Monday, November 19, 2012

A depressing weekend in BYU sports

It's not very often that my two favorite sports teams lose three times in two days. Sigh . . .

I guess I do have to say that the weekend wasn't 100% bad in the BYU sports world. I caught the end of the BYU women's soccer game on Saturday right before the football pre-game show, and it was INTENSE. I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I've gotta give major props to those girls. I could tell they thought they were going to lose-- they were clinging to each other and shaking, with tears rolling down their faces as each different member of the team stepped up to take a penalty kick. They somehow held on through 8 rounds of PKs and came from behind to beat Marquette and make it to the elite 8 in the NCAA tourney. Way to go!

Now onto the tough stuff . . .

Auggie Ambrosino and Nate Austin fight for the ball vs FL State
Loss #1: BYU basketball vs. Florida State

I knew that BYU had to keep turnovers to a minimum to have a shot in this game. When Matt Carlino committed 2 turnovers within the first minute of the game, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. They shaped up a little bit as the game went on, but it was still very messy. The refs were also horrible and called really nit-picky fouls. Brandon Davies got in foul trouble early on and spend most of the first half and a good chunk of the second half on the bench. He still managed to score 19 points, and Tyler Haws added 23, but it wasn't enough. We struggled defensively and couldn't knock down shots when it mattered most.

Loss #2: BYU basketball vs. Notre Dame

This loss was pretty heartbreaking. BYU really should have won. But again, unnecessarily called fouls and an inability to make easy shots was the story. BYU led by 1 at the half, but fell behind in the second fairly quickly and never recovered. Brandon only played 18 minutes because of fouls. Coach Rose wanted to limit Nate Austin's time so he could heal from an ankle (I think?) injury sustained in the FL State game, but had to play him when Ian Harward got in foul trouble and eventually fouled out. The team as a whole only shot 38% from the field and 21% from behind the arc.

Morals of the story from these two basketball losses:
  • They've got to keep Brandon out of foul trouble. Haws is amazing, but he can't carry the team, and we need Brandon in the post, both offensively and defensively.
  • They've got to keep their heads in the game. Matt Carlino in particular tends to panic. He's very frantic and makes some costly mistakes. Even if they're down with just a few minutes left, they need to concentrate and stop throwing up desperation shots that never go down or passing the ball in traffic and getting it turned over.
  • They need to shake up the lineup. Cory Calvert is my unsung hero of the season so far. That kid is incredible-- not the best shooter in the world, but he is an assist machine! He's got quick hands, is great on defense, and is an amazing passer. I think he's just as feisty as Carlino, but he works much better under pressure. They also need to play Craig Cusick more often. 
  • Anson Winder needs to get healthy again. I was happy to see him in for a few minutes at the end of the FL State game. Hopefully he is healing well and can be back on the court soon. We could really use him.

Riley Nelson breaking tackles left and right.
Loss #3: BYU football vs San Jose State

I hate to admit it, but even I gave in to the temptation to go to bed early on this one. I gave up with about 5 minutes left (when they were down 20 to 7), paused it, and went to sleep. I hit play again on Sunday morning and watched the rest. I started hyperventilating when they managed to get one more touchdown and completed a successful onside kick-- they had a shot! A good shot! I was kicking myself for not hanging on a little longer on Saturday night! But then, of course, my dreams were dashed when that SJSU linebacker jumped over Jamaal Williams' head (how in the world did he do that?!?) and sacked Riley Nelson to effectively end the game. So close, yet so far. The story of the season.

Despite the bad outcome of this game, overall I was impressed with the way BYU hung on. There were some great moments (a career-high 13 Cody Hoffman catches, a spectacular on-side kick, an amazing zig-zagging sack from KVN, and an awesome juggling interception from Daniel Sorensen, to name a few), but of course, there were some very painful moments, too.

I must state my firm opinion about Riley Nelson, though-- Riley is not a terrible quarterback. He may not be the best QB that BYU has ever seen, but he's definitely not as bad as everyone seems to be making him out to be. He was breaking tackles all over the place and made some incredible passes. However, it seems like the opinion of the day is that Riley should have been benched in favor of James Lark in the second half because Riley was playing so badly. I disagree. I don't think Lark could have made a big difference in that game. I think he would have played just as good as (or maybe worse than) Riley. I don't think he could have won us the game. The only reason Riley maybe should have been pulled was because of his injuries-- NOT because of his playing performance.

To prove that Riley isn't the ultimate downfall of the BYU football program, I cite this tweet from Greg Wrubell:

He has fewer turnovers than Max Hall for heaven's sake! That's amazing! Granted, Bronco's obsession with Riley Nelson has definitely gone overboard, and I think it has cost us a few games this year, but SJSU was not one of them.

Why did BYU lose this game? The defense didn't show up until the second half-- that's why. It's true that Riley was far from perfect (yes, I know there was a turnover on downs and an interception in the blue zone), but he is still clearly having back problems AND he dislocated one of his ribs! I'd like to see anyone play as well as he did with those injuries. I don't know why the BYU defense couldn't stop SJSU on their first 3 drives, but that was what ultimately cost us the game. Well, that, and an amazing play from the SJSU linebacker who sacked Riley with 1 minute left in the game. But I don't think there was anything anyone could have done to prevent that one.

I close by making a plea to Bronco Mendenhall: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE play James Lark against New Mexico State. That's right-- James Lark at QB for the ENTIRE GAME. NMSU has one of the worst teams in college football right now-- certainly Lark can handle it, and he deserves to play a game as a senior QB. Let Riley take a month off, take a much-needed vacation to the hospital, get fixed up, and come back ready for the bowl game on December 20. Please stop shooting your team in the foot by overplaying Riley. PLEASE. We all know you adore him-- that point has been abundantly clear. Now please make the smart decision and let him sit out next Saturday. It may not even be the worst idea to sit Cody, too, since he is now nursing a shoulder injury.

Alright, Cougars, time to pick yourselves back up and go get 'em. First up, basketball vs UT- San Antonio on Wednesday night. You know I'll be there!


  1. Riley has fewer turnovers than Max Hall but A LOT less touchdowns. Riley sucks, and Bronco takes us all for idiots thinking everything would be just fine playing an injured QB.

    When you're having to adjust your gameplan constantly to fit the skills of an injured QB, you're doing it wrong.

    If BYU had an actual FBS-worthy quarterback, BYU probably only has 1 loss this season against Oregon State.

    Bronco has put his bromance and loyalty for Riley above concern for the program as a whole. The talent of Apo, Hoffman, Ogletree, KVN, Jamaal, and Ziggy has gone to waste.

    BYU sports sure made fools of themselves this last weekend. Not good; especially since conference realignment is heating up again.

    When the clock reaches zeros at the Poinsettia Bowl, it will be sweet and merciful relief, and the end of a pathetic 3 seasons of embracing mediocrity on offense.

    1. I don't think Riley "sucks," but I do agree that Bronco has taken his obsession with him way too far. And yes, I was going to mention in the post but forgot that it was a major problem that they were having to adjust the calls to fit what Riley was physically capable of. That's why I say that maybe he should have been taken out of the game-- because he was injured.

      As always, thanks for reading, Frank!