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BYU Football POWER RANKINGS WEEK 1: THE BOYS ARE BACK

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Kalani Sitake loves him some Bahama Bucks.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

WELCOME BACK MY BEAUTIFUL FOOTBALL FAMILY.

For the second time in the Kalani Sitake era, BYU started their season in Arizona and just like in 2016 the Cougars of BYU came away with a victory. The offense looked disciplined. The defense looked much improved. On a personal level, I ate 13 buffalo wings and four ribs during a commercial break so I wouldn’t miss a second of the action.

I’ve also reached out to my physician to see if I can get a feeding tube set up for next Saturday so I can get LOCKED IN 24 hours in advance and not have to think about anything except football. We’ll see what she says.

Anyways, enough of this nonsense; LET’S GET TO THE RANKINGS.

WEEK 1 POWER RANKINGS

10) Michael Shelton

I thought that Skyler “BIG BOOTS” Southam was going to be the difference maker on special teams this week but we got ourselves an unexpected bump from the swiss army knife Michael Shelton. First, there was his partially blocked kick on Arizona’s opening drive. On a second look it was probably Corbin that got it, but hey Shelton was close enough to get credit. Then when BYU was leading 21-10, Arizona punter Dylan Klumph got off a decent kick, but Michael was able to shake a few defenders and bust off a great 37-yard return that set up the offense with some great field position.

In addition to these special teams gems Shelton was pretty solid on defense, with one huge pass breakup on a Khalil Tate deep ball. Every team from here on out will be testing these corners, but I think they’ll be up to the task.

9) Tanner Mangum

I feel like I could write 5,000 words on Tanner, dissecting both the good and bad parts of his performance but I’ll try and keep it to a minimum here. It was clear in the first half that he was struggling with the deep and intermediate throws, but then in the second half we saw why Tanner is the starter. This offense that Jeff Grimes has implemented isn’t going to require the quarterback to sling the ball across the field 40-50 times per game. What it will ask of the signal caller is to manage the various motions and shifts, and then complete the touch passes that lead to big gains. Some of the most impressive throws weren’t deep bombs or lasers over the middle but the seemingly simple touch passes that led his receivers in space. At some point we’re going to need Tanner to complete more of those mid-range passes to stretch the defense. Let’s hope that a few more weeks in the offense will help give him more confidence.

OK one last thing. His most impressive throws of the game were 1) when he shook the pass rush and gave Dylan Collie a chance to make a play on the ball (which he did) and 2) when Tanner threw a DIME on the run to Micah Simon right along the sideline. Tanner isn’t quite back to his 2015 ways but he sure as heck isn’t going to repeat 2017.

8) Aleva Hifo

This offseason there was a lot of talk about all of the other skills players besides Hifo. Dylan Collie’s return to Provo garnered a ton of headlines, and deservedly so. Akile Davis was making big plays in practice. The signing of four-star wideout Gunner Romney got people excited. The tight ends were getting a lot of love because of their new role in the offense and of course there was the endless discussion about the QB competition. All of this set up perfectly for Aleva to come out and surprise us all with a solid game catching passes and cutting it up on the fly sweeps. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the wide out before, but he finally looks comfortable in this offense.

7) Tight Ends

Last week I joked about BYU putting four tight ends on the field at once; and while that didn’t happen on Saturday, we did see Jeff Grimes send out two tight end sets for the majority of the game. How did they perform with this added responsibility? Matt Bushman hauled in a nice touchdown pass. Dallin Holker (TRUE FRESHMAN ALERT) was an inch away from getting a TD catch himself. MORONI LAULU-PUTUTAU JUMPED OVER A MAN LIKE HE WAS FREAKING CHAD LEWIS.

And yes, while we did see these small flashes in the passing game these dudes really earned their spot on the rankings with the blocking. There were multiple times when I saw a tight end throw a perfect block to bust open a big run by Squally or to give Tanner a few extra seconds in the pocket. The success of the offense will be decided by how this unit performs as a whole, but the tight ends have the most on their plate. I can’t wait to see how this unit performs the rest of the season.

6) Corbin Kaufusi

When Corbin decided that he was going to come out for the football team after his foray into basketball, I didn’t have high expectations. I thought that he had a better shot making an impact on the court and ho boy was I wrong. Corbin has blossomed into a heck of a defensive lineman and every year I see him take big strides in his game. Kaufusi lead the team with seven solo tackles, one of which was a sack of the impossibly mobile Khalil Tate. He’s flying around the field and even when he’s not making tackles, he’s forcing running backs to bounce to another hole or make quarterbacks think twice about throwing the ball in his direction. Bless the Kaufusi family for giving us one of the greatest football families.

5) Jeff Grimes

So 20+ years of college coaching experience is better that no college coaching experience? Who would have thought! Yes there is still work to do (two throws to the wide side of the field on 3rd and 4th down....yuck) but it was still pretty masterful for his first game calling the shots.

