Life is full of outliers and unexpected moments.
The occasional snow fall in June. A flat tire on your road bike. A tooth gets knocked out while playing rec league softball.
All of these things are annoying and bothersome. You’re able to function but it would have been so much better had it not happened. Eventually the snow melts, you replace the bike tire tube and you go to the dentist to get that tooth fixed. Order is restored.
The last two years of losing to Utah State felt like one of these needless annoyances and thankfully on Saturday night BYU brought us all back to some sense of normalcy with a 42-14 drubbing of the Aggies. The Wagon Wheel is home and order is restored.
Let’s get to the POWER RANKINGS.
WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS
10) Dax Milne & Talon Shumway
There are certain weeks when the Power Rankings should expand to include about 35 players and other when it should be limited to three. The big boss person rules Vanquish the Foe with an iron fist, demanding that we limit our selections to ten. That won’t stop me from being crafty and including both Dax and Talon on this list.
I put them together because they had nearly identical stat lines. They both had three catches, with Talon going for 61 yards and Dax going for 60. They also both had amazing catches that resulted in big chunk plays down the sideline. Both of them also came up big with key blocks on the outside that helped spring touchdown runs. It’s honestly kind of crazy how similar they played, which is great news for BYU.
Once again, Jaren Hall connects on a deep pass thanks to perfect pocket protection and a great catch from Dax Milne.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
It's amazing to see him develop into a deep threat with his pass catching ability. pic.twitter.com/woCjhGBFUt
9) Austin Kafentzis
Imagine the year is 2014. Utah Gatorade Player fo the Year Austin Kafenzis has just committed to play quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers. As a BYU fan you’re upset but then you get a text from the future saying that come 2019, Austin will be playing for BYU but instead of playing quarterback he’s making big plays on defense. 2014 you would be VERY surprised but here we are. Gary Anderson is back at Utah State, Austin Kafentzis is playing defense and I gave away all of our leftover Halloween candy in an effort to maintain a healthy diet. 2019 is full of surprises.
BYU fans have been begging for more blitzes and Tuiaki dialed up a perfect package here to force a turnover.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
All of the defensive lineman drop back into coverage and the four linebackers come flying to the backfield. Kafentzis easily beats his man on the edge and knocks it loose pic.twitter.com/319sIZNGix
8) Kavika Fonua
Kavika has been a model of consistency in the middle for the Cougars the last few games and this week he was able to show off some of his skills that he honed while on the other side of the ball. His interception was great, but I’m more impressed with his overall play. I’m glad the coaching staff switched him over to defense because he’s been solid.
In this clip below he doesn’t get the tackle but he blows up the play and forces the running back into an anxiously awaiting Khyris Tonga. It doesn’t show up on the box score for Kavika but he’s doing a lot of the little things right.
Khyris Tonga comes up with a big play on third down but this is a team effort thanks to Kavika Fonua.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
From the LB spot he beats the OL to the gap, forcing the RB into the welcoming arms of Khyris. JJ and Chaz are right there as well. pic.twitter.com/DVWzeBw309
7) Micah Simon
It’s surprising that this was Micah Simon’s first touchdown of the season considering all of the impact plays that he has made this last year. And just like the other two receivers who made the list, he did more than just catch the ball. Micah continues to be a fantastic run blocker and this week we got to see his throwing abilities with this nice toss back to Baylor Romney. It’s great to see him make the most of his senior year with great play week in and week out.
Micah Simon with his first touchdown of the year and it's a heck of an effort on his part. He gets some decent blocks from Romney and Milne, then just out-hustles three Aggies to the end zone. Great stuff. pic.twitter.com/eyuAAxIpzE— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
6) Austin Lee
People like to whine on Twitter that the BYU coaching staff doesn’t make any halftime adjustments. Arguments like that are typically short-sighted but they were particularly so on Saturday night when the defense came out and blanked the Utah State offense in the second half. There was a moment when it looked like the Aggies were going to come away with some points, but then Austin Lee, the appointed Secretary of Defense, denied them entry into the end zone. He’s been delivering those type of big hits and important plays all season, and this week was no different. Now we just need to get this senior DB an interception...
5) Defensive Line
OK I cheated again by not giving this to one specific person, but in all honesty this was a massive team effort on the part of the defensive line. There is a reason why the Aggies didn’t score a single point in the second half and a lot of the credit goes to the defensive line. Khyris Tonga was his usual self but there were a slew of other players who stepped up. Bracken El-Bakri led the team with six tackles. Atunaisa Mahe was a bull rushing machine and devoured Jordan Love on a sack. JJ Nwigwe forced a fumble with a perfect form tackle. Uriah Leiataua was a menace on the outside edge with his pass rush. Gabe Summers had a great hit on Love to force an “incomplete pass”. They plan to rush three and drop eight forced a lot of guys to get minutes but all of them showed us something special on Saturday.
4) Payton Wilgar
There are certain players that I expected would be mainstays on the Power Rankings but I didn’t think that Payton would be one of those guys. I heard a lot about his performance in fall camp but I expected other linebackers to get more playing time. Not only has he seen the field but he’s thrived with every opportunity. There’s not a linebacker in the country that has more interceptions than him. And these aren’t just easy pickings that he’s collecting. Just check out the latest one where he has to hump up to snag the ball before getting in a good return. There’s a certain instinct that great football players have that can’t be taught or developed. Payton definitely has that instinct and I’m giddy thinking about how he can continue to develop.
BYU Pick #2 courtesy of freshman phenom Payton Wilgar.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
Again, another bad throw into coverage but a heck of a grab by Payton, who should probably get a spot on the onside kick hands team at this point. Dude just makes plays. pic.twitter.com/RTSIJ6Utex
3) Jaren Hall / Baylor Romney
We can talk numbers and stats all night long about these two gunslingers but it all comes back to their collective poise. I’ve watched enough football games in my lifetime that I’m conditioned to expect the worst when the starting quarterback goes down. BYU has been fortunate to have a couple of well-timed bye weeks to get these guys prepared to play but it’s amazing to see the command that both Jaren and Baylor have of the offense.
