29 December 2008

Thank You

Yeah the Quest is over. No, the Cougs didn't have that perfect season. No, the jerseys in blue weren't able to see another conference championship. No, we weren't able to beat the heathen team up north. And no, we didn't win a bowl game. It was fun while it lasted. There's plenty of time now to reflect, regroup, and recruit. Yes, it's that time of the year (tis the season) for all the things to be thankful for. The tradition. The spirit. And the honor that the Cougs stand for. There were 117 Cougs listed on the roster this year (per the official website). The Cougs found paydirt 59 times while hittin 13 FGs for the season (I'm still waiting for one to run back). The season officially got underway with Lavell carrying out the alumni flag against Northern Iowa. It was a season receiving national attention while blocking a kick at Washington. This years performance included the stunning shellacking shutout of the tradition found in UCLA at home. It included the dismantling of Wyoming. The cougs remained perfect defending the home turf. Collie set all kinds of receiving records including consecutive 100YD receiving games. Over the past three years the jerseys in blue have gone 32-7. The future is still bright with incoming and returning players. There are still teams on the schedule (just not this season). There will still be big games. There will be conference championships and more opportunities to stick it to the yewts. To all the readers out the in blog-land thank you for making this all possible. Best wishes to each and everyone (yes even the yewts) in the coming New Year!

21 December 2008

Raising Arizona

Will the last one to leave please turn out the lights? Folks, unfortunately this seasons "Quest" is over. Arizona went into the bowl favored by three but might as well been favored by ten with the embarrasing performance. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, look at the photos and sadly they pretty much sums things up. It was supposed to be a bright picture heading into the season returning all the offensive weapons. The Cougs were to add another MWC crown. They were predicted to be this years collegiate BCS buster. Virtually the entire starting OL would be in the trenches again. However, there isn't always that fairy tale ending. Saturdays outing was no fairy tale (if anything was a nightmare) that included mental mistakes, sloppy plays, turnovers and too many penalties. The talent was there but certainly not the execution. Yes the bitterness and bleeding will stop but will take some time to lick the wounds, head back to the boards and make some adjustments(Photo Credit Max/Tom Smart & Reed/Trent Neilson).

With the wildcats first postseason victory in 10 years the Cougs now have lost 5 of their last 7 bowl appearances. Willie Tuitama saturday looked like a Heisman candidate throwing 24 of 35 for 325 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. It seemed the Cougar defense had no answers and the offense threw away missed opportunities (3 missed FGs and 2 fumbles for starters). In the losing effort Austin Collie extended his consecutive 100 yard receiving games to 11 with 119. Constantly taking the backseat to Collie was Michael Reed who ended his collegiate career with 9 catches for 117 yards. Reed's playmaking on the field will be missed whether it was making the difficult catches or simply blocking downfield paving the way for Collie.

Yes, the mistakes hurt but great teams find a way to fight through adversity. Vakapuna went down early with a shoulder seperation and did not return. Fui's contribution played a vital role in helping Unga steamroll to yet another 1000 yard season.

Likely the biggest question on everyone's mind concerns Collie. Will he be back? Max has said he believe's he's staying another year. If it were you would you stay? When money talks one can't blame the who owns the most Cougar receiving yards in history (as well as in a single season) if he leaves.

15 December 2008

Complete Bowl-over

Tis the season again for the collegiate bowl games to be played out. Its that festive time of year for the teams to put up or shut up. Who will step up and who will hang their heads. College football is without question momental. Back in 2003 more than $210 million was distributed as a result to NCAA schools with that number increasing ever since. It is part of tradition of over 90 years. The tv audience has reached well over 125 million households. Increased donations, school visibility, endorsements, ticket sales and recruiting all factor into the equation. Bowl games generate an estimated $1.3 billion worth of econonic impact on host communities. In addition to the Cougs heading to a bowl this year's matchups include...

Dec 20th
Eaglebank Bowl (Wake Forest 7-5/Navy 8-4) ESPN 9AM This is deja vu. Navy came out on top back on Sep 27th (24-17) but will it be the same story? Wake Forest has been dependent on its 19th best defense nationally to create opportunities to win games. Yet, Navy has won four of its last five.
New Mexico Bowl (CSU 6-6/Fresno State 7-5) ESPN 12:30PM Could be somewhat evenly of a matchup posting two NFL prospects (CSU/Kory Sperry, FSU/Bear Pascoe). The rams last bowl was back in 2005. Should be a fun one to watch.
St Petersburg Bowl (Memphis 6-6/So Florida 7-5) ESPN2 2:30PM Memphis heads into the matchup with its fifth bowl in the past six seasons. South Florida has lost five of its last seven games but should clearly have a decided home advantage (roughly 30 minutes away). The teams are former Conference USA rivals. South Florida has the 9th best rushing defense nationally (only allowing 97.7 yards/game) and I like the Bulls chances in this one.
Vegas Bowl (BYU 10-2/Az 7-5) Sat 20 Dec 6PM ESPN
The Cougs are fast becoming a familiar tourist attraction in Vegas with their 4th consecutive appearance while the 'cats are just happy to be ending a nine year absence from postseason action. In 2008 the MWC went 6-1 against the PAC10 in regular season play. Arizona ranks 16th nationally in scoring offense yet 35th in scoring defense. The cats have dangerous sophomore Nic Grigsby in the backfield who like Unga went over 1000 yardswith 12 TDs. A closer look at the 'cats opponents reveal Cal (8-4) was its only victory over a team with a winning record. Likely a tight game but one has to like the chances for the jerseys in blue.

Dec 21st
New Orleans Bowl (So Miss 6-6/Troy 8-4) 6:15PM Superdome
Southern Miss has won 4 straight to reach bowl eligibility with their offense ranked 20th averaging 434 yards per game. On the other side of the field Troy's offense is 26th nationally. In Troy's 7 of 8 wins the "O" scored 31 or more. Could be a shootout with big digits thrown on the board by both sides.

Dec 23rd
Pointsettia Bowl (BSU 12-0/TCU 10-2) 6PM ESPN
This matchup could turn out to be one of this season's best. TCU brings in the nation's best rushing defense. BSU finished yet another undefeated regular season this year with a freshman quarterback. Kellen Moore ranks overall 10th in passing efficiency. Not too shabby for his first year guiding the Broncs to a top 13 ranked offense. BSU revamped its OL but will receive likely its toughest test against the horned frogs. Definately a game worth tuning in.

Dec 24th
Hawaii Bowl (Hawaii 7-6/Notre Dame 6-6) 6PM ESPN
Amazingly, the tradition rich Irish haven't won a bowl game since the 94 Cotton Bowl (def Texas 31-24). It won't get any easier since Hawaii have 4 of its last 6 and are playing yet another home game.

Dec 26th
Motor City Bowl (Flor Atlantic 6-6/Central Mich 8-4) 5:30PM ESPN
This is a battle of lesser heralded quarterback in CMUs Dan LeFavour and FAUs Rusty Smith. FAUs Smith was last years Sunbelt player of the year. LeFavour will be attempting to win his 2nd Motor City Bowl in 3 seasons.

Dec 27th
Meineke Bowl (W Virginia 8-4/N Carolina 8-4) 11AM ESPN
In only their second bowl appearance since 2001 the tar heels will look to spoil the Mountaineers and Pat White's final collegiate game. West Virginia has two capable individuals in their ground attack in Noel Devine (1228 yards) and quarterback Pat White (919 yards). Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was the star of the offense as sophomore with 958 yards and 5 TDs. This season Nicks went over the 1000 yard mark and 9 TDs.
Emerald Bowl (Cal 8-4/Miami FL 7-5) 6PM ESPN
Definately a step in the right direction for the 'canes getting back to a bowl in Coach Shannon's 2nd season at the helm. Miami after winning 5 in a row dropped their last two and have struggled against the run. That's not exactly a good formula matching up against Cal's sophomore sensation Jahvid Best who has nearly 1400 yards on the ground with an 8 yard average.
Champs Sports/Citrus Bowl (Wisc 7-5/FSU 8-4) 2:30PM ESPN
Could be a slow grind game with both teams preferring the ground attack. Badgers have PJ Hill and John Clay while the 'noles have Antone Smith who has 14TDs. Hill has over 1000 yards with 13TDs while Clay have 845 yards and 9TDs.

Dec 28th
Independence Bowl (No Illinois 6-6/La Tech 7-5) 6:15PM ESPN
This matchup features two fill in non-BCS teams squarin off making slots in for other that weren't able to provide bowl eligible teams. Yeah not very appealing. To make matters worse these two teams are making their entrance on opposite ends of the spectrum. NIU comes limping in losing 3 of its last 4 games. On the other hand Louisiana Tech has won 4 of its last 5 games. Tech will want to run the ball (averages nearly 200 yards per game) but can NIU stop it. At games end Tech should be celebrating.

Dec 29th
PapaJohns.Com Bowl (NC State 6-6/Rutgers 7-5) 1PM ESPN
Definately a rather intriguing matchup for both teams. Rutgers was 1-5 after six games while NC State was 2-6 after 8 weeeks with ACC/Big East bragging rights at stake. Rutgers has found a weapon in junior WR Kenny Britt who has tallied over 1200 receiving yards on the season. NC State fans preseason may have had jitters having a rookie taking snaps behind center. Russell Wilson had removed that doubt throwing for over 1700 yards 16TDs and only 1 INT.
Alamo Bowl (#21 Missouri 9-4/ #23 Northwestern 9-3) 6PM ESPN
Mizzo's QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin placed the Tigers back on the collegiate football map last season. In fact Maclin in 2008 set an NCAA record for a freshman with 2776 receiving yards. This year expectations were rather high even with hopes of a national championship. Those dreams have faded but redemption could take place in San Antonio. Northwestern this season was 4-1 on the road and have held opponents to an average of 19.3 per game.

