Sorry if this column is a little shorter than normal. I’m taking my cue from the NBA and working on load management. I’m not as young as I used to be.
BYU did what it was supposed to do against woeful UMass, leading 49-0 at halftime and playing all of its younger players in the second half.
To quote Marion Sevillo in the movie Holes, “… the end.”
Moving on to game No. 12.
The Cougars (7-4) travel to San Diego State to end the regular season. The Aztecs are 8-3 after losing two games in a row. Late Saturday night, SDSU missed a 48-yard field goal in the final seconds and lost at Hawaii 14-11.
The Aztecs will try to run the ball against BYU and have a defense that could give the Cougars trouble. I feel like if BYU plays clean offensively, things should turn out well and win No. 8 will happen.
Since it appears it doesn’t really matter who plays quarterback or who carries the ball, BYU should be in good shape on Saturday.
OK, so maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe if Zach Wilson and Ty’Son Williams had been healthy the entire season the Cougars would have beaten Toledo and South Florida and we’d be looking at a Top 25 9-2 team right now.
We’ll never know, will we?
What BYU has been able to do at those two positions this season is pretty amazing. The Cougars have three quarterbacks who have thrown for 400 or more yards and four who have thrown touchdowns if you count Micah Simon (and he insists that you do). BYU also has four running backs that have gained at least 264 yards after Jackson McChesney rolled for 228 against UMass.
That depth is impressive.
Monday night, the BYU men’s basketball team takes on UCLA at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational — the only tournament that can get away with putting “Maui” twice in the name of the event — and it will take a monumental effort for the Cougars to have a positive experience.
If Gavin Baxter and Yoeli Childs were available, I would feel confident BYU could give just about anybody a run for their money at the Lahaina Civic Center. Neutral sites are great equalizers and the Cougars would have the size to compete with those deep Power Five Conference rosters.
But Baxter is out for the year with a torn labrum and Childs is currently the tallest and most talented cheerleader in the country (at least until Dec. 4 against Utah).
I’m not the first one to notice that most of BYU’s size is on the coaching staff right now.
Then, there is BYU’s inconsistent shooting through the first five games. Unless Chase Fisher can sneak into uniform and hit 10 3-pointers in a game like he did in 2014, I think the Cougars will struggle in Maui.
Power Five teams there will feast on BYU unless the outside shooting gets better. It would really help if T.J. Haws could get untracked as well.
The BYU women’s soccer team remains unbeaten (21-0-1) and will play in the NCAA quarterfinals next week at No. 1 seed Stanford.
Yes, the same school that eliminated the Cougar women’s volleyball team in the Final Four last December and knocked the BYU women’s basketball team from the NCAA Tournament last March.
Time to break the trend, ladies.
The way this Cougar team works together, both on offense and defense, is amazing. Head coach Jennifer Rockwood and her staff should be commended for the way BYU competes as a true team. Sure, leading scorer Elise Flake and nifty midfielder Makayla Colohan get most of the headlines but the BYU defense is as good as you’ll ever see. The Cougars won three home games in the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament 12-1.
The weather was terrible in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday, but that didn’t keep the BYU cross country teams from making history.
The men’s team won its first NCAA championship and the women’s team took second in what was an amazingly fruitful Saturday for the Cougars.
Ed Eyestone has built a true running dynasty in Provo. BYU is lucky to have him.
Living it up
On Wednesday, I interviewed BYU women’s soccer coach Jennifer Rockwood and some of her players for an advance NCAA tournament story. I was told senior goalkeeper Sabrina Davis had a class to get to so I did a quick interview.
Davis is always a delight to talk to, and once we ended the interview she started jogging away.
“What class are you going to?” I asked.
“Fly fishing,” she responded with a big smile.
Seniors have all the fun, don’t they?
Happiness is …
Don’t mind me. I’ll be the one in the corner sobbing with joy over the fact that the 800 North project in Orem is finally done and I can drive to Provo without slaloming through dozens of orange cones.
Pass the gravy
On Saturday, Matt Bushman broke Chad Lewis’s BYU record for career catches by a tight end with 112. Lewis just happens to be his father-in-law since Bushman married former Cougar volleyball player Emily Lewis.
Might make for awkward dinner conversation at Thanksgiving.
Utah has a women’s cross country runner who competed at nationals by the name of Poppy Tank (she’s British).
I’m not making a joke here. Just observing what I love about life: Diversity and uniqueness.
Enjoy the process
We all have friends who love golf.
You know they love the sport because they don’t talk about the scores they’ve posted. They talk about where they’ve golfed in reverent tones.
Because in the end, it’s the experience that matters.
I was reminded of this while covering the high school football championships this week. There were three champions crowned, which means there were three teams that fell short of their goal. Players hugged each other and coaches told them how proud they were of all the hard work they did to get here.
Yeah, finishing second is a tough one. But it doesn’t diminish your accomplishments getting there. Remember the journey. Remember running onto the playing field at Rice-Eccles Stadium with a state title at stake. Remember your teammates that would do anything for you.
That’s it for now. Make sure you have your stretchy pants ready to go and enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.