Trying to Stay Perfect Against the Pokes

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Wyoming is one of five MWC teams yet to beat the Bronco Mendenhall-led BYU Cougars, and it's no surprise when you see how the two teams have taken care of the ball in their four most recent meetings.


Since Bronco took over, BYU has not committed a single turnover against the Cowboys. Wyoming, meantime, has 14 giveaways against the Cougars.

How unusual is the zero turnover number against Wyoming? BYU has turned it over at least five times against every other team in the league since the start of the 2005 season.

Here's the turnover margin breakdown for BYU against every member of the Mountain West Conference (under Mendenhall):

v. Air Force: BYU +4 (6 giveaways/10 takeaways; BYU is 4-0 v. Air Force)

v. Colorado State: BYU -5 (10/5; BYU is 5-0 v. Colorado State)

v. New Mexico: BYU +6 (5/11; BYU is 4-0 v. New Mexico)

v. San Diego State: BYU +3 (6/9; BYU is 4-1 v. San Diego State)

v. TCU: BYU -6 (10/4; BYU is 2-3 v. TCU)

v. UNLV: BYU +9 (5/14; BYU is 5-0 v. UNLV)

v. Utah: BYU -7 (9/2; BYU is 2-2 v. Utah)

v. Wyoming: BYU +14 (0/14; BYU is 4-0 v. Wyoming)


Clearly, BYU's combined 4-5 record against TCU and Utah owes a great deal to its combined turnover margin of -13. It's not only that the Frogs and Utes win in the margin, it's that in nine combined meetings, those two teams have turned it over only six times against BYU, compared to the Cougars' 19 miscues.

More telling: in the four wins v. TCU/Utah, BYU is +1; in the five setbacks, BYU is -14.

Colorado State jumps out as an anomaly, as the Rams have averaged only one turnover per game in five meetings with BYU, yet CSU has lost all five games. In those five meetings, BYU has averaged a more or less robust 34 points per game, helping to offset the negative margin.


One of the reasons Wyoming has already equaled last year's win total is the Pokes' improved ball security. Last season, the Cowboys were ranked 118th of 119 teams in turnover margin, with 36 giveaways and only 14 takeaways.

This year, the Pokes are 17th nationally in turnover margin, with 14 takeaways, but only seven giveaways. Clearly, a lack of discipline became the hallmark of Joe Glenn's last few Wyoming teams, and new head coach Dave Christensen said turnovers were the one area thing he thought his team could turn around the quickest, and so far, that focus has paid dividends.


More turnover talk...

BYU has the most turnover trouble in the third quarter; the Cougars are -6 in the 15 minutes coming out of the halftime lockerroom--they are even or plus in the margin in the 1st, 2nd and 4th quarters.

BYU's third quarters in general have been pretty dismal, and the opening drives of the second half have been particularly troublesome.

In eight possessions to open the second half, BYU has four punts, three interceptions and a turnover on downs.


BYU hasn't lost often under Bronco Mendenhall, but lately, when the Cougars lose, they lose big. Bronco's worst margins of defeat in conference play have been the Cougars' last three league losses, and all have come in the last calendar year:

TCU 2008, L 32-7 (-25)

Utah 2008, L 48-24 (-24)

TCU 2009, L 38-7 (-31)


Other "big losses" under Bronco (17 points or more):

Florida State 2009, L 54-28 (-26)

Notre Dame 2005, L 49-23 (-26)

SDSU 2005, L 31-10 (-21)

Boston College 2005, L 20-3 (-17)


Random notes:

BYU has won its last four games following a bye week.

The Cougars went undefeated in league play in 2006 and 2007. In the other three conference seasons under Bronco Mendenhall, TCU handed the Cougars their first conference loss.

Bronco Mendenhall's November record is 13-2 (both losses to Utah, in 2005 and 2008).

Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham both got their first head coaching jobs in 2005. They are tied with each other and lead in wins, among coaches hired in '05:

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU/Kyle Whittingham, Utah: 44-15

Charlie Weis, Notre Dame: 35-23

Skip Holtz, East Carolina: 34-24

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: 33-25

Bill Cubit, Western Michigan: 32-25

Dave Wannstedt, Pittsburgh: 32-24

Mark Snyder, Marshall: 21-35

Mike Sanford, UNLV: 14-42

There were four other coaches hired to their first FBS head job in 2005; all have already been fired or resigned.


Tonight's "Bronco Mendenhall Show" is live at Ken Garff Ford in American Fork, starting at 7:00 pm.

You can pose questions to the coach by e-mail ( or via text message (57500).

Iceberg Drive-Inn will be there of course with free burgers and drinks until they're gone. And don't forget to text the word "cougars" to 89800 and get a special text sent to you for a $3.99 combo that includes the Iceburger (double meat double cheese with grilled onions), fries and a drink--you'll also be entered to win a free shake. There will be 50 winners a week.

All of the Iceberg stores are being alerted so that BYU fans can redeem the text.


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