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Recap: BYU disintegrates in 54-28 loss to Florida State

As a law student I'm continually expanding my vocabulary.  One of the legal terms I learned this week was: "Surplusage, a superfluous and useless statement of matter wholly foreign and impertinent to the cause."

For an example, the following quote is from our preview of today's contest between BYU and Florida State:

"...BYU has the advantage of being at home, an experienced QB that plays even better at home, they should have a healthier Harvey Unga, and both their O-lineman and D-lineman have some size advantages..."

So much for those projections.  Something I'm trying to keep in perspective, after such a devastating defeat, is that just two weeks ago BYU was ranked below the Seminoles.  Bobby Bowden's team is excellent this season.  I couldn't put it any better than Tomahawk Nation has already done tonight: "Florida State is a dropped 4-yard pass against an excellent Miami team away from being a top ten team.  It's really perplexing how the pollsters drop a team so much for losing a game that was evenly played.  Pollsters need to look at the play and not just the score."

The Cougars were beaten thoroughly - no matter if you look at the play or the score.  The Seminoles racked up 512 yards (313 on the ground!), did not turn the ball over once and controlled the ball for approximately twice the amount of time as BYU.  And while BYU certainly had the offensive tools to compete with FSU, three interceptions and two costly fumbles generally nullified everything.  

This was a beatdown if almost every sense.  It's hard to take a lot of positives out of tonight's game.  The worst part however came when several BYU players acted inappropriately late in the game and instigated some highly unnecessary altercations, including a personal foul call on the Seminoles.  Mendenhall acknowledged FSU's emotional fortitude as well as their preparation after the game as it vastly overshadowed that of his team's.

In all, an exceptionally disappointing loss - not just for the program's 2009 hopes, but for the MWC as well.  Combine it with the Ute's loss today in Eugene and the conference took a major step backward after accomplishing so much this past year.  The non-BCS now can only rely on TCU and Boise State this season.

More after the jump...

Where do we as fans lay the blame for this result?  The defense was obviously as atrocious in this game as they were phenomenal against the Sooners.  What gives?  Linebackers Matt Bauman, Shawn Doman and Grant Nelson combined for just three tackles.  Jan Jorgensen and Brett Denney each had just one.  Incredibly, the starting corners led the team: Brandon Bradley with nine and Brian Logan with 8.  That's incredible because the Seminoles rushed the ball 49 times.  Part of it might be the loss of starting nose tackle Russell Tialavea who suffered an ACL injury early and never returned.  But realistically that's only a small reason why the Seminoles - specifically Ty Jones, Christian Ponder and Lonnie Pryor - ran at will.  BYU, despite their experienced D-line and LB core, simply couldn't keep up athletically and FSU's Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher (apparently called "Jumbo" on Versus) exploited all their flaws.

On a side note, speaking of the Cougars' defensive flaws, or even more specifically their ineffectiveness at stopping mobile QB's like Ponder - look at today's upset in Seattle.  USC has a stellar defense and they amazingly held Jake Locker to -15 yards rushing.  However, one of Locker's eight carries was a six yard TD.  Also, Locker's athleticism enabled the Huskies to score three second-half FG's in their upset over the Trojans.  It was just that kind of day.

Whether it's Locker, Ponder or Brian Johnson - when opposing offenses are able to overpower the Cougars athletically from the QB position it opens up all kinds of weaknesses.  Oklahoma did not spread BYU out defensively and tried to run the ball up their throat with DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown.  Consequently BYU was not held accountable for being a less athletic program.  FSU did the opposite.  The Seminoles mixed it up with plays that worked to their strengths against BYU: bubble screens, QB draws, short yardage quick corner, drag  and hitch routes.  FSU's strengths became the Cougar's weaknesses as players like Grant Nelson and Matt Bauman are simply not good in coverage.  Another obvious manipulation of a major mismatch was pick your BYU corner - against 6'3'' Jarmon Fortson.  What are your thoughts on BYU's mediocre defensive performance?

Moving to the offense, there are fewer cons.  Say what?  That's right, obviously the turnovers were severe - but if BYU is able to touch the ball more in the first half then the results would be different.  Of course it's complicated because O'Neill Chambers' opening drive fumble forced an already exhausted defense back on the field after just a quick breather.  Credit has to go to the Seminoles for executing their game plan and keeping Max Hall and co. on the sideline.  

The major area of concern from the offense has to be on the O-line.  Without Braden Hansen, Jason Speredon and Dallas Reynolds that unit is depleted and by the 4th quarter it really showed.  Of course FSU understood that the Cougars had to throw the ball in the second half so they started to bring everyone at Hall and confide in their secondary.  The Seminoles were able to regularly rotate players on the D-line and BYU's line was forced to deal with that along with an increase in blitzes and fatigue.  As Hall's pocket began to collapse more and more he tried to prevent sacks as well as make big plays to get his team back in the game.  And it cost him.  Hall's gambles came with terrible costs and it only exacerbated the Cougars' predicament.

This isn't an excuse for Hall.  He made some serious misjudgments in the second half.  But if you look at his first half he was playing very efficiently.  I merely saw it as him trying to do too much while his protection was starting to fade.  I have to comment on Greg Reid's interception however.  That was just horrific.  When I saw turn and try to chase Reid I actually laughed out loud and was thinking something along the lines of, "You fool!  Do you know who that even is?   You might as well try to race Usain Bolt while you're at it."  Sickening.  Just sickening...

I'm not going to get much into Unga's seemingly second reaggrevation of this hamstring injury.  Why did he play against Tulane again?  He's glaringly not 100% and if I were in charge he wouldn't play again until the UNLV game on October 10th.  Wouldn't it be nice to have him carry the ball more than ten times?  Especially with the type of production he demonstrated tonight.  The Cougars are going to need him if they're going to beat TCU and make a run for the MWC championship - I don't care how good Kariya and DiLuigi have been.

The best part of this game was that it was on Versus and presumably less people (hopefully pollsters) saw the game apart from ESPN highlights (which I've ignored by the way).  Still, in terms of BYU's BCS aspirations and the program's continued ability to fall just short, this one hurts.

In the words of Elvis Presley, "so close and yet so far from paradise..."