Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BYU's Record in One-and-Done Games

With this week’s announcement that BYU will play Texas in Austin on Sept 10, 2011, it is worth taking a closer look at BYU’s history with similar games. Since LaVell Edwards took over the program in 1972, BYU has played 25 “one-and-done” games, where there is no follow-up game with the opponent and compiled an incredible 20-5 record. Of those games, 10 have been with schools from current BCS AQ conferences (6-4 record), 7 with other FBS schools (6-1 record), and 8 with FCS schools (8-0). Here is the full list:

Year Team              Level  Site      W/L   Score
2009 Oklahoma         BCS  Neutral  Win   14-13
2009 Tulane               FBS   Road     Win   54-3
2008 Northern Iowa   FCS   Home   Win   41-17
2007 E. Washington   FCS   Home    Win   42-7
2005 Eastern Illinois   FCS  Home    Win   45-10
2001 Tulane               FBS  Home    Win   70-35
2000 Florida State      BCS Neutral   Loss  3-29
1998 Alabama            BCS Road      Loss  31-38
1998 Murray State     FCS  Home    Win   43-9
1996 Texas A&M       BCS  Home    Win   41-37
1996 Arkansas State  FCS  Home    Win   58-9
1994 NE Louisiana     FCS  Home    Win   24-10
1991 Florida State      BCS  Neutral  Loss  44-28
1989 Navy                 FBS  Road     Win   31-10
1985 Boston College   BCS  Neutral  Win   28-14
1984 Tulsa                 FBS  Home    Win   38-15
1983 Bowling Green    FBS  Home    Win   63-28
1982 Georgia             BCS  Road    Loss   14-17
1981 Colorado            BCS  Road    Win   41-20
1980 Wisconsin          BCS  Road    Win   28-3
1979 Texas A&M       BCS  Road    Win   18-17
1979 Weber State      FCS  Home    Win   48-3
1978 UNLV                FBS   Neutral  Win   28-24
1975 Bowling Green   FBS  Home    Loss  21-23
1973 Weber State      FCS  Home    Win   45-14

BCS Opponents
Of the 10 games played against current BCS opponents in the last 38 years, here are a couple of interesting notes…

• Only 1 home game, 4 neutral, and 5 on the road

• 6-4 Record overall

• Wins: 1 win at home (Texas A&M, 1996 Pigskin Classic), 2 wins at “neutral” sites(Oklahoma 2009, Boston College 1985 Kickoff Classic), 3 wins on the road (Colorado 1981, Wisconsin 1980, and Texas A&M 1979)

• Losses: 2 neutral sites (both to Florida State in Pigskin Classics at Jacsonville, FL in 2000 and Anaheim, CA in 1991), 2 road games (Alabama 1998, Georgia 1982)

• The game with Texas will be the first time BYU did a one-and-done with a BCS team at the opponent’s home stadium since playing at Alabama in 1998

• BYU has only played 6 one-and-done’s at the opponent’s home stadium since 1972—Alabama in 1998, Navy in 1989, and then four in a row from 1979-82 (Texas A&M 1979, Wisconsin 1980, Colorado 1981, Georgia 1982)

After the string of one and done road games in the early 80’s, a newly expanded stadium, and some national success, it seems that BYU was able to schedule home and away games with BCS caliber programs without too much difficulty for the next 25 years. It has only been the last 1-2 years that BCS schools are no longer as willing to do so. This could be seen either as the new reality of the BCS—you get what you measure, which is apparently wins, regardless of the opponent—or seen a sign that BYU is no longer respected the way they were for much of the last three decades and its stadium is no longer a sufficient draw/payout for opposing teams. Reality is probably somewhere in between.

FBS (Div I)
• The Cougars have had 7 one time games with other Division I schools, playing 4 of them at home (Tulane 2001, Tulsa 1984, Bowling Green 1983 and 1975), one neutral (UNLV in Japan), and two on the road (Tulane 2009, Navy 1989)

• Aside from the Black Coaches Association Classic with Tulane (and Texas A&M in the Pigskin Classic in 1996 as mentioned above), it has been more than 25 years since BYU was able to bring in an FBS/division I team to play in Provo without a return game.

