Have you ever sat down to write a paper, an article, an email or letter, or a blog post with a specific purpose in mind but all you really want to do is ride some tangent off into the sunset? I’m in that place with this post. I’m supposed to write about my preview of the Hawaii match up. Yet, it’s dull and uninspiring and I’ve got things like QB controversy, college football playoff and realignment, and a team that is pushing me to depression on the mind and I’m having a hard time getting motivated to dissect a really poor Hawaii team. However, you aren’t here to read about my problems with focus on this post, so I will just apologize ahead of time if I veer off track a bit. (I’m not saying I won’t come back with one that runs the gamut of my brain randomness, but I’ll stay the course here.
Week 5 Opponent: Hawaii Warriors. Norm Chow Returns . . . again.
The most intriguing part of the Cougars week 5 match up will be the return of Norm Chow at the helm of his first head coaching gig in his career. He made his presence felt last season when Utah came to Provo and left with a lopsided win. He’ll hope for a similar result, but it won’t be nearly the easy sledding as it was last season.
Coaching: Bronco Mendenhall vs. Norm Chow. Wizard of defense versus wizard of offense.
Bronco has come under fire the past two weeks for failing to prepare his team mentally for the “big games” or “test games” if you prefer. Against Utah, his team was top to bottom a better team but couldn’t put together any consistency and ultimately mental errors cost the Cougars a win. Last week his decision to let Riley Nelson play one more drive cost the Cougars 7 points and then the ultimate in baffling snafus went for two only to fail and then not see the ball again. (I’m not digging in further, though I really want to.) This week leading up to this game has been filled with doubt in the head coach and fan outrage calling for an injured Nelson to sit while Mendenhall has continued to support his gritty senior.
Norm Chow has inherited a team that is an absolute mess. What he’s been able to instill so far is a no-quit mentality. His team will play every down until the whistle is blown. He suspended a punter for 4 games for getting an off-season DUI. Not much is expected this season, but with patience from the school and the community, Chow could have Hawaii back to high-flying status in the near future.
BYU Offense vs. Hawaii Defense
Hawaii brings a defense that still isn’t sure of who it is. The front four hadn’t quite gelled yet and then lost Moses Samia to a torn ACL last week. Their most talented unit is still largely inexperienced and that is their secondary. The Warriors have a corner in Mike Edwards who can make tackles but through three games I feel 14 is too many at that spot. It tells me the front 7 are not getting the job done (they only have four sacks through three games.)
This defense comes at the perfect time for BYU’s mired offense. It should provide a chance for Brandon Doman to settle down, call a more simple game, and get BYU back to the basics. The offensive line needs to figure out how to play as a unit. The QB, whoever it is (word on Wednesday is that Taysom Hill will start this week) needs to stretch the field vertically with down-the-field passes and get the receivers and tight ends involved early and often. The running game should automatically benefit from that and show easily over 200 yards on the ground and I hope the quarterback isn’t the leading rusher again.
BYU ranks 73rd in passing (219.3), 81st in rushing (148.3), and 88th in points scored (25.5) in the nation. This is good enough to beat the Warriors but it isn’t good enough the rest of the year. This week they need to get back on track. 300 yards passing, 200 yards rushing, and at least 35 points should be a minimum effort on Friday night.
Hawaii allows 40 points per contest through three games.
BYU Defense vs. Hawaii Offense
Hawaii’s offense averages 29.3 points per contest but that includes the 54 point outburst against Lamar. In the two losses, they average only 17. BYU is only allowing 12.5 points per contest so you do the math.
In three games, the Warriors quarterback, Sean Shroeder has only 592 passing yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. Trevor Davis is the home run receiver but Jeremiah Ostrowski is the go-to-guy for Shroeder. However, neither has even 200 yards receiving this season. Will Gregory is the primary back and the workhorse, but Joey Iosefa has been in the mix as well. Iosefa has had back and knee issues but seems to be back on track. As a unit, they only average 140 yards on the ground per game.
Contrast that with what BYU’s wrecking crew has been doing up front and this should be a tasty match up for BYU’s front 7. Ziggy Ansah will start in place of lost-for-the-season Eathyn Manumaleuna and should continue his disruptive ways in the back field. He will pressure Shroeder all night long and grab running backs that get anywhere near him. In the next level Kyle Van Noy continues to make plays but coming from the other side, the Sheriff, Spencer Hadley, is making noise, logging several sacks and tackles for loss already this season. Because of BYU’s strength and speed up front, expect a lot of swing passes and screens, as well as attempted play action passes from Hawaii. The BYU secondary will need to stay at home and be sure tacklers. If they can stay honest, this defense should force a lot of punts and hopefully multiple turnovers this week.
Taysom Hill needs to be unleashed. He is the expected future of the program for 2013 going forward and if he is to be prepared for that, he needs to have access to the full play-book. This is a week where mistakes can happen and he can learn from them because BYU should control the ball on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He needs to throw downfield, even if he doesn’t connect early on. In fact, I expect that to be the case. BYU will commit early and often to the run, I just hope it isn’t in terms of many QB designed runs. I want to see a 100 yard rushing night from a running back. I want to see 300 yards passing to at least 8 different receivers. Ross Apo needs to be rediscovered. The offensive line needs to gel as a unit, stop the silly mistakes, and provide protection and running lanes for the skill players to utilize. Defensively, BYU will net yet another game holding an opponent under 300 total yards and barring a mental collapse or special teams’ mistake, Hawaii will never see the end zone. While this game could conceivably be “over” by half time, I hope the coaches keep at least all the offensive starters on the field for the full sixty in order to create some consistency.
Sorry Norm Chow, this year you will be on the receiving end of a beat down in Provo. It won’t be as bad as when you came here with UCLA, but it ain’t gonna be pretty either.