Final Football Thoughts

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good to be back on the blog, after a busy few days away. Between game prep for the Las Vegas Bowl, game prep for the BYU-SUU basketball game, and traveling back and forth for both games, this is my first real chance to sit down and tap out a few leftover thoughts from the weekend that was.


As readers of the blog have noted, sometimes I contribute a few entries a day, other times a few days pass between posts--but hopefully, you all check back from time to time to see what's up on "Cougar Tracks." It's enjoyable for me, and I trust it is for you folks, too, but hey, I know I'm no Rhiannon Potkey--she's simply awesome. She covers the team as well as anyone, and when it comes to sheer volume and valuable content, she is the best blogger out there.

Not to ignore the other fine print journalists who write and blog and cover the Cougs in exemplary fashion--Dick Harmon, Jeff Call, Scott Taylor, Darnell Dickson and Jason Franchuk--all great writers, hard workers and good people. BYU fans are lucky to have media members like the above mentioned scribes working to cover BYU the way they do.


Well... what a weekend!

While BYU has certainly lost its share of heartbreakers in the Bronco Mendenhall era (TCU and Utah wins in OT in 2005, Beck's late int in the bowl game versus Cal in '05, Arizona win on last second FG in 2006, BC win in 2OT in '06, running out of time at Tulsa in '07, etc.), this BYU football team has found ways to make dramatic escapes the norm over the last couple of seasons.

Eathyn Manumaleuna's last second blocked fg creates the the "Holy Trinity" of BYU Football miracle finishes, joining "Beck to Harline" and "4th and 18."


As those who listened to the call at the time can attest, I couldn't tell immediately if the kick has merely been mis-hit or had been touched, but looking at the spin, I then asked "who got it?," since the trajectory of the ball appeared to have been altered somewhat. Indeed, once I looked up and got a glance at the TV screen in the booth, I made out Manumaleuna's hand and saw for myself.

Even though Manu got a hand on it, the short distance to the crossbar still left some wiggle room, and as the ball fluttered toward the uprights, we all wondered: "is it going to get there?" Happily for BYU, the answer was no.


While it was a great block, and testament to the notion of "playing until the final play," it looks like Kai Forbath's kick was low, and gave Manu the chance to make the block.

I was talking to a UCLA coach Sunday morning at the hotel, and he said something along the lines of "when a nose tackle blocks a kick standing almost flat-footed, you know the kick was low coming off the foot." The coach said Forbath said he thought he hit it solidly, but this coach noted that review of the tape showed it was probably too low for as short a field as it was.

Either way, it's amazing that a guy who had missed only 4 of 29 field goals all year to that point would miss a chip shot only 8 yards longer than a PAT. But, magic happens, right?


Marc Lyons and I ran into Bruce Davis and Trey Brown at the hotel restaurant after the game (it was actually about 1:00 in the morning as we were coming to the place and they were going out), and we stopped and talked to both of them for a bit.

I told Davis that Max Hall told us on the air he tried unsuccessfully to find Davis after the game to give him kudos, and Davis said "when you see Max Hall, you tell him I think he's a great player and played a great game."

I asked him about the injury he appeared to pick up in the game, and he told me the medical staff thought his ribs were cracked, but that they were just bruised. I could tell watching him he was sore as he got up from his table, and it reminded me of his earlier comment to me during the week that the first BYU game was the "most physical game he had ever played in." Maybe BYU now occupies his "top two."

Either way, Bruce Davis is one heck of a player, and a gracious guy. Yes, he's an absolute maniac at game time (borderline psychotic at times), but he has everything it takes to make it to the next level. He told me molds himself after guys like Dwight Freeney and Jason Taylor--undersized defensive linemen who dominate with a combination of speed, killer moves and incredible desire. Max Hall will not miss Bruce Davis on September 13th.


By the way, Marc Lyons told Trey Brown he was a "stud," and Brown said BYU "played a great game."


I drove a KSL vehicle to Vegas and back (but flew between Vegas and SLC for the basketball game), so I was on the road for a few hours on Sunday. It was fun to see as many BYU fans on I-15 with me as I made my north. Since I was in a marked vehicle, and since my balding head is probably somewhat distinctive by this point in my life, I was greeted by more than a few fans at 75 mph, and it was nice sharing a smile with a few of you, knowing we all had a great time together at Sam Boyd Stadium. Let's do it again next year (if we're not all making travel plans for a BCS game)!


We had some problems with our game audio on the online archive page. The last couple of plays of the fourth quarter (imagine that) and the last couple of hours of postgame coverage are currently missing. Fear not, our tech people have been made aware, and the missing audio wil be posted soon (how soon, I can't say, since it's Christmas week and work schedules may be a little tricky), so check back to see when things are up and running. I'll make you aware as I know more, too.





Thanks, by the way, for every one of who takes the time to read and listen to what it is I'm doing. My profession is a pleasure since it taps into my passion for BYU sports, and I hope that passion comes acros as you log on or tune in.

I appreciate the feedback of the Cougar fan base, and welcome your thoughts, questions, and opinions.

Once again, thanks for helping make this past season a great season for us on KSL!


Basketball notes: The nationally-ranked Cougars are cruising along right now, but with two of their next three games on the road, their ranking will be well-tested. BYU has to play at 8-3 Boise State Saturday night, and if that looks like a landmine to you, it does to me, too. BYU doesn't have a history of playing its best basketball at Taco Bell Arena, having "dropped the chalupa" a time or two up there. It's a scary game, but a great win if the Cougs can get it--since the Broncos are already getting pub as the "best team in the WAC" to this point in the season. Boise State just came back from down 14 in the second half to win at Albany, so the team has confidence. Keep in mind, BSU did lose at home to Loyola Marymount--a team that lost to Long Beach State, which of course, is a team BYU beat by 40. So I'm just saying, the Cougs can win this game. They can't go through the motions and win it, but if they play well, they'll be 11-2 Saturday night.

A home game with Loyola Marymount (speak of the devil) will be followed by a road game at Wake Forest in the Cougars' non-conference finale. Great year to play Wake, and a good RPI win if they get it (on the road in the ACC).


Are you folks noticing how frequently BYU's name pops up among national hoops commentators these days? The Cougars have a distinct national "buzz" right now, and I think some of the credit is owed to a recuperating Dick Vitale (throat surgery) and his exuberant pronouncements hailing the Cougars when they played North Carolina a few weeks ago. Certainly the Cougars have done most of this on their own, but one dose of "Dickie V" can go a long, long way.


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