I called the game 35-10, and I have to say, I was much closer to the actual score than many of the people I heard from before the game. Apologies accepted. A lot of people are really down on BYU this week because of the bad loss, but don’t forget – it was TCU this week, not Utah State. We have a lot to be excited about, because there were several positives that I saw during the game. Let’s take a look at how things went for the Cougars.
Offense. I’m not going to say much about the offense this week. The 119th best passing attack went against the #1 defense (points against). The Cougars had a scoring drive against TCU, notching a field goal, and ending TCU’s two game shutout streak. Kudos to the offense for scoring. They will have opportunities to look better over the next several weeks. One note though: play calling continues to bewilder me. First BYU drive of the second half ends on a 4th and 1 attempt on the BYU 48. I realize that we were down 17-0, and it didn’t cost us on the next drive, but at this point in the game it seems a punt still makes sense. Poor decision making and miscues led to short fields for TCU’s offense, and a tough game for BYU’s defense.
Offensive changes. O’Neil Chambers has been suspended for the remainder of the season (reasons not yet made pubic). Bronco Mendenhall continues to support Anae’s play-calling, but you have to imagine that the next four games are must-wins for Anae to keep his position. He’s currently sporting the 119th best passing attack in the country. Yeah, out of 120. While a mid-season replacement isn’t readily available as Mendenhall was to take over as DC, Brandon Doman might make a decent interim OC. After all, can he really make things any worse? (I know, not a good argument for anything, but…)
Defense. Until 1:30 remaining in the second quarter, the BYU defense held TCU to only 3 points. TCU’s first five drives ended like this: punt, punt, FG, turnover on downs, punt. This from a top ten scoring offense that averages more than 40 points per game. For 28:30 of the game, the Cougars were within one score of TCU.
3rd Quarter. This was the best quarter for the Cougars – TCU’s three drives this quarter each ended in a punt, and this is the quarter when BYU scored their field goal. As I tweeted during the game – BYU won this quarter 3-0. TCU has only “lost” one other quarter this year – the third quarter against Baylor, when the Bears outscored the Frogs 7-3.
Rush Defense. BYU’s goal was to make TCU one-dimensional. The Bronco D held a top ten rushing offense (averaging around 270 rushing yards per game) to just 108. They forced Andy Dalton to beat them through the air, and for much of the day, they frustrated his attempts to do so.
TCU’s Patterson not so Saintly. For someone who professes to not care about style points, the call on 4th and 3 (from the BYU 21 with 4:26 to go, and already leading 24-3) to throw the ball into the end-zone seems a bit odd. Why not make the classy move and kick the field goal? Here’s why: because 31-3 looks a lot better than 27-3. Because Patty cares about what voters will think of the score, even if he won’t admit it.
What we know about TCU
TCU is 5th in the overall BCS standings, just released this weekend. They are a team that dominates you on both sides of the ball. They don’t make mistakes, and they capitalize on yours. Next week they’re heading on to face a weakened Air Force team, but the date that they’ll have circled on their calendar is November 6th, when they face Utah in Salt Lake City. They’re on the road to a BCS bowl, and a potential national title.
What we know about BYU
BYU turned a corner when Bronco reclaimed the defense and pulled out a win against San Diego State. You don’t necessarily want to face TCU the week after turning a corner like that, but I believe that the positives we saw this week from the Cougars are enough to be happy about. The BYU defense played nearly three great quarters – the first 28:30, and the third quarter. In the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome the inept offense, but the defense played with fire and executed above expectations. BYU’s schedule gets considerably easier over the next four games. The combined record of their first seven opponents? 33-13. The next four? 5-22. The upcoming games are against Wyoming (2-5), UNLV (1-6), at Colorado State (2-5), and against New Mexico (0-6). If the Cougars win those, they will be 6-5, and bowl eligible.