There is a special, or rather important, moment in the life of every sports fan when they realize that expectations and reality do not always align.
I recall one such moment being the 1999 Motor City Bowl between my beloved Cougars and the Marshall Thundering Herd. Two days prior, I had received a BYU football jersey (Rob Morris’s #44) and I was certain that my favorite team and favorite player were going to dominate this team from West Virginia. For those of you who have blocked this game from your memory, it did not go as planned.
The Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead but then things went downhill. Three quarterbacks took snaps for BYU and they were sacked seven times total. Luke Staley carried the ball seven times for 12 yards and as a team BYU had -16 yards rushing. It was an ugly mess.
BYU’s game against Liberty didn’t compare to the disaster that was the Motor City Bowl but it was similar in that it didn’t live up to our expectations. The offense had some nice drives but they also had too many series that were stalled due to penalties. The defense wasn’t able to confuse quarterback Steven Calvert and it took a last minute defensive stand to secure the game.
So while expectations were not met, victory was still achieved which a lot better than what happened in two other games this season. Not playing your best and winning is always better than any type of losing.
That said, let’s get to the POWER RANKINGS.
WEEK 9 POWER RANKINGS
10) Sione Finau
The freshman phenom continues to show that he’s not just a one-game wonder. Sione did turn the ball over but that’s to be expected with the kind of hit that he took. I’m continually impressed with Finau’s footwork and ability to make defenders miss in the open field. We saw this in his long touchdown run against Boise State and again this week when he shook off a Liberty defensive back to add a few extra yards to his run. BYU still doesn’t have a big physical running back that they lost when Ty’Son Williams went down for the season but they found lightning in a bottle with Sione.
Sione Finau absolutely MURDERS Liberty DB Isaac Steele with this quick juke up the middle.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
He fumbles a few plays later but on this drive we saw his ability to bust of some nice runs. Phenomenal footwork to extend the play. pic.twitter.com/VJmwtJjlNx
9) Moroni Laulu-Pututau
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Moroni except that it was so good to see him cap off his long road to recovery with a nice touchdown catch. I’d imagine that they’ll try to get him a few more look this next weekend on Senior Day but if not he’ll always have this TD that was the difference in the game.
I REALLY hope the name of this play is "Alma 46:13" for obvious reasons.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
It warms my heart to see Moroni get a score after his incredibly difficult road through college football. Great ball by Baylor just outside the reach of the defender. Well done. pic.twitter.com/cGwzc9YGU7
8) Isaiah Kaufusi
Good football players just don’t magically show up at the right place at the right time. Isaiah Kaufusi consistently makes important plays that impact the game, none more so than his hit on Antonio Gandy-Golden that essentially ended the game. He also had this great heads up play when he snagged Liberty’s onside kick attempt. He’s always prepared and that’s what makes him one of the most important players on BYU’s defense.
Liberty tried to catch BYU sleeping with an onside kick but Isaiah Kaufusi wasn't fooled. Bonus points for the linebacker who still holds onto the ball after getting licked. LBs have had great hands this year. Who knew? pic.twitter.com/ClQLCOL3ur— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
7) Khyiris Tonga
Here’s our weekly “Khyiris Tonga is really good” reminder. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate his value because his primary purpose as a nose tackle is to occupy multiple blockers so the linebackers can make plays. Middle linebacker Kavika Fonua don’t lead the team in tackles without the help of his beefy defensive lineman. But even when Khyiris is double-teamed he still makes some wild plays.
On this crucial third and short he slips right between the two defensive lineman with a nice swim move and gobbles up the running back for a loss. It’s amazing to see someone so large move so fast. It’s not fair.
One does not simply double team Khyiris Tonga. Maybe after watching this play teams might want to put three guys on him.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
Two poor Liberty OL are too slow and Khyiris swims right through them for the easy TFL. The poor running back must have been terrified. pic.twitter.com/uAghmDwfgj
6) Austin Lee
I’ve really enjoyed watching Austin Lee turn into a menacing safety that strikes fear in anyone who wants to fly in his general direction. He was all over the field on Saturday night with five solo tackles and a timely pass breakup. BYU will lose a few key players this next season but it will be hard to replace the effort and tenacity of the two senior safeties.
5) Matt Bushman
We’ll show our love for Micah Simon later but here we can say that his touchdown pass to Matt Bushman was wildly under thrown and that Matt had to make pretty difficult catch because of said throw. Then he had to run through an arm tackle to take it all the way to the house. Micah can brag all he wants about his perfect passer rating but we need to give credit where credit is due.
Romney --> Simon ---> Bushman ---> End Zone— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
Great concentration from Matt to haul in the catch and then break the tackle to get the score.
The best part is Baylor signaling touchdown way before Micah throws the ball. You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/vjH3SZlfYJ
4) Aleva Hifo
It’s amazing to see the progress that Aleva has made since he first came on the scene back in 2016. He had a hard time getting on the same page as the QBs and he struggled on his punt returns. Now he’s catching one handed passes in stride and turning short gains into scores. I’m glad that this offensive staff found a way to maximize Aleva’s many talents.