• BYU has a 6-1 record in these games with FBS teams—the Cougs have not lost a one-and-done game with an FBS team since the 1975 loss to Bowling Green

It is unlikely that any non-AQ FBS teams will show up as one and done games on BYU’s schedule in the near future, as those teams are also feeling pressure to get wins and finding difficulty in filling home games.  The one time visit to Tulane last year is a curiosity, likely transpiring out of a desire to play on ESPN (which a home game would not afford).

FCS (Div I-AA)
• BYU has played 8 FCS teams in one time match-ups, all of them at home, going 8-0 in these games (and avoiding the Michigan-Appalachian State disaster)

• Other than regional rivalry games with Weber State in the early 1970’s, half of these games have been played in the last five years (2008, 2007, 2005, 1998, 1996, 1994), and all of them relatively recently—either a sign of the increasing importance of wins in the BCS system, or a sign of the increasing difficulty of scheduling good opponents.

It is likely that fans will see a continued increase in the number of these games scheduled in future seasons as the team finds it harder and harder to schedule games with comparable programs and needs to fill home slots for revenue generation. Plausibly, there will be no more than one per year, and hopefully (from the fan’s perspective) not in consecutive years.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Key Offseason Dates to Remember

Here are a few key 2010 dates for Cougar football fans to keep in mind as the offseason gets into full swing…

January 23 – East West Shrine Game (Orlando, FL)
Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, and Jan Jorgensen will play in the 85th East West Shrine game that kicks off at 3pm EST and will be televised on ESPN2.

Feb 3 - Signing Day
The Class of 2010 will finally fax in their forms in the morning, allowing coaches to finally comment on them. Watch for BYU to hold a press conference touting this top 20 recruiting class in the stadium Cougar Room sometime late morning or early afternoon.

Feb 24-Mar 2 – NFL Scouting Combine
Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, and Manase Tonga have been invited to participate in this year’s event.

Early March – BYU Pro Day
NFL scouts will descend on campus for one day for the departing seniors to show off their skills in advance of the draft. Hall, Pitta and Tonga, will have the option to try to better any of their scores from the combine, while other seniors such as Andrew George, RJ Willing, Colby Clausen, Matt Bauman, Scott Johnson, Brett Denney, and Sam Doman will be given their one and only shot to impress the observers and try to land a free agent spot. [If you know when this is being held, please share, and I’ll update the list…]

March 15 - Spring Practice Begins
This is the much anticipated debut of several members of the Class of 2010 that have already enrolled in school to ensure participation in spring ball, including Jake Heaps (QB), Ross Apo (WR), Kyle Van Noy (LB), and Josh Quezada (RB). This will also be the first appearances of the Class of 2007 return missionary freshmen Devin Mahina (TE), Famika Anae (OL), and Marcus Matthews (WR). The story of spring ball will be the battle for starting quarterback with Riley Nelson (Jr) returning, James Lark (Fr), and Heaps all vying for the spot.

April 10 - Blue and White Spring Game
After not playing last year due to stadium field upgrades (although that is debatable given how the field performed this year), the game is back on the schedule, and likely to be appreciated more than in the past. Significant interest will also be generated by the QB lineup.

April 22-24 - NFL Draft
For the first time ever, the NFL draft will begin by holding the first round in prime time on a Thursday night. Selections will commence at 7:30pm ET. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday, April 23 beginning at 6:30pm ET. Rounds 4-7 will be on Saturday April 24 beginning at 10am ET. Of the BYU players that have entered the draft, only Pitta has a realistic shot at Friday, with most of the other players hoping to hear their names called in late rounds on Saturday. Watch for a number of free agent contracts to be signed by the undrafted.

Early August – Fall Practice Begins
I have been unable to track down the exact date for this. If you have it, please pass it along to the rest of us. This will be the first official gathering of the remainder of the class of 2010 (non-early enrollees) and the other return missionaries with the returning players from the 2009 team. With numerous high profile and talented newcomers, a number of key position openings, and a wealth of returning talent, this should be an exciting fall camp.

