Bruce and Bruce
Episode 42 – Uninspiring wins from BYU and Utah
Listen Here! Zach and I were able to get together last Saturday and watch both Utah vs. Utah State and New Mexico vs. BYU. It was not the first time we had watched games together, of course, but it’s pretty rare that we have a chance to do it. It was good to see Utah get a cruise-control victory in the driving snow. It was also nice to find out that BYU could stumble a bit against a motivated opponent, and still pull out a win. After the game we celebrated by playing a few rounds of FIFA ’06 on my Xbox. A good time was had by all. The problems surrounding the University of Utah have been ground up by the local media (including us, if we qualify as “media”) for several weeks, now. It started as a bad luck story with key players out with injuries, turned very bright for one week, and now seems to have settled into understanding. My current diagnosis is that Utah is just a mediocre team that played dynamite for one week. Under this theory, the “inconsistency” I have mentioned before is changed to read “mediocrity.” Yes, they put up 34 points last Saturday, but that was against a below-average team. Not to mention Utah State scored 18 in the process. We should have a handle on this team after five games, but the anomaly of Utah/UCLA still looms large. If they lose big this Friday at Louisville (as, unfortunately, I am expecting) then the “mediocre” definition will probably stick. If Utah manages to keep the score close and look good (or, in another shock, win), then we may have to back to the drawing board. I am tempted to hope for a loss, just so we can finally figure this team out. Of course, my internal fan won’t let me make that mental jump. The bigger story this week was BYU’s timely win at New Mexico. Watching the game as a somewhat less passionate fan (I couldn’t wear one of those “Fully Invested” shirts – it just wouldn’t be right) I can say that New Mexico has good athletes, they scouted BYU well (point courtesy of Zach), and were excited and prepared. The Cougars, on the other hand, did not play a great game. The offense had trouble moving the ball, the defense seemed confused much of the time, and they were relying on athleticism and big plays to win. Where it becomes good news for Cougar fans is they still managed to win. The score was close at the end, but BYU played through a bad week, on the road, and pulled out a victory. I don’t know whether to credit superior talent or better coaching, because I don’t think BYU is much better in either of those categories. After the game, UNM head coach Rocky Long said BYU deserved to win, but they are not a better team than New Mexico. I can’t say I completely agree with that, but the difference in talent level is much closer than blinkered BYU fans may think. Not having seen any other New Mexico games this year I can’t evaluate their relative level of play. It could be that they stalled a bit, as well. Regardless, I wonder if Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s emphasis on mental toughness and discipline made the difference against New Mexico. BYU has been an oft-penalized team this season and has turned the ball over with disappointing frequency, both of which are always pointed to as a lack of discipline. The penalties and turnovers were still there, but it could be that his young team finally understood what Mendenhall has been yelling about all this time and won the game on sheer determination. There is much more in the podcast, including a conversation about the Utah win, more on BYU and a vaguely-interested discussion of Real Salt Lake. Our Top 3 in Utah for this week: 3. Derrek Richards 2. Bryan Kehl 1. Darrell Mack Thanks to our listener who submitted a reader e-mail this week! We hope to hear from many more in the future. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.