Due to travel, frustration, denial and acceptance, I have waited to write about this game. Now I am further motivated to write about it because of all the conjecture I have been hearing since the blocked field goal. Is Coach Anae the man for the job? Is Bronco the difference on our defense?
Don't just read the article, let me know what you think as well.
#1: Momentum - 4th and 1, FG? Go for it?
It is easy for us to sit back in our chairs say that we should have kicked the field goal early to go up 9-0. That is because we know the result of the play. While in standing up at the game, I told my brother we should kick the field goal, and he was arguing we should go for it on 4th. My reasoning is this. You just got an interception and the momentum is swinging in RES. You have to capitalize on the turnover and make them pay with some form of points.
The flip side is that you go for 6 and really put an exclamation mark on the game. That would have completely swung all the momentum and deflated the MUSS for a while. There is a great argument for both calls. So who is right and who is wrong only comes down to the execution of the calls. The fact of the matter is that the play worked just like it was called, until Hoffman dropped the pass. To say that the defender made a great play, or that the throw was not completely catch-able would be inaccurate. I can see the argument that we should have ran the ball up the middle, but as over rated as Utah is (to be explained later) they do have a great run defense, especially when they can pack the box knowing that is what you are going to do (see final drive).
So while I would have chosen FG and gone up 9, the play action worked, the WR was open and the pass was on target. It was the right play call with the wrong execution.
#2: Play Calling throughout
I really don't see any basis to the argument that Anae had bad calling ALL GAME. First of all, when people complain about his play calling in the game they only point out the 4th and 1 and the final 3 run plays. I have yet to hear a fan be able to point out any other particular situation where the play calling was off.
My only grip with the play calling is the overall strategy. I would have liked the SDSU game plan of using up every last second of the play clock to control the game. We were sustaining drives, but at times didn't use up any clock. Using the clock allows you to protect your lead without having to be conservative in the play calling. But I thought the offense played as good a game as they have all year. Keep in mind that the Utah Utes, while overrated, is still FAR FAR better than the New Mexico Lobos, Colorado St. Rams, UNLV Rebels, Wyoming Cowboys, etc. Anyone who was expecting BYU to come in and put up 35+ points on them has to be delusional.
#3: Play calling on the final drive
The final drive is just how it needed to be drawn up. I told my friends who were with me, "This is great! Perfect! We just need to get inside the 30 and we're golden!" Payne had already hit 3 long field goals right down the shooter, we had it in the bag. Once Utah had to blow its final timeout I was really confident. I knew it was all over. We could run the ball 3 straight times and use all the clock, then our final timeout to leave just enough for the kick.
Just like the 4th and 1, it was the right call, without the execution. The snap was a tad low, we missed a block on the edge and the kick seemed to have a lower trajectory (I have not seen the replay, that is just what I thought from seeing it live at the game). Had the kick gone through the up-rights I don't think anyone would have breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, "Man that was lucky, we should have been throwing into the endzone."
#4: They are who we thought they are
This applies to both teams. Coming into the game I had too many question marks. Has BYU improved, or havbe we just played teams that are that bad? Is Utah overrated or are they still depressed about not going to a BCS game? What I saw on Saturday were two VERY AVERAGE football teams. Both teams are right about .500 caliber teams this year. Utah benefited from one of the easiest schedules around. They basically played 1 quality team (TCU Horned Frogs), and 3 average teams, (Air Force Falcons and BYU Cougars and San Diego St. Aztecs). They got destroyed by the great team, and won close games against the good teams. Every other victory was to a mediocre at best team.
BYU was similar. We played a lot of tough teams early and couldn't salvage a win. Thanks to a defensive coordinator who quite on his team, we lost to a terrible team, and then beat all the mediocre teams we played. The fact of the matter is that Utah was 1 point better than BYU, not just in this game but on the season. This was the final test to see whether Utah was one of the countries top teams, and I'm sorry Ute Fan, but you're not. To say that you are, would be to deny that BYU only won 6 games because they played crappy teams. Fact of the matter is that the game on Saturday played out, just as it would on paper. Utah, 1 point above average beats an average BYU team. Utah was HIGHLY overrated at #5, case closed.
#5: The future is looking bright
Another thing I took away from the game on Saturday was that I looked at the field and saw all the kids we have playing for us at BYU. Literally, kids. We are so incredibly young it is awesome! I can't wait for next year. To me, that was the biggest difference in the game. We had a bunch of 18 year olds playing upperclassmen, and that cost us 1 point. This tastes a lot like 2005 when we were all sophomores and ended up running away with the conference the next two years.
#6: Jaime Hill was not a scape goat
Anyone who believes that argument still needs to be checked into a psych ward. Look at the body of work from our defense since the canning of Jaime Hill. It is a good test sample too. TCU, SDSU, Utah...all high powered offenses that were kept in check, because they finally had a good leader. Here's to Bronco holding onto those reigns for a long time!