4) Zayne Anderson / Sione Takitaki

The fact that ESPN’s favorite Heisman front-runner Khalil Tate only ran for 14 yards is a huge credit to multiple players (and Arizona offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone included), but we need to give MAJOR props to two guys in Sione Takitaki and Zayne Anderson who were playing new positions and looked pretty dang good. Not only were they both flying to the ball to stuff the run, but they also made big plays in pass defense. I’m sure there will be some more growing pains in coming weeks, but THESE DUDES ARE STUDS AND THEY PLAY WITH SWAGGER.

3) Khyiris Tonga

At the beginning of camp there was a whole bunch of hullabaloo about Khyiris showing up out of shape and not being ready to practice. If that’s the case, I think it was the surgeon general that held him back over the summer because if he came to fall camp in perfect shape, then he would hazardous to the health and well being of the entire Arizona football team. Just look at the these video clips. LOOK AT THEM. A bunch of these poor offensive lineman might want to reconsider their life path after feeling the full wrath of the Island Kingdom of Tonga.

2) Squally Canada

Usually when a major television network is bumping your mixtape for millions of people to hear, that would be the highlight of your night. Not so for Squally “Tres Touchdowns” Canada, who looked like a different player on Saturday night. I always thought Squally was more of a second unit running back, the guy you send in to give #1 a few plays off, but against AZ he looked like THE running back y’all. He must have watched some Jamaal Williams film all offseason because he was fighting for those extra yards like the Swag Daddy. There will be tougher tests ahead when BYU will face defenses far superior to Arizona but Squallard passed this first test with flying colors.

1) Offensive Line

ZERO SACKS + MASSIVE HOLES FOR THE RUNNING GAME = POWER RANKINGS CHAMPS

I’m a former offensive lineman and I know full well that the success of the offense starts with the big boys up front. They didn’t play perfect football (penalties, tisk tisk) but they looked like a transformed unit after what we saw last year. You could see Jeff Grimes and Ryan Pugh put in their work with this unit and so far it’s paying off.

***

WELL THAT WAS WEIRD

I was going to post the video of the ref trying to explain what was happening after BYU asked for a review to see if Arizona touched the ball on a punt BUT THEN A GOSH DANG CLOWN SHOWED UP ON MY TV AND I AM STILL SHOOK. But seriously can we talk about WHY one would show up to a football game in full clown garb? Did he just come to the game straight from a birthday party? Did he think he was going to sneak onto the field to be part of the halftime entertainment? Is this a Utah fan going above and beyond to take a shot at clownish BYU fans? I HONESTLY WON’T SLEEP UNTIL I KNOW WHY THIS HAPPENED.

THE HEAT

Who needs coal or natural gas when you can have Utah Twitter heat your house in the winter months with these BLAZING hot takes.

FAMILY ALBUM

There are exactly three (3) situations when I stand at attention with my hand over my heart:

  1. When they play the National Anthem
  2. When the noble employees at Raising Cane’s bring me my tenders
  3. When I watch highlights of Dennis Pitta and Andrew George

It was a special time at BYU when our beautiful sons Andrew and Dennis were terrorizing opposing defenses with their size and skill. Seeing them reminisce on the good ole days brings a tear to my eye.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

First off I’d like to give a hearty round of internet applause to all the people on Twitter for a very entertaining evening. Just like BYU, y’all put in some work over the offseason and came out strong the first week of the season.

There were MANY candidates for this distinct honor but I think we can all agree that this gem was the clear winner.

JAKE VS JJ

Each week we’ll compare the weeks of Jake Welch and JJ Nwigwe to see who performed at a higher level. While it’s pretty difficult to compare the performances of a Division 1 athlete and a 31-year-old buffoon who hurts his back while trying to tie his shoes, we’ll do our best.

It was a big week for the tight ends of BYU and it was in large part in thanks to the beautiful blocking of one JJ Nwigwe. On one of the goal line touchdowns for Squally Canada there was a massive hole on the right side and it was all thanks to JJ. He took on not one but TWO Wildcat defenders and paved the way to glory.

Jake Welch also had himself quite the big week. After losing his car to a career-ending injury, he was forced to make his way around Los Angeles on the bus. While he was able to navigate the public transit system with ease, he didn’t plan for the blistering heat on the 10-minute walk between the bus stop and his office. He may or may not have walked into his office drenched in sweat, prompting one of his co-workers to ask, “is your body ok?” No Jessica, his body is almost always not ok.

WINNER: JJ - Nwigwe almost cost himself the title with a illegal formation penalty on the final drive of the game but his sexy blocking reigned supreme.

***

UP NEXT: Cal

This last week the Golden Bears opened up their season with a 24-17 win over the NCAA’s favorite football team, North Carolina. For the five years or so we’ve associated Cal with dangerous offenses and Swiss cheese defenses. That all changed in 2017 when they hired former Wisconsin defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to man the ship. Since then the Bears have done an about face, playing stout defense with a MEH offense. While they did put up 24 points, for some reason they decided to give three different quarterbacks playing time, with none of the three really making a major statement. I suspect this matchup will be the exact opposite of the last time BYU and Cal played where both the offenses dominated.

How did Cal make such a strong turnaround on defense? They ate their veggies.

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