reason to believe Bronco won't be able to stop Keeton again.

BYU 27, USU 13

Preston (@prestonvjohnson)
With word coming in that the mighty Taysom Hill will be starting at QB for the Cougars tonight in Provo, I'm a little more optimistic about BYU scoring some points. The Utah St. offense will be the best the BYU defense has faced this year. Having held their opponent scoreless for 8 straight quarters against Boise St. and Hawaii, the BYU defense will have a different animal to tackle in Chuckie Keeton. I expect a close game the entire way, but can we really trust a true freshman making his second start ever at QB (does Hawaii even count???) and a 17 year-old starting at RB for the Cougars? The youth always have the close one they let get away, then learn from them for the future. Tonight is that game, unfortunately.

Utah St. 24, BYU 21

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cougaracity Predictions: Boise State

Scott Gower (@smg1981)

Even after three weeks into the season, we still don't know what we have in BYU, but, additionally, we don't what we have in Boise State. Boise State played a very close game against Michigan State, considered a top-10 or top-15 team by many. However, both teams were breaking in a new QB and neither offense looked good. In fact, both offenses look very sloppy. Both defenses, on the other hand, filled the stat sheet, but because the offenses were so bad, it is hard to tell if it was because the defenses were actually good.

Since them, Michigan State beat up on Central Michigan, and then got beat up by Notre Dame (and we don't know how good ND really is either). Boise State had a week off and played Miami (OH) last weekend. The Broncos struggled early, but ended up winning by a sizable margin after Southwick and Harper got going.

BYU's defense is much better than Miami's, especially on the run defense. I don't believe there's any chance Harper runs for half as much as he did against Miami, so Boise St. will have to rely on Southwick, and I'm not sure that will work out very well for the orange and blue. Since the offenses of Michigan State and Miami (OH) are nothing to write home about, we'll see how good Boise St.'s defense really is, but I'm guessing it's not as good as Utah's, so I think we'll be able to move the ball somewhat better than Saturday night showed.

BYU 27, Boise St. 20

Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue)

Since the ball bounced the other way so many times last game, let's hope that odds are in our favor today. Joe Southwick didn't inspire in the opener but performed as expected against Miami of Ohio. If Riley can stay healthy and the defense can contain D.J. Harper then we have a good shot at stealing this ball game. If both of those things can happen is unknown. It's hard to gauge the morale of team after Saturday's game. I feel like they have some fuel in the tank. Also, just for the record, I'd much rather have Riley's corpse play QB over just about anybody.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cougaracity Predictions: UTAH!

Rivalry Week!!!

The game is tomorrow, and here's what our self-proclaimed experts have to say about the outcome:

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11)
Well well well, we meet again, Ute fans. It's been awhile (about 10 months actually, which was the last time our schools played in any sport with significane, a near 20 point drubbing of your runnin' basketball squad). These get togethers are becoming less frequent ever since you jumped ship for the PAC-12, anxious to breathe deep in the historic aroma of your new surroundings. Ah, but you quickly learned that a more prestigious conference does not a better sports team make, unfortunately.

And no, I haven't forgot the score to last year's contest, but seeing as how you just got through losing to Utah State, a team we beat by narrowest margin possible, I think it's safe to say that we're a little closer in skill level than last year might have left you to believe. Also, it's probably not likely we turn the ball over another twenty times this year.

What is likely is a close contest, with Kyle Van Noy slaking his thirst for vengeance on the bones of your offensive skill players. True, BYU suffered a bit of set back when Jordan Wynn was injured last week and decided to call it a career, but I expect Jon Hays or Travis Wilson to still be sufficiently rattled by KVN's presence. I'm somewhat rattled by his presence. At home. In my living room. In Houston.

I know that according to the Ben Wagner Theory of BYU Sports Pessimism that if I predict a BYU victory it automatically means a BYU defeat, but I'm going out on a limb here, Ute fans. I don't think a Riley "I AM an Army of One" Nelson led Cougar team lets this one get away. It'll be close, like it normally is, i.e. not like last year. But I'm thinking 35-27, Cougars. See you this winter.