Dec 30th
Humanitarian Bowl (Maryland 7-5/Nevada 7-5) 2:30PM ESPN
Terrapin fans will quickly learn the name Colin Kaepernick. The sophomore Nevada quarterback was the WAC player of the year and can hurt opponents through the ground or the air. Calling shots behind center he has run for 1115 yards and thrown for over 2400 yards accounting for at least 35 TDs. The terps were 6-1 at home but a dismal 1-4 on the road. Gotta like the Wolfpack in this matchup.
Texas Bowl (W Michigan 9-3/Rice 9-3) 6PM NFL
Staying at home Rice is seeking its first bowl victory in 54 years. To say the Owls have turned things around is an understatement. In 2007 they finished with a 3-9 record. The passing attack from Rice is ranked 5th nationally. Senior QB Chase Clement has 41 TDs with 7 INTs covering over 3800 yards. Clement has two capable targets in WR Jarrett Dillard (1224 yards with 19 TDs) and TE James Casey 1217 yards with 12 TDs). With 9 returning defensive starters Western Michigan only allowed 5 passing TDs over the last 6 games. Should make an interesting matchup.
Holiday Bowl (#13 Ok State 9-3/#17 Oregon 9-3) 6PM ESPN
Having both teams averaging over 40 points a game expect the scoreboard operator to be kept busy. At 9-3 the ducks have shown there is life after QB Dennis Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart. Trouble defensively could be brewing in this game already where the Cowboys will be without its DC (Tim Beckman) who has accepted the coaching position at Toledo.

Dec 31st
Armed Forces Bowl (Houston 7-5/Air Force 8-4) 10AM ESPN
Location. Location. Location. Houston was 5-1 at home and this one will be played in Texas. Air Force on the other hand was 5-1 on the road. Which will prevail? Houston also leads the nation in the passing attack. Cougars sophomore QB Case Keenan threw for over 4700 yards with 43 TDs and 10 INTs. Yet the Falcons are 5th nationally rushing. Could be a interesting struggle ahead.
Sun Bowl (#22Oregon State 8-4/#18Pittsburgh 9-3) Noon CBS
El Paso brings this game "back" by popular demand. This matchup features two great young backs (Pitt's sophomore sensational LeShaun McCoy and OSU's PAC10 fab freshman of the year in Jacquizz Rodgers. Both rely on their ground attack and have more than capable defenses. Ironically both Pitt and OSU have played once previously back in 2002 Insight Bowl which was the panthers last postseason victory. Not sure I want to watch when Village People are performing at halftime.
Music City Bowl (#24 Boston College/Vanderbilt 6-6) 1:30PM ESPN
On paper the Eagles look to have most of the advantages offense and defensively) however Vandy should enjoy a home field advantage (campus is only a few miles from the Bowl site). In fact BC has only allowed an average of 18.5 on the scoreboard this season. Vandy is just happy to be in postseason play (first appearance in 26 years).
Insight Bowl (Kansas 7-5/Minnesota 7-5) 3:30PM NFL
To say the gophers have made progress is an understatement. Last season Minnesota was 1-11. Both teams are limping into the bowl (Kansas went 2-4 and the gophers was worse 0-4 down the stretch). Kansas is 7th nationally in passing yards. I see a potential shootout with the jayhawks prevailing.
Chick-fil-A Bowl (LSU 7-5/#14 Georgia Tech 9-3) 5:30PM ESPN
This season's bowl game can't come quick enough for the defending national champs with such a disappointing season (even lost 4 of their last 6 games). How the mighty have fallen. On the other hand the yellow jackets are having a sensational turnaround season under first year coach Paul Johnson. LSU will clearly have their hands full in this matchup as the yellow jackets are ranked 3rd in rushing with the triple option. Stopping Jonathan Dwyer will be high on the priority list who ran for over 1300 yards this season with 12 TDs while averaging 7 yards a carry.

Jan 1st
Outback Bowl (So Carolina 7-5/Iowa 8-4) 9AM ESPN
Coming into this contest the Hawkeyes are hot winning 5 of their last six including an upset over then #3 Penn State. South Carlina carries overall the third best pass defense in the nation (11th overall in total defense). Iowa junior RB Shonn Greene has run and down the field amassing over 1700 yards on the season with a 6.2 yard per average with 17 TDs. Despite neither team being ranked this could prove to be a fun matchup.
Capital One (#15 Georgia 9-3/#18 Michigan St 9-3) 11AM ABC
The stars of this presentation will be found in the backfield. Two of the nation's best will be showcased in Knowshon Moreno and senior spartan back Javon Ringer. Bulldog's sophomore stud Moreno ran for 16 TDs covering 1300 yards. Ringer has been unstoppable with almost 1600 yards and 21 TDs.
Gator Bowl (Nebraska 8-4/Clemson 7-5) 11AM CBS
Both teams are riding three game win streaks but that will all change at the end of this one. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz stepped in for injured Sam Keller last season and hasn't skipped a beat. In his first start he shredded Kansas for 410 yards and this season has compiled over 3300 yards throwing for 23TDs. In 10 of 12 games the Huskers have put 30 on the scoreboard.
Rose Bowl (Penn State 11-1/USC 11-1) 2:30PM ABC
How will the trojans fare without Sarkisian as the OC in this matchup? Will the lions have Paterno back on the sidelines (or will he coach again from the box)? Coach Carroll has elevated receivers coach John Morton for the time being for play calling. Both traditional powerhouse programs will have some amazing collection of offensive talent on the field but this contest could be defensively ruled. USC is ranked first nationally for total defense while the nittany lions are fifth.
Orange Bowl (#12 Cincinnati 11-2/#19 Virginia Tech 9-4) 6:30PM FOX
These teams have split the matchups evenly 4-4 with the first played way back in 1946. Bearcat coach Kelly is well on his way 22-5 after two seasons. Beating the hokies would be icing on the cake. Tech's run first offense is led by Darren Evans who has rushed over 1100 yards as a freshman. Cincy will test VT's defense with receiver speedster Marshawn Gilyard who has lit up secondaries this season for over 1100 yards and 10 TDs.
Cotton Bowl (#7 Texas Tech 11-1/#25 Ole Miss 8-4) Noon FOX
Ole Miss has seen quite the turnaround from 3-9 last season to this year's 8-4. The rebels also are riding a 5 game streak into Dallas but Ole Miss will surely be tested by the nations 2nd ranked passing offense that returns 10 starters. Tech's super senior QB Graham Harrell will lineup one last time with Crabtree hoping to make some more connections. On the season Harrell has thrown for over 4700 yards and 47 TDs.
Liberty Bowl (E Carolina 9-4/Kentucky 6-6) 3PM ESPN
Jeckyll and hyde story here with the 'cats. Which team will show? One that is riding a 3 game losing streak? Or one that hung with #4 'bama (L17-14) and #15 Georgia(L42-38)? The pirates head into the matchup winning 6 of their last 7 games. This will also be the third consecutive bowl game for both the ECU and Kentucky.
Sugar Bowl (yewts 12-0/Alabama 12-1) 6PM FOX
Crimson tide is 8-4 in the Sugar Bowl and more likely will add one more to it. The heathen team from up north runs the #12 ranked scoring defense and has won 6 straight bowl games which definately isn't shabby. A $17 million payout won't be easy for the yewts facing Alabama that ranks 6 nationally in scoring defense. The yewts are 0-6 matched up all time with SEC teams and I don't see that changing in the new year.

Jan 3rd
International Bowl (Buffalo 8-5/Connecticut 7-5) 10AM ESPN
Connecticut heads into the bowl like UPS (seein what Brown can do for you). The huskies have junior RB Donald Brown who is the nations leading rusher (1822 yards and 17 TDs) and have a solid defense with 8 returning starters. In 10 of 12 games the Huskies held opponents to 17 points or less. Ironically, Buffalo has scored 20 or more in all but one game. Coach Turner Gill has a talented trio that can create offensive havoc for teams. Bull senior QB Drew Willy can hurt opponents through the ground or the air with his weaponry. Willy has thrown for over 3000 yards with 25 TDs and 5 INTs. Drew's favorite target is clearly junior wideout Naaman Roosevelt has 1312 receiving yards with 13 TDs to his resume. If Roosevelt isn't doing the damage then good chance its junior RB James Starks who at 6.2/210 is a beast and has bulldozed to over 1300 yards himself with 15 TDs.

Jan 5th
Fiesta Bowl (#10 Ohio State 10-2/#3 Texas 11-1) 6PM FOX
Horns from Texas aren't happy to be in Arizona and have reason. Texas' only loss was a road game that came down to one play. Considering that Texas had a new defensive coordinator for the 4th straight year the longhorns have responded rather well only allowing opponents an average of 18.6 points per game. To say that junior Heisman Trophy finalist Colt McCoy had a decent year is an understatement. McCoy led his team to an 11-1 record while passing for over 3400 yards with 32 TDs and 7 INTs. The buckeyes have some serious experience and talent in this bowl returning 9 starters on the "O" as well as 9 on defense. True freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor found his slot quickly taking the QB reins from senior Todd Boeckman and hasn't looked back. Pryor has passed for 1245 yards with 12 TDs and 4 INTs and often handed off to junior RB Beanie Wells who has rushed for over 1000 yards with 8 TDs. Ohio State defense has held opponents to 17 or under in 10 of 12 games led by senior NFL bound linebacker James Laurinaitis. Unfortunately, the buckeyes don't have fond memories of recent BCS matchups and will look to change that.

Jan 6th
GMAC Bowl (#22 Ball State 12-1/Tulsa 10-3) 6PM ESPN
The Cardinals from Ball State is a team without a coach and winless in 6 bowl appearance. After turning around the program (7-6 last year) coach Brady Hoke recently accepted the position available at San Diego State and decided not to lead the cardinals into their second straight bowl game. Don't count Ball State out just yet as they have some offensive firepower (rank 17th nationally in scoring) and have scored 24 or more in all 13 games. The cardinals returned 9 offensive starters but are led by an amazing pair of juniors. Quarterback Nate Davis has accurately thrown (66.9 completion rate) for 3446 yards for 26 TDs and 7 INTs. In the backfield is a pint sized RB MiQuale Lewis (5.6/184) who has shown he has a nice set of wheels rushing for over 1700 yards with 17 TDs. Tulsa coach Todd Graham has gone 22-7 over his two years with an explosive offensive (rank 2nd nationally averging 47.4 per game) this season. The Hurricanes have a trio of phenomenal seniors directed by QB David Johnson. Johnson has thrown for 3866 yards with 43 TDs and 18 INTs (backup QB just happens to be ex Coug Jacob Bower) with Brennan Marion as his favorite target (1112 yards 8 TDs). Marion was the C-USA newcomer of the year last season. In 2007 RB Tarrion Adams ran for 1225 yards but upped that this year to over 1300 yards with 11 TDs.