BYU goes for it on 4th and short and ends up getting six thanks to great blocking from Micah Simon (seriously doing EVERYTHING this game) and a playmaking from Hifo. pic.twitter.com/app4dedLOw— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
3) Dayan Ghanwoloku
When it became evident that Antonio Gandy-Golden was too much for Shamon Willis, the coaching staff moved Dayan back over to cornerback to cover him for the rest of the game. Antonio still came down with a couple of grabs but you could see that the coverage improved and Calvert hard to look to other players to move the ball down the field. The defense struggled this week but Dayan, with his ability to play multiple positions, made sure that BYU came away with a win.
2) Baylor Romney
To say that the “Baylor Romney QB Experience” is serviceable would seem like an insult but it’s hard to find a better way to describe it. Baylor’s talent doesn’t jump off the screen or draw comparisons to former Heisman trophy winners but he gets the job done. When I watch him run the ball I think “well he’s not running very fast but hey he just got us 18 yards” and when he throws the ball it’s “that wasn’t the most beautifully thrown ball but it’s another first down”. He’s a smart player and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
It doesn't matter if it's Zach, Jaren or Baylor at QB, this delayed option play has been $$$ for BYU this season.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
Baylor makes the easy read and gets a nice 18 yard gain. The next play they go option again and it's 7 yards for Katoa. It's a beautiful thing. pic.twitter.com/oUu2Yes8JM
1) Micah Simon
I already downplayed Micah’s touchdown pass to Bushman because it was under-thrown but hey, a touchdown pass is still a touchdown pass. Besides, that was just icing on the cake for Simon, who had a huge game with seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. His most impressive catch was a 47 bomb that he hauled in despite getting some heavy interference from the defensive back. Baylor was nice enough to get him an easy touchdown catch a few plays later to reward him for his efforts. To finish his offensive trifecta, they also called a running play for Micah that went for two yards. I was secretly wishing that he would have run for a touchdown as well but it just wasn’t in the cards.
Micah Simon was ALL BUSINESS Saturday night.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 11, 2019
First he absolutely torches the Liberty DB and then he still makes a heck of a catch while getting early. Would love to see Baylor hit him in stride but hey, he got the ball to his playmaker and Micah did his thing. pic.twitter.com/TwXXCf5D7a
WELL THAT WAS WEIRD
There were quite a few officiating blunders that I could have included here but it’s not fun revisiting those so instead let’s turn our attention towards you, the fan. While reviewing the game film I noticed this young BYU who celebrated a touchdown by pulling his beanie over his face. I’m not going to pretend to know what is going on inside the head of a teenage boy (odds are, it’s nothing) but I appreciate his enthusiasm.
This kid who pulls his beanie over his face while hoisting his BYU hat in the air represents all of us. Sometimes it's tough to watch but we're always representing.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 12, 2019
Also, who knew Jeremiah Johnson was a BYU fan? pic.twitter.com/z6n0xkCHQl
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Shoutout to Cousin Greg for this tweet, reminding all of us that while BYU’s honor code is lax compared to what the students at Liberty have to live up to.
When dancing isn't against the rules ... pic.twitter.com/yhpOQzZIIO— Greg Welch (@ArtDirectorBYU) November 10, 2019
This weekend I had the opportunity to pass through the hometown of one Jamaal Williams, Fontana, CA. Not everyone was as friendly as Jamaal or could run the football with such intensity but it was a nice visit nonetheless. Of course when he showed up for his game this week he was wearing this beautiful BYU jacket. What a legend.
JAKE VS JAKE
There is a football player on the team by the name of Jake Oldroyd (I think you guys might know him now) 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.
People have giving Jake Oldroyd a hard time after the fake field goal attempt with south. Internet sleuths and former players who who host radio shows have tried to convince themselves that Jake would have reached the first down marker had he kept running at an angle towards the sideline. It’s honestly impossible to say definitively what would have happened but Jake gave it a great effort either way. He also connected on all of his kicks and got off some great punts as well. What more could you want?
Jake Welch was able to sneak off to play a quick 9 hole round of golf this week. One would think that living in California for the last 6+ years would give him an advantage out on the links because you can golf year round but that is absolutely not the case. He started off the round with a nice par and well that’s all we really need to report. Other holes were played but the scorecard was lost, as was Jake as he searched for his ball on the right side of every fairway. It’s good thing his wife is expecting a child because, as we all know, you have a lot more time to practice golf with a newborn baby in the home.
The fake wasn’t good but it was much better than Jake’s approach shot on hole 7 that went really straight but about 40 yards beyond the hole. ADVANTAGE: Jake Oldroyd
UP NEXT: Idaho State
The person that runs the Idaho State Speech and Language Pathology instagram account posted this nice message for the football team to remind them that it’s not always about winning.