BYU-Arizona: Las Vegas Bowl Recap

JeremySenior Writer IDecember 24, 2008


I was waiting a few days to write this article, just so that a proper recap could be done. Plus, I did not want this to be a year in review for BYU—that will come later.

Vegas must know something making Arizona a three-point favorite in this game.

This loss goes more on the coaches than the players. This staff thinks their plays are what make the team go and that these plays, if run correctly, will work. Not the case, because in their three losses the coaches refused to make changes to run different plays.

In the Utah game the Utes were letting Harvey Unga run at will with a 7.1 yard average per rush, but the Cougars decided to pass because they thought that was their strength against Utah.

Then against TCU, BYU just ran the same plays and were outmanned in the loss in Fort Worth.

In this game the defense gets most of the blame. First off, defensive coordinator Jamie Hill does not use David Nixon the way he should be used, which is to allow him to blitz more often. Instead the Cougars ran a vanilla defense and had to drop linebackers in coverage since the Cougar secondary players are too slow and unathletic to play the position.

BYU did their standard by having the corners at least eight yards off the line of scrimmage and allowing Arizona to run short routes and quick throws to methodically march down the field.

How about using a blitz defense, BYU, or maybe bump coverage with safety help to allow Jan Jorgensen and the rest of the BYU defense to at least get within arm's length of Arizona’s quarterback Willie Tuitama?

The offense for BYU put up numbers but did not produce. Austin Collie had his usual game of over 100 yards receiving, as did Michael Reed. However, again BYU did not utilize the running game with Harvey Unga. He did run 17 times for 71 yards, which is 4.1 per carry—pretty good but not great.

The question is, why not use him more instead of forcing Max Hall to throw the ball, who again had trouble in the turnover department with the pick and two fumbles because his offensive line could not protect him.

BYU fans can say the reffing was bad, but so can Arizona for the calls that were made. The main fact that the BYU staff showed they can beat up on bad opponents is false, because they had trouble against Washington, Colorado State, and UNLV, who all are not good teams.

Those penalties cost you at tying the game on several situations, and the three straight penalties to end the half that resulted in a missed 40-yard field goal really hurt BYU, who could have been tied at 10 instead of down three.

Arizona played the better game here. Willie Tuitama had two touchdown passes over 20 yards and abused the BYU secondary with 325 yards in the air.

The Arizona coaches knew exactly what to do since they did play each other the previous two years, and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall could take a cue from Mike Stoops by game planning for the opponent. Stoops used tape to expose BYU’s defense, who did not blitz very often, and the secondary, which is suspect at best.

It is hard to rip a staff and team that went 10-3, but with the expectations of "The Quest," this season was a failure because it was BCS or bust this year.

The coaches need to put their players in better positions to succeed for next season by not sitting on their high horse and saying if our plays are executed, we will win. Why not mix up the plays and run Collie on a slant instead of a double move deep throw, or use Pita on something other then an across the middle route?

Not sure if BYU did not want to be there or if Arizona was pumped to be in their first bowl in a decade, but the Cougars were exposed again.

This bowl game made BYU 2-2 in their last four bowl games, all of which were at the Las Vegas Bowl, and for Arizona this was their first bowl win since 1998, when they won the Holiday Bowl to finish 12-1.

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