BYU fell to just 5-5 in its last 10 games decided seven points or fewer.
- I have been a vocal critic of Brandon Doman's play calling all season long. I would be a hack if I continued that line of attack after the past two weeks. A few calls here and there notwithstanding, the play calling was much better over the past two games. And against good defenses to boot. Taysom Hill's skill-set is perfect for this BYU offense. With Williams, Friel, Hoffman, and Apo returning next season, all eyes will turn to how Taysom can develop as a passer. And if his knee fully heals.
- The same could be said for Riley Nelson. He is who we thought he was. Sure, Riley missed an open Cody Hoffman for a touchdown and an open Iona Pritchard for a first down on the final series, but the gritty senior made more plays than he did not on Saturday. He threw the ball away in lieu of forcing it into coverage. He made plays with his legs. All-in-all, Riley played about as well as one could expect. The stinging truth is Riley Nelson's best is simply not good enough to beat Top 25 opponents. Still, one has to think if a throw-first QB would have been been able to test Notre Dame at its only weakness, the defensive backfield.
- I am still fuming over Bronco's decision to punt the football from the 34-yard line with just over six minutes left. Sure, The Unicycler's previous FG attempt looked like something you might see on the driving range, but let's look at this from a probability standpoint. Chances Stephenson punts the ball in the endzone? Likely. Chances The Unicycler hits a 51-yard FG? Slim. Chances of scoring points while punting: None. Also, BYU burned two of its timeouts earlier in the quarter, leaving just one for the remainder of the game. If you miss the FG, the defense will have to get a stop. If you punt it into the endzone, the defense will have to get a stop. And just 14 a yard differential. A bad decision bad Bronco.
- Bronco's stated goal: Score over 24 points and win. BYU is averaging 24 points and is 4-4. Three losses to BCS foes. Three losses to Top 25 opponents, two of which were in the Top 10. If only the BYU offense was just a LITTLE better than it is or has been.
- Brian Kelly ran essentially the same play for the entire final drive. BYU had plenty of chances to make the stop and could not get off the field and could not finish.
- Where has J.D. Falslev gone?
- Ross Apo looked better but I'd like to see him get the ball downfield. Every single time he is throw to, it is seemingly a bubble screen. Great to get him involved, but there has to be more variety. Not much Doman can do with a QB who can only throw it 40 yards downfield, though.
- What was the biggest concern about Riley Nelson coming into 2012? That he was simply not good enough to beat the good teams on BYU's schedule. Unfortunately that is exactly what transpired. I had a lengthy discussion with my dad after the loss to TCU last season about this very topic. Sigh.
- BYU has just six plays this season that resulted in a gain of 40 yard or more. Georgia Tech leads the nation in 30+, 40+, and 50+ yard plays. Saturday's game will be a battle of differences.
- The last time BYU travelled to Atlanta, the Cougars lost to the Reggie Ball-led Yellow Jackets 28-19. Lance Pendleton led the BYU offense that day. So...not much has changed, I guess.
- And finally, this quote from Bronco, currently in Jay Drew's story rings true:
"We are playing good teams, and we are playing them on the road, and it is kind of the next era [of BYU football]," Mendenhall said. "Expectations are even higher [than when he started in 2005], the schedule more demanding. We are playing better football, against better teams. ... We are gaining momentum, and making progress, and Riley is leading us while we do it. Might not be the prolific breakthrough that people want, but I still see us inching really close to breaking through." - Bronco Mendenhall
When all is said and done, I remain optimistic in the future of the BYU football program. 2013 will be the pivot point.