Posts tagged Bronco Mendenhall
Much has been written about BYU’s bold move into the realm of college football independence since last summer when the university announced it was leaving the Mountain West Conference. At first, most pundits thought it was a suicidal move for the Cougars, but as A.D. Tom Holmoe methodically cobbled together the program’s first indy season schedule with the help of broadcast partner ESPN, perceptions slowly began to change.
It’s a much stronger schedule than what they’d face if they were still in the MWC.
BYU’s 2011 schedule starts impressively – on the road at Mississippi and Texas, then back home for Utah, Central Florida and Utah State. Three additional tough road games are tossed into the mix with Oregon State, TCU and Hawaii. Technically, the TCU game is considered to be at a neutral site – Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Fort Worth. This game is minutes from the Horned Frog campus and it’s considered a neutral site? Right.
The rest of the Cougar schedule features Idaho, Idaho State, New Mexico State, and San Jose State, giving the team eight solid games and four that provide a little breathing room during the back stretch of the season. We don’t consider Utah State a breather because it’s a rivalry game, even though BYU has owned the Aggies for decades (27-8 record since
1970). Every team gets up for playing BYU and Bronco Mendenhall can’t afford to let his squad take any opponent lightly.
H.B. Arnett of Cougar Sportsline (a subscription newsletter for BYU sports fans) is so high on this year’s Cougar football team that he’s predicting a BCS berth.
Quote: “… this is the year that BYU breaks into a BCS bowl. I’m not stupid. I know that means an undefeated season for the Cougars. That’s how stupid good this BYU team can be.”
We’d be inclined to agree with Arnett if Brigham Young’s new OC Brandon Doman already had a year of calling plays and total interaction with the offensive players and coaches under his belt. There is a lot of talent on this team and they appear to be unified and excited to take on the world as an independent.
New coaches Ben Cahoon (receivers) and Joe DuPaix (running backs) complement the move assistant head coach Lance Reynolds made to shore up a nationally touted (out of high school) group of tight ends in Austin Holt, Richard Wilson and Devin Mahina. (Note: Mahina is now out for the season with a fractured neck).
Cahoon has senior McKay Jacobson, soph Cody Hoffman, and redshirt freshman Ross Apo headlining a solid group of receivers, while DuPaix has senior sparkplug J.J. DiLuigi, second year bruiser “Juice” Quezeda, and senior Bryan Kariya to handle the rock out of the backfield.
Mark Weber’s offensive line is as solid as it’s ever been with Outland Trophy candidate Matt Reynolds holding down left tackle, and Braden Brown, Braden Hansen, Houston Reynolds, Terence Brown, and Ryker Matthews manning other ports
of call at the scrimmage line. They’ll protect soph signal caller Jake Heaps who is poised for a big year, and solid backup QB James Lark. Dual threat southpaw QB Riley Nelson will be utilized in the Cougar offense, but not as Heaps’ backup, should that need present itself.
Defensively, the linebacker corps is experienced, swift, and highly underrated with three NFL-quality studs in Uona Kaveinga, Jordan Pendleton and Kyle Van Noy. Barring injuries, they’ll be considered one of the top units in the nation by the end of this season.
The defensive line depth looks solid, especially now that senior DE Matt Putnam has been cleared academically to rejoin the team. The addition of Putnam’s experience and wingspan, not to mention the psychological lift of returning to his teammates, cannot be overlooked. It should take him a few weeks to get up to speed with the line platoon of Romney Fuga, Travis Tuiloma, Graham Rowley, Eathyn Manumaleuna, and USC transfer Hebron Fangupo.
The defensive backfield finally has solid with Daniel Sorenson, Travis Uale and Mike Hague handling safety duties and Corby Eason, Preston Hadley, Joe Sampson, and DeQuan Everett handling the corners. This group just needs some real game-time experience and you’ll see them gel nicely as a unit.
Prediction: 10-2 regular season, Armed Forces Bowl win, Top 15 ranking
BYU has a new OC and defensive backfield to break in. Look for them to lose close games on the road to Ole Miss and Texas the first two weeks of September and then rattle off 10 straight wins. Although they’ll be deserving of a Tier 2 bowl bid by season’s end, without the strength of a major conference affiliation they’ll be stuck playing in a Tier 4 bowl game.
