An Unofficial BYU Cougars Blog



Some late thoughts on UCLA game
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 06:12:46 PM EDT

BYU 17 UCLA 27

I've watched the game three times now and it's clear there was definitely some questionable play calling by the notorious Pac-10 refs. But, with all that BYU has alot of momentum still even after that tough-loss.

  • Max Hall has a Ty Detmer type of attitude. He has a strong personality with some moxy when he is in the pocket. He's get after O-lineman when needed and will give the occasionally fist pump when there is a defensive Pass Inerference. Hall is going to be a great Quarterback at BYU, were lucky Ben Olson decided to leave us and opt for Westwood. Thank you Southpaw!

  • Kicking game is going to be nerve-racking all year. I don't really forsee it getting much better. Payne and Santiago are very capable to be good players but as of now all indications point to that not being the case. Santiago just needs to get more hangtime on his punts. He is getting around 40-50 yards on each punt but it's too low and hard for the cover team to get down there. Bronco said he is going to evaluate all aspects of the Special Teams unit this week in hopes that improvements are made for the Tulsa game and beyond.

  • UCLA student section was a joke. Yeah they are not in class right now but that was all they could produce and they live in Los Angeles? I just don't understand Los Angeles sports fan in general. They are too passive about their sports teams with the exception of USC who I saw first hand in 2003; but it's not too difficult to be a Trojan fan these days. But I guess you could say then it was considering they were just barely recovering from the Paul Hackett days. But anyways, UCLA student's were a pathetic showing and Los Angeles was called "Provo West" by Ted Robinson. The BYU contingency was no surprise. There was about 20,000 BYU fans at the USC game in '03. Everywhere BYU goes they will always have a great turnout.

  • "The Dogs" were some what of a let down in the first half of this game. I don't usually like pin pointing individual players but Dallas Reynolds was struggling at Left Tackle against UCLA's athletic lineman and Linebackers. I was expecting Hall to see more time in this game, but that wasn't the case with Hall getting hit to the ground hard numerous times and now has a bruised thigh. But I'm not worried at all about Reynolds or the rest of The "Dogs." But in this one game they were a let down.

  • "Coulda Woulda Shoulda" games: How many more of these games will we have to suffer through? It's games like this one, Arizona and Boston College in '06 and others that you always look back at it and getting ticked off because BYU clearly should of won but came up short. 2008's schedule looks to be more daunting with the emergence of Washington yet again and Jake Locker at Quarterback. The trip to Seattle will be BYU's next Pac-10 visit.
    This has been the one achilles in Bronco's tenure so far. He is 0-4 thus far against non-conference teams on the road. Hopefully that changes this Saturday in Skelly Stadium.

  • Austin Collie needs to be the starter at Punt Returner the rest of the season. It's tough to say this because the thought of a potential injury but Collie is the best option. He has such a smooth feel to the game, and a knack for making big plays that it's hard not to put him back there. Bryce Mahuika is a nice option but at the end of the day he is really no threat; the main concern you have with Mahuika is just fielding the ball and not turning it over. Nice player but he's not a burner like Collie.

    That's just a few of my thoughts on the game. Sorry for the lack of posting for the past six months things have been really hectic and it's been hard to find time with work, and school, things are busy but I still try to find time for my beloved BYU Cougars.

    Go Cougs!

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Recap: Cougars show signs of reloading in a revenge win over 'Cats
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 01:39:53 AM EDT

BYU 20 ARIZONA 7

It was a blistering hot day in Cougar Town this afternoon, but that didn't stop Cougar fans from seeing the 2007 edition of the Cougar Football squad.

There were many question marks going into this game. How would Max Hall respond to all the pressures of being a BYU QB and following in John Beck's footsteps? How was Manumaleuna/Wolfley/Foketi going to do at NT? How was the kicking game going to be? So many questions and so many answers in this first game of the season. Here's a breakdown position by position of the game.

Quarterback

I will be honest I was expecting to see Hall struggle at times during this game. But he was very calm, and collected. Had a Ty Detmer-type of presence in the pocket when watching him. He is a natural born leader, willing to do anything to win and very confident. He was very accurate from the get go and had an outstanding 66% completion rate. 26-of-39 for 288 yards and zero interceptions in his first start was really impressive. Hall has studied well and his patience is showing immediately. Had that fumble early on a huge hit that almost any Quarterback would of lost in any setting. But besides that it was a great opening game performance for Hall. He did have some over-thrown passes but other than that I was greatly impressed. He is only going to get better, and there is still room for improvement and he even made note of that in his post-game interview.
Grade: B

Running Backs

UNGA UNGA GET YA SOME! Arizona's defense was getting plenty of Harvey Unga. The stud from Timpview High and standout during fall camp played outstanding and is definitely my vote for MVP of the game. He is a perfect fit in the backfield for this offense. A very good receiver threat, had one TD grab on a nice throw getting out of the pocket by Hall. Unga is the man in this backfield with Fui as a #2 punch. Then add Manase Tonga next week, and Semanoff is a nice option. This unit is deep and made huge strides in this opening game. Another thing to make note of is that Bronco said in his interview with Wrubell that Fui had no injury set-backs which was great to hear. Great day today, these RBs are all great offensive weapons.
There were some struggles in short-yardage situations.
Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Harvey Unga was the top receiver out of the backfield with nine receptions for 127 yards. But he won't be included in this grading curve. Austin Collie showed signs that he is definitely back. He is going to be difficult for DBs to bring down this season with his size and his shiftiness in the open field. Collie had only four receptions today but covering him was Antoine Cason who is an awesome Cornerback, probably the best in the nation so it was a great early test for him to see where he was. Not fully back to his game-speed...yet. But that will come. Collie was so close to getting a diving grab from a deep pass by Hall in the 3rd Quarter. I would expect Hall and Collie to hook up deep eventually this season and often.

