I don’t know how to preface this iteration of the power rankings because the football game that we watched last Thursday night was overdosed on football drugs.
Nothing went as planned and nothing made sense. It was madness.
To be honest we should have seen this coming. No football game against Boise State in Boise is a normal football game. Back in 2004 we lost when our kicker morphed into a middle linebacker to make two booming tackles, only to forget to morph back into a kicker on his last second attempt to win the game (which ended in the dumb score of 28-27). In 2012 defense reigned supreme, as did Boise State, even after going 0-5 on 4th down conversions.
The next time BYU and BSU face off in the Idaho will be November 3rd, 2018. Thank goodness because it will take at least two years for me to recover from whatever it was I watched a few days ago.
WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS
10) Brett Rypien
How can I not give some love to Boise State’s sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien? Yes, he did light up our defense for 442 yards through the air but you have to admit that without him BYU wouldn’t have made this game close. In the first half BYU’s offense was dreadful and only produced points (a field goal) off of a blocked kicked that set the Cougars on their own 47 yard line. After that is when Rypien went to work for BYU’s cause. He went 2-2 on his passing attempts to BYU defensive players, totaling 109 yards and two touchdowns. When you compare that to the stat line of Taysom Hill (187 yards on 42 passing attempts for 0 touchdowns) you can see why one is on the list and another is not. It helped that Brett’s receivers (on BYU’s defense) did a much better job catching the ball than BYU’s receivers.
9) Mitchell Juergens
Speaking of receivers, there was one who was actually able to make a magnificent grab that set up BYU’s lone offensive touchdown of the day. In a catch that looked eerily similar to his touchdown reception last year against Boise State, Mitchell laid out in between two defenders to haul in a perfectly thrown pass from Taysom. At this point in the game Boise State fans had to be thinking “WHAT. THIS GUY? AGAIN? THIS ISN’T HAPPENING.” It would have been even better if the catch happened again on the hail mary attempt but that kind of sweet justice solely exists in a world where only good things happen to me and the teams that I like but we don’t exactly live there.
Holy cow Mitchell Juergens. Unbelievable catch. Sets up touchdown that puts BYU up 24-21 pic.twitter.com/FQD7WnjbDu— Dave Noriega (@davenoriega) October 21, 2016
8) Squally Canada
At some point BYU fans were going to face the reality of football without Jamaal Williams. Most of us thought that this was going to be next year after Jamaal graduates and hopefully makes his way to the next level but we were able to get a quick glimpse into what a BYU offense looks like without the program’s all-time leading rusher. Thankfully the glimpse was much more pleasant than the anticipated nightmare thanks to one Squally Canada. While it was pretty evident that Canada isn’t on the same level as his predecessor, he performed admirably considering how much more of a workload he was forced to carry. After averaging just under five carries per game, Squally ran the ball 21 times for a respectable 88 yards. He still has a ways to go in his development but what we saw from him on Thursday was highly encouraging.
7) Corbin Kaufusi
QUICK. How many college athletes have recorded a block in both football and basketball? I don’t have the time or attention span to really dig down deep into that rabbit hole but my best guess is that VERY FEW PEOPLE HAVE EVER DONE THIS. (Odds are the list probably includes someone like Julius Peppers, Antonio Gates, Demetrius Harris or Jimmy Graham.) Congratulations to Corbin for making it into this very exclusive club and for making a serious impact on the defensive front this season. When it was announced that he was going to play football I didn’t expect a whole lot in terms of production but since then he reminded us that he has the same bloodline as one Bronson Kaufusi. Playing defense is in their genes.
6) Butch Pau’u
We’ll have plenty of love for Fred Warner and his pick six later in the program but one of the greatest parts of his interception return for a touchdown was the block that Butch threw for this fellow linebacker. It would have been easy for Pau’u to take the rest of the play off, seeing how he was nursing a knee injury and some kind of involvement in the return could have injured him further but he threw caution to the wind and made a big block to spring a huge touchdown.
