This game was well fought on both sides of the ball and if I were wearing my heart rate monitor I think we would have seen about 190 bpm. It was sure nice to get the first game behind us while notching a "W" at LaVell Edwards Stadium against a Washington team that will have a lot of success this year. However, we still have some things to clean up before traveling to Colorado Springs and Tallahassee.
BYU vs. Washington: 3 Up and 3 Down
1. O'Neill Chambers still makes me nervous. The guy can flat out play from the snap to the reception, as evidenced by the one handed grab he made out of bounds. No doubt he is a good receiver. What makes me nervous is that he is a terrible ball carrier. He continues to fumble the ball at crucial times during the game. Luckily this week we did not lose either of his two fumbles, but he needs to work on his ball security.
2. Tackling, tackling, tackling. I would blame the poor open field tackling on the fact that it was the first game of the year, but we should have had enough scrimmages by now to know how to hit someone square, wrap them up and take them down. Our defense seemed more content in the open field to just dive around at shoe laces in hopes that the runner would trip and fall. Sorry boys, that is not how it goes. We need to work on our open field tackling and eliminate the unnecessary yards after contact.
3. Stalling drives. Our 3rd down conversion was only 31% and we couldn't punch the ball into the endzone on 1st and Goal from the 4. We need to establish the physical attitude that no matter what the situation, we can run the ball right at the defense for 3 yards. You just gotta have that. In the last 5 years we have been able to run a lead play that everyone in the world knew was coming, but nobody could stop. This starts with the big hogs up front, and then falls on the shoulders of the fullback and finally the tailback to see the hole and keep on truckin'.
1. The two headed monster approach worked...for now. I was a believer during this game. Not so much before or after. Both QBs continued to play equally well. Both had poor throws, both had big plays. At the end of the day I still think you are more effective if you stick with one guy. We may see defenses start to key in on play selection based on what QB is in and that will limit the offenses effectiveness. But for now, it's working.
2. BYU Secondary! This group made some big plays throughout the day and especially in crunch time on two crucial 4th down stops. They were not tested as much as I thought they would be coming into the day, but the passed the test they were given. Sure they lucked out a little on a poorly thrown double pass, but Thomas was still there to make the tackle for minimal YAC yards on a play that is meant to be a TD! This group will not be tested much at Air Force either, so this was really their only game prep for what's coming in Tallahassee.
3. Special Teams! BYU won the Special Teams war hands down, thanks in large part the some bone headed plays by Chris Polk for Washington. Stephenson came up with some BIG TIME punts and our boys were always in position to make tackles to negate any attempt at a big return. I would have liked to see Payne hit his first field goal attempt, but luckily it did not come back to haunt us.
How good BYU and Washington are really remains to be seen, but I was very encouraged by what I saw. We did not give up huge chunks of yardage, we corralled Jake Locker on his minimal running attempts, our offense put together good drives, and the best news of all is, we executed at about 75-80% and still won the game.
There are still some things we can tighten up that will make us that much more effective. In the last two years BYU entered the season in full stride with no real room to improve as the season progressed. They were playing their best football right from day one. This team will be a little different. They will have to get better as the season goes, but it is a manageable task.