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Off on the right foot: BYU Cougars looking for strong start to 2014 football season

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  • Kralon HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA
    July 21, 2014 3:58 p.m.

    “The tough part of our schedule is the first half of the season,” Mathews said. “We need to start fast. We don’t have time to start slow.”

    Well said and very true, before the season begins every team has hope!

    Go Cougars!

  • Naval Vet Philadelphia, PA
    July 21, 2014 4:01 p.m.

    The weather did not impact the game in Charlottesville last year, because it rained on BOTH teams; not just cougars. Furthermore, wet weather games tend to favor "running" teams. For the Virginia game, Hill completed 32.5% of his passes, completed only 34.6% vs. Texas. But there wasn't any rain the following week at Home vs. Utah. And how did Hill do?

    He completed 37.5% of his passes.

    It wasn't the weather.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    July 21, 2014 4:58 p.m.

    I'm not convinced that the coaching staff does a good job of preparing the team to play early in the season. All you have to do is look some of the early games in recent seasons.
    2011 was probably the worst - an ugly win against a bad Ole Miss, a bad loss at Texas, and who can forget the 54-10 beat down against Utah.
    2012 - an ugly loss to Utah where BYU refused to kick a tying field goal. A ridiculous 6-7 loss at BSU.
    2013 - BYU manages to pull defeat from the jaws of victory at Virginia and, of course, another loss to Utah.
    This is why it drives me nuts when Mendenhall refuses to use all of the bowl game practices in December. Those practices could better prepare the team for these early games.

  • estreetshuffle Window Rock, AZ
    July 21, 2014 6:30 p.m.

    A week before, go to bed two hours earlier to make for the jet lag and become acclimated for hot and humid weather. And Pleeeeze have some passion and please no excuses that we hear every year.

  • Mildred in Fillmore Salt Lake City, UT
    July 21, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    Our schedule is so tough, we must go fast, go hard.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    July 21, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    Here's where the game was lost:

    “That first game, with a new offense, we were kind of timid,” remembered running back Jamaal Williams. “We didn’t want to do anything extreme.”

    Case in point, iirc I think it was in the 3rd quarter and BYU drove to the UVA 32 yd line in a close game and on 4th down elected to punt instead of either going for it or kicking a 49 yd FG in a game where points where few and far between.

    The punt sailed into the end zone giving UVA the ball on the 20 (resulting in a 12 yd net gain) and on the very first play that series UVA completed a pass for 14 yds (something like that) and basically negated that punt altogether.

    Not sure what the odds would've been for Sorenson to make that 49 yder but he hit 21-26 and was 3-4 from that range last year so chances are pretty good he makes it.

    The problem lies in how coaches approach the season and big games. They're too conservative and play not to lose. It costs the team.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    July 21, 2014 9:35 p.m.

    @navel lint
    "Furthermore, wet weather games tend to favor "running" teams."

    If the team is a power, between the tackles, straight ahead running team they will be less affected by the rain but I don't think torrential downpours favor either running or passing teams.

    If you've ever played football in the rain on a muddy field and tried to cut or change direction there's nothing favorable about that, you end up on your backside. This limits an option offense team and makes them easier to defend.

  • localblue Sandy, UT
    July 21, 2014 9:41 p.m.

    It would be interesting to see the caliber of the early season opponents versus the latter ones. I think it's less a preparation issue and more the teams are just tougher. Generally the early season games are non-conference (or Power 5 conference) games, whereas the latter games are mop-up against the likes of Idaho. Unfortunately the reality is the team just isn't as competitive against the bigger conference teams and the record has mostly been padded with wins against weak competition during the latter part of the season.

  • LifeLibertyHappiness Draper, UT
    July 21, 2014 10:02 p.m.

    It would be awesome if Coach Anae's focus was "score lots of points" instead of "go fast, go hard." That's great, but it doesn't mean anything if the O doesn't score.

  • never break .500 Los Angeles, CA
    July 21, 2014 10:50 p.m.

    Naval Vet stumbled onto something true in his futile efforts…The Utes and Virginia both beat BYU and they both were about equals in the world of college football while BYU vastly improved as the season wore on. Virginia and the Utes both savored that upset vs the Cougs and point to it proudly as one of their few meaningful wins. They both have a LOT in common. We all agree.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    July 22, 2014 5:52 a.m.

    To do this coaches must be prepared and have the team well prepared. This has not happened in many years.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    July 22, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    Navel Vet..
    You also have to consider that BYU comes a arid, dry state and anyone who has gone from Utah to the South (or Virginia) during the late summer/early fall will tell you that the humidity is unbearable.

    While Virginia players are use to it, BYU players were cramping up a lot that game.

  • yabuts Springville, utah
    July 22, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    @ Confused:

    If "unbearable humidity" helps Virginia, how come they only won TWO game last year??

  • dutgut Saint George, UT
    July 22, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    @yabuts:
    This helps Virginia against BYU because BYU is not used to that level of humidity. Virginia didn't have a humidity advantage in their other games because all of their other opponents are also from humid climates (FL, PA, VA, NC and MD). Just like the altitude in Provo is an advantage for BYU when they play teams from lower elevations but is not an advantage against high elevation teams like Utah.

  • yabuts Springville, utah
    July 22, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    @ dutgut

    Golly, if its not one thing its another. I sure hope that they do not schedule anymore games where it is hot or that there is any chance of rain.

  • BlueHusky Mission Viejo, CA
    July 22, 2014 1:46 p.m.

    Blah blah blah again.

    The UVA game was in a monsoon; the offensive scheme was dumbed down, and a bad call (the pass) and execution (through the fingers) cost the Cougars an ugly win. Instead they had an ugly loss. I didn't see the Utah game, but it was also winnable and was an ugly loss.