Scott Gower (@smg1981)
I'm not sure if I've ever looked forward to a game more than I do for this one. Maybe it's because I've never seen BYU take a beating like the one they got last year. While I don't think BYU was actually 44 points worse than Utah last year, we certainly looked it. Seven turnovers, including four with a very significant impact on the game (1 returned for a TD, 2 at our own 6 yard line or closer, and another just 3 yards away from a TD for us. A 28-point swing!) are hard to overcome, but Utah deserves credit for creating those turnovers. That said, it won't happen again.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone - if they are being honest with themselves - who'd say Riley is an excellent passer. Nevertheless, I think he is very mentally tough and possesses the kind of leadership that precludes a breakdown like 2011 from happening again. In Riley's worst game (vs. TCU), in spite of all of the special teams mishaps, Riley still led BYU from a 35-10 deficit late in the 3rd quarter to finish the game down only 38-28. Yes, we still lost, but the team didn't quit, which what it seemed like it did late in the 3rd quarter vs. Utah last year.

I think Riley and the offense can be successful against the Utah defense. We all felt the offense was impotent last year at this point, and it still racked up 354 yards. And forgive me if I don't think Utah's defense for this game is as good as last year's. Graduation, injury, transfer, and suspension have impacted this defense for the worse. I think a Riley-led offense can move the ball and put some points on the board. Conventional wisdom would tell you Doman only used what he needed to against the WSUs. I expect he'll unleash some unused things against Utah and Boise State. (More Taysom Hill? Pretty please?)

This BYU team will never quit with Riley in charge, and the defense is not only good enough to completely shut down Utah's offense (read: John White IV), but it is more than angry enough to do so. Last year left an indelible mark on them, and they demand satisfaction. If this rumor I am creating right now is correct, then Kyle Van Noy has been locked in a padded room with a bunch of John White IV quotes on the wall. He'll be ready.

BYU 24, Utah 13

Jake Welch (@jraywelch)
Both teams come into this game with an axe to grind. Utah is looking to bounce back after losing to USU, and BYU should still have the 54-10 beatdown fresh in their memory. BYU should come out and lay down the lay but that just doesn't happen, at least under Bronco Mendenhall. Oh well. I'm predicting an ugly game for both teams. Lots of punting in the first half and turnovers in the second. This might seem rather strange but I'm going to call this game based on the uniforms that BYU wears. If the go all white, they will lose. While the all whites looks nice, they result in ugly offensive performances. If they wear anything besides all white, they will win. It sounds ridiculous, but trust me. I have another theory that if a player gets married, the next season he will be worthless (McKay Jacobsen, Jake Heaps). Anyhow, here are the scores.

ALL WHITE: Utah 23, BYU 17


Steve Pierce (@steve_pierce)In our preseason predictions, I foresaw a close loss to the Utes in Salt Lake City. Of course, that was before our neighbors to the north looked utterly uninspiring in a blase win over Northern Colorado and a pathetic loss to Utah State. After seeing all that, have I changed my mind? Maybe. I want to believe what my eyes have seen -- that, through two games, BYU has looked like the superior team on both sides of the ball. However, the memory of last year's 54-10 drubbing remains fresh in my mind, so I'm hesitant to get too optimistic.

Like all good rivalries, BYU-Utah match-ups are almost always competitive (with a few notable exceptions) -- and, despite Utah's injury problems, I expect this one to be no different. After being embarrassed in Logan last weekend, the Utes will undoubtedly come out ready to (in the words of the five greatest rappers of all-time) "spit hot fire" at their hated rivals. They will be jacked up and ready to play in front of a ravenous home crowd. If BYU can somehow match that intensity, they should be in good shape. If not, they will likely lose to a team that, on paper, they should beat. Either way, I expect this to be a relatively low-scoring defensive showcase, with a few big plays making the difference. Let's just hope Riley Nelson can outduel Jon Hayes when it matters. 

BYU 23, Utah 17

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson)

This game falls in an interesting situational spot for both teams. The Utes are coming off their big loss at Utah St. last week and early retirement announcement from Jordan Wynn. Jon Hays actually started 9 games last season and Utah looked better after Wynn went down, so this is no reason for BYU to be excited. The Cougars look to tackle the Holy War on the road after losing an absolute bloodbath last year in Provo when they fell to Utah 54-10. To put more at stake, we aren't even sure when the next Holy War will be in the future so this game will hold a lot of bragging power. On top of everything else, BYU has Boise St. on the road just 5 days later on a Thursday night.

I personally would have felt more comfortable going into Saturday if the Utes didn't just get it handed to them by the Aggies. I expect Utah to be playing at a different level than we saw last Friday night in Logan. Both of these defenses are very, very good. I think BYU has the more dynamic offense, but both teams have the players on defense to limit any big offensive explosions. Fortunately for the Cougars, they have just one or two more of those playmakers on offense, and it will be hard for the Utes to limit Cody Hoffman and company for 60 minutes.

