Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head as the state of Utah switches to a different alert system for COVID-19.
Hey, I understood the red-orange-yellow-green designation. Now what are we using? The Transmission Index? Whatever it’s called, since 6,000 fans are going to be allowed in LaVell Edwards Stadium for the BYU-Texas State game on Saturday, I’m all for it.
Big comeback Friday’s 43-26 BYU football victory at Houston had more ups and downs than a hike on the Timpooneke Trail, more twists and turns than drive on I-15 construction through Lehi and more drama than a presidential debate.
The Cougars had to overcome key injuries on both sides of the ball, poor pass coverage and a very talented and athletic Houston team to pull out a win.
They did it by making very good adjustments defensively, by executing a perfect onside kick in the third quarter and by keeping the ball in the hands of quarterback Zach Wilson when the game was on the line.
It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the way BYU won was perfect for the growth of the team.
Learning how to win a tough game is a thousand times more valuable than blowing somebody out by 30 or 40 points.
A young player like sophomore safety George Udo, who was flagged for a pass interference and whiffed on a sack that allowed Houston quarterback Clayton Tune to score and put the red Cougars up 26-14 in the third quarter, was given the opportunity to atone for his mistakes. And he did, picking off a two-point conversion attempt and later chasing down Tune for a big sack.
Those are important moments in the growth of a player.
BYU is 5-0 for the first time since 2008 in large part because Kalani Sitake took over defensive play calling in the second half. The passive two-deep zone was getting shredded by Tune and something needed to be done.
In the postgame, Sitake said maybe BYU ought to play more man-to-man defense in the future (Ding! Ding! Ding!) but also credited defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki. Sitake will probably claim that the defensive play calling is a collaborative effort but the defense in the second half reflected Sitake’s aggressive approach way more than Tuiaki’s drop-eight philosophy.
Like I said, it was an imperfect effort by the Cougars.
The pass coverage was Swiss cheese in the first half. The third-and-short play calling was ineffective. Sitake should have taken the points at the end of the first half instead of going for it on fourth down.
On that subject, Sitake later said his mindset is to be bold, aggressive and swing for the fences. He knew he was mixing his sports metaphors, but we know what he means. He’s letting his team know he has confidence in them and he believes that will pay off in the future.
Here’s what is in the near future for the Cougars: Beating Texas State and Western Kentucky to get to 7-0, moving up in the national polls and preparing for a showdown with Boise State on the Smurf Turf on Nov. 6.
Enjoy the ride.
Give this guy a nicknameH-Back Masen “The Hurdler” Wake topped himself by leaping over not one but two Houston defenders in the third quarter. The game just doesn’t really start until Wake hurdles over a defender, does it?
The Hurdler. Sounds like a bad Batman villain, doesn’t it? Maybe we should come up with a better nickname. Submissions are being accepted now.
SneakyThe onside kick in the third quarter was a game changer. BYU had just scored to close the deficit to 26-20. Obviously, Cougar coaches had seen something in film study and the play was executed perfectly.
BYU didn’t score off the play but flipped field position and went on to outscore Houston 29-0 the rest of the way. Kudos to kicker Jake Oldroyd and special teams standout Talmage Gunther, the former Lone Peak quarterback who recovered the ball.
The officiating crew for the BYU-Houston game was one of the slowest I have ever seen in a college game. Every single decision was like a 15-minute smoke break.
When Micah Harper was ejected for targeting in the second half — a questionable judgement call, to be sure, based on the replays we saw — why wasn’t Houston running back Kyle Porter ejected as well for head-butting Harper after the play?
At one point, Houston declined an illegal block penalty on BYU to force a fourth down. When Dana Holgorsen saw the Cougars trot out Oldroyd to attempt a very long field goal, he told the officials he now wanted to accept the penalty to force a third-and-27.
I didn’t know you could change your mind once you accepted a penalty. That probably shouldn’t be allowed.
Wilson accounted for 440 of BYU’s 478 yards of total offense. The more I watch him play, the more he reminds me of John Beck during his senior season in 2006. That’s no coincidence: As ESPN announcers keep reminding us, Wilson trained with Beck and 3DQB during the summer. Wilson even looks a lot like Beck when he throws, from the occasional odd arm angle to the flick of the wrist of his powerful arm to throw the ball on a rope.
Wilson is 107 of 136 (78.7%) for 1,641 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception. His efficiency rating of 207.68 is No. 2 in the country. ESPN ran a graphic Saturday night listing Wilson as a Heisman candidate.
After Houston drove 98 yards on 17 plays to score and go up 26-14 in the third quarter, the BYU defense was absolutely dominant. On 19 subsequent plays in the fourth quarter, the red Cougars managed a total of eight yards.
My defensive MVP for the Houston game is senior defensive end Zac Dawe, who had eight tackles (three solo), one sack, three tackles for loss and one pass break up. A defensive line without an ill Khyiris Tonga struggled at times but came up big when it mattered.
Parker Dawe (2013-16) was a walk-on who put on 90 pounds and become a starting offensive lineman. Wyatt Dawe is a dominating lineman at Pleasant Grove this season and Zac Dawe has built himself into a potent defensive end after being lightly recruited.
Those Dawe boys can really put their nose to the grindstone and work, can’t they?
Young and amazing
I wrote a story this weekend on BYU women’s volleyball commit Claire Little, who was named the Freshman of the Year by PrepVolleyball.com last season.
She actually committed to the Cougars as a 14-year-old eighth grader, which might be the earliest BYU has ever offered anyone in the program. It’s an interesting story if you have a minute to read about her.
Hoops starts My biggest takeaway after watching the BYU men’s basketball practice live stream on Wednesday was that the Cougars have a lot of dudes on the team. By dudes I mean really good players. This is probably the deepest team we’ve ever seen in Provo. There are so many combinations Mark Pope can use. I hope BYU can go 10 or 11 deep. That will pay off later in the season.
That’s all for now, but for this: Sometimes I pretend to be normal but it gets boring so I go back to being myself.
Always be yourself. Unless you are Batman, then be Batman.
Mask up, be good to others and have a great week.