USU Game: Some Analysis

At halftime the score was 24-3, and BYU was reeling. So, I rewatched the game this morning and took notes on every offensive play. Here's a breakdown of every offensive play and some things I saw:

1st Quarter - Score: 0-0 (1st possession)

Plays and results

  • Run DiLuigi middle right for 5 yards (1st and 10 on BYU 31)
  • Pass to McKay right sideline for 7 yards (2nd and 5 on BYU 36) 1ST DOWN
  • Run DiLuigi middle for 12 yards (1st and 10 on BYU 43)  1ST DOWN
  • Pass to Quezada right flat for 4 yards (1st and 10 on USU 45)
  • Run Quezada right side for 3 yards (2nd and 6 on USU 41)
  • Run DiLuigi middle delayed reverse handoff for 0 yards (3rd and 3 on USU 38) PUNT

So, this first series drove from our 31 about 31 total yards to the USU 38. The play selection was 4 runs and two passes and a nice mix of Quezada and DiLuigi. No attempts to go downfield with the ball - the two passes for both under 7 yards. I was frustrated by the delayed handoff on 3rd down which required Jake to spin around and was slow progressing. DiLuigi danced a little too much on the play after getting through a big hole in the line and approaching the linebackers. The traditional run game was working, and I thought it was weird to throw in a new play on a critical down on the first drive of the game.

1st Quarter - Score: 0-0 (2nd possession)

 Plays and result

  • Pass to DiLuigi 5 yards in left flat DROPPED for 0 yards (1st and 10 on BYU 6)
  • Run DiLuigi left side for 6 yards (2nd and 10 on BYU 6)
  • Pass to DiLuigi right side for 3 yards (3rd and 4 on BYU 12) PUNT

I thought this series was critical. The offense had driven down the field, and then the defense came out with a stop. This was a critical juncture in the game for a young team with a bruised pysche. 3 and out. All 3 plays were to DiLuigi. This was frustrating to me. I was especially frustrated that on a 3rd and short (and this happened several times in the game), we didn't get the receivers past the first down marker. Stopped one yard short several times. That doesn't make any sense to me. So, at this point in the game, we have 5 runs and 4 passes - pretty good balance. However, against a banged up WAC defense, we haven't even attempted a pass more than 7 yards after our first two offensive possessions. Interesting. On the plus side, BYU is running the ball with solid success other than that one quirky new play on the first series. First dropped pass of the half game on this series. After the punt, BYU fell apart defensively.

1st Quarter - Score: 0-7 (3rd possession)

Plays and result

  • Pass to Mendenhall right flat 2 yards play action pass (1st and 10 on BYU 22)
  • Pass to Hoffman left seam for 22 yards DROPPED for 0 yards (2nd and 8 on BYU 24)
  • Pass to DiLuigi screen for 8 yards (3rd and 8 on BYU 24) 1ST DOWN
  • Run Quezada same new delayed handoff for 1 yard (1st and 10 on BYU 32) PENALTY 15 yards 1ST DOWN
  • Pass to Hoffman screen left side - almost INT for pick 6 (1sst and 10 on BYU 48)
  • Pass to Hoffman left flat for 5 yards (2nd and 10 on BYU 48)
  • Pass to McKay intercepted 5 yards deep (3rd and 5 on USU 47) INTERCEPTION

The dropped pass by Hoffman was crushing. Its one of those passes that just slashes the secondary and makes them start thinking about the downfield ball. It seemed like Pitta would make these types of catches last year and loosen up the defense. I thought the 2 screen passes in 3 plays was strange and the second one should have been a pick six by the linebacker. We inexplicably abandoned the run on this possession. We went almost total pass, and how did Gary Anderson adjust to that? One almost interception and the series ends in a pick.

1st/2nd Quarter - Score 0-10 (4th possession)

Plays and result

  • Run Quezada middle for 1 yard (1st and 10 on BYU 26)
  • Run Quezada middle for 6 yards (2nd and 9 on BYU 27)
  • Run Quezada middle for 6 yards (3rd and 3 on BYU 33) 1ST DOWN
  • Run Quezada middle for 3 yards (1st and 10 on BYU 39)
  • Pass to Holt for 2 yards play action pass (2nd and 7 on BYU 42)
  • Pass to McKay middle for 10 yards (3rd and 5 on BYU 44) 1ST DOWN
  • Pass to Ashworth crossing pattern 2 yards deep DROP (1st and 10 on USU 46) 5 yard PENALTY on USU
  • Pass to McKay flea flicker into the endzone almost INT (2nd and 5 on USU 41)
  • Run DiLuigi middle for 4 yards (3rd and 5 on USU 41)
  • Run DiLuigi sweep left outside for 0 yards (4th and 1 on USU 37) TURNOVER ON DOWNS