I think BYU will squeak out a win in Salt Lake City 20-17. Look for Kyle Van Noy to be the difference maker late in a close game and set up the offense with a chance to win the game late.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rivalry Predictions: Burgess vs. Abouo

As many of you have noticed, it is Rivalry Week. BYU will travel north to play Utah this Saturday. We thought it would be appropriate to get some alumni predictions. Fortunately, Charles Abouo, the winningest basketball player in BYU history, and former Ute baller Chris Burgess were willing give their forecast for Saturday night's game. 

Last year, when Chris submitted his prediction, he predicted a blowout in Utah's favor (31-10). I thought he was nuts and almost asked him to try again (not really). Then the actual game happened, and it turned out his prediction was a bit on the conservative side. So, uh, he certainly showed me. 

Anyway, enjoy these rivalry game predictions from Charles Abouo and Chris Burgess.

Charles Abouo (2008-2012)
I am not a college football expert by any means, but I've had a chance to watch BYU football quite a bit in my 4 years there. I think this is a BYU team that has really improved over the last year. It's been fun to see how great our defense is, and Coach Mendenhall has done a great job as DC. We had a great finish to the season last year, and that momentum has carried into this year.  Our returning guys seem to be picking up right where they left off, and the newcomers or (returners with bigger roles) are making huge contributions. I was able to watch the first game of the season and was really impressed with how we played on both sides of the ball. It seems this team plays together and is full of competitors. I think the coaching staff has done a great job with the preparation, heading into this year. We have a competitive group of guys, and I think they have been waiting for this game for quite a while. I don't know much about Utah, They need to bounce back from a tough game in Logan, but I give the cougars the edge in this one. In my opinion, it will be a great game because these teams will not be playing for a while, so I'm eager to watch this one from online from Spain. I think BYU will win this one. I don't know about the score. If I had to choose, I would say 24-14 (BYU).

Chris Burgess (1999-2002)
First, I want to say how sad I am for Jordan Wynn and the way that his playing career has ended. No player deserves to go out that way.  On a personal level, although I was able to continue with basketball after college, I feel Jordan's pain to the extent of his collegiate career being cut short. In my 2 seasons at the U, I missed a total of 31 games due to injuries.  23 of those games coming my senior season after I tore my plantar fascia on ABC vs top ranked University of Texas in the Huntsman Center.  This injury came early on in the season and ultimately ended my college career. I feel for Jordan and not only want to thank him for what he's done at the U but wish him luck in the next chapter of his life.  

Now, I'm feeling a lot of pressure about this year's pick, especially after being the only one to call for the blow-out and Utah holding BYU to 10 points. Having just made the trip up to Cache Valley to see the Utes lose to a tough Utah State team, it's hard to be as confident about a win as I was last year. That said, Utah has to shore up their issues on the O-line, be able to hold onto the ball, and get to Riley Nelson. Being at home is our biggest advantage, and I'm looking for Utah to bounce back and hit BYU in the mouth. 24-17... A Utah Man am I!

PS: I'm not thrilled about Hays and Wilson named listed as co-starters. Pick one. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

BYU - Weber St. Predictions

Jake Welch (@jraywelch) (1-0)

As much as I would love for BYU to beat by an ungodly margin, Bronco Mendenhall made it pretty clear this week that won't happen on his watch. When asked about OkState''s shellacking of Savannah State, Bronco said that should never happen. That being said this will be a moderate drubbing of the Wildcats. Expect to see a very vanilla offense with a lot of running between the tackles. Here's to hoping that Taysom Hill and James Lark will be getting a good number of reps in garbage time, which should start sometime in the 3rd quarter. I'm really high on the defense after last weeks stellar performance but for some reason I foresee a trick play going the distance for Weber State. But they won't be getting much else as BYU rolls.

BYU 42, WSU 10

Scott Gower (@smg1981) (1-0)

This one won't be close. In fact, it is possible BYU might find a way to score even before the game officially starts. (Don't ask me how.) I don't want starters playing very much at all. If BYU is up by 35+ points, the backups need to come in. The next game is very important, and there is no sense in risking injuries players we need on the field to have a chance at beating Utah. I expect a lot of James Lark and Taysom Hill in the second half. The defense is great, but I don't know how much the starters will actually be playing, so I can't predict a shutout. In fact, I think Weber St. scores a touchdown, accomplishing something the Mike Leach-coached Washington State Cougars could not. 
Bronco didn't like the 84-0 OK St. win last weekend, but make no mistake about it, BYU will destroy Weber St. It just won't come close to 84-0.

