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.