    The losses at Wisconsin and Notre Dame were "good" losses where BYU could not beat two very good teams. I don't think many teams beat Wisconsin at home last year. And while ND was not great last year, they're also pretty good at home.

    So, like Utah, BYU had a couple of ugly losses and a couple of "good" losses. But sadly, Utah had a few more good losses.

    So pot, quit calling the kettle black.

    As for BYU fans ... We just have to win. Winning solves the problems. Schedule doesn't matter if we run the table. Utah, BSU, Hawaii, and TCU all proved that statement true.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    July 22, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    @never break .500

    BYU did not "vastly improve as the season wore on." BYU stayed the same - their schedule just got a lot easier as the season wore on.

    I expect this time next year you'll be back here saying the same thing: BYU struggled early in the year (when they played decent teams) but "vastly improved" later in the year (when they played cupcakes). You're wrong about it now, you'll be wrong about it then.

  • Taysom4Heisman Heber City, UT
    July 22, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    @Naval Vet

    "The weather did not impact the game in Charlottesville last year, because it rained on BOTH teams; not just cougars."

    I agree. The weather did not make BYU lose. Virginia also ran a lot though, so the rain was neither an advantage nor a disadvantage in my opinion.

    But I will tell you what was a disadvantage in the Virginia game.

    -Cody Hoffman was suspended
    -We were in our first game with a new offense

    Let's look at BYU's recent history of their first game in a new offense:

    -2005 vs. Boston College: 3 points
    -2011 @ Ole Miss: 14 , but 7 from KVN, so the offense only had 7.
    -2013 @ Virginia: 16

    Let's look at BYU's second year in those offenses:

    -2006 @ Arizona: 16 (13 improvement)
    -2012 vs. Washington State: 30 (technically 16 improvement, but basically 23)

    I know this is a fairly small sample size and BYU may have played easier defenses in their 2nd year of an offense, so this is not an exact science.

    But history would suggest somewhere between a 13-23 point improvement, meaning BYU would score 29-39 points.

    Let's meet in the middle and say 34.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    July 22, 2014 3:44 p.m.

    yabuts....

    If you had paid attention to what Naval Vet said "the weather did not affect BYU", then you know why I mentioned the humidity.

    Your right, they should just win, but sometimes there are things that can contribute to the loss....

    Bring on the Pickle juice.

  • Taysom4Heisman Heber City, UT
    July 22, 2014 3:52 p.m.

    @yabuts

    "If "unbearable humidity" helps Virginia, how come they only won TWO game last year??"

    Because the humidity is only unbearable to teams who aren't used to it, like BYU. I flew out to the Virginia game and the humidity was absolutely awful to deal with (I had never been out east before). I couldn't even imagine running around in those conditions.

    The rest of Virginia's schedule was against teams from out east who are used to that humidity, with the exception of Oregon, who is out west. But they are also in a fairly humid place.

    So that explains why Virginia didn't beat other teams from the humidity. It's not any kind of advantage in any of their other games. BYU and (to a lesser extent) Oregon were Virginia's only opponents who aren't used to humid climates.

    But as I said in a previous comment, I think Hoffman's suspension and our new offense had much more to do with our struggles in Virginia.

  • Captain L Provo, UT
    July 22, 2014 4:40 p.m.

    IMO the biggest reason we lost to Virginia was the play of Hill, he wasn't very good that game and it took him several games to start passing with any accuracy. He ran extremely well against Texas and continued to run well the whole year but his passing progressed slowly and was alot of the reason BYU struggled against ND, Wisconson and Washington. I think getting his passing game up to another level has been the focus of this off season and the reason I have hope for a much better result.

  • SammFan Sammamish, WA
    July 22, 2014 6:59 p.m.

    Naval Vet - I, too, hate blaming losses on anything - especially weather. However, since you were willing to concede the weather issues in the VA game and highlighted the bad completion stats of the new QB (Hill) from that game AND the TX game, I have to call you on how you illustrated your point.

    Remember this: "Inclement weather forces delay at BYU vs Texas game". Yes, in fact a bizarre string of back-to-back games with miserable delays. Almost two hours. That said, I'd chalk it up more to a new starting QB with a new offense.

  • Copacetic Logan, UT
    July 23, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    There are definitely a few things more predictable than the weather when it comes to BYU games. And one of them is the negativity and cynicism of a few anti-BYU Ute fans... Naval Vet, Brave Sir Robin and yabuts in this case (kudos to Chris B and Uteology for holding back lately).

    No matter what the game or situation, there is always a select group of anti-BYU Ute fans who will be critical in their on-line comments. Almost as predictable as the sun rising. This time, one of them has even gone beyond being critical of past games and is being critical of a season that hasn't even started yet. Wow... there are certain people who must simply not like the color blue.

    Speaking of predictions, I'm predicting that the pieces are now all in place for an exceptionally good season. No new coaches or offensive schemes to adjust to this time. All the critical skill position players are back and healthy.
    It will be interesting to see what kind of negative slant the fore-mentioned critics come up with after this exceptionally good season. Watch, read and smile.

  • "Man you look good in Blue" Centerville, UT
    July 23, 2014 5:57 p.m.

    Great being a Cougar Fan !! This year is going to be one of those Great Cougar years that we can talk about for years. This team is loaded and to the little people in red that have not done their due diligence will throw out their uneducated comments. The defense is lock down and the offence is loaded at all the key spots ! Everything hinges on the O-Line. Great to be a cougar fan like the past 40 years has been ! There is no comparison in programs utes!!