BYU 56, Weber St. 7

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11) (1-0)

BYU 56, Weber State 17

Prediction? Pain.

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson) (1-0)
YU 52, Weber St. 10I think BYU's defense will shut down Weber St. much like they did last week versus Washington St. I expect some second and third stringers to get a shot in the fourth quarter and see a Weber St. score late. As much as I would like to analyze this game further I think we all are just anxious for next week...

Zach Bloxham (@zbloxham)Weber State AlumWeber State improved measurably from the first half to the second half in its opening week game against Fresno State. It would be a boon to the FCS program to play one of its own in Week 2. Not so easy. Weber has the nigh impossible task of trying to beat BYU in order secure its first win against an FBS school since 1993. Not going to happen. BYU's offensive line was MEH in Week 1 against Washington State. Look for the BYU to run the ball and run the ball some more against the Weber State defensive front. Will the success be fool's gold? We will find out next week when BYU travels to Salt Lake City.

The BYU defense was absolutely tremendous against Washington State. With Weber's inability to run the ball against Fresno, and BYU's talented front seven, the Wildcats will have to wait until next week to find any semblance of an running game. Weber QB Mike Hoke is talented and may be able to make some plays between the 20's, but I just don't see tWSU finding an offensive groove on Saturday. Hoke will be under pressure all afternoon long. Weber State nearly (and should have) beaten both Wyoming and Colorado State over the past five years. Unfortunately for Weber fans, this Wildcat team is not as talented; and this BYU team is destined for a big year. Don't fret, Weber grads/fans, the check is already in the mail.

BYU 48, Weber St. 6

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Box Score Prediction: Weber St.

BYU 56, Weber St. 7

Riley Nelson: 14-20, 205 yards, 3 TDs
James Lark: 5-9, 84 yards, 1 TD
Taysom Hill, 1-2, 8 yards

Michael Alisa: 13 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD
David Foote: 5 carries, 49 yards
Jamaal Williams: 8 carries, 48 yards
Iona Pritchard: 2 carries, 10 yards, 1 TD
Taysom Hill: 8 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD

Cody Hoffman: 4 catches, 84 yards, 1 TD
Ross Apo: 4 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD
Kaneakua Friel: 3 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD
JD Falslev: 3 catches, 34 yards
Skyler Ridley: 2 catches, 40 yards, 1 TD
Dylan Collie: 1 catch, 6 yards
Devin Mahina: 1 catch, 11 yards
Jamaal Williams: 1 catch, 11 yards
Michael Alisa: 1 catch 8 yards

3 INTs, 1 FR, 4 sacks, 1 TD

What do I know about Weber St.? Nothing, really. I do know one thing, and that's this: BYU will win by at least 45 points. Oh, I also know that a lot of our players will get some playing time. So if the idea of seeing Taysom Hill play an entire quarter excites you, you'll looooooove the 4th quarter.

However, if only the idea of seeing Taysom Hill throw more than two official game passes excites, you're probably going to be disappointed.

The defense is going to do what the defense does. I'm not sure how motivated it will be in the 4th quarter of a blowout, but it'll make some noise.

Overall, opponents won't be able to take much from this game. Doman won't be revealing much about his offense in this game, since 1) BYU won't need to use much of his offense in this game and 2) he'll need to save it for the two following games: Utah and Boise St.

This isn't intended to be rude. It's just how things go.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Thoughts from the WSU-BYU game

Photo by Deseret News

BYU 30, WSU 6

After months and months of anticipation, it is so great to start off the season with a win against a BCS opponent, even if it is just Washington State.

As confident as a lot of the fans (myself included) were, I started to get legitimately nervous as the kickoff approached. And the first drive for each team did nothing to put out that fire of nervousness. But BYU's defense and offense both took over the game.

Now that the first game of the season is over, I can start moping around the house, because the next game (vs. Weber State) is more than a week away.

Anyway, here are some thoughts from the game:

For the first time in a long time, the BYU secondary lived up to a great amount of preseason hype. I constantly read how amazing and deep the secondary was going to be, and they look very solid against Mike Leach's offense.

It takes time to learn Leach's offense. Not to take anything away from BYU's defense, but WSU's lack of execution is one of the reasons it won't look this bad again this season. They don't face a lot of defense as good as BYU, and they will learn the offense. It. Takes. Time.

