Week 10: BYU at New Mexico
Every once in a while, a certain team has ownership over another. In the case of Bronco Mendenhall and BYU, there is no question which team they dominate. Since becoming head coach, Mendenhall has beaten Wyoming by an average of 43 points per game, including two shutouts. Just internalize that for a second. Like I said, pure ownership.
Anyway, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about during the week between a Wyoming beat-down and a pending massacre of New Mexico. Simply stated, we looked really good on both sides of the ball against the Cowboys. It should be a lot of the same against New Mexico.
So instead of boring you with a bunch of fluff about why BYU should beat a winless Lobo squad, I’ve decided to answer a few questions about BYU sports and a grab bag of other topics. I will try to stick to college sports, more specifically BYU, but you never know what might come up. Enjoy.
Does Utah have a chance against TCU and their downright insane uniforms?
Absolutely. Unlike BYU, Utah has a serious knack for playing to the level of their opponents and then beating them. In last year’s game, it was clear TCU was the better team, but Utah stuck around and stole the game. This year, it’s pretty much TCU’s game to lose and, by the looks of the uniforms they will be wearing on Saturday, they are dressed for a lack of success. Don’t believe me, take a look for yourself. I was thinking maybe Nike would do something flashy for BYU’s uniforms for a big game one of these days, but then I realized that we have the most boring coaches in all of college football and it would be bad to break tradition.
What bowl game will BYU play in?
Insert joke about BYU going to the Las Vegas Bowl for the 37th consecutive time here. The sad thing is, it doesn’t get much better than that. The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego is the best option, but after that it’s the Armed Forces Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl or the New Mexico Bowl. I think tthe Mountain West needs to make up a new bowl game called the England Trucking High Plains Bowl and play it in Laramie, Wyoming. By golly, if they can have bowl games in Boise and Albuquerque, why not Laramie? Just wait five years and this might just come true.
How good will BYU’s basketball team be? (Or more accurately, will they win in the first round of the NCAA tourney?)
I really wish I could say yes to this, but I have a hard time trusting in a team that has Jonathan Tavernari in the starting five. Don’t get me wrong: the big-headed Brazilian can shoot — you just never know if he will make it. But even with him on the team, I like our chances. Jimmer Fredette will be one of the best players in the conference and Tyler Hawes and Brandon Davies will be legitimate diaper dandies. The two people I see making a difference on this team are Jackson Emery and Chris Miles. If they can provide any kind of consistency on a nightly basis, then they will go somewhere. Also, the fact that Lamont Morgan, Jr. and Charles Abouo are doing a viral video promotion legitimizes them in my eyes. They also gave me free pizza once, and what’s not to like about that? Maybe if Tavernari gave me some free pizza I would like him. (Doubt it.)
Will the Mountain West expand to 12 teams in hopes of becoming a BCS conference?
As much as this would be the most amazing thing ever to happen to the Mountain West, it will be years before anything happens. I was reading an article that reported a rumor that the MWC plans to invite Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to join the conference. These three schools are the easy choices because of their strong football programs. Fresno State is also only a year removed from an NCAA baseball title and Nevada has the best basketball program in the WAC, so those are both pluses. However, the two reasons I don’t see this working have nothing to do with sports.
The first thing I see is the Mountain West Conference not wanting to lower its academic standards. As strange as that might sound, the MWC makes an effort to support solid academic institutions. A few years back, Fresno State and Boise State allowed “Prop 48” students on their football team. These are players that cannot meet the NCAA minimum academic requirement, which is a very low standard by any means. Fresno State cleaned up their act in 2003, but the stigma still exists. The same goes for Boise State, who hasn’t had a “Prop 48” player in over seven years. If the MWC thinks adding these schools would affect them negatively academically, then it will be a no-go.
Second, there is so much red tape as far as contracts and money that it would take at least two more years for this to take effect. The most important roadblock are the existing BCS conferences and the respective university presidents from each school. In the current system, their school is guaranteed a few million dollars every year, win or lose. It’s going to be tough to convince these people that they should give up part of their revenue.
If there is a time to do it, it is now with TCU and Boise State climbing the national rankings and the BCS antitrust stuff flying around Capitol Hill. These next few years will be pivotal if anything is to happen between the MWC and the BCS.
Is Riley Nelson the next BYU quarterback?
What’s not to like about a guy who comes in for mop up duty and picks up 71 yards on just 10 carries? There is no doubt that Nelson can run the ball effectively, but can he throw in this system? BYU opted to recruit a strong-armed QB from St. George, James Lark, out of high school instead of Nelson, who didn’t have all the physical tools. What led BYU to go after him when he got home from his mission was the fact that he is a playmaker.
The last time we saw a quarterback like this was current BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman. When he first came on the scene in 2000, it was clear the lefty could avoid the rush, but his arm was sub-par. Then, in 2001, he led one of the most prolific BYU offenses in recent memory. True, he did have the help of Luke Staley, but he made his fair share of plays. Coupled with Harvey Unga, Nelson could be a reincarnation of his current coach.
However, there are a couple other quarterbacks headed to Provo that will challenge him for the spot as Max Hall’s successor. Highly recruited high school quarterback Jake Heaps has the attitude of a winner and has verbalized that he plans on competing for the job. However, it would be most logical to redshirt him for a year to maximize his eligibility if he decides to go on a mission. The aforementioned James Lark and Jason Munns are also slated to return for next season. Lark is said to have all the physical tools to make the plays, and Munns is a beast that put up gaudy numbers in high school.
So who will it be? My guess is that because Nelson has a year under his belt getting to know the system, he will get the nod from Bronco. From what I have found with Bronco, if it comes down to it, the more experienced player will play. However, if Nelson struggles, expect him to be on a short leash.
I mentioned previously that there isn’t really a whole lot to say about this game. New Mexico used to be a solid program because of its previous coach, Rocky Long. Now they have the abusive Mike Locksley, who has managed to drive the program into the ground. If BYU doesn’t put up 40-plus points or if they give up more than 14, then it should be considered an embarrassment. The funny thing is, when BYU wins this game they will be undefeated on the road this year, with their only two losses coming at home. Their road schedule was pretty easy, but I still see this as a positive note. BYU 48, New Mexico 10.
1. J.J. DiLuigi — When he contributes, BYU wins. Plain and simple.
2. Max Hall — I don’t care who you play, completing 20 of 22 is impressive.
3. Jamie Hill — The defensive coordinator changed up drills in practice and it paid off.
1. O’Neill Chambers — I close my eyes in fear every time he has the ball.
2. Mitch Payne — We can always count on him to miss a field goal.
3. Laramie, Wyoming — The BYU football team ended up staying in the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, passing up the opportunity to stay in the lovely Gas Lite Motel.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. His editor would like to express his shock that Mr. Welch managed to contain his seething vitriol about Laramie, Wyo., to only one sentence this week.
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