Week 11: BYU vs. Air Force
How about those TCU Horned Frogs?
They sure proved to the nation they are worthy of their ranking by beating the snot out of Utah. I thank my lucky stars for this blessed event, not because a MWC team got some loving or the fact that Utah got put in its place, but because it completely overshadowed the fact that BYU almost got beat by winless New Mexico.
While the rest of the country was prepping for the showdown in Fort Worth, a couple thousand people in Albuquerque and thirty seven people via The Mountain watched a very lethargic BYU team get challenged by a New Mexico squad that proved they had some heart.
I said last week that if BYU didn’t score more than 45 and/or gave up more than ten points, it would be a disappointment. Well, it was. The offense found a rhythm a couple times and sputtered the rest of the way, while the defense looked like they were in Laramie (a.k.a. lost.)
Usually when a team struggles, the natural reaction is to point to the quarterback, cornerbacks or the coach. Most of the time we can easily blame the loss on the secondary, but that is not the case with this game.
One of the reasons why the BYU offense was not as effective on Saturday was that starting right tackle Nick Alletto was out with an injury. His back-up, Braden Brown, did pretty well for starting his first game at offensive line, but anytime you throw a new lineman into the mix you get less than stellar results.
Just look at the game earlier this year when the listless Oakland Raiders somehow beat the Philadelphia Eagles. Donavan McNabb had a horrible game throwing the ball, mostly because he was on the run all day long. On that particular day, the Eagles’ starting right guard and tackle were out with injuries.
For most of the year the offensive line has played stellar, considering their inexperience and long list of injuries. In these last two games, it will be critical for them to stay healthy. Air Force and Utah have good enough defenses that will take advantage of a banged-up BYU offensive line.
If there is any team in the Mountain West conference that I am a legitimate fan of, besides BYU, it would have to be Air Force. I lived about an hour away from Colorado Springs and, almost every year, my father and I would go down to a football game at the Academy. It was around the seventh grade that I fell in love with Air Force’s triple option offense.
I remember spending hours in middle school social studies classes drawing up option plays in my notebook. I would go online and look at option strategies, so that one day I could fulfill my dream of coaching a high school football team to the state championship without throwing a forward pass the entire season.
My dreams have since changed, but Air Force is still one of the best option offenses in the country, despite lacking top-tier athletes. Just try and think of a player from Air Force that is now in the NFL. Usually their squad is a bunch of Rudys — guys that have a lot of heart, but not the build to be an All-American.
Their effectiveness stems from their hard work and discipline. Because they aren’t the biggest or the fastest, they have to be the most unified and cohesive team in order to get victories. They understand their limitations and make the most of their situation. If BYU does not match their discipline and effort, it could be a long day for the Cougars.
Contrary to popular understanding, BYU has a pretty decent run defense. Sure, we can make any quarterback in the conference look like a world beater, but our defense has a strong commitment to stopping the run. However, Air Force will always find a way to run the ball, even against good defenses. The key for BYU in this game will be controlling the line of scrimmage on first and second down. If they can force the Falcons into third and long, they will control the game. Expect this game to be a dogfight. Air Force and BYU have had some epic showdowns over the years and this one should be no different. BYU 31, Air Force 27.
1. The goal post — Blocked three kicks for the Cougars.
2. Andrew Rich — Was all over the field making tackles and stopping the run.
3. Andrew George — Caught a TD pass and became a dad… all in a day’s work.
1. O’Neill Chambers — Football term of the season for O’Neill: fair catch.
2. Brian Kariya — Usually known for his ball security, coughed it up in the fourth quarter.
3. Matt Bauman — He makes me look like greased lightening… (I’m not.)
There are two things you need to know about this week in BYU basketball: One, Jonathan Tarvernari might lose his spot on the Brazilian national team if he keeps shooting like this. He was 2-12 against Idaho State and 0-6 behind the arc. And two, it’s a good thing Jackson “The Golden Child” Emery decided to play offense. Like I said last week, BYU needs him to produce and he did just that with 19 points and 7 rebounds on Monday night.
BYU’s schedule looks like a list of community colleges until December 2nd, when they face off against Utah State in Logan. Freshman Tyler Haws is still looking lost on the floor, but he shows flashes of greatness that get me pretty darn excited for the future. Brandon Davies is just a beast. If those two come into their own by season’s end (and Tavernari discovers his calling in life is to be something other than a basketball player), then we might be able to win a game in the NCAA tournament.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He is not, by any means, greased lightening.
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