By now, you’ve heard way too much about the heat and humidity factor that will affect BYU in Oxford tomorrow. The Cougars have played in the deep South before – most recently at Tallahassee last year – and they know what to expect and how to prepare for it. I don’t see the climate being a factor for Bronco’s boys unless they have to play catch-up. More >
The gentlemen representing the University of Texas are downright polite and respectful about their opponent this week. And it’s not because they’re coming off an incredibly humbling 5-7 campaign, just one year removed from playing in the national title game.
In UT’s Monday press conference, Brown and his players said a lot of nice things about Brigham Young University’s football program. Of course, they don’t want to provide any bulletin board fodder, but their respect has more to do with the way Brown approaches the game more than anything else. He expects his student-athletes to respect the opponents they square up against each week – and to earn their opponents’ respect in return – because that’s the way you respect the game of football. More >
Cougar Sportsline editor H. B. Arnett is predicting a 38-17 Brigham Young win over Texas in Austin this weekend.
The Cougar defense is very good this year and they’ll take care of business for as long as possible this Saturday, but in the end, I expect the offense to choke and sputter along the line of last week’s performance, which will eventually tucker out their faithful band of defensive-minded brothers.
This game will be a fairly low-scoring affair because Texas’ offense is still a work in progress, too; so, I’m calling it 20-13 or 20-10 in favor of UT. More >
In the past 37 years of BYU football, the Cougars have hit a 3-game offensive dead-spin only twice before this season: in 1974 under Lavell Edwards and in 2002 under Gary Crowton. Both of those seasons ended in a sub-.500 win-loss record.
With the 2011 season now one-quarter of the way complete, BYU’s offense is ranked near the very bottom of Division 1-A college football in Scoring Offense. To put that in perspective for you, Brandon Doman’s creation exists in a realm inhabited by offensive juggernaut programs such as Western Kentucky, San Jose State, Kent State, and Akron.
Even worse, the nightmarish offensive performance finally tipped the ship on the defense in Week 3, after we began to see the meltdown take place in the second half of the Texas game.
Watching BYU’s Defense get shredded on the ground by Utah in the second half, one couldn’t help but get the feeling that they were communicating to the Offense: “Enough is enough. If you’re going to keep us on the field this long every game, we’re gonna make your butts come right back out here.”
It was painfully visible that the Band of Brothers had disbanded. Given up. Thrown in the towel. Whether they can re-group this season is a question that will loom large not only this week but into the future.
What on earth happened to the team that Bronco was gushing about just 20 days ago? Was he fooled by a mirage?
Whatever, he thought he saw, it doesn’t exist, and if he truly wants to jump-start the Offense this season, he needs to consider immediate changes. He needs to consider hiring a retired offensive wizard with previous ties to the BYU program – someone like Ted Tollner or Brian Billick – who will get Brandon Doman off the sidelines and into the skybox. Let them tutor him how to read the game from a bird’s eye point of view. Let them call the plays and gradually work him into his job, making sure he fully understands what it takes to run an offense and make play-by-play adjustments in crunch time.
Or better yet, let Doman do what he does best – coach the quarterbacks. And just leave the play calling to someone who’s got the experience.
If Mendenhall decides not to make any changes and the offense doesn’t get untracked, the question that needs to be asked is: What’s more important – Doman’s career or the BYU football program?
Other Questions Nobody Has Asked: Did any other offensive coordinators ever interview for the BYU job besides Doman, or was he just handed the keys after Anae was shown the door? If so, how did Bronco know that Doman could handle on-the-fly play calling in the heat of battle?
Coaching Grade: F
Whatever adjustments were made at halftime and as the game started to unravel in the third quarter were totally ineffective.
Keeping Heaps on the field in the fourth quarter with a 30-point deficit. Why didn’t we see James Lark at that point? Bronco had gushed about how he had competed well in August camp. Conversely, if the season’s outcome is so dependent on keeping Heaps healthy, than why wasn’t he pulled when the game was already out of reach?
First Half Offense Grade: D
Second Half Offense Grade: F
Heaps 32-yard TD pass to Apo at the 7:19 mark of the second quarter is about the only good thing memorable.
The Offense tallied six of the team’s seven turnovers.
