For the first time in their history, the BYU Cougars will face top-10 college football teams in successive weeks. Having lost to No. 10 Oregon State 42-24 last week, the Cougars take on No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday (1:30 p.m. MDT, NBC) in South Bend.
The Cougars will practice from 5-7 p.m. tonight, with media availability afterwards.
But before everyone moves on to Notre Dame week, a few leftover thoughts and comments about Saturday's game:
There were five or six huge, momentum-swinging plays in the second half that went OSU's way, as the Cougars mentioned in their postgame news conference.
However, one play that I believe had a big impact was the second one of the game. Cody Vaz threw a 15-yard pass to Markus Wheaton on second-and-7, and officials originally ruled Wheaton was out of bounds when he made the catch. After a review, they (correctly) overturned their call and gave the Beavers a first down.
Oregon State went on to score on that opening possession, capping the six-play drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception by Wheaton. Not only was the drive and TD a confidence-builder for Vaz, and a sign to his teammates that he could get the job done, it was a solid punch in the mouth to BYU's vaunted defense, which had not allowed an offensive TD in the 13 previous quarters. Thanks to the overturned call, the Beavers did not face a third down the entire drive.
I asked coach Bronco Mendenhall if the quick score dented his defense's swagger.
"Not necessarily. I really thought I would have better answers. We just didn't execute them well enough. That's where it became frustrating I think to all of us is even things we thought would be the right play into the right play, we weren't executing it well. And again, that's preparation, and that's on me."
Lots of folks out there are blaming Riley Nelson for the loss, but Mendenhall said Nelson and the offense played well enough for BYU to win. He rightfully blamed himself and the defense.
"I think the players play as they are prepared. Anytime we don't perform well, I always look at myself first. I could have prepared them better, obviously. Otherwise, they would have performed better," he said. "We didn't see anything concept-wise that we hadn't seen [on tape]. And really we had an extra day of preparation, so really all the same routes that were working against us today [were on tape]. I really felt, and obviously mis-evaluated, thought we were ready to handle [their offense], but we weren't because it happened multiple times. Again, I think our players will do exactly what they are asked to do. [Cody Vaz] just delivered the ball where he was supposed to.
They made a real focused effort on protection, meaning seven and eight man protection, and three guys out in the routes, to make sure we couldn't get to him. And the routes took longer to develop downfield, and more time to cover. Even when we were dropping eight, they were completing passes. So again, their plan execution was [bettter] and they played at a higher level than we did. Their quarterback deserves credit for doing what he was supposed to do. Which he did."
Some comments from BYU defenders Preston Hadley and Spencer Hadley, not related, on why a top-five defense had so much trouble with a backup quarterback:Next Page >
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