Week 3: BYU vs. Florida State
Every once in a while it’s nice to eat a cupcake. These delicious baked goods are sweet and fluffy, but any more than two and you get bloated. Trust me, I know this from many years of overeating.
The same philosophy goes for college football scheduling. Any team that plays more than two “cupcake” games in a season is in a world of hurt. Schools like Florida might be able to pull it off, but even then I see no advantage in scheduling worthless opponents.
After facing a T-Bone of an opponent, BYU got its cupcake fill last weekend against a shoddy Tulane team that provided zero competition for the Cougars.
Taking care of business
There is no doubt that the Cougars did exactly what they needed to against the Green Wave. They remained physical on defense and executed on offense. We didn’t show very much of our offense and for good reason. Max Hall and company were able to march down the field using a series of basic I-formation runs and short passes.
Both Brian Kariya and J.J. DiLuigi were able to showcase their moves after Harvey Unga took a quick exit. The only reason why I could see the BYU coaches putting Unga in for a few plays would have been to help him get rid of some jitters and get used to the speed of a real game before Florida State.
It was nice to see Kariya and DiLuigi get some playing time but, make no bones about it, Harvey Unga is the stud back of this offense. Kariya and DiLuigi should be used to change things up every once in awhile, but when it comes right down to it, no one hits the gaps like Harvey. Most backs can dance and shift, but very few have great field vision and downhill power. Harvey has both and that is why he is our featured back.
Going into this week, many BYU fans are giddy because of Florida State’s downright ugly performance against Jacksonville State last Saturday. They did play very sloppy and barely escaped with a win, but trust me when I say the Seminoles are still very dangerous. You just don’t know when they will show up to play.
The thing is, Florida State is a volatile squad. I think it stems from the fact that they recruit pure athletes and that’s it. Unlike the sparkling recruiting model of Bronco Mendenhall that seeks out well-rounded and focused individuals, FSU is infamous for signing players regardless of their character. The Seminole football program has a criminal record that rivals the Oakland Raiders.
That said, a team like Florida State is subject to combustion at any moment. One of their players gets a hot head and blows up at his teammate for missing an assignment and the team is in disarray. I didn’t see much of the Jacksonville State game, but I’m sure there was a lack of team unity on the part of FSU.
But don’t get caught counting them out. I could care less if they played down to their inferior opponents last week. Florida State showcases some of the best talent in the country and when you have that kind of talent on the field, you have to chance to win any game. If they can put together a solid, unified performance they can be unstoppable. They have the same level of talent as a Texas or Florida, but they just don’t have the same discipline. That’s where BYU should have them beat.
X’s and O’s
If we look at these two teams on paper, FSU blows BYU away on talent. The Seminoles are second to none when it comes to team speed and they always play physical football. This might mean trouble for the BYU secondary.
I know that it is kind of cliché to hate on the Cougars defensive backfield but, in all seriousness, they have not been tested. Sure, they didn’t give up any big plays to Oklahoma, but it was clear the Sooners were playing very vanilla in the first half. Bob Stoops thought he could get past BYU with a very vanilla offense. Once Bradford was hurt, their down-field throwing game was gone.
The point is, BYU will be facing their first real test in an FSU spread offense with a fairly mobile quarterback in Christian Ponder. Their wide receivers are all playmakers that can really turn on the jets. In order for BYU to win, they must put pressure on Ponder and make good open field tackles, both of which they have been able to do so far this season.
Tomorrow at 5:00 p.m., LaVell Edwards Stadium will be rocking and BYU football mania will be at its peak. That being the case, this game will be fueled with emotion. If the Cougars stay focused and disciplined, they can frustrate FSU with their consistent offense and hard hitting D. If they don’t, the Seminoles will stick around by making plays with their speedsters. Will the Cougars choke under pressure against a big-time BCS school? Can the Seminoles play to their full potential and get the upset? Don’t count on it. BYU 34, Florida State 20.
1. Dennis Pitta — The man catches EVERYTHING. Seriously.
2. Jamie Hill — In his two games calling plays on defense, BYU’s opponents have only scored one touchdown.
3. Jordan Pendleton — Continues to make big plays, assisting on two turnovers against Tulane.
1. Mitch Payne — If he kicks it out of bounds again, I am enlisting my kicking services for the Cougars, whether they like it or not. (I manned the kicking duties for a game in high school and my one kickoff was right down the pipe.)
2. Red Zone Offense — It’s just sad if you can’t punch it in the end zone from less than 20 yards out on two drives against Tulane.
3. Max Hall — He only had one pick, but it was ugly.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. His editor thinks he gives FSU quarterback Christian Ponder way too much credit.
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