Five WR's/Tight Ends had receptions. Dennis Pitta, Vic So'oto, and Andrew George all did good today. Nothing standing out particularly but a solid performance, which is somewhat the theme for the entire day. So'oto had a nice grap where he did a flip from a tackle by a Arizona defender. Pitta of course had the TD grab in the "Blue Zone." Don't be surprised if one of BYU's Tight End's end up being an All-Conference performer by season's end. Matt Allen had a cast on his hand but still hauled in one reception. Not sure how long he will have that cast. Michael Reed had four catches on the day, and a few of them were on critical third downs. I'm just waiting for Reed to finally break loose and a big-time game, but in this offense the distribution of the ball is outstanding so it's tough to get get a lot of grabs. Tyler Kozlowski and Bryce Mahuika also saw a lot of reps.
Grade: B

"The Dogs" a.k.a. Offensive Line

The early hit to Hall that forced a fumble raised concern early on for the Cougar faithful. Arizona DE Louis Holmes was getting a lot of pressure but Oswald, and Reynolds were able to hold him off for the most of the game but Holmes and the Arizona defense did give Hall some scary moments, that made us hold our breath. The running game was probably the best BYU has had in a season-opener in many years, and finally proved they can establish a running attack against a athletic, and quick defense. Arizona is one of the better if not the best defense this offense faces all year.
Grade: B

Defensive Line

The loss of Russell Tialavea in Fall Camp was a huge blow but the D-Tackle by committee looked good in this first game. True Freshman Eathyn Manumaleuna had three tackles in his first college game, and Rick Wolfley was a clog in the middle and forced the Offensive Lineman to not focus their blocking assignments on the Linebackers. The DE's were stellar the entire game, Jorgensen had a nice 11-yard loss sack on Tuitama, and Dulan got in a sack as well. Whenever you think this position has question marks they always step up. Bronco's philosiphies of building the program are really coming to fruition when they just plug in players to pick up where the previous one left off. Reserves Sean Sullivan, Judd Anderton saw time as well.
Grade: B+

Linebackers

Kehl, Staffieri, and Nixon were the top three leading tacklers in today's game. The tackling was outstanding in the open-field and up the middle. This unit is definitely the best on this awesome defense. Shawn Doman looks like a player who is going to have a significant impact on this season along with Matt Bauman and Chris Bolden. All of the Linebackers are capable when called upon. The Arizona running game was non-existent today which was great to see. This group never allowed a big rushing gain, like was allowed last year to RB Chris Henry. What excites me with this unit is that there they are only going to get better. Bryan Kehl said this defense would improve on their 14 points allowed per game last year and so far he is proving to be right.
Grade: A-

Safeties

Gabriel gone, Tafuna gone, but that's no problem for Corby Hodgkiss. Hodgkiss had two key Pass break-ups, he had a nice game and some nice hits as well. Hodgkiss is the definition of a Bronco Mendenhall type of player. Former walk-on who works hard, not the greatest athlete, but simply produces at a high level. Great to see. Quinn Gooch was plagued with an illness today and was questionable if he was even going to play. Gooch did and had three tackles on the day. I like these two players, there are very good. Just please don't get injured.
Grade: B+

Special Teams

Many questions were with this group going into the game and there are still many unanswered. Matt Allen wasn't the holder today on Field Goals so Bryce Mahuika filled in, and that's not good having to switch holders. Mitch Payne struggled with kicking the ball from the 30. Antoine Cason was getting good returns on the kicks. It's going to be difficult from the 30 this year. Why did the NCAA make the changes? I don't get it. Then Payne missed an xtra point, and a Field Goal that was missed badly. Hopefully he gets better soon, because that is going to bite us eventually in a game or two.

Then with punting, C.J. Santiago was in his first game as a Cougar. He was struggling mightily and at about the third shanked punt, the fans started to Boo. I was not happy with this. It's Santiago's first game he was nervous as all get out, and the fans start to boo. Then when he had good punts they would do a sarcastic cheer. I don't condone booing at all in the college game. That is not being a "Fully Invested" fan. Now granted, the people who probably booed were the ones who will never see this and the ones who never knew who that guy was. Bronco was not too happy with it either when he discussed the issue in his Press Conference. This will get better, but it's going to be a work in progress. But today it wasn't pretty.
Grade: D+

So overall with my grades I gave out I was really moderate with them, because I feel each position has room for improvement. This is by far not the best BYU can play in a game this season. They are going to keep getting better. This was just a solid, nothing flashy win. This offense is not going to light it up all the time on the scoreboard but they will be efficient, and have a gameplan that is designed to not make mistakes and simply win. The sky is the limit with this team.

