Monday, October 5, 2009

What We Learned in the Utah State Game

With a solid defensive performance (despite a late scoring drive that muddied the box score), and a now familiar offensive performance (good, but mistake prone), BYU controlled the game and ticked off another win in its second of four “no-win situation” games as the team awaits a chance to make a statement against TCU on Oct 24. Along the way, the team helped answer the following questions:

1. Will Max Hall avoid throwing an interception? Two in a row… on what looked like very similar plays. Max now has 10 picks—no other QB in the country has more (Bo Mitchell of SMU is now tied)—and pushed his streak to 8 games in a row. You might expect that from a 50% accuracy passer, but since Hall is a 65-70% passer, it is somewhat surprising. So rather than just poorly thrown balls, they tend to be poor decisions, often trying to squeeze a ball into an all-too-narrow lane, or miscommunications on routes with his receivers.

2. Will Jan Jorgensen get a sack? Finally. He answered the call with his first sack of the season. The defense turned in three sacks total, a season high, now totaling 9 through 5 games.

3. Can we manage to keep the ball for 30 minutes or longer? It’s about… time. Despite an early fumble and two quick picks to start the second half, and with the gratitude of the defense, the offense held onto the ball for 31:15. In the past two games Florida State and Colorado State both seemed focused on winning the time of possession battle as a core game strategy, and used it to successfully mitigate the defense.

4. Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown? Not this time.

5. Can the offense score a touchdown in all four quarters? 3 out of 4. Scoreless in the third quarter as the interceptions ended what would have likely been scoring drives.

6. Will we get to see more balls thrown to Spencer Hafoka? That depends. As if on cue after reading this column, Hafoka had the first catch of the game, as he was starting in place of McKay Jacobsen (who pulled a hamstring in warm-ups). He then promptly fumbled it, causing the coaches to replace him with Luke Ashworth who proceeded to have a breakout game with 5 catches for 91 yards.

7. Will Riley Nelson see the game? Three plays. One that seemed a bit out of sorts and ended with an illegal procedure penalty. Another that went for 13 yards and a first down on a play designed for him to sneak up the middle. A third—taking a knee on the last play of the game. Perhaps what Bronco meant when telling the media that Nelson would be inserted despite game situation, was that there would be specifically designed one-off plays such as this.

8. How many passes will be thrown at Brian Logan? None. Logan missed a team walk through and did not start, as he was replaced by Robbie Buckner.

9. Will Riley Stephenson ever have to punt and if so will he be able to stay #1 in the country in net punting yards? Yes and no. 3 punts and a 37 yard average, was not enough to stay at the top, dropping to #6 with a 41.92 average.

10. Will the USU fans in attendance be able to come up with any witty, clever, or jabbing signs, chants, or t-shirts for the home team? I am sure they did. The Mtn. was unable to capture it for the viewing audiences. If you were there and can share your stories, please do!

11. Finally, can Oklahoma beat Miami and solve our transitive property strength of schedule issues? Almost doesn’t count. Miami now owns both Oklahoma and Florida State, doing what the Cougars were unable to do.

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