Scrummin’ Utes drop close contest to BYU (DailyUtahChronicle.com)
Wasatch Cup 2010: BYU Kicks Its Way to Win (BYURugby.com)
Davies Boots BYU Past Utah (RugbyMag.com)
Homecoming Recap (BYURugby.com)
College: Western Scores (AmericanRugbyNews.com)
CougarCast: Dylan Lubbe (BYURugby.com)
CougarCast: Justen Nadauld (BYURugby.com)
Now, just a few thoughts looking back at last weekend.
What a game, folks! The more I reflect on it in terms of the bigger picture, I think it was so much more amazing than I originally realized. Think of it: top-ranked BYU and Utah play each other before a packed house, on a pristine field, on a national television network... Not more than a few years ago, any coach or player wouldn't have believed it possible to have such an opportunity for a regular season game! And people have taken notice... even Coach Jack Clark of Cal Berkeley (in his final comments on ARN's "CollegeTalk", Episode 21) mentioned how impressive everything was about the game and its venue as he watched on BYU-TV (maybe even cheered for BYU a little too... maybe??). :D
And think of this fact: the final score of 15-10 is one of the lowest scores I've ever seen between BYU and Utah... True, it was a sloppy game for both teams, but it was obviously a very competitive and balanced match-up. The score can't hide that fact. Let's just say that Utah is nearly back in elite form, and BYU needs to step it up lest they be overtaken. With all of these thoughts, I must make another pitch for the upcoming "Utah Rugby College Showdown" in which BYU again faces Utah, March 24th, in Rio Tinto Stadium! Talk about potential for an unbelievable match!! And what a game it will be in one of the largest sporting venues in Utah before hosts of rugby fans!!!
Before that day comes, however, both teams have a load of work to do. Both sides' execution, or lack thereof, was characterized by errors leading to penalties and turnovers: Utah's issues with poor ball handling and not releasing the ball in the ruck; BYU's issues with offsides at the breakdown and shoddy, embarrassing line-outs. I would spend a whole page just venting on these points of failure, but suffice it to say that they are unacceptable if BYU wishes to be competitive in the National Tournament, let alone dominant. I mean, to not score a single try in a game is unheard of for BYU... for a reason. These aren't the kind of struggles that BYU coaches want to see at this point in the season, especially with a subsequent match against Utah on the docket as well as a meeting with San Diego State and tough playoff tests immediately thereafter. Sorry fellas, but you can't afford to make those mistakes... you can only afford improvement.
On a brighter note, the BYU defensive effort was relatively encouraging. The return of inside center Tupu Folau added some juice to the mix by smothering the threat of Thretton Palamo. Additionally, the fire possessed and second efforts displayed by the deep three of Andrew Harrison, Ryan Blaser, and Lelann Latu were impressive; it's always fun to see freshman players (the latter two) step up to the plate and meet the opposition. And don't forget the BYU scrum, holding up well despite the loss of big prop Mike Price and lock Isikeli Volavola to injury. Good work fellas; you really dodged a bullet, but let's use it to wax smarter and stronger! We want to keep seeing that new BYU Rugby Haka as often as possible!!!
Finally, I want to express my gratitude for the boot of Shaun Davies... worth all the praise we BYU Rugby fans can offer! (Enjoy the Paul Meyers photo, his best in my opinion, from last year's semifinal match against San Diego State) Thanks to Our Boys for the Wasatch Cup win, and we look forward to some more great games in the coming weeks! Go Cougars!!!