WEEK 9: BYU at Wyoming
After a very long bye week for BYU and its fans, Cougar football is back in business. Well, they have a game scheduled this Saturday and I guess it’s up them if they are really ready to play football again.
There is no doubt that the bye week came at the perfect time. After a downright shellacking that was delivered courtesy of TCU, the team needed a week to hibernate and get back to the basics.
In regards to the TCU game, there really isn’t a whole lot to say. BYU got beat by a better TCU team, plain and simple. The Horned Frogs have a defense that is about as fast as any in the country, which puts them in a position to beat anyone. Their offense isn’t seriously prolific, but they have consistency in the run game and speedy skill players that are game breakers.
You can blame the BYU secondary or Max Hall but, when it comes down to it, BYU was not supposed to win this game nor show they have been expected to. One would hope that the Cougars would have put up a better fight with the game getting a lot of national attention, but the better team won.
There are a lot of people that will tell you the BYU offense is inept and that big changes are needed for BYU to be successful. The fact of the matter is the BYU offense is loaded with talent and when they are able to stay balanced in their attack they are very hard to stop. The only time when the offense gets into trouble is when they are forced out of their running game.
Just look at any of the games BYU has lost in the past two years. In both TCU games, the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 21-point leads, forcing the Cougars to play catch up and only pass the ball. In the games against Utah and FSU, they were able to move the ball and match scores in the first half, but when their opponent pulled away later in the game, passing the ball was the only option. In the game against Arizona, well, BYU just didn’t care and it showed.
If BYU can stick to their running game, the pressure will be off Max Hall and he won’t be asked to win the game himself. Max is perfect for this system when the running game is still intact. He is not good enough, however, to take the team on his shoulders and win by himself. In all of his games here at BYU, he has yet to prove that he can take on a full load and lead the team when they are trailing by more than 10 points.
For about nine years of my life I lived in the great state of Colorado. With a lot of my family living in Utah, we would often make the drive across I-80 in Wyoming to get to the Salt Lake Valley. For those of you who have not experience the beauty of southern Wyoming, you aren’t missing out on anything. It is a literal wasteland. I think when the world was created, this part of the earth was not intended for human life.
Of all the cities situated on that stretch of I-80, there is none more devastatingly depressing than Laramie. It seemed like every single time I went to stop for gas or get something to eat there, I was the only person that had the mental capacity to use words with more than seven letters. I also felt that I had missed the fashion trend of wearing camouflage no matter the situation. If I were to combo that with an orange hunting hat and a mouth full of chewing tobacco, then I would have fit right in.
I have been to one game in Laramie at good ol’ War Memorial Stadium and it was an experience to say the least. It was back in 1999 during the Kevin Feterick/Rob Morris era, and BYU was ranked 19th nationally. In typical BYU fashion, the Cougars folded and got embarrassed by the home team — and their fans let us know it. I have never seen so many drunk rednecks in my entire life. I have to admit I was surprised to see that they could piece together the chant “overrated” in such an orderly fashion.
I remember telling my dad that no matter the circumstances, including torture or possible death, I would never attend the University of Wyoming. He tried to reason with me, saying that if they offered me a scholarship I might want to accept it. I think I responded with something along the lines of “You can’t pay me enough money to waste four years of my life in that place.”
Now that I have clearly stated my opinion on Laramie, let it be said that it is one of the harder places to play in college football. The Cowboys always put up a good fight for the home crowd and usually the horrible weather plays a large role in the outcome of the game. Also, if I were to wake up in the middle nowhere, I wouldn’t be up for playing football. Just ask Colt McCoy.
When Texas made the trip to Laramie earlier this season, they had a slim 13-10 lead at halftime. The Longhorns came out and dominated the second half, but you have to believe that McCoy and rest of his teammates weren’t think about football so much as wondering how in the heck they ended up in such a desolate place. Seeing that BYU has made the trip to Laramie quite a few times, I would hope that they would be able play well in the early going.
Change of Wind on the Prairie
This past season Wyoming said goodbye to all-smiles Joe Glenn and hired a no-nonsense guy in Dave Christensen. The former Missouri offensive coordinator came into this season looking to install a new attitude and a high-flying offense. So far things have gone pretty well for the Pokes, as they have gone 4-4 and played with a new sense of purpose.
One of the biggest surprises is freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels. He has been working well in Christensen’s new spread system and is improving every week. Even though the production is nowhere near what Christensen expects, they should be able to move the ball against BYU. The Cougars have always had trouble covering the spread offense and this week should be no different.
The Wyoming defense is never seriously recognized, but they always come to play. Last week they held Utah to 22 points, and it would have been less if not for a failed fourth down conversion late in the fourth quarter. Bottom line: BYU has a lot more talent, but you never know what might happen in Laramie.
This game should tell a lot about the amount of heart the Cougars have. After a disparaging loss against TCU, the Cougars are probably bound for another forgettable bowl game in who-knows-where. This could lead to sloppy play and a lackadaisical attitude. Going to play in Laramie doesn’t help either. If I didn’t make myself clear enough already, the place is depressing. I have faith in Bronco Mendenhall that he will be able to rally the troops and pull his team together to get another victory on the road. If not, this game is very losable. BYU 38, Wyoming 24.
1. Harvey Unga — Never ceases to produce and fight for yards.
2. Riley Stephenson — Did a good job getting off decent punts and pinning Jeremy Kerley.
3. Not sure anyone deserves this spot…
1. O’Neil Chambers — After a lot of hype, he has dropped the ball… literally.
2. Brian Logan — Antoine Hicks and the rest of the TCU receiving core made him look silly.
3. Mitch Payne — When does Justin Sorensen get back from his mission? 2011? Dang it…
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He is still recovering from the TCU debacle.
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