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BYU FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 4: Lost on Country Roads

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Believe it or not, there was some good news from the WVU game!

BYU v West Virginia Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We experienced another close loss this week but I noticed something that will encourage me for the future.

My tickets for the game were in the West Virginia section. At halftime I moved seats and sat with BYU fans. While sitting in both sections I noticed something very interesting.

In the West Virginia section there were a grand total of four babies in attendance while on the BYU side, there were close to 2,455 (the estimates are not exact and the definition of a “baby” is still up for debate).

Based on my scientific understanding of how things work, it appears that the hill people aren’t making babies anymore and are too busy burning couches. BYU people are clearly making lots of babies and therefore our fanbase / recruiting pool will be much stronger and deeper than that of West Virginia.

Based on that evidence alone BYU should get a Big 12 invite.

WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

10) Mitchell Juergens

Recency bias will lead us to remember the fact that Mitchell Juergens was unable to haul in a pass from Taysom Hill which was then intercepted by a West Virginia defender. While that did happen at a pivotal part in the game, we should remember that we wouldn’t have been in that position if it wasn’t for Mitchell’s key conversion on 3rd-and-7 in the first quarter that he took to the house for a touchdown. He ran a crisp route and hustled his way past two defenders for the score. So before we throw Mitch under the bus for not catching that pass in the first quarter, we should remember his big play as well.

9) Rhett Almond

Once upon a time, I played the game of football and when I played, I was an offense lineman, which means my qualifications for being a kicker were...well I didn’t have any. During my sophomore year in high school our kickoff specialist was injured and unable to perform his kicking duties. I’m not sure what events transpired that week but the next Friday night I was the starting center and kicker. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my entire life. I had played many games of football over the course of my life but the thought of kicking a football while people (who paid money) watched was downright scary. Thankfully (but also depressingly) our offense never scored so I only had to kick once.

What does this have to do with Rhett Almond? In a VERY VERY VERY small way I feel like I can relate to the terrifying nature of kicking and how it can mess with your psyche. In the first week of the season Rhett was benched after having missed an extra point and converting a very shaky field goal attempt. After his game winning kick, Jake Oldroyd was the new folk hero and Rhett was an afterthought. That was until an injury sidelined Jake, putting Rhett back on the field. Knowing that you were benched and then reinserted into the starting lineup only because of an injury doesn’t exactly inspire lots of confidence. While I would have been a mess, Rhett converted on all of his field goal and extra point attempts.

8) Harvey Langi

Harvey is still finding his way around the defensive end position, but he brings the fire every week. He makes our power rankings this week after blowing up the backfield when West Virginia tried to convert on fourth down. The play was doomed from the start when Harvey threw away the fullback and then held onto the ball carrier until Kai Nacua arrived. It was a big moment for the defense after they had been on their heels all game.

7) Taysom Hill

People have been pretty outspoken in their criticisms of Taysom and his ability (or lack thereof) to throw the football. A proper breakdown of BYU’s passing game would extend this article another 30,000 words, so we won’t get into that here. What I do know is that there are few people that will give you the fight and heart that Taysom does. Don’t take this to mean that I am reducing him to the likes of Riley Nelson who was all heart, and very little talent. Taysom has talent, even if it’s very different and diminished from we have seen in the past.

What we saw from Riley Nelson was a low grade QB that tried a little too hard to overachieve. With Taysom, we have a guy who was other-worldly athletic but now is trying to figure out his playing style after a coaching change and multiple career-altering injuries. If he is the right quarterback that BYU should be employing in this season of change is an entirely different discussion but while he has been given this chance, he’s giving it his all and honestly, what more can you ask from the guy.

In this game, when Taysom was bad, he was pretty bad (see the pick six). But when Taysom was good, he was pretty dang good. I mean, he was one step away from landing this hurdle and waltzing into the end zone. If the coaches stick with him, here’s hoping we’ll get to see more of the good and less of the bad.

6) Butch Pau’u

It was apparent many times that Butch was not 100% this game. There was a definite hitch in his giddy up but he still found a way to make an impact with a huge interception in the first quarter. The best part about the interception was the fact that for some strange reason, Francis Bernard grabbed onto Butch’s jersey after he caught the ball. Was he still in tackling mode and just saw a guy running with the ball? Or maybe he saw that Butch was running into trouble and tried to pull him in another direction? We’ll never know.

5) Aleva Hifo / Matt Hadley

“Yeah that BYU kick return unit is too dangerous. We better not kick it deep against them.”