Rushing yards per attempt? 0.5
Heaps got his first 300-yard passing game of his career, but quite frankly, who cares? Stats like that are meaningless unless they come attached to a Win.
First Half Defense Grade: B+
Second Half Defense Grade: D-
Kyle Van Noy made a phenomenally athletic interception in the first half. The first half would have been an A if the secondary didn’t melt down in coverage near the end of the second quarter.
Eason has serious coverage problems. BYU has better cornerbacks in the depth chart and they need to start using them.
Special Teams Grade: D+
Justin Sorenson banged in a nice 46-yard field goal. He also kicked out of bounds at the beginning of the second half to give Utah primo field position.
Riley Stephenson had a 46.5-yard average on 6 punts with three inside the 20. His longest was a 65-yarder.
J.D. Falslev fumbled at the 3-yard line to give Utah an easy touchdown two plays later.
The punt coverage team gave up a 29-yard return in the second half to negate a nice punt by Stephenson.
Final Team Grade: F+
BYU held TCU to their lowest total yardage output of the season. They also piled up 24 first downs to the Frogs’ 16. But this was a painful game for Cougar fans. Were it not for two botched punts, a fumble and two interceptions, BYU could have won this one. And don’t let the 38 points TCU scored fool you. The defense played much better than the final score might indicate. BYU clearly looked like the better team but they kept shooting their own toes off.
Special Teams Grade: F (but Falslev’s punt return for TD raises it to a D+).
Riley Stephenson mishandled two punts that gave Texas Christian excellent field position inside Cougar territory, both leading to scores. He also had a muffed punt that gave the Frogs the ball at the BYU 47. J.D. Falslev returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Cody Hoffman broke one kickoff return for 49 yards. Kickoff coverage was acceptable except for a 39-yard return. Justin Sorenson hit 2 of 3 field goals and two extra points. He could’ve had a chance for a third field goal but BYU elected to fake it and ended up throwing an incomplete pass. Sorenson was also hampered on a field goal attempt with just a few seconds remaining in the first half, thanks to extremely poor clock management by the coaching staff.
Offense Grade: C-
BYU out-gained Texas Christian in total yards, 354 to 283 and rolled up 24 first downs to the Frogs’ 16, but Riley Nelson had two interceptions and a fumble, all of which were plays he could’ve avoided by taking the sack. He ended up taking 4 sacks, as it is. Ross Apo had a nice 42-yard catch, but had the ball stripped out of his hands on another long play that would’ve given the Cougars the ball inside the TCU 10. Nelson did run for 84 yards, the longest being a 32-yard gainer, and J.J. DiLuigi picked up 69 yards on 11 carries. Alisa and Quezada were ineffective and Kariya totaled 15 yards on 4 carries, banging one in for a touchdown. Cody Hoffman led all receivers with 4 catches for 67 yards. Aside from the turnovers, the offense moved the ball fairly well.
Defense Grade: B+
The defense was constantly forced on their heels by Stephenson’s mistakes and Nelson’s turnovers. They held TCU quarterback Casey Pachall 75 yards under his per game average and TCU’s 283 total yards was their lowest offensive output this season. There were a few bonehead plays made on defense – one a flagrant penalty on Brandon Ogletree on TCU’s first series that resulted in 15 yards and a first down that led to a quick TD. But all in all, the defense kept the Cougars in the game.
Coaching Grade: D-
This was a winnable game and it’s difficult to imagine that execution is all on the players’ heads. The team was disorganized, uninspired, and visibly lacked the fire we saw at the close of the Utah State game or a couple weeks ago against Oregon State. Riley Nelson is not a stupid kid, but his three big turnovers and a several other ill-advised passes that were nearly intercepted indicate either that he is, or that there is a serious lack of attention for refining his game in practice. The Cougars left three points on the field when they tried a poorly conceived fake field goal pass, and another three points were lost at the end of the first half because of poor clock management that forced the field goal unit to race onto the field and try to get a kick off. Justin Sorenson slipped in the process of his kick and was way off the mark. There is a vibe about this team that just seems out of whack. The talent is clearly there and the coaching is not molding it properly.
Overall Team Grade: C-
This game was winnable. BYU had the talent – and finally the speed – to keep up with TCU but their lack of discipline and poor execution cost the Cougars the game.