September 4 – Season Begins (non-conf games)
September 4 – Washington (home)
September 18 – Florida State (road)
September 25 – Nevada (home)
October 1 – Utah State (road)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Observations on BYU's Last Seven Freshman All-Americans

Braden Hansen, the freshman who started every game at left guard for the Cougars this past season, was selected as a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association. This is the seventh year in a row that BYU has had a Freshman All-American named, dating back to 2003. Here is the press release from BYU:
PROVO, Utah (Jan. 7, 2009) – BYU freshman offensive lineman Braden Hansen was named a Freshman All-America Thursday by the Football Writers Association of America.

A Sandy, Utah, native, Hansen started every game at left guard as one of four new starters on BYU’s offensive line in 2009. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound redshirt freshman was a key contributor in helping BYU achieve an 11-2 record, including a 3-1 mark against nationally ranked opponents.

Hansen and Wyoming safety Shamiel Gary represent the Mountain West Conference on the 28-man team. The FWAA and Aon Insurance announced their ninth annual Freshman All-America Team Thursday during the association's annual awards breakfast.

BYU has had a newcomer earn Freshman All-America accolades each of the past seven seasons. Hansen joins a list of consecutive honorees that include offensive lineman Matt Reynolds (2008), running back Harvey Unga (2007), defensive end Jan Jorgensen (2006), offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds (2005), wide receiver Austin Collie (2004) and tight end Daniel Coats (2003).
That is an impressive seven year run. I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at each of these players—how highly recruited they were, how productive they were in their sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, and if they have had any success in the NFL.

Daniel Coats (2003)
Recruiting: Class of 2002, 3 stars on Scout, ranked #42 WR, offers to Colorado and NC State
BYU: Always a solid blocker, though receiving stats never surpassed 2003
2003—30/378, 4TD
2004—13/160, 0TD
2005—21/189, 3TD
2006—22/239, 2TD
NFL: Free agent pick up, with Cincinnati Bengals, 3rd year in NFL, started 11 games, 16/150 yds

Austin Collie (2004)
Recruiting: Class of 2004, 3 stars on Scout, ranked #48 WR, offers to Stanford, Arizona State, Wash State
BYU: Increasingly productive at BYU, left after junior year as all-time leading receiver in yards (3,258) and receptions (215)
2004—53/771, 8 TD
2007—56/946, 7TD
2008—106/1538, 15 TD; Led NCAA in yards
NFL: 4th round draft pick of Indianapolis Colts, 60/676 yds, 7 TD; led all rookies in catches and TDs

Dallas Reynolds (2005)
Recruiting: Class of 2003, 3 stars on Scout, ranked #78 OL, offers to Colorado, Tennessee, Stanford
BYU: Started all 51 games while at BYU, first Team MWC
NFL: Free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, practice squad for most of year

Jan Jorgensen (2006)
Recruiting: Class of 2005, 1 star on Scout (unrated), not ranked LB
BYU: Started 51 consecutive games, 30 sacks in BYU career, career MWC leader, 3 time first team MWC, most productive sophomore season (14 sacks)
NFL: Will enter 2010 draft, projected as a free agent

Harvey Unga (2007)
Recruiting: Class of 2005, 2 stars on Scout, not ranked RB, offer from Utah
BYU: Started all three years and had 1,000+ yards each season; only a junior and already BYU career leader in rushing yards, third in all-purpose yards; 2009 first team MWC
2007—244/1,227 rushing 13 TD, 44/655 receiving 4 TD
2008—240/1,153 rushing 11 TD, 42/309 receiving 4 TD
2009—208/1,087 rushing 11 TD, 16/121 receiving 1 TD
NFL: Deciding whether to enter 2010 draft, projection uncertain

Matt Reynolds (2008)
Recruiting: Class of 2005, 4 stars on Scout, #8 ranked OL, offers from UCLA, Cal, Arizona, Arizona State
BYU: first team MWC sophomore season (2009)
NFL: Likely to participate in 2012 draft (or sooner), highly projected

Braden Hansen (2009)
Recruiting: Class of 2006, 2 stars on Scout, not ranked OL, offer from Stanford

A few interesting observations:

1. Overall a great group of players—we were lucky to have four of them together on the team this season. We actually had five of them last season (2008).