That said, BYU only allowed 224 total yards from WSU. To give you an idea of how awesome that is, you should know that last year's defense - which was really good - gave up 90 MORE yards a game. And this was against a team with a top-35 offense last year. That's impressive.

Riley has to be more careful . . . probably. I know he was motivated by some of the comments from WSU people during the week, but for heaven's sake, Riley! Please stop leading with your head so much! Every time I saw it last night, I was frightened. I know he's tough and that's Riley being Riley, but with all of the concussion stuff we hear about and what happened to Jason Street from "Friday Night Lights"? I just think he should be more careful. Also, I wouldn't hate it if Bronco took Riley out when we're up 24 points with 4 minutes left, but that's just me.

If Cody Hoffman is going to be hurt this year - and it is only one time in the season - aren't we glad it was last night? We clearly didn't need him to win that game (and I think we're a lot closer to 40 points if he's healthy), and we definitely won't need him against Weber State. He can rest and be healthy for the Utah game - and we'll need him then.

Speaking of WRs, how about that Skyler FREAKING Ridley?!?!?! Think it's safe to say we were all surprised to see he step up the way he did, right? His touchdown surprised me, but everything he did afterwards is what really surprised me. I didn't even know he'd see the field.

Back to Riley, his goal is a completion percentage of at least 70%, and his completion percentage last night was 69.4%. His QB rating was 154.3, which is very solid. Hopefully, he'll keep it up.

Kyle Van Noy is very good at playing football.

We have a pass-catching tight end again - even if he does look at little bit like Uncle Jesse from "Full House." Great job by Kaneakua Friel last night.

OH! And Taysom Hill! That was awesome!

Things look very good for this season. What did you think of the game?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cougaracity Game Predictions: Wash St. @ BYU

Game day is upon us, and it's time for our picks for the game tonight, so let's do this:

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson)
Washington St. goes to Provo to take on BYU this Thursday in the season opener. Washington St. has a new, familiar coach in Mike Leach taking over the squad. We all know his offensive mind should help the Washington St. offense grow and improve... eventually. Right now, however, in the very first game of the season with a new coach, on the road, against a tough BYU defense, I don't expect that Washington St. will be able to recreate that firepower that Leach consistently showed us at Texas Tech. Senior Jeff Tuel is the strength of the offense at QB, but he has young talent surrounding him at WR and it will probably take some time before they are firing on all cylinders. The Washington St. defense has recently switched to a 3-4 due to the lack of talent on the defensive line and I expect BYU to exploit that. BYU should rush for 200+ yards and control the ball for the majority of the game. Final prediction: BYU 38, WSU 17

Jake Welch (@jraywelch)
I would love for this to be the barn burner that everything thinks this game might be but the first game of the season is always a little slow out of the gate. The first few series will yield few points and both teams will have miscues. After a Riley Nelson interception that will lead to the entire west side of the stands calling for Taysom Hill, BYU will bounce back and have a 14-10 lead at half. BYU will hold the lead and the "Air Raid" offense won't fully click for the Cougars in red. Final Prediction: BYU 28, WSU 17

BOLD STATEMENT: Watch for really weird things on special teams. I'm not going to say what exactly, but watch out for them.

Scott Gower (@smg1981)
Even though Washington State has spent recent seasons in the cellar of the Pac-10/12, I've heard a lot about the other Cougars' offense. Their offense was actually good, and they went out and got one of the best offensive minds in Mike Leach. He's a great coach and all, but how much could he possibly improve an offense - by Week 1, mind you - that was already good last year? My guess is not much. It's a complicated offense that takes time to master. And as good as their offense is, I think BYU's defense is better. And BYU's offense? Much better than WSU's defense. Our offense isn't typically explosive during the first game of the season, but it will get the job done. I think the running game will play a larger role than people think. In fact, we might semi-rely on it to get the offense going. Final Prediction: BYU 34, WSU 20

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11)
BYU beats the Mike Leach-led Cougars, 27-17. Leach, offensive wizard that he is, hasn't had enough time to get things going well enough to overcome BYU's stout defense. My guess is that Mike Leach forgot there was a thing called defense, and BYU, despite significant rust, is able to move the ball on Riley Nelson's sheer force of will. Alisa will score, Nelson will score, and Cody Hoffman will have touchdowns. Kyle Van Noy will grind the bones of Washington State running back Carl Winston to make his bread.

