Saturday, December 26, 2009

Additional Thoughts from the Vegas Bowl

A few additional thoughts on the game with Oregon State in the Vegas Bowl:

• Manase Tonga actually looked quicker than ever picking up a couple of big gains and outrunning would-be tacklers on a couple of plays for perhaps the first time of the season.

• BYU defense also looked fast (just as it did against Oklahoma). The Cougs were actually running down OSU’s speedsters from behind on a number of plays.

• Scott Johnson’s big hit in the fourth quarter on the BYU sideline brought out a yellow salute from the refs. It was an incredible play, but also a hard one for the officials not to flag, given how it looked to them. From Sam Boyd, I was both happy with the play and accepting of the penalty as it seemed legitimate. After watching the replay, however, it is apparent that there was no “helmet to helmet” contact and Johnson made contact with the receiver’s shoulder. Despite this, however, I do not fault the referees as they could not have seen this without the added benefit of camera angles available only to television viewers.

• Unga’s fumble at the end of the game seemed to be caused by the ground. Fans in the stands were sure that it was going to be overturned and the ball returned to the Cougars. The television replays however, show a much muddier picture as it would have been hard to tell either way. Without undisputed video evidence, the referees upheld the call on the field.

• At the end of the first half, with the wind at their backs, McKay Jacobsen seemingly got out of bounds with 2-3 seconds remaining, yet the clock ticked off and the half was over and there would be no field goal attempt. The only plausible explanation is that he was marked down for forward progress (but did the whistle blow?). However, unfortunately for OSU, it ended up being rather irrelevant to the outcome.

• The wind was impressive and made this one of the colder games that I have ever attended, despite temperatures only in the 30’s. The stadium lights were swaying back and forth 5-6 feet. Escaped post-game confetti was swirling in the North end zone.

• The field size flag roll-out prior to the game was able to feature 40-50 foot high wind blown billows, creating one of the more stunning flag displays I have ever witnessed. Those responsible to hold it at the edges were being whipped and dragged like rodeo cowboys.

• Much was made of OSU's two 6 yard punts on Sports Center.  What the TV and the 30 second spot didn't point out is that both of those punts (and the second in particular) were shanked hard to the right.  The cameras in profile view made it look like the wind blew the ball back, but visible from my seats at the north end of the east stands was that the ball came on a beeline directly toward me and likely would not have been more than 10-15 yards had the wind not been blowing.  Perhaps the wind was a factor in causing the punter to adjust his usual routine and shank the kick?  Maybe.

• In watching the game again, I noticed a great display of senior leadership from Dennis Pitta, that I imagine most viewers (live and TV) missed. On BYU’s first touchdown drive, near the goal line, one of BYU’s offensive linemen was jawing and pushing with an OSU player after the play. Pitta rushed in, grabbed the BYU player , got up in his grill (no doubt yelling at him for risking a penalty in such a critical situation) and then pushed him away. The player didn’t do it again, and BYU avoided a penalty that might have changed the outcome of the game.

• While always good for viewership to play on ESPN, the commentary was seemingly uninspired.  Not a complaint, but rather an observation.  The Sports Leader sent an A team to Vegas--Mark May, Rece Davis, Lou Holtz--to cover one of the the best games before New Year's.  I am sure that there are a number of opinions on this one, but I felt like they were a bit short on new material (didn't do their homework?), and missed some key observations.  In the second half, with BYU dominating, it seemed that they spent most of their time talking about why and how OSU players were better than they were showing, defending them in the face of a poor performance.  All of this is professional, and I would hope that they would do the same for any team on the losing end of a bowl game; however, it seemed that they could have been more forthcoming in their credit of BYU's role in OSU's disappointing performance.  Not that it wasn't mentioned, but seemed a side note.


  1. A very informative and interesting article. It is always fun to be able to learn about certain plays and incidences after the game is over and there there is time to do a more detailed analyzes.

  2. I personally loved the commentary. I am so tired of Todd Christensen's beating on BYU all of the time it was nice to hear a real completment. I thought Lou Holtz was very nice to BYU. He added humour and his story about playing BYU was very nice. May was also very kind. When they started saying how Oregon did not want to be there he said how they started well but BYU put the clamp on them.