|Assoc. Press file photo|
Recently, a Florida pastor was in hot water for considering a plan to Burn the Qu'ran on 9/11. I won't get into the dastardly thought of this sophomoric middle-ager, but I will present a better idea:
Burn your BYU diplomas on 9/11.
I'll admit it: I was ashamed at the way the Cougars played on Sept. 11 against the Air Force Academy. I know it's nice to show some respect on Patriot Day, but the way the Falcons ran the ball and scored at will in a 35-14 home win was too easy.
Lest we forget, this is the same AFA squad that currently ranks third in the nation in rushing. And with ground powers Georgia Tech and Army struggling a bit, the Falcons could have the most potent triple-option offense in the NCAA.
Still, that's no excuse. BYU was outprepared, outmanaged and outplayed in its final trip to Colorado Springs, Colo. before making the run for Division I football independence next year. If they play more games like this, ESPN will yank its exclusive contract with the Cougars faster than the NCAA vacates John Calipari's Final Four appearances.
Here are three quick thoughts on the game, if you can call it that:
1. HOPEFULLY THIS DISPELS THE "TWO-HEADED QUARTERBACK" MYTH. A few fans and media have spoken out against it, but there was too much support for BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's plan to rotate quarterbacks Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps all season. After the Cougars' narrow home win over Washington, many fans started to think that "maybe this can work."
News flash: it can't. Two starting quarterbacks = no starting quarterbacks. And with the BYU offense unable to find a suitable rhythm, fans can expect more of this week's box score. The Cougars managed two touchdowns on the ground, even looking fairly comfortable on the opening drive, but when the leading receiver only has 37 yards on three receptions — while playing from behind for more than 50 percent of the game — you've got to find a true signal caller.
2. JAKE HEAPS NEEDS TO HUMBLE HIMSELF WITH A BACK-UP YEAR. I know many fans are going to blame this loss on Nelson, especially since the junior option-like quarterback took over in the second half as the BYU defense gave up. Still, the loss shouldn't rest on his shoulders — nor on BYU's running game (although that goal-line fumble by J.J. DiLuigi was dastardly).
Nelson and DiLuigi accounted for BYU's only offensive punch, with each rushing for a touchdown. Also, duo ran for 95 and 103 yards, respectively; not a bad day's work. And while Nelson was only 8 of 19 for 73 yards in the air, he kept the ball cleanly thrown and away from defenders. Heaps, despite his intentions, seemed lost on the sidelines after his final play — an interception to AFA cornerback Reggie Rembert. He didn't seem to overcome the pick well, which is understandable for it being his first college turnover. But it's those kinds of maturity issues that can be overcome with a solid year of being the No. 2 guy.
Besides, plenty of great BYU quarterbacks have spent a year on the scout team, including Cougar/San Francisco 49ers legend Steve Young, and BYU career wins leader/Arizona Cardinals backup Max Hall.
3. ROBERT ANAE SHOULD BE FIRED. I failed to mention it last week, because I didn't want to spoil a BYU win over yet-another-Pac-What school, but the Cougars' offensive coordinator appears to be in over his head. He fails to respond to defensive pressure, and appears so intent on running his offense and his schemes that I wonder if he even sees what's going on from his press box vantage point. It seemed like most of Nelson's "what now?" moments came because the offense had no idea what they were supposed to do, which assignments to pick up, and how to maneuver around Air Force's defensive system.
Please, Bronco, do the right thing; let Anae go so that we can get a true play caller. Loyalty aside, it's about time. He's had a mediocre run, so why are we embarrassing him any further?