Jan 8th
BCS National Championship (#2 Florida 12-1/#1 Oklahoma 12-1) 6PM FOX
Having two Heisman trophy winners in this matchup can't hurt tv ratings. Both teams can score points in bunches bigtime definately also helps. This will be the first matchup between the two. The sooners rank #1 in scoring offense averaging an insane 54 per game and the gators aren't far behind at #3 scoring 45.2. In fact, Oklahoma scored 58 or more in each othe last 6 games (not exactly against slouches either including then ranked #2 TX Tech, then #12 OK State and then #20 Mizzo). Last season freshman and Heisman Trophy winner sooner QB Sam Bradford set an NCAA freshman record with 36 passing TDs. This year's campaign included 4464 yards with an incredible 48 TDs and 6 INTs at a 68.3 completion including a nation's best 186.3 efficiency. His super senior wideout Juaquin Iglesias has compiled nearly 1100 receiving yards for 10 TDs. The sooner backfield thunder and lightning dynamic duo of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown both have over 1000 yards on the ground and average 5.6 or better per carry with a scary 34 TDs between the two. Sooner coach Bob Stoops will be seeking his second national championship. Florida's offense should still have some consistency for at least one more game. The gator's OC Dan Mullen was named the new head coach at Missisippi State but plans to stay the course through completion of the bowl game. Considering two new defensive assistants this year (Dan McCartney/DLs and Vance Bedford/CBs) the gators have answered any defensive questions losing only one game on a 4th and 1 with than a less minute remaining. Junior gator and multi threat QB Tim Tebow threw for 2515 yards with a 28 TD and 2 INT ratio with a 176.7 rating second only to Bradford.

13 December 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa

Quite a bit has happened this year and I've tried to be awfully good. I was hoping that you would be able to help me out with a few things (not in any particular order) that I would really like. I am wishing for....

Quality Incoming Class whether its recruits, JC transfers or even returning players. Help on the defense would be incredibly wonderful (Manti, Jray, Van Noy, etc). The offense could plug in a few replacement holes as well (McKayJ, Mahina, Manase, etc) to keep the flywheel turning.
Austin Collie To Stay another year. His experience, leadership, playmaking and consecutive 100 yard games will surely be missed and hard to replace.
"Veg" Bowl Victory that can help build some momentum heading into next year. Any wins against BCS type opponents (especially when away from LES) always helps with national credibility.
Coaching Staff Intact for the players and fans eliminating any gaps in learning transition of new schemes, etc. If needed to retain those individuals allowing the university to "pony up" rather than lose them to the yewts or wherever else they might head.
MWC Conference Champs Next Year outright (and yes that includes beating that heathen school up north) while continuing to defend our home field.
More Fully Invested Fans that are not disrespectful (foul mouthed taunting, throwing beverages, etc) who understand common decency and good sportsmanship for others. Fully invested fans show up on time (that means early) and wear BLUE.

...anything you can do Santa would be absolutely wonderful.

09 December 2008

Viva Las Vegas

This years Vegas bowl has a good chance of showing some serious offensive firepower from both teams. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into another shootout. The Cougs are 9-11 overall in the series with the wildcats but have taken 3 of the last 4 from Arizona since they first played back in 1936. Head coach Mike Stoops has led this years squad to 7-5 overall record and their first postseason appearance since 1998.

The cats return 10 of 11 offensive starters. Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes installed his spread offense and the results have shown. Arizona's Wildcats are directed by senior quarterback Willie Tuitama (6.3/220) who ranks 24th nationally with nearly a 143 pass efficiency rating. Tuitama has thrown for 21 TDs and 8 INTs for 2763 yards. The wildcat offense averages just over 400 yards per game and 37 points thrown up on the scoreboard.

The cats to return all five offensive lineman to provide Tuitama protection as well as pave the way for the capable backfield. Arizona's ground attack consists namely of sophomore Nic Grigsby (5.10/178) and Keola Antolin (5.8/180). Grigsby has rushed for over 1000 yards with 12 TDs while averaging 5.5 per carry but can be fumble prone. Antolin is a fabulous freshman from Vegas and spots 10 TDs on the season with 525 yards to his stats.

The wildcats will throw the ball around no question about that. They have 4 receivers (technically 3 WRs and 1 TE) who each have over 450 yards. The receiving corps is led by dangerous Mike Thomas (who also returns punts and is ranked 17th nationally). Thomas (5.8/195) has 70 receptions for nearly 800 yards and 4 TDs as a senior. Delashaun Dean (6.4/200) is a super sophomore with 46 catches for 505 yards and 3 TDs. The lone junior of the bunch is Terrell Turner (6.2/190) with 39 receptions and 469 yards. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (6.6/260) is a physically imposing sophomore who will keep defenses honest. Gronkowski missed 3 games with mono this season but still had 43 receptions for 645 yards and 10 TDs. Gronk may very well be the offensive difference maker for Arizona. If the 'cats get into the red zone definately look for some balls to be thrown his direction.

Despite only returning 3 defensive starters (serious makeover) the cats rank 20th nationally in overall total defense (36th for scoring defense). If this matchup does become a shootout and turnovers become a factor Arizona does rank 27th in TO margin. One stat that also stands out is that they rank 14th in pass defense. The Cougs may have to take to the ground and pound this thing out. The longer the jerseys in blue can keep Harvey and Fui on the field the longer it means the cats shouldn't be able to get on the board. Senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer (6.3/245) leads the cats with 77 tackles. Free safety senior Nate Ness is the playmaker of the unit and isn't far behind with 70 tackles.

Games are often won or lost with field position and ball control. If that does become an issue the cats do have sophomore Keenyn Crier who averages over 44 yards per punt and ranks 12th nationally. Crier (6.1/200) last season earned All Pac10 honors with more than a dozen heading 50 yards or better. Don't look for Arizona to hand this thing over. The cats will be hungry and ready to play. It won't be easy but if the Cougs can execute at a higher level, play smart positive ball control and play some tough defense look for the jerseys in blue to grit this one out and come out on top.

06 December 2008

On Neutral Ground

Later today at 5PM the Energy Solutions will be the center of attention in the 225th meeting between the Cougs and the Aggies. The jerseys in blue lead the series 134-90 and this will be the first time for both teams in squaring off at a neutral site. Both squads are defending conference champs coming fresh off of victories (Cougs thumpin Weber 92-62 and USU 74-62 over UC Irvine). Neither team has seriously been tested yet and this should give a better indication where both squads stand. The Aggies are led by a dynamic forward duo of Gary Wilkinson (6.9/240 Sr) and Tai Wesley (6.7/240 Soph). Wilkinson averages 16.4ppg with 8.2reb. Wesley isn't far behind at 12.6ppg with 7.0rebs. The Cougs triple threat of Cummard, Tavernari and Jimmer will be tough to shut down. Clutch Cummard leads the way at 20.6ppg with 6.6reb. Tavernari brings 16.1ppg and 7.1reb to the contest. Fredette averages 12.4ppg with 5.3ast. Tipoff is at 5pm with tv action on KJZZ and KBYU.

05 December 2008

Sark To Seattle

Multiple sources across the internet are saying former Cougar quarterback Steve Sarkisian and current USC offensive coordinator will be heading to Seattle to take the coaching reins over for Tyrone Willingham who was forced out at Washington after a rather disappointing (0-11) season. Husky AD Scott Woodward had no comment thursday. Sark will definately have a tough road ahead restoring the Husky tradition. Notable names that pop out include Lincoln Kennnedy, Greg Lewis, Ron Holmes, D'Marco Farr, Steve Emtman, Mark Brunell, Corey Dillon, Napolean Kaufman, Warren Moon, etc. Over the years Washington has had 15 PAC10 championships, 7 Rose Bowl titles, a split national championship (with Miami in 1991)and even have the 17th all time winning percentage. However, their last winning season was back in 2002 under "Slick" Rick. In four years under Willingham the Huskies were a dismal 11-32. If anyone has the capability to succeed its definately Sark. In 1996 Sark led the Cougs to a Cotton Bowl victory and named the Bowl MVP finishing a spectacular 13-1 season. As a Cougar Steve per cougarstats.com ranks 10th all time passing with 53TDs 26INT over 7464yards. Sark can relate to the players. He knows how to win. Steve even knows how to recruit. In fact, his hiring could be the final push to make a certain high school QB turn his eyes towards Washington from his "Heaps" of offers. Sark has the passion, fire and the tools necessary to make good things happen in Seattle.

02 December 2008

Max Factor

Against the matchup with that "school up North" it was rather painfully obvious that Max Hall clearly did not have one of his most productive games. In fact, Hall's performance was one of the worst of his collegiate career. Unfortunately, it was also rather evident there were some deficiencies in his game. On the other hand, who doesn't have some? Everyone has areas in anyone's life that could be addressed to become better whether its on the field or off. Instead of looking at the negative individuals could stop and take inventory. Since taking the reins back in 2007 Max has lead the team to an overall 21 wins and 4 losses including 2 bowl appearances (the 2nd is still yet to be determined but is assured). After the 2007 season his QB rating stood at 137.11. So far this year Max has improved on it marking it at 160.33. Consider a few stats pulled from cougarstats.com (definately a recommend site well worth checking out!) where Max stands...

