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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Box Score Prediction: Washington St. @ BYU

BYU starts the season hosting recent Pac-12 bottom-feeders Washington State, which is just about the perfect test for the Cougars. Bronco Mendenhall and co. will need an opponent with some semblance of a program (like, not Eastern Illinois, for example), but obviously they don’t want LSU, either.  We have no reason to believe BYU doesn’t semi-skate by these Pacific Northwest style Cougars, and let's hop in the Delorean and find out what box score will look like.

Final Score: BYU 31; WSU 17

Riley Nelson - 21-32; 260 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 INT
Michael Alisa - 15 carries for 85 yards
David Foote - 5 carries for 30 yards
Iona Pritchard - 3 carries for 13 yards, 1 TD
Riley Nelson - 7 carries for 44 yards

Cody Hoffman - 4 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD
Ross Apo - 5 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD
Michael Alisa - 3 catches 26 yards
JD Falslev - 3 catches 30 yards
Kaneakua Friel - 3 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD
Austin Holt - 2 catches, 25 yards
Dylan Collie - 2 catches, 15 yards
Alex Kuresa - 2 catches, 19 yards

2 sacks, 1 INT, and a fumble recovery

Mike Leach is a fantastic offensive mind, but he is inheriting a team that was already good at “making offense.” So we have to wonder, how much better can Leach make an already-good offense - especially by the first game. But the bigger problem is the WSU defense, which will not be able to successfully contain BYU’s offense.

Kyle Van Noy can’t be beat at anything. Expect this to be the first of many great games for him and the defense this season.

So, expect a fairly routine win for BYU, but they might not look very impressive doing it, and the offense might struggle out the gate somewhat. It might take a couple games for this year’s team to shake the cobwebs off from the season, but we don’t think Washington State will have enough to take advantage.

- Scott Gower and Daniel Anderson

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pulse of Cougar Nation: Statistical Rankings

BYU Photo

***This is the last of the basic overview of the "Pulse of Cougar Nation" survey results. I will continue to look at the results and see if I find any interesting tidbits, and I will pass them along as I do.

Another part of the survey asked BYU fans to give an estimate of where BYU will be ranked in different statistical categories. Below is what fans thought about the offensive rankings. I took the liberty of putting the 2011 statistical numbers associated with each ranking. Anyway, here they are:

I think these are decent stats. I'd probably be happy with them, although I would like to see more points scored. I think the most surprising thing about these results is how close the combined passing and rushing yards come to the total yards. They are within 4 yards for offense and 7 yards for defense.

The point total would concern me only because our 2011 average was 30.6, and the offense was a tad inept for a good portion of the season. I'd like to think we'll score more than just 17 more points this year.

Another kind of cool thing about these results are how close they match up with previous questions in the survey. The 253 yards/game average would come out to 3,036 total passing yards, and earlier we showed that fans expect about 2,970 yards passing from Riley.

The 175 yards/game average for rushing would come out to 2,100 yards rushing for the season. That's pretty dang close to the 2,130 yards fans said earlier in the survey. Well done, Cougar fans!

Below is the chart for defensive statistical rankings:

I'm just a little bit surprised about the defensive ranking. I don't know if I have talked with any BYU fan that doesn't think the defense will be better this year than it was last year, and these rankings/stats are about the same as they were last year.

Few think it will be significantly better than it was last year, and maybe having the same statistical rankings against a harder schedule is an indication of a moderately improved defense. 

Here are all of the results from the individual questions. Enjoy!









Monday, August 20, 2012

Pulse of Cougar Nation: Which Games Will BYU Win in 2012?

Which games will BYU win during its 2012 season? Below is a table that shows what BYU fans thought:

It is pretty apparent that BYU fans feel, out of the 12 games on the 2012 schedule, 8 of them are givens. Those games should ensure at least 8 wins on the season. It's the four road games against the four most difficult opponents on the schedule that makes fans nervous.

So, going off these numbers, this is the 2012 schedule put in order from most likely to win to least likely to win:

1. Weber State
2. Hawaii (tie)
2. Utah State (tie)
2. San Jose State (tie)
2. Idaho (tie)
6. New Mexico State
7. Oregon State (tie)
7. Washington State (tie)
9. Utah
10. Georgia Tech
11. Boise State
12. Notre Dame

I Can't Even PRETEND To Be Surprised
I don't think we can legitimately be surprised that the vast, Vast, VAST majority of BYU fans feel the Cougars will beat Weber State, San Jose State, Idaho, Hawaii and New Mexico State. None of these teams pose much of a threat to BYU, as demonstrated by the bludgeonings they received in 2011.

I'm Not NOT Surprised
BYU put a pretty decent hurt on Oregon State in Corvallis last year, so I can understand why BYU fans would feel pretty confident in a home-game scenario. There's just smidge of surprise that 96.3 percent felt that was a W. Same goes for Washington State (96.3 percent). I mean, I think we'll win, but the other Cougars aren't like George-Michael-from-Arrested-Development bad at football, are they? (That was the best George-Michael-catching video I could find. Sorry.)

OK, I'm Pretty Surprised
Utah State. OK, two years ago, we lost and lost pretty badly to the Aggies. We all remember it. Last year, Riley Nelson performed a miracle (turning a bad football team into a good football team) to give us the come-from-behind victory. We should win this game, but 98.8 percent is a pretty high level of confidence considering the past two season.

