We were both contemplating writing separate blog posts about what we feel is going on with the Cougars. As we discussed this via email today we found that we had basically written a lot of what we’d say and decided that we should organize it into a more details version of ATI – the first ever follow up ATI. Check it out and let us know what you think.
1. Is Bronco Mendenhall done at BYU after this season?
Carl: I believe he’s got to be having a ‘Come to Jesus’ crossroads in his career as head coach. The kind where you reflect about all the good things you’ve done and accomplished. The kind where you also look at your glaring weaknesses and make that determination if you can fix those weaknesses and keep improving as a head coach. I must believe he’s feeling he has no concept of offensive play calling, therefore, can’t be involved and must be trustworthy of his offensive staff. Furthermore, he can make no in-game adjustments and has made no attempt at changing the current system. Therefore, I think he’s beginning to see the writing on the wall. If he can’t get this ship righted, he’ll make sure it’s lights out for him rather than be forced to hear it from BYU.
Matt: No. Plain and simple, no. LaVell Edwards had seasons of ineffectiveness, had times of marked futility against Utah, and he never had a hot seat. Likewise, Bronco isn’t Gary Crowton. Short of doing something that violates or otherwise encourages his players to violate the honor code, he’s there until he is done, and not a moment sooner. And while I’m not wanting to get into this, who would replace him right now?
2. Can Brandon Doman ever improve his play-calling?
Carl: Yes, and I think he will. He can’t be afraid of getting out of his comfort zone. Curiosity did kill the cat and did commit 5 turnovers last night. Pussyfooting around and being vanilla is going to wind up getting players hurt because defenses will begin teeing off on everyone offensively. Additionally, WHAT MORE DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE??? You can’t get worse than last night. Try new things…at least realistic BYU fans will appreciate you trying.
Matt: I feel this insane loyalty to Brandon Doman since we were both Eagles at Skyline High School, but those blinders are coming off and its getting real ugly from my POV. And I don’t know that he can. At the point when Taysom Hill was inserted into the offense last night, Doman should have just opened up and let him go for broke, but he handicapped him time and time again. I just don’t know that Doman will improve.
3. Is there more to Doman’s playbook and if so, is he ever going to open it up?
Carl: With more study, in game wall pounding and brain power, he’s going to get better.
Matt: I think opening up the playbook would be a giant step forward in the “Can Brandon Doman ever improve his play-calling?” issue. However, as I just stated, I don’t think he’s going to. Is he capable? Sure. Is he willing to? I don’t feel that he is.
4. How great was it to see Mendenhall super jacked up after that goal-line stand?
Carl: It was awesome…and it was way cooler than his reaction to Beck to Harline. He truly lost himself in the moment, and we as Cougars need to know he’s human sometimes. We lived for those moments that we saw LaVell crack.
Matt: Last week I remarked how bad if felt to have a coach who seemingly didn’t care that his offensive line racked up 9 false start penalties. Watching him get jacked after that goal-line stand sent chills. I think the team responded, until the offense shot itself in the foot again and killed the momentum one more time.
1. Are Doman’s deficiencies as an OC magnified because of the weaknesses at quarterback or is Doman handicapping his quarterbacks by not letting them excel?
Carl: It’s shared, but Nelson can not lengthen the field with his arm and defenses know that. There is no harm in the 20+ yard passing game. Keeping things compacted has been a boon for BYU for 3 seasons now. It appears Hill has a better gun. And for the record, I’m not pleased that Riley Nelson learned absolutely nothing about being a quarterback in the offseason.
Matt: This conversation has been all over since he took over as OC last season. The job is too big to do while still working with the quarterbacks. And it still is. His need to manage the entire offense while coaching the quarterbacks has drawn his attention from that which matters; improving. And I think that because of this, he’s lost sight with what is going on with the other offensive position coaches, such as the offensive line and their deficiencies. He needs to relinquish one of the positions soon or face being released from both. And to answer the question, I think Jake Heaps was an aberration. Riley Nelson is not the answer. If they ruin Taysom Hill the way Heaps was ruined, nothing short of a blunt axe will be acceptable.
2. Taysom Hill – buy or sell as the starter for the rest of the season?
Carl: Going back to can it get worse- Why Not? What’s to lose except the possibility of being embarrassed by Notre Dame? It’s much tougher in football to move positions around, but they have to change things up to see if that’s going to bring more offense to the offenseless. The coaching staff better not give up on this team. They’ve created a pretty sound monster on defense, a mini-2011 LSU, and they only need to find a little mustard from their offense to win the upcoming games.
Matt: I don’t care if Nelson is healthy. This will be and should now be, Hill’s team. He is the future, he can’t play any worse than Nelson has, and he’s not injured. Now is the time to groom him. BYU fans won’t be able to stomach what is coming next season is Hill isn’t ready.