5) Jonny Linehan
I have to imagine this is how the conversation went on the sideline before the fake punt.
“Hey Jonny I think we can execute this fake.”
“That’s a funny joke. I’ll post that one on Twitter.”
“Not joking, we want to go for it.”
“Wait, you want me to do what?”
“Just take the ball from the back of the end zone and run for a first down that’s over 25 yards away.”
“I mean sure, I’ll give it a go!”
But seriously Jonny did a decent job with his punting duties on Thursday and most important he was able to run out of the end zone on the fake to avoid the safety.
4) Kai Nacua
Another week and another intercep...wait. Sorry, force of habit.
Kai didn’t record an interception this week but he did force a fumble and return a blocked kick for a good chunk of yardage. He really should have high-stepped that shoestring tackle to take the blocked kick to the house but we’ll give him a break on this one. It’s still pretty impressive that Kai was there to make a play on the blocked kick and I don’t think it’s luck.
I was talking hockey with my good friend the other day and I asked him what separated great hockey players from the rest. I figured the answer would be their speed on the ice or great stick handling but he said that the very best hockey players find themselves in the right place at the right time. Kai Nacua does exactly that. I can’t say that he has amazing speed or strength but he has a great understanding of the game and knows where to be and when.
3) Dayan Lake
Based on the result of the game and the fact that we gave up 442 yards through the air, it doesn’t seem logical to put two defensive backs in the top five but I really like what I saw from Dayan Lake. He’s made a lot of progress ever since his baptism by fire the first few games of the season. In addition to this great interception returned for a touchdown, Dayan has been fantastic with tackling in the open field. On Boise State’s final touchdown drive Lake made a touchdown-saving tackle to give the BYU defense one more shot at stopping the Broncos. They ended up scoring on the next play but it was good to see Dayan chase down a ball-carrier to try and make a play.
Before you watch this glorious pick six, remind yourself that both Dayan Lake and Troy Warner are freshman. Both players have a long way to go but you can’t help but be optimistic about the cornerback position moving forward.
2) Sae Tautu
During the off-season the main narrative, as it related to the BYU defense, was centered around Harvey Langi and his transition from middle linebacker to defensive end. There were other changes that were happening on defense and our guy Sae Tautu seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Tautu was making a similar transition to Langi, from outside linebacker to defensive end, but any time that he was mentioned it was usually an afterthought as Langi, Troy Warner and Kai Nacua garnered most of the headlines. Tautu’s had a decent 2015 season but it was overshadowed by his multiple targeting penalties that cost him time and his team opportunities (specifically in the Missouri game).
This year started off slowly for the senior linebacker and turned sour after another targeting penalty against Toledo sidelined him for the first half against Michigan State. Something must have happened during that first half suspension because ever since he has been playing like a man possessed, as he’s averaged more than 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks per game. Against Boise State he notched nine tackles, a strip sack and one block that was probably the difference between Fred Warner getting knocked out at the 15 yard line and him scoring a touchdown. He’s a little late in hitting his stride towards the end of his senior year but hey, better late than never.
1) Fred Warner
You know how there is that one dilapidated restaurant or building in your hometown that most everyone hates and would contribute to its demolition but one person in your friend group or family loves the place because they had special life moment there? That’s how Fred Warner feels about Albertsons Stadium. Pretty much everyone hates the place but I’m sure each time a teammate of Fred’s mentions it he’ll stop them mid sentence with a gleam in his eye and say “Oh that old place? Well shucks you know I like it just fine.” Why does Fred Warner like the Bronco’s blue-turfed edifice? Well in his two games in Boise he has two interceptions that he has run back for touchdowns. In addition, he has also forced a fumble and collected seven tackles. (There was an unfortunate event that happened on Boise State’s first drive where Fred was left in the dust for an easy BSU touchdown but we’ll chalk that one up as lack of help from the safety.)
