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.

12 October 2008

Welcome Aboard Davies

Recently Brandon Davies gave head coach Dave Rose his verbal to wear the Cougar blue jersey. Davies, a low post player and 4 star recruit (according to scout.com) from Provo HS was drawing interest from Arizona, California, Gonzaga and Utah State. On the low block Brandon has some sweet footwork and faces the basket incredibly well. He can play either the mid or high post well and is able to step out drain 15 footers with regularity. Davies (6-8/230) has solid hoop instinct, is a great shot blocker and does a excellent job on the boards. When double teamed or in transition Brandon has decent ball handling skills to take care of the rock or getting it into the right hands. Of his decision Brandon mentioned "It just felt right to choose BYU. It's close to home and I have a huge support system...". Since he's only 17 Davies plans on playing two seasons before deciding on any mission plans. Welcome aboard Brandon and best wishes to a sensational future. (photo credit Craig Dilger/Daily Herald)

Fan-tastic Football

With 64,105 fantastic fans in attendance at Lavell Edwards stadium saturday the Cougars fought and scrapped its way in a shortened game (2 HR 36 MIN) to a 21-3 victory. It was the 57th meeting between the two schools and extended the nation's longest winning streak to 16 straight games. The series began in 1951 and since 1965 the Cougs have won 37 of 43. Saturdays matchup with New Mexico was BYUs 10 straight sellout and gave the Cougs bowl eligibility. (Photo credit goes to Brian Nicholson from the Deseret News)

Alumni Chris Hoke (now with the Pittsburgh Steelers) and current player junior linebacker Matt Bauman led the team onto the field as flag bearers. The Cougs were able to win the coin toss and elected to defer. With New Mexico taking the field first the Lobos were able to score first on a James Aho 27 yard FG. The Lobos were also able to hold the jerseys in blue scoreless in the opening quarter. New Mexico ran the ball much of the game for 144 bruising yards keeping the Cougar offensive machine off the field much of the day. Thus the Lobo gameplan worked rather efficiently running clock (32:32 for Lobo time of possession) and limiting opponent offensive opportunities.

When given the chance on the field to take care of business Max Hall began working the defense ultimately distributing to five different receivers one of which included 3 receptions to junior tight end Andrew George (2 of which went for TDs). Amazingly through 6 games while providing more than ample protection for Hall the OL has still yet to have a single holding penalty. Hall finished with only 258 yards but threw efficiently for 3 TDs en route to another Cougar hard fought victory while posting a 159.3 QB rating (per Greg Wrubell). Austin continued to make his magic happen dissecting the Lobo defense with 9 catches on the day for 155 yards and 1 TD. Collie's 155 receiving yards was his fourth straight 100 yard game.

Harvey was able to bruise his way to nearly yet another 100 yard game. The cougars ground game collectively finished with 122 yards and was the 14th consecutive win when rushing for over 100 yards.

With the Cougars lowest offensive output of the season it was more of a defensive struggle. Lobo coach Rocky Long mentioned "We came here to win, we didn't come to keep it close". It was exactly as Bronco described it "It's a great win for our football team because of the way it came, hard fought inch by inch foot by foot". The defensive jerseys in blue came up big in many ways as the tackles piled up. Both David Nixon, Jan Jorgensen had 11 tackles. Nixon, the stellar senior linebacker from College Station had 2 of those for losses. Kellen Fowler and Scott Johnson both accumulated 10 tackles each. The Cougars held Rodney Ferguson (the conference's 2nd leading rusher) to only 90 yards. Jan Jorgensen said it well "We're definately happy with that defense. To hold them to three points that's what most important". The jerseys in blue created two turnovers and opportunities. David Tafuna was the recipient of a tipped pass INT and Jorgensen snagged up a fumble.

Overall the Cougs took the Lobos best shot while defending its home turf. Postgame Rocky was rather bitter complaining about officiating rather than giving credit where it was due. With another Cougars victory they took another step forward towards the BCS quest stating their case. Now whether the BCS pollsters stand by them could be another story.

11 October 2008

MWC Power Poll

Todays matchup with New Mexico at Lavell Edwards Stadium will look considerably different from the picture above considering the precipitation in the air. However, the result will be much the same for the Cougars (5-0) as they continue to ride its win streak. Look for the visiting Lobos to find a cold reception in Happy Valley (USAtoday has Cougs favored by 23). In other matchups for this weeks power poll...