Extra Thoughts
The Gifford Nielsen and Ty Detmer ceremony was pretty cool. Those guys are such class acts and what you would expect a BYU athlete to be. Great honor for the both of them. I would love to see Jim McMahon up there but he never graduated at the Y so it will never happen.

The uniforms look really sharp this year. I loved the addition of the "Y" on the collar, and the text of the names looks good along with the thicker numbers. It's a really sweet looking uniform. I like it alot. They just need to sell the authentics to the fans or at least other numbers than just #1 in the replica. I would like 41, 3, 15, or 9. Those would be sweet. Do it BYU apparel people.

Fans wearing blue is getting MUCH MUCH better. I was really impressed with the amount of people wearing the "Fully Invested" shirts. It's still a work in progress but it's making huge strides.

Bring on the Bruins!

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Game #1: BYU vs. Arizona
By Mitch Section: Game Threads
Posted on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 12:02:20 PM EDT

Arizona leads series 11-8-1
TV: Versus
Radio: KSL 1160, 102.7 FM

Honoring Ty Detmer and Gifford Nielsen today


GAMEDAY NOTES

- WR Matt Allen is a game-time decision with his hand injury. If Allen is not able to play it will be a loss to not only the receiving game but, Allen is the holder on Field Goals as well. We will have to watch how that develops.

- Arizona CB Antoine Cason thinks Max Hall and BYU are dis-respecting by saying were gonna still throw his way. What did you expect them to say Cason? "Oh were afraid of him! We will never go to his side." C'mon Cason, your an awesome player but cut the crap.

- BYU is 2-0 when playing on Versus. (TCU and Air Force last season)

- BYU holds the nation's 2nd longest winning streak at 10 games, only behind Boise State.

PREDICTION

BYU 23 Arizona 16

GO COUGARS!

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Keys to Success against Arizona
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:44:40 AM EDT

It's finally gameday folks! We made it! It's a great feeling right now. Kirk Herbstreit just said on College Gameday that Arizona is gonna upset the Cougars but Bronco and company have other plans.

Here are some keys to success for BYU to get revenge on Arizona.

No Turnovers!
Hall is going to very nervous. It's going to take a drive or two early on to get rid of those early jitters. But in this game, that's expected to be a low-scoring battle we can't have any turnovers. Playing smart will be crucial in this game. Bronco is notorious for emphasizing not turning the ball over. Hopefully the +14 margin can continue into this game and throughout the season.

Establish a Running Attack
As we all know, Manase Tonga is suspended and that is going to be a big loss for today's game. So Joe Semanoff takes over as the starter. Semanoff is one of the strongest players on the team and in his one starting experience two years ago against New Mexico, a game that BYU was a underdog, Semanoff had a Touchdown. Semanoff, and Fall Camp stud Harvey Unga need to utilize the "dogs" up front and give Hall that balanced attack on offense to keep Arizona's athletic Defense guessing.
BYU has been notorious over the years for struggling against athletic defenses, they need to play well today for the team to win.

No big plays
The Cougar D shut down Arizona's offense last season, and I expect similar results today. Arizona is implementing that Texas Tech style offense and is expected to put the ball through the air in bunches, maybe 50 or 60 times to be exact. With that said, the Secondary is going to be tested. Kayle Buchanon made it through Fall Camp without any serious injuries and Ben Criddle is ready to go, and lay some hard hits. The Safeties suffered major injuries in Fall Camp with Gabriel and Tafuna so now Hodgkiss steps to the forefront along with the hard-hitting Quinn Gooch. I'm confident in this entire defense. There has been alot of speculation on how the DT will be without Russell Tialavea, but I'm really excited about Eathyn Manumaleuna. This defense will hold Arizona under 17 points. Then of course Bryan Kehl will have two sacks today, he is a man on a mission.

Deep Pass
Arizona's defense isn't planning on BYU to go deep much today, but I would love to see some Play Action passes deep to the likes of Austin Collie or Michael Reed, catching Antoine Cason off guard. And yeah were gonna throw to your side, Cason!

Kicking Game
This will be studied very closely by the Cougar faithful. Mitch Payne has the great leg but needs to improve his accuracy. Also, Kickoffs will be from the 30-yard line now which can have a major impact on the game. So Payne needs to be good. C.J. Santiago will be at Punter and he has great hangtime on his punts from seeing him in Fall Camp. He was a great addition over the Summer.

WEAR BLUE!
The Fully Invested campaign has been promoted all off-season. Now it's finally here. Wear your blue and let's get this movement going. Be there early, and get loud. We can have an impact on this game and bring a whole new element. It's Football Season! RISE AND SHOUT!

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Fully Invested: Fall Camp Preview
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 07:39:44 PM EDT

The BYU Athletic Department released a video promoting their campaign for fans to be "Fully Invested" in Cougar Football.

This campaign started during last season over on CougarBoard has been growing every day, hoping to see a sea of blue from now on in Lavell Edwards Stadium.

Bronco Mendenhall told us fans that he wants to be convinced that we are "Fully Invested" in BYU Football. Well here is a Fall Camp preview showing just a glimpse of my 100% Investment towards BYU Football. Here we go.