The confidence for Utah game was a bit odd to me as well. I know the 54-10 beatdown is a tad deceptive, considering all of the unforced errors that led to points for Utah in that game. I also realize the BYU players want to right that wrong (especially Kyle Van Noy). That said, Utah didn't really lose all that much from last year to this year. We can win, but the confidence level surprised me is all.

Also, I kind of thought Georgia Tech was the toughest game on the schedule, so I was somewhat surprised to see the majority of fans - as slim a majority as it is (51.6 percent) - consider this a win, which leads me to...

I'm More Shocked Than Zack Was When He Found Out Jessie Was Taking "Drugs"
Really?! Notre Dame?! REALLY?!?! We get beat by Utah 54-10 at home last year, but Notre Dame, a team that hasn't managed better than an 8-5 record in the last five seasons, is the team we're all afraid of? I honestly don't get it. This isn't to say that I think we will definitely win, but I think Georgia Tech is more likely to be a loss, since GT is the second opponent in a row located on the other side of the country. Chances are, if BYU is going to be tired or fatigued, it's going to be against the second opponent. Also, Georgia Tech is a better team.

As far as Boise State is concerned, I don't see them as the second-toughest opponent on the schedule. I would put Georgia Tech, Utah, and even Notre Dame ahead of them. Boise State has lost so much that, despite being a very good home team, it is silly to think they won't have a big drop off. They're replacing the best QB ever to play for BSU (by a Shawn Bradley-sized difference), and on top of it, they're losing another 15-16 starters. It's a big deal. Peterson has a great program, but great programs are not immune from down years. This will be a down year.

That said, I expect 9 regular season wins from the Broncos, and we could still lose that game. I'm just shocked at that game being the 2nd-scariest opponent on the schedule.

If the fans are right, we're looking at a season with 9 or 10 wins, which would be fine (to me). Hopefully, they're wrong in a more positive way, and we can win every game this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pulse of Cougar Nation: Game-by-Game Odds

(Photo by Jon Hardy/BYU)

Sometimes BYU fans get a reputation for being irrational or having unrealistic expectations.

Maybe some of us get caught up in the offseason hype. Maybe some of us thought BYU was going to go undefeated in 2011. And maybe some of us still think BYU definitely would have gone undefeated last year if Riley Nelson had been the QB from the beginning (don't be that guy, please).

While many of us have been known to get fooled by coaches' quotes, anonymous sources, and bogus conference realignment rumors, we're not all bad, right?

But let's see how unrealistic BYU fans' 2012 win-loss expectations really are, shall we?

One of the questions from the survey asked participants to assign a percentage of likelihood (odds) of a win for each game. The survey results for each game can be found at the end of this blog entry, but we calculated the average odds (based off survey results) and listed them below.

As you can see, BYU fans don't really feel like there is a team on the schedule that BYU definitely can't beat. (Also, BYU fans feel Weber St. has a better chance of beating us than Idaho. Ouch.) The opponent with the lowest odds is Notre Dame, but 44.68 percent odds is hardly devastating. Personally, I think the Georgia Tech game is scarier, since the team will have to travel TO Georgia just week after having to travel TO Indiana. 

After calculating the average odds, we simulated the 2012 season 200 times to come up with these projections:

First off, the reason there is no information for less than 6 wins is because with the win probabilities provided for each game, there is no chance BYU would win less than 6 games. 

Overall, the results are pretty good and pretty much what I think fans expected. The fans I talk to pretty much feel the range for 2012 wins is about 8 - 10, and as you can see from the chart above, that's seems to be about right, since about 70 percent of the seasons had that finish.

Other interesting notes about the season simulation:
  • The median and average finish for BYU is 9-3
  • BYU has a 62.5 percent chance of winning 9 or more regular season games
  • BYU is about three times less likely to go undefeated then they are to win only 6 games (Good news: neither is very likely)
So I think BYU fans, as a whole, are pretty realistic, but when you look at some of the individual survey answers (see below), it is quite clear not everyone has a better-than-Charlie-Sheen sense of reality:

*** Disregard any different colored lines on the tables below. They mean absolutely nothing.













Friday, August 10, 2012

The Pulse of Cougar Nation: Defense/Special Teams

Outside of one quarter during the Utah game, BYU's defense was solid all year long. With a lot of key returning starters and (possibly) improved units, there is little reason to believe it won't be just as good (if not better) in 2012.

Here is what the participating members of Cougar Nation thought:

Average Response: 13.8 interceptions

Average Response: Kyle Van Noy (the last "y" in that name is actually from Preston Hadley's last name

Average Response: 1.2 punt/kick returns

As always, this year's BYU team has a lot of expectations attached to it. Barring a string of serious injuries to key defensive players, I think the overall idea that the defense will be better in 2012 than it was in 2011 (and it was very good in 2011) is well warranted. This defense has a lot of returning starters, and BYU fans clearly will be surprised if it takes a step backwards in 2012.

Last year was pretty special with the two touchdown returns, but the chances of something happening that hadn't happened since 1996 are probably low. Nevertheless, Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev are exciting players to watch on special teams. It's not surprising to see so many responses for at least one touchdown return.