Yesterday was another tough day for the BYU Cougars as they took on the #4 TCU Horned Frogs. The BYU offense was held to just one score for the third straight year and the defense surrendered 30+ points for the third straight year. The most important stat of all though is of course, the third straight BYU loss to the Horned Frogs.
As I watched the game unfold I found myself being quite frustrated at missed opportunities and blown assignments. I noticed that everything I wanted to say about the game was going to be negative, so rather than demean the team that is searching for identity and weekly progress, I decided to forgo a post game analysis and take a look at where we are 7 games into a "rebuilding year."
As I said coming into the season, Jake Heaps was not ready to start this year. Now I don't blame him for his performance or lack of preparation. The kid is a just that, a kid. He is a true freshman trying to command an offense with no identity and no playmakers.
Heaps is averaging just under 5 yds per attempt. That is not completions, but all throws. This is a demonstration of our offenses lack of ability to stretch the field. Partly because Heaps has developed the deep throw accuracy needed.
Bottom line is Heaps has been forced into a tough situation, and he is making the most of it, but the fact is that it is not good enough to win.
This is the only skill group on the offense that has stepped up and filled the gap that was left from last year's team. The addition of Bryan Kariya in short yardage the last two weeks has been tremendous in helping our offense to get physical yardage when needed.
J.J. DiLuigi, we all know what he is. He IS our offense right now. He is leading the team in Rushing, Receiving and TDs.
Harsh? Yes, but this group has done absolutely nothing this year. 1/4 of the receiving yards this year have come from RBs. The wideouts constantly struggle to get open and when thrown the ball have seemed to find lots of ways of NOT making plays. They have however become very adept at asking for flags from Refs. I could be nice, in fact I wanted to give this group an F, but the play of Hoffman and Matthews against SDSU, bumped it up just a little.
Pretty non-existent. The only difference between the TEs and WRs is that they have caught most of the balls thrown their way. They have also contributed in the run game at times.
This group has played well thus far. They have really come alive in the run game over the last two games. I was very impressed with the way the came out in the second half of the TCU game and started to open up holes.
My only knock on this group is that it has taken them a while to start playing with dominating confidence. They are enourmous men, and need to play like they know that.
Overall Offense: D
The offense has been held scoreless in 12 of 28 quarters of football played. They have only scored 11 TDs in 7 games. They are averaging 16.7 pts/game which is good for 3rd to LAST among all FBS football teams. The offense has become one dimensional, or should I say 1-0 dimensional...meaning #10. Stop him, stop our offense.
The defense is tough, because there has been an obviously noticeable difference since the firing of Jaime Hill. I find it tough to grade out the positions because Coach Mendenhall didn't bring in any ringers. He simply taught the players the defense and the mindset, and he did it in 5 days. So I am going to grad the Jaime Hill defense and the Bronco Mendenhall defense.
Jaime Hill Rush Defense: D
The Air Force Falcons average 352 rush yds/game. Against BYU the cadets rushed for 409 yards. The Nevada Wolf Pack averages 314 rush yds/game. Against BYU, the Wolf Pack rushed for 239 yards. The Utah State Aggies average 173 yds/game but rolled up 242 against BYU...I could go on, but you get the point. This was due to two major factors; gap control and lack of tackling. There was no form tackling going on and sure as heck, there were no swarm tackles.
Bronco Mendenhall Rush D: A+
The goal of the BYU defense is to hold teams to under 100 yards rushing. The San Diego St. Aztecs came into the game in Provo averaging 213 yds/game behind the strong run game of Hillman. BYU held the Aztecs to just 53 yards on the ground. When BYU headed to Fort Worth, TX the Horned Frogs were putting up 278 yds/game on teams. Including 278 on the Oregton St. Beavers. BYU held the Frogs to 108 yards rushing on Saturday. There has been a resurgence in the attitude of the players. We are getting 11 hats to the football on almsot every play and when our players arrive at the ball, the arrive with a bad attitude.
Jaime Hill Pass Defense: C+
The pass D was big int he win against the Washington Huskies. For a unit that was said to be the strength of the defense I was let down over the next 4 games. We faced some stiff competition and the guys played OK. The defense was left on the field a ton because of a lack of offense and the secondary was constantly cheating up to help fill the gaps in the run defense, so we became susceptible to big play action throws. The biggets problem is that we did not make plays on the ball.
Bronco Mendenhall Pass Defense: B-
In the first week against SDSU, the secondary all but elimanted two amazing threats in DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown (WR - San Diego St.). Against TCU there were too many assignment breakdowns. We gave up too many 3rd down conversion on 3rd and more than 10. We also gave up 3 TD's on blown coverage. What I do like about the secondary right now is that they are getting involved in the blitz packages and the timely corner and saftey blitzes have proven to be very effective. By calling the secondary into the run support via the play call, it seems to have helped eliminate the feeling of needing to help out in run d.
Against a TCU team who is allowing under .4 sacks per game, the Cougars got home 2 times.
Special Teams: B-
While Mitch Payne does not have big range, he is money inside of 30 yards, so at least you know what you have to work with.
Sorensen aka 50/50 is shaky at best. For the 50/50 reference see 50% shank and 50% bomb. Helping Sorensen out this year though is a skillful group of coverage guys who have really played stellar when it comes to covering kicks. This unit is allowing just 4.75 yds/return.
Speaking of covering kicks the kickoff cover unit is just as good as the punt cover team. Our kickoff cover unit (coach by Bronco) is ranked #7 in the country.
On flip side our return game leaves something to be desired. Our punt and kickoff return teams are ranked 69th and 46th respectively. Interesting note, Air Force and the Utah Utes are leading the nation in kickoff returns.
BYU OVERALL GRADE: D-
In the words of Bill Parcells, "We are what our record says we are."
We are young and this was a rebuilding year. What I like about the year is also what I don't like. I finish every game ticked off! Why? Because I see how good we can be, we just can't out it all together yet. So at the end of the day I find solace in the fact that BYU will be back on top next year.