NO INJURIES!

The past few years have not been kind to the BYU Medical Staff with numerous injuries during fall camps. Last season, the team went through eight or nine injuries to the Secondary and lost Center Tom Sorenson for the season along with Cornerback Brandon Bradley on the first day of camp. A handful of players have went down for the season in the first few days of camp during the light conditioning drills (Michael Morris, Ben Archibald, Bradley, etc.) We all know there will be some hamstring injuries or minor bruises but the team can't afford to lose anyone for the season especially at certain positions. Fall Camp is an exciting time but it can get ugly in a hurry once injuries pile up. So here's to an injury free Fall Camp!

Who steps up as the starter alongside Criddle at Cornerback?

Most Cougar fans would like to say Brandon Bradley who could be a Brian Gray type of Cornerback with his size and athleticsm. But the starter as of now is Kayle Buchanon who is well known for his injury-prone syndrome. Buchanon if healthy is a very good player and the defense would do well with him at the Field Corner spot but how long will he last is the question. Incoming Freshman (report tomorrow) G Pittman and Brannon Brooks could make waves on the depth chart immediately. Pittman has supposedly gotten taller since high school growing an inch and a half, which will put him at 5'10 a very good size for a corner. Then there is also Brandon Howard who did very well in spring practices, along with Andre Saulsberry who hasn't quite lived up to the hype yet. The talent is there for this Cornerback position to be very good this season but they need to stay healthy and establish the starter alongside Criddle during this Fall Camp.

Defensive Tackle

This position is a major concern right now. Russell Tialavea is the starter, who is a perfect fit at DT for this 3-4 scheme but after him it is slim pickins. Matangi Tonga was excused from the team for the off field issues, and Romney Fuga went on a mission. Kyle Leukenga is injured and won't be practing at the beginning of fall camp reportedly. The top reserves would be JC transfer Mosese Foketi who redshirted last season due to a shoulder injury. Don't be surprised if incoming Freshman Eathyn Manumaleuna has a Ian Dulan-type of of impact at DT. Manumaleuna should see many reps this season.

J.J. DiLuigi and Ryan Kessman

Many Cougar fans expect these two players to be significant contributors this season. In my personal opinion, DiLuigi is going to see a lot of time at Running Back this season due to the inexperience and health status of the current backfield unit. DiLuigi could see time as a return specialist as well along with Kessman. Both these players have a lot of hype surrounding them so it's time for them to finally produce on the field. These guys are going to be big time contributors this season.

Leadership factor

During the Mountain West media days. Bronco made a statement to KSL's Tom Kirkland saying the attitude of the team would reflect in how well Max Hall became a leader during the Summer workouts. It will be interesting to see the attitude of this team and who comes to the fore-front as the leaders of the team. I don't doubt for a second this team is not focused and driven to win another Mountain West title but they still might be looking for the leaders to come forth. Should be exciting to see.

Fall Camp officially gets underway this Saturday with newcomers reporting tomorrow. Hopefully KSL.com will be doing the "Cougar Daily Download" again which is always a nice way to get updates on camp. You the fans can see practice as well, four of them at least. But you gotta wear your blue to show your Fully Invested!

Go Cougars! WEAR BLUE!

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Mountain West Media Blitz Preview
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 12:43:29 AM EDT

One of the few events we actually get to see on TV from this lucrative deal is the annual Conference Media Day, which will be held in Las Vegas this year. Tomorrow night at 5:00 PM on CSTV you can watch as Trev Alberts (Utah fans will like that) and Tom Hart interview players and coaches. I'm not sure exactly who is representing BYU down in Vegas but if I were to guess it would be Kehl and Aulai. Just a guess though we will have to see tomorrow.

But aside from the Media Blitz on CSTV, the coaches, media, and conference officals will gather for meetings discussing the state of the conference and predicting the Pre-Season Poll and All-Conference teams. Hopefully somewhere in these meetings Commissioner Craig "Hair" Thompson addresses the ever popular "mtn." channel deal. At this rate all of us fans who have held out hoping the channel goes to satellite are realizing that it will never happen. The mtn. is a great concept they just need to get it in the homes. Thompson has been a coward in not addressing this at all. In the past he even mentioned that he didn't have the mtn. at his own home due to being a DirecTV subscriber. That is just down right sad when your own commissioner doesn't have the channel. So let's keep our fingers crossed that some miracle happens and they announce the mtn. is on satellite this fall.

Now back to the pre-season poll and all-conference teams. This is my prediction on how the media will vote.

  1. TCU
  2. BYU
  3. Utah
  4. New Mexico
  5. Wyoming
  6. Colorado State
  7. San Diego State
  8. Air Force
  9. UNLV

It will be pretty much the same poll we have seen from all of the publications so far this summer. So it will be nothing new. But none the less enjoy seeing something related to football again, even though we won't gain an ounce of new information. And you can always bet your bottom dollar that Bronco will be full of answers tommorrow as he always is for interviews. We need Kirkland around. (Sarcasm)

Tomorrow we will recap what happened at the meetings and offer our MWC Preview for the upcoming season.

