Random Musings: BYU v. Houston
BYU moved to 3-0 for only the second time in Bronco Mendenhall’s ten seasons in Provo. Here are my random musings about the contest:
NOW I AM BECOME JAMAAL, DESTROYER OF WORLDS —
It is wholly satisfying to watch Jamaal Williams carry the football and numerous would-be defenders on his way to yet another impressive first down run. The 19-year-old junior runs as if the principles of justice and human equality are in the balance — their implementation or destruction conditioned on how successful his rushing attempt is. BYU fans are lucky to have this young man playing in Provo. In some alternate reality, Jamaal Williams is playing in Boise and we would be seeing his endeavors played out on a ridiculous blue field. Thank you for not choosing that, Mr. Williams. Jamaal is getting better with every game and The future is not only bright but here right now. And remember, don’t forget two g’s in that Swaggdaddy.
THE PROVO BUBBLE IS REAL — Does BYU have a deep pass play in its arsenal? Does BYU have a fly sweep in its repertoire? Does BYU have a non-optical-distraction reason for its pre-snap motion? I wish I knew the answers to these questions because it seems like BYU plays in a bubble — neither stretching the field vertically nor horizontally. Robert the Anae is simply content on running within a 30 yard circumference. Now, I understand how ridiculous this might sound considering BYU had 500+ yards of total offense against Houston on Thursday. It just seems that there are ways for the offense to evolve organically and become even more potent.
BYU SUCCESS = MEDIA CONSPIRACY — David Pollack, who called the game for ESPN, USA Today’s Dan Wolken, and AP’s Ralph Russo made a point either during or after BYU’s game to discuss how the Cougars seemingly toe the line between playing fair and playing dirty. Why do the media always trot out bizarre narratives in am attempt to explain away BYU’s success? If it isn’t playing “dirty,” it is “mission trips.” If it isn’t classlessness and balding players, it is BYU’s inherent advantage of playing at an elevation akin to Mount Everest. Ironically, you never hear these theories when BYU is terrible. BYU plays hard on every play. That does not equate to BYU playing dirty. Those two things are different in kind. In the second quarter, Baby Faced Killer Craig Bills, who had been legally clowning people all game, purposely led with his shoulder, not his helmet, in an attempt to stay within the rules. If BYU is conditioned to play “up to the line,” someone needs to inform our Mack truck of a safety.
SAME OLD BYU WRs? — If the Texas game gave me hope that the BYU receiving corp could beat man coverage, the Houston game was a slight rain on my parade. Houston covered BYU’s WRs almost exclusively in man-to-man. And consistently, BYU WRs were unable to beat the coverage. Is it scheme? Maybe. Where are all the crossing routes? It seems like everything is out or to the flats. Interestingly, Devon Blackmon’s nullified TD was birthed from one of the few crossing routes on the night. More please. Is it personnel? Yes. Jordan Leslie is BYU’s best receiver but I’m not sure his strength lies in beating man coverage. Mitch Matthews may have the ability, but he doesn’t get the same number of looks from Hill. Perhaps this option is coming down the pike: Nick Kurtz, who showed the best one-on-one strength during fall camp, is injured and the aforementioned Blackmon (for reasons I am not privy to) is not getting a whole lot of reps. BYU needs its wide outs to make the next step forward if this is going to be a season to remember.
EYES WIDE SHUT — 23-3 with 3:15 remaining in 2nd quarter. BYU ball. 1st down 10 yards. This was the down, distance, and time situation as the sun set behind Y Mountain on Saturday evening. Three minutes and fifteen seconds later, the score was 23-15 and I was wondering if that was the worst 3+ minutes since the last trailer for Transformers 7. Kudos to Houston for being opportunistic and causing turnovers and making plays. The interception, the fumble, and the Hail Sumlin were all plays Houston made more than plays BYU failed to make. Perhaps it was eternal retribution for the BYU fan bringing the “Houston, You Have A Problem” sign to the game. A sign as cutting-edge and nuanced as a 97 Ford Taurus.
WORKMANLIKE TAYSOM HILL — Is it possible for man to criticize a player’s performance when said player out-gained BY HIMSELF the entire opposing team? By the chatter on Twitter and Facebook, it seems the answer to this query is yes. Sure, Hill never had a splashy, long TD run or a ridiculous hurdle over a listless longhorn. What he did have was a very physical, bruising, and ‘unsexy’ 200 yards passing, 160 yards rushing, 3 touchdown performance. Basically, we saw the sports version of Heidi Klum without her makeup on and she was still Heidi Klum. Taysom Hill is everything BYU fans could hope to have in a quarterback. And knowing that BYU can go as far as he can take us should be a foundation for optimism.
A KOROMA K.O.? — BYU freshman center and all-around wonderful football player Tejan Koroma was dismissed from the contest for allegedly throwing a punch. By all intents and purposes, the punch was pretty mundane and had far more bark than bite. The reality was that Koroma was simply doing battle with the opposing defensive linesman and got caught slightly out of position. It reminded me of when you used to fight Soda Popinski on Mike Tyson’s PunchOut — it was a body blow intended to buy you some leverage, not a punch with intent to injure.
PROGRESS TO THE MEAN — It was only a matter of time before Houston John O’Korn got back to his regular self. I was impressed with the zip on some of his medium-to-deep balls. He threw for 315 yards, which in the grand scheme of things, is a pretty good game against a BYU defensive who knew from about the second series on that Houston looked upon running the ball with the same disdain as a thirsty man given sand to drink. One thing’s for sure: I would feel much better about BYU’s ability to win 10+ games if we could somehow trade for some of the Red Cougars’ wide receivers. Credit goes to the whole squad for not giving up when it looked as if they were going to be humiliated on national TV.
SELLING OUT MEANS LITTLE — There was big publicity push by both BYU Athletics and fans around the social media world to get Lavell Edwards Stadium sold out on Thursday. It did not happen. And I don’t think it is a big deal. Sure, I’d love to see the stadium sold out every game no matter the opponent. But that simply is not the reality of the BYU fandom. BYU has consistently averaged between 58-64k+ for the last three decades. Whether BYU gets 60 or 63k to a Thursday night game is of little consequence other than self-worth and navel-gazing. The Big 12 is not going to question BYU’s ability to draw based on a difference of a few thousand fans. I mean, look at TCU’s attendance pre and post B12 invite and tell me BYU doesn’t look like Texas A&M in comparison. And lastly, maybe we should stop talking about expanding the stadium until we can consistently fill what we have.
BEST STAT NOMINEES — I usually dislike stats because I am not a nerd but I found a few of these to be instructive: Houston had 16 yards of total offense in the 3rd quarter. BYU ran 100 plays. Houston had 10 yards of rushing. And for laughs, Scott Arrelano 1 carry, -1 yard. Finally, Brigham Young University’s football team has 3 wins, 0 losses, and every goal still in front of it. Rise and Shout.