I loved this drive until the flea flicker. That's a gimmick play you throw out there on an obvious running down when the safeties might be cheating. They weren't cheating. At all. Jake never should have thrown it. Anae never should have called it. I thought the 4 runs by Quezada to start the series were a funky change after the pass-happy last series, but Quezada and the line were moving the ball. Then a nice McKay pass....the ball is moving, Jake looks calm, the team seems to be clicking, and then a trick play. I know it was 2nd and 5, but I just did not like that play at all. It disrupted a nice rhythm the team seemed to be in, and Jake doesn't have the experience to check down out of that play - he wants to chuck that rock into the endzone no matter what there.  My shoulders slumped after this drive a little....and I think the defenses did, too. I needed a captain to come hit me in the head and say, "Head up, Joe!" Jake Heaps' shoulders didn't slump, though! He came out firing the next drive.

2nd Quarter - Score: 0-17 (5th possession)

Plays and result

  • Pass to Mahina right side 21 yards through air play action (AWESOME) (1st and 10 on BYU 46) 1st DOWN
  • Pass to McKay for 10 yards (1st and 10 on USU 33) 1ST DOWN (and BYU is clicking again)
  • Run DiLuigi right middle for 2 yards (1st and 10 on USU 23)
  • Pass Hoffman 15 yards in air left side DROPPED (2nd and 8 on USU 21) 
  • Pass Hoffman 10 yards left side - almost pick 6 INT, caught deflection (3rd and 8 on USU 21) 1ST DOWN
  • Run Kariya middle delayed handoff for 4 yards (1st and 10 on USU 11)
  • Run DiLuigi middle for 1 yard (2nd and 6 on USU 6)
  • Pass to Matthews broken up in endzone (3rd and 5 on USU 6) FIELD GOAL on next down

A great kick return followed by a great drive. The past two drives have been solid and balanced. This drive had 5 passes and 3 runs. The Mahina pass was beautiful. I had Pitta flashbacks. The Hoffman 15 yard drop has to be a catch because the next play was total luck that USU didn't pick 6. Fun to watch though. I really didn't like the call to Matthews in the endzone. He's an unproven player....maybe the play got messed up somehow. I just want a guy in that position who has proven ability to position himself with a well-run route to get the ball and fight for it. He was very well covered. Didn't like the play at all. Settling for 3 here obviously ripped the heart out of the defense. They promptly gave up another easy touchdown. Two nice drives by Jake and Anae despite a huge drop and lucky missed INT and deflection catch.

2nd Quarter - Score: 3-24 (6th possession)

Play and result

  • Run DiLuigi left middle for 9 yards (1st and 10 on BYU 31)
  • Pass to McKay 40 yards in air broken up easily (2nd and 1 on BYU 40) 
  • Pass to DiLuigi left flat overthrown (3rd and 1 on BYU 40) PUNT - END OF HALF

A quick series with very little time. The attempt to McKay was easily covered. With the safety so deep, though, I wondered if dragging a tight end under the middle or up a seem would have been wide open. Not much to say about this series, though. Very little time and playing it safe. The bad throw to DiLuigi was only the second Heaps throw (the other being the INT) that looked totally off target. Much improved throwing since last week. 

Breakdown Numbers at the Half down 24-3


  • 16 runs  
  • 20 passes 
  • 10 total 3rd/4th down opportunities
  •  Of these 10 we converted 4 times. 
  • We converted those 4 times with a screen pass to DiLuigi, a run by Quezada, a pass to Mckay, and a pass to Hoffman (that should have been picked).  

So, I thought this was interesting. Balance. Variety. Different players getting involved. But there are just key moments where things aren't getting done. All 4 drops this half came on 1st or 2nd down, so maybe they weren't critical drops, but just rhythm killers. I look at these numbers, and I'm, Heaps just kept coming. No worries. In fact, he began stretching the ball down the field in this half as he become more comfortable and found guys. I think I see why Bronco and Anae seem a little confused. I would love to see a prolonged focus on KEY MOMENT plays this week in practice. Touchdown scoring plays from the 30 yard line in (an extended Blue Zone), and 3rd down conversion plays. Drill them, drill them, drill them, drill them.

Go Cougs! Joe

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