Update [2007-7-23 0:54:13 by Mitch]: Watching KSL SportsBeat right now and they are down in Vegas doing interviews for the meetings. Kirkland just interviewed Bronco. There was an interesting remark in regards to Max Hall compared to John Beck. Bronco stated that the team is going to succeed as far as Max Hall's leadership goes. Bryan Kehl said that Hall as alot more confidence then Beck did. Thought that was interesting. Kehl like I predicted is there but instead of Aulai it's WR Matt Allen. Utah QB Brian Johnson said he definitely thinks Utah can win the MWC. While he said all of that he was wearing a pink shirt. Very masculine. Now Whittingham is on....

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Bronco's Recruiting Success
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 06:09:40 PM EDT

When Bronco Mendenhall was hired to be the 13th Head Coach of Brigham Young Football in December of 2004 many peoples doubted his capabilities to recruit potential student-athletes. He never really recruited as a Defensive Coordinator at BYU, he was basically an X's and O's type of guy. But, I firmly believed when Bronco was hired that he was going to be a good recruiter. The reason? Vince Feula.

Die-hard Cougar fans will remember when Bronco made his only recruiting visit of the year to BYU's #1 Defensive priority and that was the 4-star recruit out of Cerritos JC, Mr. Feula.

Feula looked as though to be a done deal for the enemy up north, Utah. Mendenhall went with Crowton, and Steve Kaufusi. Then after that the rest is history. Feula didn't necessarily live up to all his billing but he was very good still. But Mendenhall was one of the main reasons Feula made his decision to play for BYU.


An actual photo of Walt Williams

I bring this up because recruiting at BYU used to be a whole lot different. Before, the coaching staff would wait for a talented JC player/high school who didn't necessarily have the grades or the desire to go to BYU, but was very talented so BYU would take a chance. Nine times out of ten they would bite us in the butt, and the players would never show up. Ask Paul Tidwell about guys like Eddie Scipio and Walt Williams, those players are internet legends.

When Crowton's 2004 class came it was one of the most talented classes ever at BYU....on paper. The class never really produced much other than Austin Collie, Todd Watkins, and Ray Feinga. That class was basically the demise of Crowton with the off-field turmoil surrounded by that group which paved the way for many of Bronco's tactics today.

Now when a potential recruit meets with Bronco Mendenhall to play at BYU, its not Bronco flabergasting all this stuff that the recruit wants to hear. Bronco is making the recruit sell himself to why he wants to play at BYU. He emphasizes that BYU is a unique place and one that requires a full commitment. And if you decide to live by the commitment to the fullest, Bronco believes that you will be rewarded on the field and off. Bronco is such a down to earth guy and yet to the point that its almost impossible for these recruits to deny him.

Now instead of relying on signing day commits who might not be eligible we are getting at least 90% of the class to be eligible on average, and they are all players who are just yearning to play for football for one of the most storied programs in all of College Football.

The sky is the limit for this program. People around the nation need to take notice that BYU is back. 2006 was no joke season, the team is going to build on that this year and in the future. The fans, players, and the coaches all believe that BYU is a BCS-caliber team now it's time to go out and prove it but it all starts with recruiting. From being a coach who just knew defense and never showed an interest in recruitng, to now locking up 20 commits in Mid-July let's just say Bronco knew all along what he was going to do, and he proved the nay sayers wrong.

Coming soon I'm going to post a 2008 Recruiting Dashboard with the current commits, top targets remaining, and other information so watch for that. Go Cougs!

--Mitch

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Top 20 players for the 2007 season to be a success
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 02:25:46 PM EDT

Hey we are alive here at Provo Pride. With fall camp quickly approaching we are gonna get things back to daily posting for the upcoming season. So keep on reading the site for updates as the season comes closer.

Today I'm taking a look at the Top 20 players/positions who are most crucial for BYU to "Raise The Bar" in the 2007 campaign. The list goes in reverse order from #20 to #1 who is our vote for the most important Cougar this season.

#20 J.J. DiLuigi, Running Back

DiLuigi is a wildcard on this list because of his versatility and his big play capabilities. DiLuigi as all die-hard Cougar fans know led Canyon High School to a CIF state championship last season over #1 ranked De La Salle. DiLuigi did break his foot back in May due to a freak accident involving a newspaper, he should be ready to go for Fall Camp though. He is a true freshman but for the past few years BYU has always had one or two newcomers make a big splash in the season. DiLuigi is definitely going to be that man this season.

#19 Ian Dulan, Defensive Line

Ended last season early due to a knee injury. Dulan is a very talented D-lineman. He started in his first ever collegiate game last season against Arizona at the age of 17. Expected to be the starter at Left End this season. This will be the last chance Cougar fans see this talented player for awhile after 2007 he is going on a mission.

#18 Matt Allen, Wide Receiver

Allen has quitely evolved over his Cougar career into a solid receiver. This season Allen will need to improve upon his 2006 numbers (27 rec., 420 yards) with him being one of Max Hall's top targets. Allen has great hands and catches everything in sight.

#17 Quinn Gooch, Safety

One of the hardest hitters on the team this season. Gooch is nothing flashy but simply gets the job done and he will knock a few heads while he is doing it. Gooch has been getting some attention from pre-season magazines as a All-MWC performer. Gooch is the headliner of a Senior laiden Safety group (Gooch, Dustin Gabriel, David Tafuna, Corby Hodgkiss).