Steve Pierce (@steve_pierce, @postjimmer)
Based on recent history, this is a pretty optimistic prediction. After all, remember what we were all saying at this time last year? ("Jake Heaps has had a full summer as the starter. The offense is going to be ridiculous. We're going to hang 50 on Ole Miss.") The fact of the matter is, BYU has developed a nasty habit of starting sloppy (with a few exceptions) in the Mendenhall era. And for some strange reason, I'm actively deciding to ignore all that precedent with this prediction.

I do think that Wazzu will be able to score some points and have some success with their new "Air Raid" system. They have talented receivers and a solid quarterback, and they'll chuck it enough times to break open some big plays against a still-unproven Cougar secondary. However, this will still be their first game under Mike Leach and there will likely be several kinks to be ironed out, which should limit their effectiveness -- not to mention that BYU's front seven should wreak absolute havoc in the backfield and in the flats. They'll have to throw it deep, and they will -- I just don't believe they're quite ready to do it consistently enough.

On the other side of the ball, I'm choosing to believe in Riley Nelson and Company. There's simply too much depth and talent at the receiver position for Wazzu to realistically bottle up BYU's passing game, and if the running backs can establish themselves early as well, look out. I simply don't believe the Pullman Cougs will be good enough defensively to contain what should be an athletic, experienced, and much more self-assured BYU offense in its second year under the leadership of Nelson and Brandon Doman. And if Leach's "Air Raid' isn't quite off the ground yet, that should result in a win (albeit possibly a close one) for our guys. Final Prediction: BYU 34, Washington State 28

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wash St @ BYU: The WSU Football Blog Prediction

Hello all, LucasCoug from WSU Football Blog here. Man, I cannot believe game day is almost upon us.

I really think this BYU game is going to serve as a huge measuring stick for how much the program has changed under Leach in just 9 short months. While it's tough to peg this game as a must win for our post season aspirations, given how daunting our schedule becomes in weeks 7-12, we truly need to make it that far with a minimum 4 wins.

BYU won ten games in 2011 and returns plenty of starters this year. That being said, their 2011 opponents had a combined 90 losses last year, and even with lots of returning players from a double digit win campaign, they clearly aren't thought of too highly from a national perspective as they didn't tally a single vote in the pre-season polls.

Conventional wisdom says whichever team wins 2 of 3 phases in a football game (Offense, Defense, STs), should win most match-ups. I think we have them beat on Offense and they have us beat on Defense. Word out of Provo is BYU had to have open try-outs on campus recently because of an injury to their Kicker. Couple that with solid production from Furney and Bowlin, and I have us winning this phase of the game.

Lastly, let's consider coaching staffs as the XFactor. While at New Mexico as DCoord, Bronco Mendenhall and the Lobos lost to Leach/TTU all three times they squared off by a combined score of something like 125-30.

Wazzu 38 - CTRBYULDS 24

Player of the Game: Logan Mayes

BYU 2012: Season Predictions

Daniel Anderson (@d_anderson11)
2012 Prediction: 9-3

Offensive Player of the Year NOT Named Riley Nelson
Cody Hoffman will continue to flourish as Riley Nelson's deep threat. Athletic enough and strong enough to pull in those lofty floaters that Nelson loves throwing.

Defensive Player of the Year NOT Named Kyle Van Noy
Brandon Ogletree, because he plays with a the fire of 1,000 suns.

Thoughts on 2012
This predicting the season business always seems so funny to me—what, exactly, are we basing our predictions on? Plus: did any of us see Jake Heaps’ meltdown coming from even two miles away last season? The kid looked, top to bottom, to be the best quarterback in the stable during the offseason when (and this is really important) he wasn’t getting hit all the time by large human beings. Full contact in the season seemed to change him for the worse. And Riley Nelson, who almost seems to enjoy the hits, the bigger the better, flourished under center.

So, apart from a (sort of meaningless) win-loss prediction (which, since you asked: 9-3 with losses to Boise State, Georgia Tech, and either Notre Dame or Utah, but I think we win one of those last two), I’d like to focus on some other types of pending developments this year:

1. Cody Hoffman will blossom into BYU’s next Austin Collie. It's clear he's Nelson's favorite target, and I'm guessing he leads recievers in TDs this year also.

2. In addition to routinely drinking hot marrow from the bones of various offenses this year, Kyle Van Noy will (again) single-handedly win BYU one or two games.