Career Passing
1. Ty Detmer 121TD 65INT for 15,031 yards
8. Marc Wilson 61TD 46INT for 7637 yards
9. Max Hall 60TD 25INT for 7477 yards
10. Steve Sarkisian 53TD 26INT for 7464 yards

QB Rating
1. Ty Detmer 162.7
6. Robbie Boscoe 149.4
7. Max Hall 148.2
8. John Walsh 147.7

Career Total Offense
1. Ty Detmer 135TD 65INT for 14.665 yards
8. Marc Wilson 68TD 46INT for 7602 yards
9. Max Hall 64TD 25INT for 7590 yards
10. Steve Sarkisian 56TD 26INT for 7253 yards

In 2007 Max Hall simply put up the best digits of any sophomore QB in the nation (yes that includes Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, etc). By passing for a nations best 3848 yards over 13 games last year he also became the MWC All Time leading sophomore QB. With the awesome stats Hall put down on paper in 2007 he ranked fourth in Cougar history behind only Detmer, Sarkisian and Robbie Bosco through their first 13 starts (among some fine company). Max even showed some serious toughness as well in last years "Holy War" with a 49 yard completion on the famous 4th and18. Keep in mind Hall was still "recovering" from a significant shoulder injury the previous week. The future is bright. There is still more football to be played. There are still games to be won. Not too shabby for being the nephew of Danny White.

28 November 2008

Unfinished Business

Defeat is always bitterly hard to swallow. Last saturdays 48-24 awful implosion to the yewts was incredibly hard to digest. No possible BCS bid. No conference championship, etc. Like Thanksgiving it was a feast, on turnovers. Six TOs will pretty much seal the deal for anyone. It seemed like that afternoon/evening the offense's ball control had A.D.D. on some energy drink. Games of intense rivalry are often determined by execution (as Bronco says), focus, discipline, and simply hard work. Unfortunately, those characteristics weren't present on the field that day. Although hard to take the Cougs will bounce back. Former great Cowboy coach Tom Landry once said "Something contructive comes from every defeat". When was the last time the jerseys in blue had a 3000 yard QB, two 1000 yard receivers AND a 1000 yard rusher BEFORE a Bowl Game? No the season it NOT over. There is still one more game to be played. There is still work to be accomplished and addressed. We are still undefeated at home and heading to our 3rd consecutive bowl. (Photo Credit Douglas C Pizac)

20 November 2008

Other Rivalries

Many collegiate football fans outside the state of Utah might not be aware of how intense the rivalry is between the Cougs and the team up north. Some may see it as church versus state. Former ESPN College Football Analyst Bill Curry sometime ago mentioned of our particular rivalry "I think people from the south and from the midwest ought to see this. This is big-time football rivalry". With the focus this week on perhaps the state's biggest game of the year with possible BCS implications it would be interesting to see where it stands among others found around the nation. Did a little bit of internet digging and found quite a few. As follows...

Florida/Georgia-Often referred to as the world's largest cocktail party (no I haven't "participated"). Apparently tailgating begins the week before and is held at a neutral location.
Ohio State/Michigan-Began way back in 1896. Between the two schools there are 18 national championships and 10 Heisman's. Most games have determined the Big 10 conference title. In fact many have influenced the outcome of the national championship game itself. Was ranked back in 2000 by ESPN as the greatest in American sports rivalry.
Oklahoma/Texas-Known as the Red River shootout. Played on a neutral field exactly halfway between the two. You know its big when even the two state's governers have bet on the game.
Alabama/Auburn-The "Iron Bowl" began in 1893 and wasn't played from 1907 through 1948 since they couldn't even decide which ref's to use.
Army/Navy-Simply known as the Commander In Chief Trophy. What a great rivalry where they don't play for a NFL contract but for country.
Lafayette/Lehigh-This one's so old it predates football trophies. The winning team gets the gameball painted with the score.
Minnesota/Wisconsin-Played for the instrument of forest destruction known as "Paul Bunyon's Axe". It is also the oldest rivalry in NCAA Div IA.
Harvard/Yale-The 3rd most played rivalry. It was also one of the 1st collegiate football matchups.
California/Stanford-This produced "the play" back in 1982 using 5 laterals and took out a completely stunned cardinal trombone player.
USC/Notre Dame-Played for "The Jeweled Shilelagh" a Gaelic warclub from Ireland made from oak. It has a ruby for USC or emerald for Notre Dame placed on it.

...unfortunately there have likely been countless numbers of rivalries that will have been left out. So where do you think this one stands? Would love to hear!

19 November 2008

Opposition In All Things

Like Coke versus Pepsi there seems to be opposition in all things. Both schools can't even agree on what the alltime matchup records. At stake saturday is the deseret duel, the Beehive Boot, a possible BCS berth, a share of the MWC title, as well as school pride. The yewts head into the action in Lavell Edwards Stadium North (yeah thats Rice Eccles) flaunting a #8 national ranking with a perfect 11-0 record. Unfortunately, the Cougs haven't beat a top ten team since 1990 (then #1 Miami) or a top 10 team on the road since 1984. On the other hand BYU is 148-92 when ranked in the top 25. Considering the fact that the Cougs have such a high octane offense and the yewts control a rather stingy defense makes this matchup look like a doozy. The game is sold out (or check out ebay link listed below 2 tix northeast endzone corner $1500) but for those fans it can still be watched on "The MTN".


The Cougars ride into town ranked #16 sporting a 10-1 record while the yewts are 35-17-3 playing in Salt Lake. Senior yewt QB mentioned "It's big, you know, because so much is on the line". The jerseys in blue would absolutely love nothing better than to destroy their possible BCS hopes with a Cougar victory and a share of the conference title.

In the offensive trenches the team up north starts Zane Taylor (6.3/305 Soph), Caleb Schlauderaff (6.5/305 Soph), Zane Beadles (6.4/305 JR), Robert Conley (6.1/310 SR) and Dustin Hensel (6.7/307 SR). Conley is a 4th year starter and scheduled to graduate this summer in economics. Hensel is a history major and obviously hopes to claim a little piece of history. Sophomore center Zane Taylor is a beast who squats 550 and benches 405 pounds.

Behind center is Brian Johnson (6.1/200 SR) who has thrown for 2,333 yards with 20 TDs and 9 INTs (143.5 rating). Backup is Corbin Louks (6.0/195 FR) who has some serious potential and can hurt opponents on the ground or through the air. Look for junior yewt RB to take some direct snaps as well.

The yewt backfield has a 1-2 punch much like the Cougs in Matt Asiata (6.0/230 JR) and Darrell Mack (6.0/220 SR). Asiata has bounced back nicely from a broken leg last season forcing him to redshirt now rushing this year 122 times for 633 yards with 10 TDs. On the year Mack has 110 carries for 493 yards and 3 TDs.

As for the yewt wideouts they have 4 with over 300 receiving yards a piece. Downtown Freddie Brown (6.4/215 SR) has some wheels and leads the crew with 57 catches covering 678 yards and 7TDs. Bradon Godfrey (6.3/200 SR) owns enough juke moves for 47 connections over 466 yards and 3 TDs. Senior wideout Brent Casteel (5.10/200) has 35 receptions on the year for 486 yards and 1 TD while David Reed (6.0/185 JR) has 19 catches for 309 yards adding 4 more TDs.

On the defensive line the yewts will line up with left end Koa Misi (6.3/265 JR), tackle Greg Newman (6.4/260 SR), nosetackle Derrick Shelby (6.3/245), and all conference sophomore Paul Kruger (6.5255). Misi and Kruger will definately anchor the line saturday and will provide a tough challenge for the Cougs OL to protect Max.

The linebacker jerseys in red will be supplied by Steven Sylvestor (6.2/225 JR), former walkon Mike Wright (6.2/230 SR) and sophomore Nai Fotu (6.1/232). Last season Sylvestor was second on the team with 86 tackles .

In the secondary the yewts will have a pair of seniors in Brice McCain (5.9/185) and Sean Smith (6.3/214) covering the corners. While the safeties will be manned by a pair of juniors in Robert Johnson (6.3/195) and Joe Dale (5.11/200). Last season Dale was named the Pointsettia Bowl defensive MVP (provided 12 tackles as well as a game saving INT). Although the yewt secondary may not have serious size they do possess some scary speed.
At special teams the yewts have senior candidate Louie Sakoda (5.10/178) who is up for both the Ray Guy and Lou Groza awards. His only misses in 2007 came from 45, 48 and 51 yards. This season "Louie Louie" has 46 perfect PATs. He is 8 of 8 from 30-39 yards, 6-7 from 40-49 yards and 2 of 3 from 50 plus yards. If the game is close Sakoda could definately be an "x factor".

18 November 2008

So "Long"

Two days after the Lobo season ended Rocky Long threw in his hat and called it a career as head coach. Way back in 1969 through 1971 he was the starting QB for New Mexico and even was WAC offensive player of the year in 1971. After a short stint sometime in the CFL (BC Lions) Long found himself behind the whistle taking the coaching reins in 1998. Yes, his overall record might not have been that great. Consider this though he was 40-34 in conference play. Rocky led the Lobos to 3 straight bowl games (5 overall) finished 9-4 last season including a 70-7 thumping of a conference opponent this season. Long produced one of the NFLs best linebackers in the game in Brian Urlacher. He also gave us Bronco. New Mexico's athletic director Paul Krebs mentioned about Rocky "In my opinion Rocky's 11 year tenure is the best 11 years in the history of our football program. He is New Mexico football.". Whatever Rocky road you travel best wishes to you and good luck in all your endeavors.

16 November 2008

BLUE And red Leatherheads

Way back when in 1922 (October 14th to be precise) was the first rivalry contest between the two schools. At least by knowledgable sources. The heathen school up north believes it all began back in 1896 when BYU was still an academy. It's just one of many things that both identities can't seem to agree on. Much like Michigan or Ohio State. Possibly Ali Frazier. How bout the Sox and the Yankees? Maybe Bird and Magic. Or even from the links Palmer and Nicklaus. Former ESPN College Football Analyst Bill Curry has mentioned of our particular rivalry "I think people from the south and from the midwest ought to see this. This is big-time football rivalry". In the last 10 matchups (excluding the 2004 smackdown) the combined AVERAGE margin of victory is only 4.4 points. Will it be another nailbiter? The series always seems to provide some of the most memorable matchups. Last season "Magic Happened". In 2006 it was the "Answered Prayer". Back in 2003 the duel would be remembered vividly as "The Snow Bowl". Reaching back into 2001 there was Staley's sideline run. There was also something special in 2000 for "Lavell's Last Hurrah". Fans even remember the "Kaneshiro Doink" heard round the world (well at least in the state). Regardless of what side you are on at least one thing that could be agreed on is that it sure will be fun to watch. And yes you better wear BLUE (facepaint and leatherhead optional).