#16 Ray Feinga, Offensive Guard

Voted by Lindy's magazine as the best NFL prospect in the Mountain West Conference. Feinga is one of the premier Offensive Lineman in the conference and is still only a Junior. Feinga and Travis Bright are one of the best Guard combos in the nation.

#15 Tight End

As of now it looks to be Return Missionary Dennis Pitta who looks to have the edge to get the nod at TE over Vic So'oto who had an off-the-field issue involving the ever popular topic with Ute fans, waterbaloons. This group is inexperienced but still very talented. BYU has always produced great TE's. Andrew George is another player to watch who is very similar to the recently departed legend Jonny Harline in his style of play. A tall, thin, player who catches everything. Pitta, So'oto, and George by season's end don't be surprised if one of these players is a All-MWC player.

#14 Jan Jorgensen, Defensive End

Jorgensen was a Freshman All-American last season. Started in all 13 games last season. Jorgensen is only a Sophomore and is already one of the best players on BYU's defense.

#13 Michael Reed, Wide Receiver

It's time for Reed to finally break out and become the big play receiver he was touted as coming out of Baytown, TX as the Texas 5A Receiver of the Year. Reed had some outstanding catches last season against TCU, and Wyoming. Reed has a great size and good speed. 750+ yards isn't too far of a reach for Reed this season.

#12 Russell Tialavea, Defensive Tackle

Tialavea is a great player at DT. There isn't much proven depth behind him so its important that he stays healthy the entire season. He will have to carry the load in the interior of that line this season, and he has all the talent to do so.

#11 David Nixon, Outside Linebacker

Rumors have been floating around as of late if Nixon might have to redshirt due to a hernia injury. I personally feel he is gonna be ready to go come September 1st against Arizona. If the coaches need to sit him out during most of fall camp then that will be the case. We already know what Nixon is capable of. Nixon and Kehl are highly underrated as a OLB tandem, people are underestimating BYU's LB core as a whole as well.

#10 Sete Aulai, Center

The consensus player on this year's squad to be a Pre-Season 1st Team All-MWC player this season. Aulai in the course of one year went from battling it out with Tom Sorenson in fall camp for the starting job, to struggling mightily in the first three games of the season with Shotgun snaps, being suspended against Utah State, then after the USU game having little problems at all, and now a player on the Rimington Trophy watch list. Pretty impressive to say the least. Aulai is a great Center, has the perfect build.

#9 Manase Tonga, Running Back

Cougar fans are still concerned if Tonga might be suspended for the Arizona game due to the recent arrest back on July 3rd going through a stop light. Tonga is the projected starter at Running Back right now he is very talented and has a nice mix of strength along with speed through the middle. If Tonga isn't going to be able to play against Arizona it will shake up the RB unit quite a bit. Time will tell.

#8 Field Cornerback

The cornerback positon on the opposite side of Ben Criddle is still a question mark. Currently Kayle Buchannon is the starter but with his track record how long will that last until he is injured? If healthy, Buchannon is very talented with great speed. Brandon Howard made great strides during spring practices could make a push for the starting job. Then there is Brandon Bradley who Cougar fans are just begging to see play, heck we are begging to see him practice. Bradley is a big, quick corner in the build of a Brian Gray. Also Andre Saulsberry, and incoming Freshman G Pittman and Brannon Brooks should battle for the spot.

#7 Austin Collie, Wide Reciever

One of the more anticipated RMs in memory. Collie was simply amazing in 2004 earning Freshman All-American honors for his spectactular play. Collie is a big 6'4 WR who has deep-threat type of speed. Expect Max Hall to be airing it out deep to Collie on occasion. When Collie arrived to Provo it looked as though it was going to take awhile for him to recover, he looked overweight and out of shape. But now all indications point to him being 100% for Fall Camp and the season opener. He is going to be one of the best WRs in the conference this season.

#6 Bryan Kehl, Outside Linebacker

The outspoken Linebacker, isn't shy about saying this team is determined to "Raise The Bar." Made an emotional speech during one of the team meetings a few months back saying he felt like the Arizona loss was on his shoulders and he was determined to help lead this team to a great and successful 2007 season, powerful stuff to say the least. Kehl has a great NFL build and should be a NFL prospect after this season gets through. People are over-looking him now but everyone will be very familiar with Kehl once the season gets done.

#5 Deep Snapper

Like Bronco does, I'm putting a strong emphasis on this position. Last season the fiasco in fall camp with Matt Johnson not getting eligible forced BYU to find a walk-on in Jayson Clark who turned out to be very good. This season the starter right now is walk-on John Pace out of Yorba Linda, CA. Behind him is Brett Denney who has the genes on his side, his brother John Denney (current Miami Dolphin) was a deep snapper at BYU as well. This position is still a major question mark though, fall camp will be a good indicator of how much progress has been made.

#4 Ben Criddle, Cornerback

Expected to be 100% healthy after recovering from a foot injury that was suffered at the always pleasant field turf up on the hill, Ben Criddle is BYU's top cornerback this season without a question. Last season, was only a walk-on but made big plays and had many hard hits (video below). Criddle is now on scholarship and is gonna have to elevate his game as well. His determination and overall work ethic is outstanding he is the definition of a Bronco Mendehall player.