1. BYU (5-0) Different week. Same outcome considering they don't lose at home.
2. Yewts (6-0) Team from up north tangels with the Cowboys in a possible "bird watch". Yewts have too much for Laramie to handle.
3. TCU (5-1) Travels to CSU but are they lookin ahead to thursdays exciting matchup with the Cougs?
4. Air Force (3-2) Falcons fly to San Diego State to pick up another "W".
5. New Mexico (3-3) Rocky Long and the Lobos lost the steering wheel when Porterie went down for the year.
6. Colorado State (3-2) Matchup with TCU will give a better indication where the Rams stand.
7. UNLV (3-3) Bye week to prepare for Air Force at home.
8. San Diego State (1-4) Only school to yet qualify for a bowl in MWC history. Don't look for it to change this season.
9. Wyoming (2-4) Schedule gets even tougher next week to face TCU after they scrap with the Yewts this week.

08 October 2008

Brown Is Blue

The Cougars added its third commit to wear the blue jersey for the 2010 recruiting class from Algernon Brown (6.1/205) from Skyline HS who also acts as the teams punter. In the Eagles option offense Brown is receiving the bulk of the carries and has run for nearly 500 yards this season. Before the prep season began Skyline coach Roger DuPaix mentioned of Algernon "He's got a lot of poise and a lot of smarts so I think he's going to do really well". Recently Brown bounced all over Hillcrest rushing for 169 yards after missing two weeks due to a knee injury. Also from the 2010 class is Bronson Kaufusi (6.6/220 DE) from Timpview HS and Gifford Timothy (6.6/280 OT) from Middletown HS in Delaware. Good luck to a great prep season Algernon and look forward to seeing you wearing Cougar blue!

Can't Live Without

Pretty much any team across the nation always have that one player they can't live without. It is no different if one were to look across the teams from the MWC. One of those players for the Cougs would be Max Hall. Last year BYU got the Max out of Hall putting up among the best passing numbers across the nation of any sophomore QB (that includes Tim Tebow). Thus far into the season Heisman Candidate Hall has thrown for 17 TDs with only 4 INTs. Max is also already near 1600 passing yards on the season.

Last season's can't live without player for the Air Force Academy was Chad Hall. This year it would fall on the shoulders of senior QB Shea Smith (5.11/190) who has accounted for nearly forty percent of all Falcon points put on the board.

Colorado State's senior RB Gartrell Johnson III (6.0/227) scampered last year for nearly 1000 yards. The back from Miami Springs Florida is well on his way with 99 attempts for 491 yards with 5 TDs averaging 5 per carry.

From UNLV Frank "The Tank" Summers is another player that Rebels can't live without. Just ask the yewts last year (at 5.10/240 he rolled right over them for 190 yards). On the year Summers has 115 carries for 515 yards with 4 rushing TDs. In 2007 Frank steamrolled oppponents for 928 yards.

Senior Aztec linebacker Russ Allen (6.3/235) averaged 10.6 tackles per game last year. With only 3 returning defensive starting seniors Allen provides an immense value of team leadership. Last season he spotted 119 tackles for the season as well as 22 against the yewts.

In the last two seasons combined senior Rodney Ferguson (6.0/230) has rushed for nearly 2500 yards and 23 TDs for the lobos. The two time All MWC player from Albuquerque hasn't skipped a beat in 2008 busting for 523 yards and 6 TDs.

Cowboys back Devin Moore (5.10/190) is on pace to surpass last seasons total of 965 yards with 582 covered already. Moore is gaining 5.3 yards per carry and not showing any signs of slowing down. Wyoming will definately need all the mileage they can get from Devin this season.

Since finding the field as a redshirt freshman Jason Phillips (6.1/234) has started ever since. The TCU senior linebacker from Waller Texas had a team leading 87 tackles last year. Phillips has a motor that never stops.

Yewt all world kicker Louie Sakoda in 2007 placed in the top 5 in punting average and FG percentage. The senior from San Jose only missed from 45, 48 and 51. Louie was named the MWC Special Teams Player Of The Year last season. Against Michigan Sakoda drilled 4 FGs to help propel the yewts over the Wolverines.