Whose "Overrated"

Saturday 42,177 fans were able to watch at Falcon Stadium the Air Force cadets getting beat by a team that "might be the most overrated No. 17 team in American football history" as quoted David Ramsey from the Colorado Springs Gazette Sports Columnist. Yes, the Falcons put up a fight and threw up a few points on the board. Air Force senior Todd Newell (5.10/210) was the cadets highlight who had 21 carries for 116 yards and 1 TD. The 38-24 loss to BU drops the falcons to 8-3 and 5-2 in the conference. On the other hand the Cougs can still control their destiny with a 10-1 overall record (6-1 in MWC play). The jerseys in blue have now won 22 of 23 MWC games and have claimed 5 straight wins over the cadets. Overrated? Max Hall was 28 of 37 for 354 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Unga (despite playing with a stinger) carried the rock 19 times for 88 yards and 2 TDs. Pitta reeled off 9 receptions for 113 yards while Austin torched the cadet secondary 7 times for 130 yards with 2 TDs and a halftime pep talk. By the way the Falcons now drop to 14-62-4 against "ranked" teams. So David Ramsey if you are out there, you tell me who's overrated?

15 November 2008

Clutch Cummard

Inside the friendly confines of the Marriott Center the Cougars tusseled with the Long Beach State 49ers en route to a hard fought 75-65 victory. From the Sporting News Mike DeCourcy put together his top 10 list of small forwards which included Lee "Clutch" Cummard. Last nite showed why. Lee carried the Cougs scoring 22 of the blue jerseys first 31 points. Cummard does it all showing his versatility. In 36 minutes Lee had 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists even included 3 blocks. The Cougs were also able to shut down Donovan Morris holding him to 13 points. Tavernari added 19 points, 7 rebs and 5 assists while Miles had 9 points and 6 rebs. Next up the Cougs will head tuesday to Pepperdine. (Photo Credit Douglas C Pizac)

14 November 2008

48 On The 49ers

Just a reminder that within a few hours from now that this will be your first chance to see the hoop jerseys this season officially and extend the nations longest home winning streak to 48 over the visiting Long Beach 49ers at the Marriott Center. Yes, March Madness 2008-9 will be officially underway. This is where RPI (rankings per index) and the SOS (strength of schedule) all begins. It's a clean slate for everyone and a fresh new start. Last season the Cougars finished as MWC Champions with a 27-8 overall record. The series is knotted up at 4 games a piece with the 49ers coached by Dan Monson who took a squad to the Elite Eight (Gonzaga back in 1999). Monson is in his second season at Long Beach State with a 176-148 overall record covering 12 years. Pregame radio coverage begins at 6PM (tipoff at 7PM) on KSL 1160AM (Sorry but no tv, either hear it live or go check it out personally in surround-sound).

The visiting 49ers are led by preseason All Big West senior stud Donovan Morris (6.3G) who can lite it up. Morris has had 4 thirty point games and 22 twenty point games in his career. Of the opener coach Rose mentioned "This is a time that our players are excited for...the guys are excited for the season to start". Good luck Cougs and don't forget to rise and shout for the jerseys in blue will be taking court again!

12 November 2008

Air Or Ground??

In each of the past 11 seasons the Falcons have led the conference in rushing and currently rank 4th nationally. Last season had all everything Chad Hall who set the school all purpose yardage record with 2,683 yards. With his graduation it was unlikely one single player would be able to replace Hall. Could it be running back by committee this year? Well, this season Air Force's (8-2) top 7 rushers have 229 yards rushing or more. They say if you find something that works stick with it. Falcon coach Troy Calhoun has done exactly that. At 17-6 over two seasons his stock is clearly rising. Yes the Cougs have taken the last 4 from Air Force. It's also true that the Falcons have won 5 straight since losing to Navy. Air Force also happens to rank 17th nationally in scoring defense with a 17.3 average. Not too shabby for a team projected to finish 6th in the conference (Athlon). Saturdays matchup between the Cougs and the Falcons will be the 29th meeting with the jerseys in blue holding the all time edge (22-6). Last season the Cougs came away with a 31-6. So what will we see? Will it be the high octane offensive air attack from the Cougs to prevail in another shootout? Or will we see the chunks of yards ground out from the Falcons? Fans will soon find out 1:30MT (DirecTV 613 Comcast 170 Dish 152).

09 November 2008

Quest For Perfection

Failure was not an option. In the final home game of the season the 15th ranked Cougars "Quest For Perfection" remained alive at least in defending its home territory over three seasons with 18 total wins by thumping on turnover prone San Diego State. The Aztecs came into saturdays contest nationally ranked 119th and its performance showed why (keep in mind only 7 Aztecs have been able to start all 10 games). Senior receiver Michael Reed said "Not too many teams across the country can say they've done what we've done". David Nixon experienced his last home game of the year as well and went out in style. Nixon went sideline to sideline registering a career high 14 tackles as well as an INT. The cougar defense played rather well gathering three fumble recoveries and an interception. (Photo Credit Jeffrey D Allred)

Taking snaps behind center Max was all business. Hall had yet another efficent day at the office throwing for 317 yards 3 TDs and no INTs with an end result of another team "W" including a 205 QB rating. Max found Collie 9 times for 127 yards with 2 TDs. It was Austin's 14th career 100yard receiving game and I'm sure it won't be his last.

High five needs to go Andrew Rich who filled in rather nicely for Brandon Howard considering he hasn't played that position. Mitch Payne seems to be bouncing back from a rough year last year. Mitch has made 39 of 41 PATS this year while hitting 6 of 8 FG attempts (21, 25, 26, 30, 39, 44). Harvey Unga ran 11 times for only 37 yards leaving the game with a shoulder stinger and did not return. On games like this I would have especially liked to see Chambers and Diluigi get more PT but due to the "senior day" I assume Latu took JJ's reps. With the loss San Diego State now has lost 12 of its last 13 games overall. The cougars will next travel to face Air Force (8-2) this saturday at 1PM.

08 November 2008

McMahon's "Air" Time

Somewhat recently Jim McMahon's father sent a letter to the university addressing his thoughts concerning his son's name missing from the Cougar Hall Of Fame hoping to have him included. McMahon took to the air and often playing from 1977 through 1981 setting 71 NCAA Div 1 records while wearing the Cougar blue. In 1980 and 81 McMahon led the nation in passing and total offense and won the Davey O'brien award in the process. Jim played a major part of BYUs bowl history in likely one of the greatest comebacks in all time known as "The Miracle Bowl" winning the Holiday Bowl 46-45 against Eric Dickerson and Craig James. McMahon ranks 3rd all time for Cougars passing for 9,536 yards (trails only Detmer and John Beck) as well as QB all time rating (157.5). Back in 1982 McMahon moved on as the fifth pick overall of the NFL draft by the Chicago Bears yet apparently 9 credits shy of graduating. A few years later Jim led "da Bears" to two Superbowl victory as well as in 1985 a pro bowl appearance. McMahon even appeared in a rap song "Superbowl Shuffle". In his first year of eligibilty Jim was honored as his name was added into the college football hall of fame. With all the accomplishments, tradition, and honors it is a shame his name isn't even included to his university's football hall of fame. Rules are rules though. At the time he played he was arguably the greatest QB ever to wear a blue jersey and among of the best to play collegiately. At any other campus his jersey would have been retired and added into the applicable hall of fame. In fact, I think we'd all be surprised at how many that are included who haven't graduated. What are your thoughts? Would sincerely love to hear!

06 November 2008

"Stinging" From The Election?

Later tonight the mens hoop team will open exhibition against the Concordia Stingers 7pm at the Martiott Center. Tickets are still available by calling BYUs ticket office (800) 322-BYU1 (for those interested). The stingers are led by a pair of brothers from Montreal (Dwayne 6-3 and Damian Buckley 6-1). Tonights game will be televised of BYUtv with Greg Wrubell providing the play by play with former player Mark Durrant adding his analysis. Since the game is an exhibition it is great chance to tweak with playing time as well as possible starting lineups without risking any eligibility. Its a great opportunity to get a better look and indication of where some of the youth such as Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock stand for the "blue"shirt possibility. Coach Dave Rose had mentioned "Its good to put the guys in game situations and get a true evaluation of how they are doing". The team captains were recently selected in Lee Cummmard and Jonathan Tavernari. (Photo credit Mark Philbrick)

02 November 2008

It's A "Long" Season

In the history of the MWC (9 years) the Aztecs is the only team to not yet qualify for a postseason bowl. San Diego State is experiencing yet another "Long" season with a 1-8 record. The lone victory came at home against the Idaho vandals (not exactly a powerhouse). Coach Chuck Long's era (3rd year behind the whistle) unfortunately seems awfully similar to former coach Tom Craft with not alot of team progress. In fact the Aztecs will lose 6 schollies over the next two seasons due to substandard adacemic progress rate scores. The jerseys in blue definately hold the lopsided edge 24-7 with 1 tie in a series that began back in 1947. Last year in San Diego the Cougs secured another victory 48-27 in front of 28,473 fans and will look to do the same saturday high noon at Lavell Edwards Stadium.

Starting at quarterback is reshirt freshman Ryan Lindley. Two years ago Lindley was among the top offensive players in San Diego county. Ryan has a strong arm and is not afraid to get the ball down the field. On the season Lindley has 10 TDs 6 INTs with over 1,500 yards while sporting a 115.6 QB rating.

Lindley's weapons through the air include Roberto Wallace (6.4/215 JR), Darren Mougey (6.6/230 SR), Vincent Brown (6.0/185 Soph) and Matt Hawulok (6.2/245 JR) which as a unit are more than capable targets that can do some damage. Mougey is a converted quarterback has some serious size and isn't afraid to go over the middle. As a true freshman Brown passed on a redshirt season with 31 catches last season including a pair of TDs.

In the backfield Atiyyah Henderson (5.9/180) gets the majority of carries. The junior from Rockledge Florida is explosive but has had a history of dropping the rock. At fullback is Tyler Campbell (6.0/220 SR) who is the son of the legend himself (Earl Campbell). Last year on the ground the Aztecs ranked last in the MWC as well as 105th nationally.

