Before jumping into this week’s Power Rankings I’d like to share a brief personal anecdote.
This last week happened to be a very important week for me. Yes, it marked the week of the Holy War but it also marked the first time that my girlfriend would be sitting down to watch a football game with me. This seems like a very normal thing for couples in America but I should remind all of you that I don’t qualify for normal personhood because when I watch football I get very emotional, irrational and loud.
Just how loud do I get? I watched the game with a large group of friends and they had to separate themselves from me and watch in another room because watching the game with me felt like, and I quote, “one of those super awkward moments when you were a little kid and your friend’s dad is yelling at your friend for breaking something and all you can do is stand there and endure the yelling.”
In my defense I come from a long line of yellers. My grandfather, a graduate from the University of Utah who realized the error in his ways and became a devoted BYU fan, was famous for raising his voice. My mother, the sweetest person you will ever meet, would yell so loud at political talk radio pundits that we would get scared that other cars passing by could hear her. So it’s only natural that I would inherit this gene.
At any rate, my courageous girlfriend braved an entire game by my side. We’ll see if she’s still willing to watch games with me next week or if she conveniently has to “go run some errands” right around kickoff. Only time will tell.
At any rate, here are this week’s rankings.
WEEK 2 POWER RANKINGS
10) Corbin Kaufusi
Pretend for a second that you don’t follow BYU sports and put Corbin Kaufusi’s fake field goal reception into context. To those who know his story well, it’s not all that surprising but when you take a step back, this is what the casual viewer sees.
Yeah. We got basketball players out here catching passes from wide receivers. What a time to be alive. I should also mention that he’s playing very well considering he’s been out of the sport for a few years. Those Kaufusi football genes are powerful.
9) Jamaal Williams
Jamaal fights harder than just about anyone on the field. If you think otherwise I will fly myself to wherever you live and personally convince you otherwise. My first and only piece of evidence would be a 10 yard run in the second half, and it was amazing because Jamaal had no business getting 10 yards on the play. After getting a modest 4-5 yard gain Jamaal kept fighting and churning his legs, refusing to go down. The refs didn’t blow the whistle and Jamaal somehow ended up beyond the first down marker. And the thing is, this isn’t the only time we’ve seen Jamaal fight and scrap for extra yards. Last week in Arizona Jamaal caught a pass on third and long well short of the stick. After avoiding a few tackles he charged upfield, setting up a manageable 4th down conversion. He just wants it more than anyone else. Let us all pray that he bounces back from whatever leg injury kept him out of the second half against Utah so he can be ready for UCLA.
8) Taysom Hill
I’ll be the first to say that this was not Taysom Hill’s night. It started off terribly with a poorly thrown ball that led to an easy pick-six. The rest of the game wasn’t much better. He threw two more interceptions and many more balls that either sailed over the heads of the receivers or landed near their feet. There were moments when he started to find his rhythm (beautiful back shoulder throw to Nick Kurtz) but those were followed by moments of despair (a back shoulder should have been thrown to Kurtz who had inside position on the cornerback).
While I expected a much better performance from our senior QB (and expect him to play much better in the future) I was still impressed with Hill’s ability to impact the game when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff. Usually, the best example of this kind of performance comes on the basketball court when a star player can’t hit any of their shots but is able to find a way to impact the game in other areas (like on defense or rebounding). Taysom Hill was playing poorly but still managed to find a way to hurt the Utes with his legs. Most importantly he was able to lead his team down the field on their final drive of the game. His many glaring mistakes aside, Hill earned his spot on this list with his poise when it mattered most.
7) Ului Lapuaho
As a former offensive lineman, there are few things I love more than a big guy running with the football. I don’t care that this play ended being called back for a penalty. I’ve never seen such field vision and grace as I saw from Ului on this catch and run. Not only does he have the presence of mind to find the ball and catch it but then he follows his lead blockers down the field (shout out to Jamaal for throwing a textbook block) for a big gain. He even had the presence of mind to put the ball in his outside hand like any good running back is instructed.
I doubt we’ll see Ului touch the ball again for the rest of the year but I sure would love to see some kind of formation where he gets another shot at glory.
6) Mitchell Juergens
FUN FACT: When Blink 182 wrote the lyrics to their pop-punk hit “All The Small Things”, they were actually able to see into the future and witness the football playing career of one Mitchell Juergens because he does all of the small things. That might not be as true as I would love for it to be, it doesn’t take away the fact that Mitch finds small ways to impact the game. Last week he was keeping his hands steady on a last-second field goal. This week he executed a fake field goal to perfection, completing a pass to
power forward Corbin Kaufusi. Juergens happened to lead the team in receiving including two key catches on the final drive. Did I mention that he is a fantastic run-blocker? Because he is. Heck, if we needed someone to kick field goals I’m sure he could step in but it’s a good thing we don’t because we have...
