I was shocked by the outcome last night. Some thoughts....
1. I saw a BYU team on the field that didn't seem to want to compete - it just lacked fire and intensity. Coming out in the second half, guys started looking a little more fired up, but I was shocked at how flat and careless much of the play was last night from BYU. BYU just didn't look physical.
2. I thought Anae abandoned (or never planned for) any kind of run game. Some would say, "Well, they can't run the ball." But I think we can. At least more often to keep the defense honest. It seemed like after the 1st quarter, USU was able to just drop everyone back into coverage.
3. I am in a state of shock at how poorly coached the receivers seem to be. They don't fight for footballs; they don't fight off the line. Teams just come up and smack them around. Balls are being dropped all over the field. It's really, really bizarre. Even McKay looked like he didn't want to have to fight for a ball. I'd rather have McKay draw a flag for fighting for a ball than see him just give up on about 4 or 5 balls last night.
4. The lack of "inner" leadership is evident on this team. I don't see anyone stepping up on the field and leading teammates. There was a play in the second half where Van Noy made a nice tackle - an important stop, bounced up and looked fired up and you expect to see a captain come in and slap him in the helmet or chest bump, but he bounced a couple of times, and everyone just turned and walked away, so he just stopped and walked slowly back to the defensive line for the next play. I just saw that over and over and over again. I wanted to scream at the captains to get in these youngs' heads - coach em on the field, fire them up, get crazy. They need leadership on the field. I've played on teams like this one where the youth need some kind of vocal leaders to get them fired up and positive; it just has to happen. Now.
5. Listening to the radio stations last night driving 4 hours home, I didn't agree with all of the callers questioning Mendenhall's dedication and work ethic. They said he and the coaching staff have become too soft. I don't agree with that at all. I do think they're learning on the fly how to deal with this team - a team that is baffling fans and, it looks like, coaches, too. The looks on Bronco's and Anae's faces were the same - "I can't figure this team out." I'm sure it will come. These guys are awesome coaches, but I think we've reached a point where they're going to have to start thinking outside the box with this team and take some new approaches. For instance, in his interview last night, Bronco said he was giving the entire team Saturday and Sunday off. What?! Even I'm DVRing a couple of sessions of Saturday conference to push to Sunday. I would have these guys out practicing tomorrow - even if its just coming together to get some psychological conditioning in through some kind of team activity - rally around each other; watch some film; do something unique. Not doing anything for two full days after a "I'm giving up" loss? I don't understand that.
6. I still love what I'm seeing from Heaps. He had increasing touch on his fly route passes - that DiLuigi drop in the endzone was one of the prettiest passes I've seen in a long time. At some point, throwing over 100 passes in 2 games is going to pay off with Jake turning a corner and just driving this offense by sheer will and skill into the endzone over and over. His footwork is awesome for a kid that young - just watching him move around the pocket and avoid the rush is exciting (gotta find something!). He doesn't get rattled when guys keep dropping balls. He is progressing through his reads much more quickly, and he's spreading that ball around pretty well. He still looks rough, especially his accuracy, and he needs to find the endzone, but he looks awfully sound mechanically.
Well, that's a much more negative tone than I usually take with the Cougars, but I just watched an almost absolute, "I don't care" or "I'm not gonna try hard" effort last night. It was strange and sad to see from a Cougar team with more talent and better coaching than what we saw out there last night. I"m excited for the season - I'm not a fan saying we need to replace coaches or give up on the season; I do, however, believe, Bronco, Anae, and Jaime have to take some new approaches to prepping and coaching this team - they're not responding to the coaching right now. We also need some captains to step up with a greater on-field presence - constantly pushing these young guys and keeping them fired up.
Two cents (or less). Go Cougs!