Along the offensive line the Aztecs only have one returning starter in center Trask Iosefa (6.0/315 Soph). Although at left guard is Mike Schmidt (6.2/320 SR) who did start at least 6 games in 2007. Right tackle Lance Louis (6.3/300 SR) is actually a converted tight tend. This area is still definately a work in progress.

The top returning defensive playmaker is linebacker Russell Allen (6.3/235 SR) who in 2007 had a team leading 119 tackles. Free safety Corey Boudreaux (6.1/220 SR) registered 13 tackles last week against Wyoming. On the bright side San Diego State does return 7 starters on the "D". However, the special teams might not be that special. This season the Aztecs are breaking in a new kicker, punter as well as a new long snapper. If there is a game for the Cougs to help get the youth some valuable experience on the field this is it.

Another "Tight End" -ing

Saturday evening the jerseys in blue escaped Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins with yet another tight ending (45-42). The cougs have now won 5 consecutive games against CSU. BYU continues to somehow roll in wining its eighth straight game decided within a TD margin or less. It wasn't pretty (teams combined for 14 total penalties) but good teams find a way to work their way through adversity when the chips are down.

With the regular starting secondary practically missing it seemed like deja vu all over again for the Cougs back to the old WAC shootout days. Tafuna did not play still dealing with his dislocated shoulder. Scotty Johnson left the game (groin pull) and did not return. Bradley also was injured while playing (bruise to the shin). Backup Shiloah Teo did not travel still recovering from his bell ringer. Can't blame the rams for doing some traveling through the air (270 yards on the night through the arms of Farris and one nifty throw from Morton).

With a number of NFL scouts present the stars came out. Max, Pitta, Unga, Collie, and even John Beck (visiting on the sidelines with former Cougar John Denney) made their presence known. Max provided another efficient night at the office (214.7 efficiency rating) completing 28 receptions for 389 yards with 5 TDs and 1 INT. Hall spread the wealth again to 8 different receivers. Unga did his work bruising for 133 yards on the ground. Pitta also showed why he's among the best in the nation at tight end. Dennis snagged 12 catches for 175 yards including 2 TDs. His 2nd TD pretty much sealed the deal with 22 seconds left. Collie came into the game as the nations leading receiver and posted yet his 7th straight 100yd receiving game (9 catches for 156 yards) with 3 TDs. Jorgensen had two sacks becoming the MWC All Time Sack Leader (record now at 22.5 sacks). One can only wonder how many close games the Cougars can grit through. The jerseys in blue return home to matchup against San Diego State in a game that will be televised November 8th on "The MTN" at high noon.

30 October 2008

Conference RAM-ifications

At 4pm saturday the jerseys in blue will be found in Hughes Stadium in Colorado Springs squared up against the gritty CSU Rams which will continue to sort out the conference standings. The Cougs record all time against the rams is 36-27 with 3 ties in a series that began back in 1922. In Colorado Springs the jerseys in blue have also won 11 of the last 13 matchups. CSUs first year coach (Steve Fairchild) is a former Ram OC as well as QB (was 2nd team all WAC behind ole Jim McMahon back in 1980) who takes over for Sonny Lubick. Of the jerseys in blue coach Fairchild has mentioned "We'll need our best game to be in the thing". When he took the coaching reins coach Fairchild said "We won here before and I'm convinced we can win again"". Currently at the halfway point the rams are 4-4 (yet are 2-2 in MWC play) and already well on their way of turning things around. Keep in mind CSU only averaged 4.8 wins over Sonny Lubicks last 5 seasons. (Helmet photo credit/Adrenalin Design Group)

Coach Fairchild seems to have found a more than capable QB replacement for Caleb Hanie (3 yr starter) in senior Billy Farris. The former JC transfer and walk on slinger from Baton Rouge isn't afraid to take a hit in getting the rock down the field. On the season Farris has 148 completions for over 1,700 yards. His backup is Klay Kubiak (the son of Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak). Farris' options include Rashaun Greer (6.1/200 JR), Dion Morton (5.10/160) and Kory Sperry (6.6/250 SR). Greer has 40 receptions on the year for 715 yards and 1 TD. Morton is a speedy junior from Riverside CA that tallied up over 400 yards receiving with 3 TDs this season. Sperry is much like Pitta, among the best tight ends in the nation. Kory has excellent hands, amazing speed for a big man, and is always a dangerous threat. Last week against San Diego State he racked up 5 rec 61 yards with 3 TDs. Over his career Sperry has 133 catches for 1642 yards and 19 TDs.

On the ground the rams return an abundance of talent and experience. Gartrell Johnson (6.0/227 SR) has the ability to hurt teams. The explosive senior has rushed for over 2,000 yards with 18 TDs so far as a ram. His backup is a former starter Kyle Bell (6.3/230 SR) who as a sophomore back in 2005 rushed for nearly 1300 yards (sat out last year with a torn ACL). John Mosure is a sophomore who will also receive some carries and is the rams most versatile back.

Across the offensive trenches the rams have four juniors and 1 senior all of which are returning starters. The line's experience should help Farris finding time distributing the ball among his weapons (through the ground or the air). Defensive Coordinator Larry Kerr inherits some dangerous hitters in Tommie Hill (6.6/245 DE/SR), Jeff Horinek (6.3/235 MLB/SR) and sophomore WLB Ricky Brewer (6.2/210). Hill had 5.5 sacks last year while Horinek is the soul of the defense and registered 163 tackles the past two seasons.

In the secondary the rams have some difference makers at safety in Klint Kubiak (6.0/200 JR) and Mike Pagnotta (6.0/200 SR). Unfortunately, Pagnotta is scheduled to have surgery soon so starting in his slot could be Jake Galusha (5.10/200 SR) or Josh Gabler (6.0/205 JR). CSU at CB will slot Nick Oppenneer (5.10/175 JR) and Gerard Thomas (5.9/165 FR). Saturday should be a rather intriguing matchup and provide plenty of points on the board.

28 October 2008

Best Wishes "G"

Heard some disappointing news that apparently G Pittman (5.10/185) freshman and Rancho Cucamonga native asked coach Mendenhall for his release in order to transfer. The Cougar secondary for the time being will definately get a little bit thinner. Of the situation at hand coach Mendenhall said "I have granted him a released and wish him the very best as he pursues his football and academic goals". The jerseys in blue will be just fine without him and both parties will adjust and move on. Although Pittman would have eventually likely made a fine contribution and asset to the team. Definately hate to see you go but best wishes regardless of whatever road you travel in life!

26 October 2008

Fui's Field

Saturday the jerseys in blue successfully defended its territory at Lavell Edwards Stadium in a slugfest to remain undefeated against UNLV (4-0) under Bronco Mendenhall in its 11th straight home sellout. Good ole #9 (Austin Collie) got things quickly rollin with a 75 yard opening kickoff return breaking this seasons previous high of 51 when O'neill Chambers took some serious chunks of yards off the field against Northern Iowa. Marching down a short field Max Hall completed his opening drive with a 8 yard TD completion to Andrew George placing the Cougars on the board first. (Photo Credit goes to Scott G Winterton)

On the day Hall had an efficient day "at the office". Max threw for 4 TDs with no INTs on 30 attempts with 24 receptions putting him at a 186.4 efficiency rating (per Wrubell). It was definately gratifying to see Hall spread the wealth around (9 different receivers) while making the most of the Cougars opportunities. BYU was perfect 6 of 6 in the "blue" zone.

After the dust had finally settled from the matchup the receiving corps had amassed 247 yards. Collie had yet another phenomenal game dissecting the rebel secondary in his 6th straight 100 yard receiving contest (113 for the record). Late in the 1st quarter O'neill Chambers caught his first TD (I'd assume/hope there will be MANY more to come as well) as a Cougar on 20 yd pass from Hall. Reed caught 5 for 71 yards even blocking for a Max Hall 31 yard scamper in the second quarter. Although, Pitta seemed to be AWOL until the forth quarter when he grabbed a 6 yard TD pass. Kudos to the coaching staff for opening the playbook (reverse, Collie pass to Reed, etc) even just a little bit more than usual. Always nice to keep defenses honest on their heels not knowing what to expect. (Photo Credit goes to Scott G Winterton)

While the road graters in the offensive trenches were busy clearing the paths the ground game was a beautiful site to see. Di Luigi was able to add a phenomenal block. Harvey bruised for 82 yards with solo TD. It seemed like the spotlight though was on Fui. Concerning his OL Fui mentioned "They just exploded and the holes were just right there. You could fit an elephant through that". Vakapuna on the ground bulldozed for 71 yards on the day including a TD reception.

For the day the special teams were more than adequate although there is always room for improvement. Freshman Bryan Kariya was able to block a punt allowing the Cougars to capitalize. Santiago had a beautiful punt pinning UNLV deep in its own territory. Payne drilled 2 field goals while his PATs were 4 of 4 perfect. On the other hand there were too many short field's for the rebels from kickoffs heading out of bounds.

Between the 20s the defensive clamps came down on Frank "The Tank" only allowing 32 yards on the day. However, in its place Omar Clayton threw for over 350 yards up and down the field on the "bend don't break" defense. It took a sack by Matt "The Stork" Putnam on Clayton and a desperation heave INT by Andrew Rich in the south endzone as the final seconds ticked off the clock to stop the bleeding. Afterwards Coach Sanford acknowledged "We just didn't make enough plays. Unfortunately, that's been a recurring theme" his rebels shortcoming giving them their 4th straight loss.

Next week the Cougs travel to the rocky mountain state and will take on pesky Colorado State and new coach Steve Fairchild at 4 pm in a matchup that will be televised on "The Mountain". Fairchild served as the OC for the Buffalo Bills the last two years. BYU is 36 and 27 overall against the rams in a series that began back in 1922.

23 October 2008

Hitting The Books

Many of us might not be fully invested in furthering our education right now like the student athletes might be. On the other hand if you might be looking for a book to delve into that would pertain to those of us who are Cougar fans here's a short list of books worth checking out (many of which are available at the byu bookstore)....