But back to the pick six. It was truly one of the more magnificent plays that we have been able to witness this season because it had everything: a great catch, sideline acrobatics, broken tackles, a spin move that didn’t involve Colby Pearson, amazing blocks and a perfectly timed dive to get the score. It’s no surprise it came from a guy like Fred who has consistently improved his game since he stepped on campus.
BYU's Fred Warner with the most absurd pick six return I've ever seen pic.twitter.com/S1TC7EhgHc— Jack McGuire (@BigDaddysCourt) October 21, 2016
WELL THAT WAS WEIRD
There were quite a few weird things OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS WE TRIED A FAKE PUNT FROM OUR OWN END ZONE ON 4TH-AND-19. IT REALLY HAPPENED. THAT WAS NOT A BAD SPECIAL TEAMS RELATED DREAM THAT YOU HAD ON THURSDAY EVENING.
I have nothing else to say about this as there is no way to explain how or why or...I just can’t.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
After another close game, Rodger Sherman of The Ringer had this sincere question for BYU fans who have been watching the Cougars play football this season.
How do Mormons deal with BYU football without alcohol pic.twitter.com/TfnPNDesPL— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) October 21, 2016
Well Rodger, this is a very good question to which I’m not sure I have an answer. I think that each BYU fan has their own way of coping with such emotionally intense games of football. My preferred method of coping involves Taco Bell Party Packs, tweeting in all caps and John Hughes movies. That’s just my method though. If you have your own way of dealing with stressful games, let us know if the comments.
JAKE VS JAKE
There is a football player on the team by the name of Jake Oldroyd (aka the Baby-faced Assassin aka TEX aka The Dragon from Southlake) and my first name also happens to be Jake. Each week we’re going to rate the performance of each Jake and decide who had the better week.
In case you haven’t heard, it appears as if Jake Oldroyd’s 2016 football season is over. A few coaches have mentioned that he will likely sit out the rest of the season and seek a medical redshirt. If he does indeed get another year of eligibility from the NCAA we could see Jake the Make kicking game-winning field goals until 2022. Since Jake is no longer focused on football, where is he dedicating his time? He’s making the natural transition from football star to music-making sensation. I’m not even kidding, Jake and his friends just posted an ambient track to Soundcloud called “Celestial Spice” which is the most perfect name for a song written by a group of BYU freshmen. Based on the photo below, Jake is tickling the ivory keys for this musical group which doesn’t have a name yet. Here’s to hoping we get to hear more sweet sounds from Jake before he heads off to Chile.
Fun fact. Jake Oldroyd wasn’t the only one who played in a musical group his freshman year at BYU. Jake Welch was a key member of the musical super-group Steve Pierce and the Gentlemen Lovers back in 2005. The trio of vocalists would tour Helaman Halls and serenade their many adoring fans (poor souls who happened to be in the common areas when they performed) with their own rendition of songs from the collection of one Gavin Degraw. Sadly they never recorded any of their live shows so their is no evidence of said performances but they will forever live in the hearts and minds of those who saw them light up the night sky with musical fire. At any rate, we’re here to judge Jake on what he did last week, not during his glory days. Jake Welch actually had a decent week. He decided to challenge his girlfriend in a game of checkers which was good because Jake won two of three games but also bad because he did a little too much gloating and now his girlfriend is upset with him.
Jake Welch seems like the obvious winner this week after a dominating performance in the game of checkers but Jake Oldroyd dropping a hot track called CELESTIAL SPICE? That’s an automatic game winner. ADVANTAGE: JAKE OLDROYD
UP NEXT: Bye Week
There is no BYU Football game this week which is sad because we love BYU Football but it’s also a good thing because this season BYU Football has been very entertaining but also extremely hazardous to our health. I plan on spending time at the beach listening the peaceful sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline but knowing me I’ll still be watching college football and yelling at the TV because the team that I had just decided to root for has decided to play poorly. That’s just how it works.