3. Sometime, possibly early in the season, Riley Nelson will become concussed. This will undoubtedly happen on like some 1st and 5 or 2nd and 4 where a play breaks and instead of sliding he launches head first into a linebacker trying to move the chains.  He’ll get up, remove his helmet, do some head banging, incite the crowd, and then pass out. James Lark, get ready. Also for Riley, I predict a departure from the long, golden locks and a return to the Iceman from Top Gun look he sported while backing up Heaps after his shoulder surgery in 2010. You heard it here first.

4. After BYU begins the season 4-0 by upsetting #24 Boise State, their highly passionate, yet knowledgeably inadequate fans (you know who you are), will begin calling for BCS consideration. Irate with the lack of respect afforded BYU, these same fans will be overcome with disbelief when the Cougars lose the following week in Hawaii. And then they’ll make a new instructional video about how to cheer at BYU football games.

Jake Welch (@jraywelch)
2012 Prediction: 9-3

Offensive Player of the Year NOT Named Riley Nelson
Iona Pritchard. I've always had a love for the fullback position because they are glorified lineman but trust me when I say that Iona is deserving of this title. It might not be highly visible to the untrained eye but he will be crucial in run blocking and providing a reliable outlet for Riley in the passing game.

Defensive Player of the Year NOT Named Kyle Van Noy

Daniel Sorensen. Homeboy can law down the law but he struggled mightily when it came to pass defense on play action and double moves (see last year's TCU game). With one season of mistakes and miscues behind him, Daniel is ready to take it to the next level and not only be the enforcer in the secondary but also be the leader.

Thoughts on 2012
This team might be one of the most balanced that Bronco has fielded in his tenure. The offense might not be as explosive and the defense not as stout up front but on both sides of the ball their are guys that can consistently make plays. Some fans would prefer to have a high-octane offense that will move the ball at will or a defense that's tough as nails but as a BYU fan I will take balance and consistency.

A key indicator of how well BYU will do this season is the level of intelligence of one Riley Nelson. If Riley is smart (throws with his feet set, doesn't hold the ball like a loaf of bread, take a sack instead of floating a pick-6) then this team is 10+ win material. If he in any part stupid (takes on 250 lbs linebackers head on, tries to throw more the 40 yards down field) then seven wins might be more realistic. People love to talk about the maturity of Riley and his grit. Let's hope that his grit matches his IQ.

At the end of the season, this might look like one of BYU's sexiest defenses. The key for the defense this year will be the play of the defensive line. If they do their job and take up space and multiple blockers then the linebacking core that everyone is gushing over will have space to make plays. Let's hope that the big fellas up front can stay healthy and make it happen.

In all, this will be a good team across the board. If they can play beyond their abilities then they might surprise us but when all is said and done we will get the same result that we've had in seasons past.

Preston Johnson (@prestonvjohnson)
2012 Prediction: 9-3

Offensive Player of the Year NOT Named Riley Nelson
Michael Alisa. He will be the first 1,000 yard rusher BYU has had since Harvey Unga.

Defensive Player of the Year NOT Named Kyle Van Noy
I was looking forward to putting O'Neil Chambers in this spot, but unfortunately for all of us BYU fans he was released and did not make the team this year. I will have to slide to my next pick who is Brandon Ogletree. He led the team in tackles last season I only expect him to do more of the same. It is going to be very hard for opposing teams to run against this BYU defense this season.

Thoughts on 2012
I am actually fairly optimistic about this season for the BYU Cougars. I think the offense will be much more consistent with a true QB1 and an entire off-season to work together, and I think the run game will be much improved with Michael Alisa now heading the show with some experience under his belt. The defense this season could be one of BYU's best we have seen in the last decade with a strong front 7 and a secondary that even Bronco himself called the most talented and athletic he has ever had.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, they play their toughest 4 games all on the road and in two sequences of back-to-back games beginning with at Utah week 3 and at Boise St. just 5 days later in a Thursday night game. Later in the season they play at Notre Dame just to follow it up with a game at Georgia Tech. I think BYU will take care of business at home this year and win the easy games on the road, but I think they would be lucky to take splits in each of these two back-to-back road nightmares.

While I would like to say the Cougars finish 10-2 this season going into the bowl game, I just don't think that BYU will be able to win these marquee games on the road.

Steve Pierce (@steve_pierce)
Post-Jimmer (@postjimmer)

2012 Prediction: 10-2, optimistically. Losses to Utah and Notre Dame on the road, close wins over Boise State and Georgia Tech. However, this could easily slide to 8-4 with a few bad injuries.

Offensive Player of the Year NOT Named Riley Nelson
Cody Hoffman, because he is an unstoppable, touchdown-catching machine that destroys opposing defenses like the Terminator.