Wild Blue Yonder/Dick Harmon
Airing It Out/Lavell Edwards
Tales From The BYU Sidelines/Brad Rock
Cougarmania/Jeff Call
The Unholy War/Phil Miller
And They Came To Pass/Brad Rock
Winning Football With The Forward Pass/Lavell Edwards
The Steve Young Story/Laura Livsey
Making Of A Legend (Ty Detmer)/Dick Harmon
Roaring Back To Glory/Jeff Call

Magic Happens

Love him or hate him by the time Austin Collie graduates he likely will leave a legacy as one of the all time greats in the rich tradition of Cougar football. There have been some good ones to come through the program. Names such as Matt Bellini; Margin Hooks, Phil Odle, Reno Mahe, Eric Drage, Glen Kozlowski, Andy Boyce, and Todd Watkins to name a few all bring back incredible memories. The outspoken junior wide receiver should end up passing former great Eric Drage (1990-93 with 3,066 yards and 29 TDs) in becoming the top receiver ever to wear the Cougar blue. Collie currently has 2,506 yards for his career (789 yds 8 TDs on the season) and is definately well on his way. Even back in high school (Oak Ridge) Collie was dissecting defenses piling up yards and collecting awards. As a senior Austin had 60 receptions with 1,654 all purpose yards earning a slot as a top 5 nominee for the California Mr Football Award. Former Cougar receiver and brother Zac commented on Austin "He wants to be the best receiver...to reach goals he set forth for himself". Despite the loss at TCU Collie finished the night with his fifth 100 yd receiving game (116 receiving yards) tying a MWC record set by originally by JR Tolver from SD State back in 2002. According to Austin "my main focus is winning football games especially after the loss we had". Personally I feel much like Collie in the sense that if one sets forth realistic attainable goals, put forth the honest effort, that magic ultimately will eventually happen with all awards, records and accolades will take care of themselves.

21 October 2008

MWC Preseason Team

Figured everyone has their lists. Why not do the same? Here's my MWC Preseason First Team. Thoughts? Would love to hear.

Wink Adams 6.0G/UNLV 16.7ppg 3.1apg
Marcus Walker 6.0G/CSU 17.1ppg 2.6apg
Lee Cummard 6.7GF/BYU 15.8ppg 6.3rpg
Andrew Henke 6.6GF/Air Force 11.3ppg 4.5rpg
Luke Nevill 7.2C/Yewts 15.2ppg 6.7rpg

18 October 2008

Home Sweet Home

With the rebels coming into town on the 25th it couldn't come at a better time after the sinking of the cougars BCS ship against TCU. The jerseys in blue return to the friendly confines of Lavell Edwards Stadium still clinging to a 16 home win streak trying to regain some composure and confidence.

Former walkon quarterback Omar Clayton (6.1/200 Soph) will lead the offense onto the field supported by senior Frank "The Tank" Summers. No introduction really necessary for Summers. Any questions about Frank? Just ask the yewts when he burned them last season for 190 yards and 2 TDs. In the mold of Unga he's a big physical bruiser bulldozer of a back (5.10/240) who can steamroll up precious yards in the blink of an eye.

At the wideouts are a talented trio of Ryan Wolfe (6.1/205 JR), Casey Flair (6.1/195 SR), and Phillip Payne (6.3/185 FR) who have 12 TDs and have piled up over 1,000 receiving yards combined. Wolfe and Flair currently rank 4th and 7th in conference receiving.

At left tackle is super sophomore Matt Murphy (6.3/300, was a freshman All American). Johan Asiata (6.4/315 SR) returns but switched from right tackle to left gaurd this season. Sophomore John Gianninoto (6.3/285) takes over at center. On the right side is Joe Hawley (6.3/295 JR) and Evan Marchal (6.6/295 Soph). The hogs in the rebel offensive trenches appear to be one of the better experienced and talented crews of the Sanford era.

On the ends and tackles defensively the rebels start Isaako Aaitui (6.3/290 Soph), Malo Taumua (6.0/275 Soph), Marten Tevaseu (6.3/320 JR) and Thor Pili (6.3/275 SR) who can wreak some havoc. Beau Bell (arguably among the best LB in school history) might be gone but the rebels have a LB corps deep in promise. Starr Fuimaono (5.11/215 JR) leads the rebuilt crew. At the middle LB is Ronnie Paulo (6.1/230 Soph) while Jason Beauchamp 6.3/215 JR) covers the OLB spot.

Sophomore standout Quinton Pointer (5.9/185) started eight games as a freshman leads the secondary depth. Geoff Howard (5.10/195 SR) mans the other corner. Junior Daryl Forte (5.10/185 JR) is a two year starter at safery. Junior Terrance Lee (6.0/175, Arizona Western College transfer) splits at strong safety.

Conference Hoop Preview

Is it seriously already that time of year? Seems only a few months ago was anxiously awaitin for the announcement of the Cougs seeding for the Big Dance to unveiled. Yet hoops season is just around the corner with the MWC Conference recently announcing its 10th anniversary team which included current Cougar Lee "Clutch" Cummard. The Cougars open court on Oct 29th in Provo and now is a great time for a quick rundown (besides ANY distraction from the massacre flashbacks from TCU can't hurt). My predictions in order include...

1. UNLV (27-8, Lost 2nd rd Big Dance)
2. BYU (27-8, Lost 1st rd Big Dance)
3. Yewts (18-15, Lost 2nd rd CBI)
4. New Mexico (24-9, Lost 1st rd NIT)
5. San Diego State (20-13, Lost 1st rd NIT)
6. Wyoming (12-18, Lost 1st rd MWC tourney)
7. Air Force (16-14, Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney)
8. CSU (7-25, Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney)
9. TCU (14-16, Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney)

....now for a quick rundown with a few notes on the teams aphabetically....

Air Force (16-14) Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney, 8-8 Conference
Coach Jeff Reynolds (98-48 career, 2nd yr Air Force)
Evan Washington 6-4G/So
Andrew Henke 6-6GF/Sr 11.3ppg 4.5rpg
Anwar Johnson 6-5F/Sr
Matt Holland 6-6F/Sr
Grant Parker 6-7FC/Sr
The falcons first move was to lock up coach Jeff Reynolds with a five year contract. Henke is one of the MWC best shooters who came off the bench last season in all 30 games yet averaging 11.3ppg shooting 42% from behind the 3line. Beyond the starters Air Force will have some serious youth on the roster. Falcons were the leagues worst on the glass (avg 25.7 rpg).

BYU (27-8) Lost 1st rd Big Dance, 14-2 Conference
Coach Dave Rose (72-26 career, 4th yr Cougs at 72-26)
LaMont Morgan 5-10G/Jr (Redshirted last season)
Jimmer Fredette 6-2G/So 7.0ppg
Lee Cummard 6-7GF/Sr 15.8ppg 6.3rpg 3.5apg
Jonathan Tavernari 6-6F/Jr 13.1 5.3rpg
Chris Miles 6-11C/Jr 2.5ppg
The Cougs will look to three-peat as MWC Champions this season (14-2 in conference play last season). Jonathan "JT" spent the summer with his national team trying to qualify for the olmypics. Returning 2007-8 conference co-Player Of The Year returns in "clutch" Cummard who averaged 15.8ppg 6.3rpg while shooting 56.9% from the field even dead eye from the three territory at 47.2 percent. Tavernari set a school record with 88 threes spottin up 13.1ppg. Since the Rose debut back in 2005 the Cougs are unbeatable at home owning a 47 win streak in the Mariott. Morgan will replace Murdock at the point. Look for Jackson Emery, Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo to get some looks and valuable "PT". Rose just got verbals from both Tyler Haws and Brandon Davies. Haws and Davies are major gets for the program.

CSU (7-25) Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney, 0-16 Conference
Coach Tim Myles (219-157 career, 2nd yr CSU 7-25)
Willis Gardner 6-1G/Sr 9.8ppg 3.2rpg 2.9apg
Marcus Walker 6-0G/Sr 17.1ppg
Andre MacFarland 6-6/So 8.3ppg 4.5rpb
Andy Ogide 6-9F/So
Dan Vandervieren 6-10C/So
Last season the rams were winless in conference play at 0-16. Marcus Walker was fun to watch averaging 17.1ppg (even spotted a 43 point game against Tenn State) but CSU will experience another LONG season if Walker doesn't soon embrace some serious generosity spreadin the rock around. Unfortunately the rams ranked close to last in many conference statistical categories (scoring margin, reb margin, FG percentage, etc). Both transfers Ogide (Ole Miss) and Dan Vandervieren (Purdue) should provide some frontcourt help.

New Mexico (24-9) Lost 1st rd NIT , 11-5 Conference
Coach Steve Alford (332-192, 2nd yr New Mexico 24-9)
Dairese Gary 6-1G/So 7.8ppg 4.5rpg
Chad Toppert 6-7G/Sr 10.3ppg 3.2rpg
Roman Martinez 6-6GF/JR 7.0ppg 3.9rpg
Tony Danridge 6-5GF/Sr 12.5ppg in 2006
Daniel Faris 6-9C/Sr 9.2ppg 4.5rpg
Losing JR Giddens to the NBA draft hurts but the hungry pack of lobos scoring likely will be filled by the return of Danridge who averaged 12.5ppg in 2006-7 season (missed last yr with a broken leg). New Mexico also return the schools all time most accurate 3pt shooter in Toppert. Coach Alford even signed a stellar recruiting class. Highly recruited freshman guard Phillip McDonald should see some minutes.

San Diego State (20-13) Lost 1st rd NIT , 9-7 Conference
Coach Steve Fisher (331-212 career, 10th yr SD State 127-117)
DJ Gay 6-0G/So
Kyle Spain 6-5GF/Sr 13.2ppg 5.4rpg
Lorrenzo Wade 6-6F/Sr 14.8ppg
Billy White 6-8F/So
Ryan Amoroso 6-8FC/Sr 12.6ppg 7.4rpg (Marquette transfer)
All five starters are back, maybe. First team All MWC Lorrenzo Wade was recently suspended indefinately while facing possible first degree felony charges from an incident allegedly stealing a tv last month from a womans apartment. Team captain Spain missed the final 11 games after being suspended for unspecified reasons and likely will be back.