2. BYU owes a debt of large proportions to Mrs. Reynolds, showing tangibly that Bronco’s decision to retain Lance Reynolds on his staff has paid off multiple times over.

3. None of these players were true freshmen. Even those that didn’t go on missions (Coats, Jorgensen, Unga) still waited at least a year or two before starting as a redshirt freshman. Makes you wonder who on this year’s practice squad might be next year’s FAA.

4. All of them went on to have very productive four year (or three for Collie and possibly Unga) careers for the Cougars. They have also proven very durable with none of them ever missing any significant amount of time due to injury.

5. The first three, and only three to already have had a shot at the NFL, have made it with Collie and Coats as solid contributors this season.

6. There is one from every class 2002-2006. Three of them (Jorgensen, Unga, Matt Reynolds) come from the class of 2005. Hansen, this year’s winner is from the class of 2006. This again shows the lag that BYU experiences in recruiting (see article on the topic here:, as other schools are already graduating players from the class of 2006.

7. Interesting that three of them are on the offensive line, given that BYU doesn’t usually like to start freshmen there, allowing them time to learn the system. But then again, that also means that for a freshman to start on the line, they must be very good.

In 2009, besides Hansen and Riley Stephenson (punter), I can’t think of any other freshmen that started, and only Brett Thompson, Craig Bills, and a couple of backup O linemen seemed to get any meaningful reps.

Given the historical precedent of the past seven years, the classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 likely still hold players who will be named FAA. Next year, with a number of key openings and many talented newcomers, could be a year that offers more opportunities for freshman than in several years. Among those most likely to get playing time and make themselves candidates for FAA status are whoever starts as QB (Heaps or Lark) if it isn’t Nelson, an RB if Harvey leaves for the NFL (either Malosi Teo or Josh Quezada), a TE (Devin Mahina, Austin Holt, or Mike Muehlmann), Ross Apo or Marcus Matthews at the WR spot (both will likely be in the rotation), a LB (Kyle Van Noy and Zac Stout will both have shots to play given that there will be three openings), and on the DL with all three slots open (Bronson Kaufusi and Kona Schwenke would be the leading candidates, although I am unaware of their mission plans). There may be more freshmen playing next year than in a long time. BYU will need these players to step up next season, so here is my toast to the freshmen of 2010… may one of you be the next FAA!

What other observations do you have to add about the 7 FAAs, next year's freshmen or this year's freshmen?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best Finishes in BYU Football History

With the season’s final game being played on Thursday and the rankings coming out shortly thereafter, it makes sense to take a look at how BYU has fared in the polls at previous seasons' ends and how this season stacks up against the all-time best.

BYU has finished the season ranked 16 times, this will be the 17th. If the Cougs finish #12 or better as expected, it will be the best finish since 1996 and the fourth best finish of all time. Here is how the 10 best finishes stack up:

Best 10 Finishes in BYU Football History (thru 2008)

Order   Year            Final AP
1         1984 (13-0)     #1
2         1996 (14-1)     #5
3         1983 (11-1)     #7
4         1980 (12-1)     #12
5         1979 (11-1)     #13
(t)        1981 (11-2)    #13
7         2007 (11-2)     #14
8         1985 (11-3)     #16
(t)        2006 (11-2)    #16
10        1994 (10-3)    #18

Other Ranked Finishes
11        1977 (9-2)      #20
12        1989 (10-3)    #22
(t)        1990 (10-3)     #22
14        1991 (8-3-2)   #23
15        2001 (12-2)     #25
(t)        2008 (10-3)     #25

Going into the bowl game against #16 Oregon State, the Cougars were ranked #15 in the AP, which by itself would rank as the eighth best finish of all-time. But with the big win over a ranked opponent, the statement made by several of the other MWC teams (TCU aside), and the losses by teams just above them (Miami #14, LSU #13, Georgia Tech #9, Oregon #7) that should drop several spots, BYU should move up 3-4 spots. Look for them to finish find themselves #11 or #12 when the polls come out. Anything more would be a nice surprise, anything less would be a slight.