Defensive Player of the Year NOT Named Kyle Van Noy
Daniel Sorenson, because if this defense is really going to take the next step to elite status, the secondary will be the key -- and Sorenson will be leading that unit with Andrew Rich-esque intensity and intelligence.

Thoughts on 2012
I'm not one of those BYU football nuts. Don't get me wrong: I like BYU football a lot. I never miss a game. But I'm not one of those people who pays $20 a month to subscribe to recruiting websites or wants to talk about the depth chart in mid-May. I'm a basketball guy, and football is simply an enjoyable diversion until they open up the Marriott Center in October. In fact, if you would have asked me a week ago, I would have told you I wasn't really that excited about the beginning of football season, that it was just another day to me, just something else to watch on TV. But now it's here. It's tomorrow. And I won't lie to you -- I'm actually pretty excited. Now that we're talking about concrete games and weekly matchups rather than abstract concepts and breathless speculation about the life choices of 16-year-old kids, I am all in on this team.

I feel like this could be a special year and a special team, at least relative to recent BYU standards. Will they win a national championship, or even go to a BCS game? No. Will they win 10 games again? Maybe. But those context-free benchmarks do not a special season make. To be sure, they can definitely help -- a lot -- but I won't necessarily be disappointed if the Cougars finish only 9-3 or 8-4. It will all depend on the context. What matters most to me is how they rise to the challenge of replacing several key players and how they respond to an increased quality of competition this season. If they notch some impressive wins over tough opponents, I'll forgive a few losses in tight games to respectable foes. If they show they can compete at a consistently high level on a weekly basis, putting a product on the field that I can be proud of, then I'll probably gloss over the weeks where they didn't quite measure up. Obviously I'd prefer they win them all -- but if that's our standard for satisfaction (as I fear it frequently is in Cougar Nation), we're going to be perpetually disappointed for years to come. Perfection may prove elusive, but context can set us free.

I am hopeful when it comes to this team. I am excited to see what Riley Nelson can do with a full summer under his belt as the unquestioned starter, and intrigued to see how much brilliance he can continue squeeze out of his admittedly limited set of physical tools. I love everything about this year's receiving corps and, if Riley can stay healthy and the line can give him time in the pocket, we could be looking at some big time production through the air -- which, as any good BYU fan knows, is exactly how we like it. On the other side of the ball, though there are some holes to fill, I feel like this may be the most athletically gifted Cougar defense in a long time, maybe ever. Kyle Van Noy will obviously be electrifying to watch on every single play, and his linebacker brethren will likely remain the rock-solid foundation of Bronco's schemes, but I am most intrigued by the secondary. Every year we seem to hear that this is the year that BYU will have a great secondary, only to be underwhelmed when the chips are down. We heard similar pronouncements out of fall camp this year -- only this time, I may actually be starting to believe them.

All in all, I'm ready to go, and I'm optimistic that -- given proper expectations and context -- this could wind up as a very satisfying football season. And I wouldn't have told you that a week ago.

Scott Gower (@smg1981)

2012 Prediction: 10-2

Offensive Player of the Year NOT Named Riley Nelson
Cody Hoffman. Other players will have good years, but I'm not being honest with myself if I pick anyone else.

Defensive Player of the Year NOT Named Kyle Van Noy
Eathyn Manumaleuna, and it's not just because I wanted to type out his name. Besides, I copy and pasted it. Ever since the blocked field goal in the Las Vegas Bowl, I've been so impressed with him. I think the defensive line is one of the questions for this team, but Manumaleuna will answer it.

Thoughts on 2012
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say I am the most optimistic member of this panel. Every year I do this to myself. I listen to the offseason hype and get excited. "New training program! Most talented team ever! Everything's clicking! The team doesn't even NEED any more practices!" I fall for it every year, so 10-2 is me trying to contain myself, trying to be more "realistic."

The fact is there isn't a game on this schedule that BYU absolutely can't win - not that will win, but they can. There are 8 games I think BYU will definitely win. It just comes down to Utah, Boise St., Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech. Because of its huge losses, I like our chances against Boise State, and I think BYU can win ONE of the remaining three. However, I don't know which one.

I'm excited to see what kind of QB Riley Nelson can be when he's given the vast majority of reps in practice. I think if he can stay healthy and avoid making the throws that make it look like he's playing 500, Nelson will have a very memorable senior season, and everyone around him will benefit. The defense is the defense, and it will give us a chance to win every game.