(14-16) Lost quarterfinals MWC tourney, 6-10 Conference
Coach Jim Christian (138-58 career, 1st yr TCU)
Jason Ebie 6-1G/Jr
Keion Mitchem 5-10G/Jr
Kavon Rose 6-2G/Fr
Kevin Langford 6-8F/Sr
Zvonko Buljan 6-9FC/Jr
Mass exodus after the dismissal of former coach Neil Dougherty. There is slow steady upward progress since joining the MWC (2-14 in 2005, 4-12 in 2006 and 6-10 in conference last season). Expect the eventual rise out of the conference cellar just not this year.

UNLV (27-8) Lost 2nd rd Big Dance,12-4 Conference
Coach Lon Kruger (409-275 career, 5th yr UNLV 91-42)
Tre'Von Willis 6-4G/So (Memphis transfer)
Wink Adams 6-0G/Sr 16.9ppg 4rpb 3.1apg
Rene Rougeau 6-6G/Sr 9ppg 6.2rpg
Joe Darger 6-7F/Sr 11.3ppg 4.5rpg
Beas Hamga 7-0C/Fr
Ranked #24 preseason by the Sporting News. Adams, Rougeau and Darger will provide valuable leadersip and experience with a phenomenal amount of positive chemistry. Hamga adds more size, help defensively as well as on the boards.

Yewts (18-15) Lost 2nd rd CBI, 7-9 Conference
Coach Jim Boylen (18-15 career, 2nd yr at yewts 18-15)
Tyler Kepkay 6-0G/Sr
Lawrence Borha 6-3G/Sr
Carlon Brown 6-5F/So
Shaun Green 6-8F/Sr
Luke Nevill 7-2C/Sr 15.2ppg 6.7rpg
All five starters return led by Nevill which will embark on an incredibly tough non conference schedule (Oregon, Cal, Gonzaga, LSU, Oklahoma and Utah State) that will clearly boost the RPI assuming they fare well. Boylen's initial class is highlighted by seven footer Jason Washburn from Battle Creek Michigan.

Wyoming (12-18) Lost 1st rd MWC tourney, 5-11 Conference
Coach Heath Schroyer (47-65 career, 2nd yr at Wyoming 12-18)
Brandon Ewing 6-2G/Sr
Sean Ogirri 6-2G/Sr (Wichita St transfer)
Tyson Johnson 6-6F/Sr
Ryan Dermody 6-8F/Jr
Mikhail Linskens 7-0C/So
Ewing is among the elite of Cowboy hoop players but need to cut down on turnovers and focus on distributing the rock. Wyoming averaged 17 TOs per game while shooting a league worst 31.8 percent from the field. Senior Ogirri was Mizzo Valley all freshman in 2004 and has improved ever since. Ogirri started as a sophomore for Wichita State's sweet 16 team.

17 October 2008

Asleep At The Wheel

It has been said everything is bigger and better in the state of Texas. Much like the movie "The Fast And The Furious" so were the TCU horned frogs. You can teach fundamentals but you can't teach speed. The Cougars experienced those things first hand in an absolute thrashing 32-7 at the hands of TCU. No matter where the Cougs turned there were purple jerseys to the right and to the left. It was like BYU was asleep at the wheel. TCU pressed hard, they pressed fast and they were furious. The frogs were relentless continually coming from all directions. The purple jerseys scored on their first three drives (twice after turnovers)and never let up on the throttle. There's no way around it. It was just plain ugly. With the loss to TCU is decimates any cougar BCS dreams whatsoever and ends a 16 game win streak. In fact, BYU may not even win the conference now. It was the worst loss since the 2005 Irish smack down at the hands of Notre Dame (49-23) in South Bend.

In the center of all the mayhem for the Cougs performance was Max Hall. Of which he said "The bottom line is they were strong and they forced me into some bad situations.....anytime you lose a game like that its tough and I take a lot of responsibility for this game". It was definately not Hall's "max"-imum performance. BYU had 4 turnovers all of which went through Max's hands at one point or another (2 INTs and 2 sacks resulting in fumbles). On the season it was also Halls worst QB rating (97.6) thus far. One can't completely place the blame on Hall shoulders. In the contest the OL allowed an obscene amount of 6 sacks. It was like the TCU gift that kept on giving. Had heard there were a number of pro scouts present taking notes. That's not exactly a way to make a great impression. Anytime a team has 4 TOs and 6 sacks there's no question it will always be an extreme uphill battle. Credit the frogs for their dominating smothering performance. Former high school QB Jeremy Kerley mentioned "You want to come with a surprise against a team like that. We were more explosive, caught them off guard". That's exactly what was accomplished. Much of the night it seemed the jerseys in blue were like deer in headlights. According to TCU coach Gary Patterson "Nobody has been able to do that to BYU for a couple of years". The purple jerseys were even able to hold the Cougs to 23 rushing yards total.

Of the Cougar big guns Unga had 4 catches out of the backfield for 40 yards with 14 carries for 53 yards (WELL under his average) Collie continued making magic eluding his defenders with his 5th consecutive 100 yard receiving game (116 to be exact). Pitta added 8 more catches for 84 yards. TCU rushed for an insane 240 yards and the purple jerseys even made Andy Dalton look like a efficient stellar QB (2 TDs 0 INTs throwing 12 of 19 for 170 yards) abusing Brandon Howard the entire night.

Before the dust even begins to settle the jerseys in blue must go back to the drawing board, take inventory, learn from the past and start preparing for the future when UNLV when heads into town on the 25th. Even though the BCS hopes might be dashed the season certainly isn't over. With 5 games on the schedule and 1 bowl game there is plenty of football left to be played. The days might seem dark to us now but what lies in the future is still definately bright.

13 October 2008

Tangle In Texas

Thursday will highlight the tangle in Texas between two of the featured nationally ranked teams from the MWC. The highly anticipated matchup at Amon G Carter Stadium (likely filled to capacity or 44,358 fans) in Fort Worth will be televised on VS with the game call from Joe Beninati while the analysis breakdown to be provided compliments of Glenn Parker (former Kansas City Chiefs OL who spanned a 12 yr career). It will be the 7th contest between the schools with the Cougars holding a 5-2 matchup record edge since the series began in 1987. The #8 ranked Cougars(6-0) will be coming into town in style carrying the nation's longest win streak at 16. The horned frogs (6-1) currently are among tops in the nation in numerous defensive categories. TCU is #1 at rushing defense at allowing opponents an average of 20.71 yards per game. Yes, only 20.71 yards per game. TCU even held then #1 Oklahoma to 25 hard fought rushing yards. The horned frogs also lead the nation in sacks and are 2nd overall in tackles for loss. The purple jerseys are even ranked 9th nationally at turnover margin. BYUs offensive machine averages over 320 yards per game. In a clash of the MWC titans something has to give. TCUs stingy defense or the Cougs high octane offense. Only one will emerge from the battlefield thursday victorious.

The horned frogs return a strong line that begins with senior center Blake Schlueter (6.3/284) who is a preseason All American on the Rimington Trophy Watch List and a four year starter. Blake is the strength of the OL and even holds the TCU weight room record in the squat for 870 pounds. At 6.3/317 left tackle Marshall Newhouse is a beast to contend with who is also the cousin of former NFL fullback Robert Newhouse. Newhouse was an honorable mention All MWC in 2007. Sophomore right tackle Marcus Cannon (6.5/350) is in his first year as a starter but was ranked 59th nationally as a prep lineman. Senior OL Giles Montgomery (6.5/295) has started in 20 consecutive games.

From the receiving corps is a sophomore home run threat named Jimmy Young (6.1/200) who leads TCU with 31 receptions. The tight end is Shae Reagan (6.4/261) who is actually a converted quarterback and a big play threat that can create matchup problems over the middle of the field. While the other wideout is Jeremy Kerley (5.10/185) a sizzling sophomore who also acts as the teams punt returner.

Last year more RBs were in the training room rather than on the field for much of the season. This year is a whole different picture rushing for an average of 233 yards per game (13th nationally). Among the arsenal of backs is Aaron Brown (6.1/195) a sensational senior and the Frogs 11th leading career rusher (over 2,200 yards) who has bounced back from a broken ankle last year suffered against UNLV. Most noticeable is Joseph Turner (6.1/225) a senior from Austin Texas who is on the Doak Award Watch List with 9 rushing TDs. Turner was also injured last season with an ACL injury in the Texas Bowl.

At QB its anyone's guess. The Cougs will have to prepare for both Andy Dalton (6.3/210 soph) and Marcus Jackson (6.1/215 JR). Dalton is the leading passer but has missed the last two games with a knee injury. Word is that Dalton will be available for thursdays mayhem matchup. Jackson is more of a scrambler who is also the frogs leading rusher.

After undergoing a DL face lift in the offseason the defensive trenches have become a strength. At nose tackle Cody Moore (6.1/292 SR) has started now 20 staight games with 7.5 tackles for losses including 4 sacks. Defensive tackle James Vess (6.3/290 SR) sat out last year for disciplinary reasons. Former HS tailback now left end Jerry Hughes (6.2/248 JR) tops TCU with 10 TFLs, 7 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries. Matt Panfil (6.2/245 SR) filled in for ole Tommy Blake while he battled personal problems last season. Panfil currently has 8 TFLs and 4.5 sacks on the year.

The LB corps is headlined with preseason All American and MWC Defensive POTY Jason Phillips (6.1/234 SR). As a converted fullback that first found the field as a redshirt freshman back in 2005 Phillips now has 34 tackles of which 8.5 TFLs this season (had 87 tackles last year). At the strong middle linebacker position Robert Hensen (6.1/228 SR) is a three time All MWC selection and has his name on the Butkus Award Watch List. Junior Daryl Washington might actually be TCUs most athletic player. On punts the Cougs better keep their eyes on him at all times. He had three blocked personally last year.

The frogs secondary lacked depth last season. Strong safety senior Stephen Hodge (6.0/230) is a physical preseason All American. At free safety Steven Coleman (6.3/204 SR) already has a team high three INTs. Sophomore WS Tejay Johnson (6.1/195) and CB Nick Sanders (5.10/174 JR) provide added experience. Sanders has 33 consecutive starts. The other CB Rafael Priest (5.10/163 JR) was an honorable mention All MWC last year. Both Sanders and Priest are three year starters.