3. Which QB-RB combo gives BYU’s offense the best chance to win the rest of the way this season – Riley Nelson-Michael Alisa or Taysom Hill-Jamaal Williams? Or would you switch the backs?
Carl: Jamaal I think has impressed all of us in the limited time he has played. If we’re going for broke here, put Alisa and Williams back there and see what happens. Williams is not Chambers of old. Rather, he’s an excellent follower, runs decent routes out of the back, and loves to hit people. Let the young guys have a shot at creating chemistry for 3 years to come.
Matt: The combo doesn’t matter to me as long as Riley Nelson isn’t the quarterback. I think the staff needs to focus on one runner as the primary back and let the other be a change of pace back. Taysom Hill needs to stop calling his own number so often and rely on the rest of the offense. He blew a wide open Williams opportunity to hang on for himself. Trust the team and let the game come to you Taysom.
1. How is this defense feeling about this offense and their inability to do anything of note?
Carl: I’d be pretty upset, but not deflated. The way the defense is playing, they have to be feeling like any help from the offense will keep games close. They’ve probably got enough pep in the step to give some good, spiritual firesides that will help energize the offense.
Matt: Not a big fan of assuming how others feel but if I were an integral part of this defense, I’m feeling pretty upset with them. Alisa drops the ball on the 1 and we come in to make the ultimate goal-line stand and then you go out and botch up the momentum we just shifted. I’m not happy AT ALL.
2. How awesome was that defensive stand on the 1?
Carl: You know I actually turned the game off after the fumble because I was putting my kids down for bed and because, after 5 turnovers, I thought the game would be out of reach if they scored any points there. But you know me, I turned it on a few minutes later to catch the 4th down stop. It was pretty much miraculous. I’ll put dinner on not seeing that again this year from BYU.
Matt: I had chills. I was fist-bumping the air around me. Single most awesome defensive stand I can think of.
3. Is BYU’s defense truly “elite” if they can’t even force a single turnover in two games against very mediocre offenses?
Carl: We’ll answer that question in the next 3-5 weeks. Takeaways will definitely help a directionless offense with some short fields or a change in field position.
Matt: Dang you Kurt for making me even think about this. Prior to reading this question I would have said yes a thousand times. Are they still great? Yes. The goal-line stand proved it. Are they elite with not turnovers? Almost. Forcing field goals, especially when they get blocked or clank off an upright is nearly as good as a turnover. BYU turned back the fake punt last night, had the goal-line stop, and got stop after stop after stop when they needed to. Are they elite? No, but they are close.
BYU as a Team
1. Can BYU correct the ship and salvage this season?
Carl: I’m doubting on it. I’m expecting this season, regardless of whose QBing this ship, to end with 7 regular season wins. Which is why I want to see what our young talent can do. If this season is a loss, i.e. we end up in San Diego regardless of 6 or 10 wins, why not prepare for a much more difficult season in 2013 by giving your starters for 2013 real game experience now? Let them learn from the mistakes that will come and let us Cougar fans stand beside them in full support.
Matt: Find a quarterback that works and ride him home. Get consistent in the passing game to push defenders away from the box and open up some running lanes and provide some passing lanes for the QB. I hate to say this, but the defense may have to step it up to a level unlike any we’ve ever seen. We need their current dominance to compound the issue with some pick sixes and other turnover-created short field opportunities that our offense can’t squander.
2. How does BYU get wins in South Bend and Atlanta next month? Can they?
Carl: At this point, zero turnovers offensively, and serious clock management. Defense will not be able to withstand even 2 turnovers against ND or GaTech. I don’t anticipate wins, but these will be benchmarks by which to gauge exactly how good our defense is.
Matt: If the offense doesn’t figure things out, no. Not even come close. Notre Dame is as dominant as they’ve been in over a decade and they look really good. Georgia Tech isn’t a juggernaut but they will score on this defense if they are forced to chase the triple option all over Atlanta all afternoon long.
3. BYU heads home for a three game home stand. Can they beat Hawaii, Utah State, or Oregon State in Provo?
Carl: So much disarray surrounds the program right now…they need a win badly versus Hawaii. If they can get 1, psychologically, it will prepare them for the next two at home, which are much tougher games. It they win all 3, I think BYU fans would be tickled pink heading in to the two-game road gauntlet.
Matt: Hawaii should be the game to fix some problems, get some rhythm, find some balance. If they can do that, they should be able to win easily and get some momentum going into Utah State. They will come in licking their chops and over-amped to prove they are the State’s best team and BYU should be able to get a win with some solid execution. Oregon State is the wild card for me. If they play how they did against Washington State and then get back on track with the next two games, they can win against OSU. If they struggle at all, I think OSU avenges last year’s loss at home.