#3 Mitch Payne, Kicker/Punter

We all know who he is brother is, now it's time for the younger bro to have his time in the spotlight. There are some serious question marks with Mitch though. He showed a lack of accuracy in the Blue/White Spring game back in April, he has exceptional strength kicking the ball but needs to improve on the accuracy. Special Teams can cost ball games so this definitely needs to be improved. Bronco and staff went out on the recruiting trail and picked up C.J. Santiago out of Orange Coast JC. Santiago is going to be a walk-on this season then in the Winter receive a scholarship. He will be a nice reserve if Payne is struggling.

#2 Max Hall, Quarterback

It has been quite a long time since Max Hall was behind Center in an actual football game, all the way back in 2003 to be exact, at Mountain View High in Mesa, Arizona. Hall hasn't played a down of D-1 football but that doesn't matter at the school that is known for its legendary "Quarterback Factory." Alot of this season's success lies on his shoulders. He has the talented Offensive Line in front of him and the receivers he just has to display that accuracy that is so well known in this offense and he should shine. Now don't get me wrong I'm sure there will be struggles along the way, we just need to be patient but I think success will happen very quickly for Hall.

#1 Fui Vakapuna, Running Back

Here is our #1 player for BYU to "Raise the Bar" in 2007. Fui has all the talent in the world to be a great Running Back at BYU there is question marks though around him. Can he stay healthy? Can he be the every-down back? It's important for Fui to elevate his game this season with the RB unit being very unproven, Fui needs to stay healthy and become a more polished running back. From seeing a video on YouTube he looked has really hit the weight room hard. If I was an opposing Linebacker I sure wouldn't want to mess with Fui. If he stays Fui is going to have an outstanding season.

So what do you guys think of the list? Is there someone you think should have been on there that I missed or a player that was rated too low. Tell me what you think in the comments section.

--Mitch

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This time of the year is terrible. What to do until football season?
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:54:15 PM EDT

Dang, May really is really one of the worst months around. I'm currently stuck dealing with crazed Utah Jazz fans which bugs me considering I'm a die-hard Lakers fan. So right now, I'm anxiously counting down the days till football season.

So what exactly is there to make it seem like football season isn't very far away. Well here are my things that I look forward to in the off-season, starting the earliest leading up to the opening kick.

#1 Pre-Season Magazines: Late May-Mid June

Although, they are usually far off when it comes to predicting BYU (last year all publications except Street & Smith's had BYU pegged at 3rd) I still get excited to scout the nation with these $7.99 delights. This year's Athlon Western Edition (above) has no BYU players. Where is the love for Bryan Kehl? Seriously! My favorite magazine is Phil Steele, then Street & Smith's, and The Sporting News. Athlon, Gold Sheet and the others I don't really bother with. Especially this year's Athlon. I'm currently doing my own Previews over at my other blog so go check it out sometime. There is a BYU preview already up.

#2 BYU summer camp reports

With Bronco Mendenhall's new emphasis on signing the best LDS talent and getting them early it makes the summer camp reports all the more exciting. This summer I wouldn't be surprised to see about 7 to 10 commits for the class of 2008. Exciting stuff.

#3 NCAA Football 08: July 15ish

Every year it is a must to get this game. Granted EA basically does nothing to really improve the gameplay, being a 360 owner I'm very excited to see all the stadiums in this year's game. I'm a big fan of stadiums and the amazing detail that this game has done over the years. Lavell Edwards Stadium in the 07 game was simply amazing. I would zoom in on my season ticket seats and take a Snap Shot it made me feel like I was in the stadium. I'm not too happy about the cover boy choice in Jared Zabransky from Boise State. Heck BYU was practically two plays away from having a BCS bowl and being everyone's media darling and we would be seeing John Beck on the cover. But oh well I will still be forking over the $60 come July. Someone needs to tell me how to download the rosters. I'm tired of doing them manually it is a long process. Yikes!

#4 Media Guide: End of July

Every year I make the trek from Salt Lake the week after Pioneer Day down to Provo to pick up the Media Guide. I mean I could fill out the voucher that I received in the off-season to have it sent to me in the mail but it's always a exciting even to get the annual Media Guide. I have every Media Guide since 1985 and they are awesome to go back and look at. Great stuff. BYU during the late 90s and early part of this decade was producing huge 320+ page Media Guide that were almost impossible to read. Then the NCAA mandated a 208 page limit two years which I think has made the Media Guide better. Every year I ask the Cougar Ticket Office for a spiral media guide like the ones the Media gets but they are always stumped and never know what I'm talking about. I know I could go to Kinko's and have it done but I want the spiral media guide that BYU issues out. So for any of you Cougar fans how can I get a spiral media guide? Thanks in advance. I know that is sad that I even think about that but like the title of this post, this time of the year is terrible and makes me think of anything football.