That’s not a joke. It’s probably a real sentence that a West Virginia coach had to say to his kicker because Aleva Hifo and Matt Hadley were straight shredding their kickoff coverage. They both busted off a 40+ yard return, setting up BYU with fantastic field position.

4) BYU Fans at the game

Having been in attendance for this game I was able to witness first hand the delightful nature of the West Virginia fans. And when I say that they were delightful, I mean the exact opposite. I should say that not every WV fan was overly belligerent, as we had multiple Mountaineer fans come up to us and apologize for the behavior of their fan base. The fact that they had to apologize so profusely and do so multiple times should tell you everything you need to know.

So why did I put BYU fans at the number four spot on the list? Aside from the fact that there was a a solid showing of Cougar fans in DC, we all practiced a courageous amount of restraint. There were multiple times when I would have been justified in getting into a physical altercation but I held back. I can’t imagine that I was the only one who felt this way, so good on you BYU fans for not punching anyone in the face!

3) Offensive Line

After getting worked over against a tough UCLA defense, the big fellas on offense bounced back in a big way against West Virginia. After being under duress for most of the game against the Bruins, Taysom had much more time to throw and was only sacked once on the day (I would have preferred they gave up two sacks as opposed to one sack and a pick six). More importantly, the offensive line was able to open holes for Jamaal and Taysom, as they racked up 280 yards total on the ground. Establishing the running game is vital for this offense if they hope to move the ball through the air.

2) Fred Warner

On the very first play of the game West Virginia quarterback threw a pass out to the far side of the field and Fred hustled out to the flat and tackled the guy by the hand. I know what you’re thinking, “Of course Fred used his hands to tackle someone. That’s how tackling works!” Let me be clear. Fred grabbed the opposing receiver by HIS hand and yanked him down at the line of scrimmage. It know it’s hard to imagine but just know that Fred Warner is a man of pure strength.

Beyond that single play Warner had a solid game, leading the team in tackles. This was by far the toughest test the defense faced this season and a good amount of pressure was on Warner and his fellow linebackers. The wide-open style of offense that West Virginia ran put Warner in space with a ball carrier, forcing him to make a tough play. Fred did a good job of keeping his feet and making sure tackles on shifty receivers (something that proved difficult for others on defense).

1) Jamaal Williams

My thoughts on Jamaal’s performance on Saturday can be summed up best by what I was yelling loudly and proudly while sitting in the heart of the West Virginia section. I can’t recall my exact wording but I’m pretty sure it went something along the lines of...

“OOOOOHHHHHH THAT’S A BAD MAN RIGHT THERE. YOU BETTER SEND A MESSAGE TO SOMEONE ON THE SIDELINE BECAUSE THAT GUY RIGHT THERE, NUMBER 21, HE’S GOING TO BITE SOMEONE’S FACE OFF AND TAKE OFF TO THE END ZONE FOR SIX. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!”

Jamaal’s abilities are accentuated when he goes out for a few plays and Squally Canada gets a few reps in his stead. All due respect to Squally, but the difference between the two is jarring. I have hope that in the future Canada will have his chance to get more reps and develop into a serviceable back, but as of right now Jamaal is on another level. His speed to the hole and explosiveness through contact are unlike anything I have seen from a BYU running back in recent years.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

What you you get when you mix a Northwestern loss with R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix? This lovely tweet.

WELL THAT WAS WEIRD

Seeing BYU’s logo alongside a giant Bud Light logo? Not exactly something that you see every day.

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 was still recovering from an injury this week and didn’t make the trip with the team. Instead he probably spent some time watching the game from the comfort of his home, catching up on some homework and taking a nice young lady on a date to the Cannon Center where they ate off-brand Captain Crunch and talked about how cool it was to be born it the late 90’s.

Jake Welch, on the other hand, did make the trip out to DC to watch the Cougars of BYU in action. In order to make the most of his time he decided to take the red eye flight out of Los Angeles that put him in town early Thursday morning. In theory it was a great idea but while walking the streets of our nation’s capital, a still-tired Jake got drilled in the head by one of those parking gates that lifts up to let cars go by. He claims that he was distracted by the beauty of the blue chicken on top of the National Gallery of Art, but our sources say the lack of sleep was still a factor. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt and is expected to be back in action next week.

Since both of our Jakes were injured in one way or another this week, we’re calling this one a draw. ADVANTAGE = EVERYONE BESIDES THESE TWO GUYS NAMED JAKE

UP NEXT: TOLEDO

I know very little about Toledo but I do know for certain that the state of Ohio isn’t a good place. I drove through there once and thought to myself “that’s probably all I need to see.”