Jaren used every aspect of his game to put up three scores against the Aggies. (It could have been four if not for a goal-line fumble by Emmanuel Esukpa.) There were perfectly timed throws, athletic roll-outs and smooth TD scampers, all of which were done with a steady hand.
Then we got to see Baylor take over in the second half with the same posed mentality. He doesn’t have the wheels that Jaren possesses but he was still able to move about the pocket to make plays. He even pulled off the incredibly difficult trifecta of completing a pass for 10+ yards, having a running play that goes 10+ yards and catching a pass that goes 10+ yards. Baylor doesn’t necessarily have the raw talent that the other quarterbacks possess but his greatest talent might be his own self-awareness. He doesn’t try to do too much but instead makes the plays he knows he can make.
After Jaren leaves with an injury, Baylor Romney comes into the game as if he's playing the entire time. On his first drive he goes 4-4 for 54 yards and 10 yard run.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
His best play is this 30 yard pass to his brother Gunner. He looks off the safety like a pro and delivers a dime pic.twitter.com/cNImdEq4SJ
2) Offensive Line
Does the fact that I used to play offensive line influence my decision to put the big fellas ahead of the handsome, media-darling quarterbacks? Of course it does but it shouldn’t take away from the fact that this unit led the way. Utah State didn’t register a single sack on the evening and they only had two tackles for a loss. In terms of pressure, there were only two QB hurries for the Aggies (to BYU’s six). For a unit that is working with a lot of backups and replacements, they looked great. Heaps of praise should be showered upon both Jaren and Baylor — but they don’t rack up the numbers without a great game from the offensive line.
1) Lopini Katoa
Did Lopini take the top spot this week because he led the team in receiving as a running back? Or how about his 7 carries that went for 42 yards and a touchdown? Surely those numbers would qualify him for this prestigious honor. If you’ve been reading the Power Rankings long enough you’ll know that above all else, we value players that make sacrifices for their teammates so that they get the glory. Yes, Lopini did have a MASSIVE week receiving and carrying the football but it was this majestic block on Aleva Hifo’s touchdown run that puts him at #1 this week.
There are many things to love about his game and I think they can all be summarized with the assessment that he is extremely technically proficient. His route running and footwork are impeccable but just watch as he explodes into this defensive lineman and serves up a pancake block. Just watching it again now makes me she a tear.
This TD run is pure poetry in motion. Great run and patience from Hifo on the sweep and textbook blocks from Dax, Moroni and Blake.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
But the real hero is Lopini Katoa. Watch him BLOW UP the defensive end. A running back knocking a DL flat on his butt? YOU LOVE TO SEE IT. pic.twitter.com/2APD4VBTxS
WELL THAT WAS WEIRD
This play went from weird to infuriating REAL quick. Right before the half Jaren Hall connected with Matt Bushman for what would have been a magnificent touchdown catch. For some reason the play was whistled dead...in the middle of the play. Apparently Utah State took a timeout but it wasn’t until after the play was over that we everyone realized what was happening. Thanks to this officiating blunder, BYU doesn’t get the score and Jaren Hall gets dinged up a few plays later taking a big hit as he goes into the end zone.
And it came to pass that for the 438th consecutive time, a quarterback was hurt in the BYU vs. Utah State matchup. Next year, just like the statues on campus, the QBs will show up in bubble wrap.
Watching this play makes me VERY upset because 1) this was a great catch by Bushman and 2) if it stands Jaren doesn't get hurt on the next play.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
I've watched the replay 20 times and the ref doesn't blow the whistle until after the ball is snapped. It's uh...pretty bad. pic.twitter.com/jEQSMrn7dE
TWEET OF THE WEEK
It’s impossible to single out one tweet that stood out as the winner of the week because just like the football team, everyone brought their A game. I think my personal favorite is this masterpiece from Joshua Kim, which is clearly alluding to the sad pony image used frequently by our friend Zach Bloxham.
A special shout out goes to our guy Tate who braved the feisty Ogden crowds and stood strong in the face of adversity. May we all follow the example of Tate of never having fear when faced with a very hostile chapter of 4H.
it may look like I’m all alone in this picture, but with BYU’s win I never stand alone https://t.co/f6N0fS9XPJ— Tate Frodsham (@t_frod) November 4, 2019
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.
Thanks to a stellar performance from the BYU offense, Jake Oldroyd didn’t attempt a single field goal for the first time all season. He was also limited in his punting duties with only 3 kicks. Jake did get in a lot of work with the six extra points and a kickoff, but it was pretty smooth sailing for the former Southlake Dragon.
Never one to pass up an opportunity for free food, Jake Welch took full advantage of a giveaway by Taco Bell last week. In connection with the World Series, Taco Bell gave away free Doritos Locos Tacos on October 30. Being the mastermind the he proclaims to be, Jake mapped out a perfect route the would allow him to collect tacos at multiple locations. He also noticed that Del Taco was running their own free taco giveaway on the same day. While Jake probably would have been better off paying for delicious tacos that are in abundance near his Los Angeles home, he did the right thing by collecting his free fast food.
If you reference the official rule book it clearly states in part 7, section D, article 3A that “Free tacos always win. Always”. ADVANTAGE: Jake Welch
UP NEXT: Liberty
Ah yes the “academic institution” that has this giant nincompoop at the helm will roll into Provo with their football team that is coached by this upstanding citizen. I will say after scrolling through this Liberty meme account in instagram, they will fell right at home when they come to visit Provo.