5) Jake Oldroyd
Cold. Blooded. Killer.
4) Francis Bernard
What do you do when two key members of your defensive backfield are ejected from the game on bogus targeting calls? Personally, I would have tackled the entire officiating crew, ripped off their striped jerseys and burned them in the corner of the end zone because they clearly weren’t worthy of calling themselves officials. Francis Bernard, on the other hand, decided to get payback and pulled off an impressive one-handed interception. He also forced the first fumble of the game on a great hustle play near the Utah sideline. But let’s got back to that interception because it was a thing of beauty (as was Coach Sitake’s reaction).
3) Butch Pau’u
For the second week in a row Butch led the team in tackles. He also led the team in hits that made the TV announcers audibly gasp in fear for the victim of said hit. There a lot of other players that are flashier than Butch but you can already start to tell that he is the heart and soul of this defense. He’s the workhorse who makes big plays and sets the tone in the middle.
2) Kai Nacua
I am going to copy and paste exactly what I said last week about Kai Nacua because I feel like it still rings true.
Yup, still true.
1) Kalani Sitake
Kalani Sitake is my dude.
A few months ago when he was hired and I didn’t know very much about the guy. I knew that he had worked at Utah for a while before taking the defensive coordinator position at Oregon State. I knew he had played under LaVell Edwards and that he was a great recruiter. After watching him on the field on Saturday night, I saw everything I needed to see to be convinced that Kalani is the guy I want leading the charge.
When his defensive captain was ejected from the game for executing a perfect football play, Kalani went bananas. He got up in the face of the officiating crew and gave them a piece of his mind. Part of me loved this moment because I had the exact same reaction watching on TV.
Now we get to enjoy this kind of fire from our coach during the basketball season (I love you Dave) but this is the first time in a VERY LONG TIME that we have seen a football coach get that emotional on the sidelines. LaVell was famous for being stone-faced, Gary Crowton was too busy lighting the program on fire to show any emotion and Bronco did his best to imitate LaVell. We now have a coach who will stick up for his players and you better believe it means a lot to them. Check out this video of Butch Pau’u explaining what it meant to him.
This football team has a long ways to go but I feel good having someone who is willing to fight for his players and take risks (like he did with the two-point attempt).
TWEET OF THE WEEK
There was a lot of great commentary on turnovers and targeting but this one was one of my personal favorites.
Targeting: a retail-centric hobby generally shared by all stay-at-home Mormon wives in Utah County.— Shawnze Kopitar (@shawnzekopitar) September 11, 2016
WELL THAT WAS WEIRD
I’ve watched a lot of college football coaches do interviews and never have I ever seen a coach compliment the reporter on their pants. So when Kyle Whittingham made a comment about Shannon Spake’s pants, I was befuddled. Maybe this was the first time a sideline reporter was wearing leather pants? Maybe Kyle was thinking of buying the same leather pants for his wife, but wasn’t sure he made the right purchase and then felt validated when he saw another person wearing the same pants? It hurts my head to think about why this happened so now it is time for me to stop.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham to Shannon Spake, "Nice leather pants." pic.twitter.com/zSb98vja3w— Dan Rieffer (@drieffer) September 11, 2016
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.
Jake Oldroyd continued his reign of terror on the field goal netting at football stadiums around the world. He made both of his field goals from 42 and 43 yards respectively and chipped in an extra point for good measure. His kickoff attempts weren’t all that impressive but that doesn’t matter because Jake Oldroyd wasn’t sent here to perform kickoff duties. He’s here to kick field goals and look good doing it.
After a rough opening week, Jake Welch bounced back with a better performance. Prior to watching the game, Jake and a few of his friends went down the beach to enjoy some fun in the sun. In a moment of bravery (see also: stupidity), they decided to tame the waves of Manhattan Beach on a giant inflatable paddle board where six people kneel on the board and attempt to paddle out to sea. After getting rocked by a few waves, two of the six crew members jumped ship but not our friend Jake. He stood strong and eventually caught a wave on what looks like a comically large surfboard. You can enjoy video footage of their adventure here.
Kudos to Jake Welch for stepping up his game this week but he made the crucial mistake of not putting enough sunscreen on his bald head while at the beach. ADVANTAGE: JAKE OLDROYD
UP NEXT: UCLA
AND WE GO LIVE TO THE ROSE BOWL WHERE JOSH ROSEN IS WOWING THE PRO SCOUTS WITH HIS ACCURACY AND POISE.