07 October 2008

Lobos In Loco

There has been a revolving door on the Lobos offensive coordinator's office every year the last four seasons excluding this last year when new OC Dave Baldwin decided to stick around. The wide open scheme built around junior Donovan Porterie struck a different beat when Porterie was lost for the season at Tulsa when he suffered a torn right ACL and MCL. Unfortunately, Donovan does not have a redshirt available either. Since taking snaps under center replacement freshman QB Brad Gruner is 25 of 61 for 279 yards with 2 TDs and 5 INTs (definately a statline that needs some serious work). This is also the first season in 20 years without a bye week for New Mexico as well. Things don't get any easier for the lobos who now face the 8th nationally ranked Cougars. It will be the 58th matchup between the two schools. Keep in mind the Cougs are 21-6 in Provo against Rocky Long's lobos. New Mexico is one of five teams Bronco has yet to lose to as a head coach (UNLV, CSU, Air Force and Wyoming are the others). The lobos last league title was in 1964 as WAC co-champions. A victory by the jerseys in blue grants the Cougs bowl eligibility status.

On the OL the lobos must replace and restructure nearly the entire line. Only part time starters Erik Cook and Sylvester Hatten return. Cook can play any position of the OL giving the lobos some flexibility in filling the slots. Across the rebuilt offensive trenches New Mexico averages 6.4/312 compared with the Cougs average of 6.6/326.

As for the lobo weaponry it includes senior tailback Rodney Ferguson (two time All MWC Selection) who returns from nursing a sprained shoulder. Despite playing last week against Wyoming Ferguson (6.0/230) still has 104 carries for 523 yards and 6 TDs. Sophomore wide receiver Chris Hernandez (6.3/185) leads the lobos with 21 catches covering 292 yards. New Mexico has won 14 straight games when scoring first. Although that could prove to be rather difficult considering the Cougs have outscored opponents thus far 134-17 in the first half.

Defense was the Lobo forte last season ranking 13th nationally in total "D" at 319 yards while giving up only 19 a matchup. However, New Mexico lost all three starting LBs both ends and a veteran safety. In the secondary seniors DeAndre Wright (5.11/193) and Glover Quin (6.0/203) both remain in their third season as full time starters. Look for Wright and Quin to be tested against Collie, Pitta and the possibly Reed who has been given the green light to play saturday. Senior LB Zach Arnett (5.10/205) has a nonstop motor registering a career high last week of 16 tackles against Wyoming.

On special teams DeAndre Wright can be dangerous at times as the kick returner. Kicker James Aho attempted to walk on in 2007 but was cut. He has hit 11 of 14 FGs this season. Since Rocky took the coaching reins (lookin at 10 yrs now) for the Lobos no kicker has been offered a schollie out of high school. The true freshman kicker from Roswell is off to the best FG start in school history.

Since 2001 the lobos are the only MWC team to be bowl eligible every season. However, with the Cougs 8th nationally ranked overall defense (only allowing opponents 11.6 points per game) life for New Mexico saturday might be awfully difficult. In the last two matchups the lobos have given up the rock 8 times against the Cougs. New Mexico has also had 5 TDs called back due to the yellow flags on the field this season. This team has plenty of talent to contend but many important questions remain to be answered.

04 October 2008

Cache-ing In

Friday evening the Cougars didn't waste any time pouncing all over the Aggies "cache-ing in" on running up to an early 24-0 lead. After that it got ugly with Utah State outscoring the #7 team in the nation 14-10 in the remaining three quarters of play. The Cougars (as much as it pains me to say this) simply played uninspired football. Poor tackling, penalties (13, most penalties since Tulsa last year), turnovers, sloppy execution, and out of sync (Cougs simply lost their focus and composure after the first quarter) were all attributes that were so painfully present coming back from their bye week. Somehow as odd as it sounds through it all the jerseys in blue from "Happy Valley" found a way to hang on to win by 20.

Prior to friday night Max Hall looked unstoppable like a Heisman Candidate machine reading defenses, making audibles then picking them apart with the weapons at his disposal. Friday's performance definately didn't contribute to Max's resume in likely his worst outing of the year maybe even since the passing of the torch from Beck to Hall. With Pitta often double teamed Max often locked onto his security "Austin" blanket who was able to shred the Aggie secondary for 8 receptions 132 yards and 2 TDs. Collie has been padding his stats now for the year with 7 TDs in 5 games. It was painfully obvious how much a prime secondary target like Reed has been sorely missed. Locking onto receivers and forcing into coverage Hall was only able to muster barely 300 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs against a team what could have been ranked in ESPNs "the bottom 10".

The ground game just simply wasn't there friday. Unga was able to punch one in from the 11 yard line but finished with only 86 yards. Slated against the Aggies who were 2-10 last year I would have expected more from Fui and Harvey.

Ashworth, Chambers, and Kozlowski all had solo receptions. It would have been nice to spread the rock around more but Max rarely looked their way for whatever reasons (timing? confidence?). Pitta was rather productive despite the low numbers (6 catches for 70 yards) but seemed to absolutely disappear after half. Collie, Ashworth, and Pitta all had dropped passes. Not sure what the issue what (concentration, trust, mindset or what).