#5 Fall Camp: Beginning of August

Fall Camp in my opinion is when football is here. I have enjoyed the past two years listening to Greg Wrubell's Cougar Daily Download podcasts which keeps you up to date on all the happenings with the team. Fall camp is going to be exciting as always. It's always a spectactle for the fans to finally see pics of the newcomers in BYU gear and finally discuss football again. There is always so much optimism during fall camp which makes it a great time, until of course the annual first day of camp someone goes down with a season ending injury in skeleton drills while wearing t-shirt and shorts, that's the hard part of fall camp. Then after the fall camp, the season is here!

Well here are the five things that I look forward to during the off-season. It's mindbottling isn't it?

--Mitch

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Step aside Culpepper there's a new sheriff in town
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:37:06 PM EDT

Former Cougar Quarterback John Beck finally got the call on his future in the National Football League, as the Miami Dolphins took him with the 40th pick in the 2nd round of the Draft.

This was the place that many penciled Beck to go to. What makes this ultra sweet for Cougar fans is that the Dolphins who are well known for having Quarterback issues right now had the opportunity in the first round of the draft at pick #9 to take the over hyped Brady Quinn from Notre Dame, but they gladly passed. Coach Cam Cameron and his staff knew that Beck was the real deal, and Beck was their guy to take over this franchise.


Dolphins fans are still looking for the next Marino, they are going in the right direction finding him with Beck

There was alot of praise for Beck during the draft telecast yesterday. Ron Jaworski who is a Quarterback expert said his signature catch phrase for Beck, "he projects well in the National Football League..." Great to see Beck get all of this attention.

This is the highest a former Cougar has went this high in the NFL Draft since Doug Jolley and Ryan Denney were taken in Round 2 of the 2002 Draft.

Congrats to Beck! I finally have a Pro team who I'm a huge fan of now.

Will Smith welcomes you!

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Jonny Harline on ESPNEWS
By Mitch Section: Football
Posted on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 04:40:55 PM EDT

Former Cougar TE Jonny Harline was on ESPNEWS' The Hot List. They asked him some questions about his potential Draft status. The guy from ESPNEWS kept pronouncing his name wrong though, which I'm sure Jonny is very used to.

But when Harline was asked about what type of NFL TE's he is like, he compared himself to Antonio Gates and Todd Heap, simply because he was able to make many plays during his career at BYU like those guys do for their franchises.

He was asked what round he felt he would go during Draft weekend, and he just said that he plans on watching it and having a good time. The interviewer asked Harline about John Beck, asking him where he felt Beck ranked amongst the "top" QB's in Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, etc. Harline replied by saying he thinks he is just as good if not better. Harline even gave Beck props with his great arm strength.

Harline also talked about the Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon how he was the MVP, and it was one of the few times that BYU was able to play in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN. Then finally, they made reference to Harline's basketball past and they asked him to predict how the Jazz would do in the playoffs. Harline just said they need to have lock-down defense. My personal opinion about the Jazz series with the Rockets is the Rockets are going to win in 5.

It was cool seeing Harline on ESPNEWS, I just happened to catch the program at the right time. Good stuff.

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How accurate are Pre-Season magazines?
By Mitch Section: Basketball
Posted on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 03:08:46 PM EDT

With the College Basketball season now a few weeks removed, and I'm looking for something to talk about in the college sports world. I pulled out my College Basketball preseason magazines and looked to see which one was the most accurate.

Final Mountain West Standings
TeamConf.All
1. BYU (24)13-325-9
2. UNLV (19)12-430-7
3. Air Force10-626-9
4. San Diego State10-622-11
5. Wyoming7-917-15
6. Colorado State6-1017-13
7. Utah6-1011-19
8. New Mexico4-1215-17
9. TCU4-1213-17

To determine which magazine was the most accurate it will just be a basic subtraction formula. If a team finished 7th in the actual poll and was picked 5th then the number on how off they were would be 2, and that is listed in parenthesis. The fewer points a magazine has the more accurate it is.

Athlon's Pre-season Picks

1. San Diego State (3)
2. Air Force (1)
3. BYU (2)
4. New Mexico (4)
5. Utah (2)
6. UNLV (4)
7. Colorado State (1)
8. Wyoming (3)
9. TCU (0)

Total: 20 points

Lindy's Picks

1. BYU (0)
2. Air Force (1)
3. San Diego State (1)
4. New Mexico (4)
5. UNLV (3)
6. Colorado State (0)
7. Utah (0)
8. Wyoming (3)
9. TCU (0)

Total: 12 points

Street & Smith's Picks

1. San Diego State (3)
2. BYU (1)
3. Air Force (0)
4. UNLV (2)
5. Utah (2)
6. New Mexico (2)
7. Colorado State (1)
8. Wyoming (3)
9. TCU (0)

Total: 14 points

So the most accurate magazine last season was Lindy's which had BYU winning the title. Most magazines under-estimated UNLV, and were very high on New Mexico due to J.R. Giddens, who last season was a bust. Trent Plaisted graced the cover of all these magazines and Street & Smith's dubbed him "the best player the nation never heard of." Plaisted was a 1st Team All-MWC selection by all these magazines and finished the season as a 2nd Team performer.

The only magazine to recognize eventual Player of the Year, Keena Young was Lindy's, who had KT as a 3rd Team All-MWC selection. No one saw Young as the POY.So next September, when Basketball magazines hit newsstands pick up Lindy's because its apparently the most accurate.

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