BYU football fall camp photo 8-18

BYU tight end Kyle Griffitts (42) and linebacker Jackson Kaufusi (38) react to a photographer during a fall camp practice on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head. Are you looking forward to a Cougar Nation watch party on Sept. 7? When BYU plays at Navy, there will be no fans in the stands. Everyone, including us media types, will be watching the game from the comfort of their own homes. I’ll bring the nachos.

Making assumptions Our information out of BYU football fall camp has been limited, obviously. I see sarcastic references on social media about how the Cougars are “in the best shape of their lives” and “really flying around during practice.”

Yeah, that’s the refrain we hear during most fall camps and even more so now as BYU has complete control over the message. As media members we try to read between the lines and match what’s being said with what’s realistic.

Here’s what I think: It’s shaping up to be a successful season. There is more experience and depth on the roster than at any time in Kalani Sitake’s tenure. There should be continuity on offense and flexibility on defense. The Cougars should be favored in almost every game on the schedule (except for maybe Navy). So there you go.

But I mean, no one really knows much until Game 1, right?

Let’s be safeOn Friday, athletic director Jeremey Lewis stopped the American Fork-Timpview football until fans complied with social distancing and wearing masks. It was the right call. Fans have been pretty good about following protocols at the high school games I’ve attended. Sure, wearing a mask is a little inconvenient but a small price to pay for the opportunity to have sports back. Remember that masks plus social distancing equals getting your life back, too. I’m all for that.

Harder than calculusMan, I don’t envy these Power Five conferences that are punting their seasons until winter or spring. I heard the Big Ten has been talking about games being played in January. Not in places like Iowa, Nebraska or Michigan, they won’t. The weather in those states would be brutal. There are plans to play games at domed stadiums in the Midwest, though, and that would work. But they do realize there are other college sports going on in the winter and spring, right? With athletic departments cutting back, how will they staff so many events? And how will media outlets, already stretched thin, be able to cover all of those sports?

By the way, if you want to read a compelling story, point your browser to the Lincoln Journal Star website ( Nebraska football beat writer Parker Gabriel wrote about the timeline of events that led the Big Ten from announcing a 10-game schedule to postponing the season just six days later. And my good friend, columnist Steve Sipple, has some great insight there as well.

The future of footballFormer Cougar Taysom Hill and his wife, Emily, had a baby boy the other day and named him Beau Nixon Hill. Somebody (a lot of somebody’s, actually) has already made the joke about Sitake offering young Beau a scholarship for 2038, so I’ll just say this: I will always stand by my statement that if Taysom Hill had stayed healthy for four straight years he would have done amazing things and left BYU as revered as Jimmer, Danny Ainge or Steve Young.

A full rosterThe NCAA has voted to allow fall athletes an additional year of eligibility, regardless of whether they play games this fall or not. That will create a roster nightmare like coaches have never seen that could have lasting effects for years.

Plusses and minusesI’ve written about this before, but the effect of negative plays in football is significant. Sports Source Analytics hands us these conclusions:

“On a drive with a negative play, the average FBS team scores points just 25 percent of the time and touchdowns 15 percent of the time.

“On a drive with a sack, the average FBS team scores points just 16 percent of the time and touchdowns 9 percent of the time.

“On a drive without a negative play, the average FBS team scores points 43 percent of the time and touchdowns 36 percent of the time.

“On a drive without a sack, the average FBS team scores points 40 percent of the time and touchdowns 31 percent of the time.”

As an offense, the challenge is to string a number of plays together without having to overcome a negative play. As a defense, your ability to stop on offense increases dramatically with a sack, an interception or a tackle for loss.

The good lifeI wanted to give a shout out to Austin Burge of Burge Auto. I’m probably not supposed to plug a car dealership in my column, but screw it: When someone does a good deed, they need to be recognized. Austin went above and way beyond to help us rectify a difficult situation. I wrote about Austin when he was three-star athlete at Orem High and that relationship is important. Anyway, thanks, Austin.

That’s all for now, but for this: I read where the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, Germany is offering a $1,900 “idleness grant” to people willing to abstain from activity as part of research for an exhibition on sustainability, or in essence, doing nothing.

I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing for six months thanks to COVID-19.

BYU football games can’t get here soon enough.

Actually, my wife’s birthday is Tuesday and we’re going to make our annual Provo River tubing family excursion, where we float uncontrollably, bash into branches on the banks and try not run over other people also tubing on the river. So that ought to spice things up.

Stay safe, mask up and have a great week.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at

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