The hogs in the trenches provided somewhat decent protection against last year's worst WAC defense. Although the pass blocking seemed shaky at times giving up the second sack of the year with NFL scouts present.

The line for the Cougars defense stood strong all night beginning with Brett Denney and Jan Jorgensen. As a defense the Cougs collectively had 13 tackles for losses providing 5 sacks and 3 fumbles. David Nixon said it best "That's our main goal to create turnovers and give our offense a short field". The linebacking corps forced turnovers early but as the game wore on missed too many tackles. Hopefully the re-emergence of Hooks into the linebacking crew will breath some more life and consistency. In the secondary Brandon Bradley continues to get better every game. On special team Santiago was only able to average 42 yards per punt while Mitch was simply a "Payne" to watch missing 2 of 4 FGs. After the game Jan Jorgensen mentioned "A win is great but it was ugly. We've got a lot of things to work on". Aggie coach Brent Guy gave the Cougs some love "They capitalized like a top 10 will do".

Both Scott Johnson and David Nixon left the game nursing injuries. Scott had a thigh contusion while Nixon's looked worse with a helmet to the shin. Nixon and Johnson will be closely monitored day by day but probably will be available. Monday should be able to provide a better indication on their status. Shout out to ESPN and the other sports media outlets for the national press that was only able to see how the Cougs dominated early and often in a positive reporting spin. Hopefully this won't affect our national ranking that much. With a weaker ranked strength of schedule the Cougs gotta take care of business in a major way. Luckily there is a big difference between a humbling win than a humbling loss. Still on track undefeated marching to the BCS goal. Look for Bronco to pull the Cougars together in the den and begin focus back to the fundamentals and the Lobos.

03 October 2008

Wilson "Dons" Cougar Blue

Friday morning BYU received its latest commitment to "don" the blue apparel as Spanish Fork's Richard Wilson (6.4/224) made his decision known. The Mighty Dons tight end was previously ranked #5 nationally at his position and was drawing interest from Arizona, Boise State, Washington, Miami FL, Tennessee, and LSU. Last week Wilson had 6 catches for 90 yards and 2 TDs helping to push his team to victory. Concerning the LSU possibility Richard stated "Yeah I looked at them pretty hard...but in the end...I really like the way BYU uses their tight ends. It definately can't hurt when the Cougs have such a rich tradition (Gordon Hudson, Clay Brown, Chad Lewis, Chris Smith, Jonny Harline, Itula Mili, need I continue?) including one of the current top tight ends in the nation in Dennis Pitta. He has a 32 vertical with a squat of 425. Richard runs excellent routes, is willing to go over the middle, and has great soft hands enabling him to catch most anything thrown his direction or into a crowd. He plans to play one year before embarking on his mormon mission. Richard, welcome to the Cougar den!

02 October 2008

Where Are They Now

After coming across a recent article about the retirement of Rob "Freight Train" Morris former Cougar linebacker it got me thinking about other Cougars. Ever wondered what they are doing now? Or what team are they playing for? Listed below is a compiled list of a few notable former jerseys in blue. If you know of any additions or corrections needed to be made please let me know.

OL/Ben Archibald (Calgary Stampeders/CFL)
QB/John Beck (Miami Dolphins)
WR/Ben Cahoon (Montreal Alouettes)
RB/Dan Coates (Cincinnati Bengals)
LS/John Denny (Miami Dolphins)
DE/Ryan Denny (Buffalo Bills)
DB/Aaron Francisco (Arizona Cardinals)
NT/Chris Hoke (Pittsburgh Steelers)
C/Scott Jackson (Houston Texans)
LB/Bryan Kehl (New York Giants)
OL/Eddie Keele (Utah Blaze/AFL)
DE/Brett Keisel (Pittsburgh Steelers)
OL/Jake Kuresa (Utah Blaze/AFL
RB/Reno Mahe (Home Team Radio Sports Show)
DB/Omarr Morgan (Saskatchewan Roughriders/CFL)
DL/Hans Olsen (1280 Zone Morning Show)
LB/Brady Poppinga (Green Bay Packers)
FB/Fahu Tahi (Minnesota Vikings)
OL/John Tait (Chicago Bears)
LB/Aaron Wagner (Toronto Argonauts/CFL)
WR/Todd Watkins (Oakland Raiders)
OL/Scott Young (Cleveland Browns)