No sweat, you say? These are, after all, the Cougars of BYU… known the world over as the traditional home of one of college football's most potent offensive programs.
Not these Cougars. Not this year. Not yet.
1st and Goal from Stanford nine yard line: BYU quarterback John Beck takes a five step drop back and is sacked for a 10-yard loss by Stanford's Jon Alston. BYU calls a timeout with 39 seconds to go.
2nd and Goal from the Stanford 18: Beck takes a three step drop and hurls it to receiver Chris Hale in the right corner of the end zone. The ball is batted down from Hale's grasp by a Cardinal defender.
3rd and Goal from the Stanford 18: Beck takes a two-step drop and flicks a quick out to running back Marcus Whalen for no gain. Whalen had the sense to run out of bounds and stop the clock.
4th and Goal from the Stanford 18 with 29 seconds to go: Beck takes a five step drop and makes his second cardinal mistake of the drive (final for the game) when he is sacked for another 10-yard loss by defensive lineman Jared Newberry.
Stanford took over on downs with 23 seconds remaining, ran out the clock and off with the game in BYU's most disappointing loss in a long time.
"You're talking to me after a loss and I am so angry," BYU head coach Gary Crowton told reporters after the game. "I'm trying to be poised here. To be honest with you, I'm just eaten up inside because I hate losing and I know the team's that way."
In the quarterback duel of the throwing freshmen, Beck (true freshman) bested Stanford's Trent Edwards (redshirt freshman) by completing 22 of 45 throws with two interceptions for 279 yards. Edwards, considered by some in the same league as BYU high school All-American Ben Olson, completed 10 of 23 attempts for two interceptions and only 25 yards.
Stanford also sacked Beck four times for a total loss of 32 yards; two in the most critical final series. The Cougars defense applied pressure throughout the game on the young Cardinal quarterback, sacking Edwards five times for a total loss of 47 yards.
Edwards, however, was the difference-maker and game-breaker, with two sterling runs on bootleg fakes. He scored the game-winning touchdown of a 14-yard run with 3:51 remaining in the game.
While Beck threw for some respectable numbers, the Cougar running backs, with starter Whalen playing in limited minutes, combined for a horrendous minus five yards in net rushing for the game. Stanford ended up with 144 yards in net rushing.
The Cardinal exposed, in critical situations, the weaknesses of the Cougar offensive line and inexperienced quarterback John Beck, making his first start in place of an injured Matt Berry
More importantly, the Cougars offense looked sluggish through most of the game. Freshman tight end Daniel Coats indicated in post-game comments to reporters that "we had a real rough week at practice. I don't think we came out fully ready. We just need to work harder."
Speaking of himself, Coats said, "I feel like I was getting a little too cocky, like we were doing good. In a way, this loss was good for us so we can go out and practice harder."
Crowton congratulated the Stanford team with a simple statement. "I want to give Stanford a lot of credit. They took advantage of opportunities that came their way."
As frustrated as he was, Crowton was not interested in making any excuses. "If we go out making excuses like we're young and this and that, we're not helping our team get any better. If we're young, then we have to learn fast," he said.
The bottom line? "We had a young quarterback and (Stanford) did, too. It was a close game. They won and we lost – that's the bottom line," Crowton said.
The real bottom line is, regardless of injuries, this was a game BYU had no reason to lose. Simply put, they had it and they blew it.
There is no consolation in the final score if the Cougars continually kill the momentum generated by its impressive defense with mental errors and dumb penalties that still rear their ugly head after four weeks into this season. It's all about discipline and execution.
BYU's offense – coaches and players – owe their defensive counterparts a sincere and collective apology for stinking up the joint (LaVell Edwards Stadium) last night.
They owe them the same 110% effort and intensity in practice and games that Bronco Mendenhall demands of his charges. The Cougars defense is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they have played well enough to give Gary Crowton an undefeated record going into the Air Force game next Saturday.
The biggest joke of the post-game was defensive end Brady Poppinga trying to cover for his offensive brethren: "We're not pointing fingers at the offense. We felt like we could have gone out and not allowed them to score a touchdown and held them to a field goal. That would have taken a lot of pressure off the offense to score a touchdown."
Even with its significant injuries, this is a BYU offense with the talent to be much better than they have shown after four games into the season. There is absolutely no excuse for the dumb and dumber penalties (8 for 76 yards last night) that must be more effectively addressed in practice.
This is an offense that still needs to learn how to win games rather than trying not to lose them. It's mostly mental and it's driving BYU fans and Gary Crowton nuts.
1st Quarter: 4:33 – Toby Christensen caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from John Beck (Matt Payne converted). Score: BYU 7 – Stanford 0.
1:54 – Stanford's Kenneth Tolon on a 4-yard touchdown run (Michael Sgroi PAT blocked by BYU's Manaia Brown). Score: BYU 7 – Stanford 6.
3rd Quarter: 9:14 – Michael Sgroi kicked a 38-yard field goal. Score: BYU 7 – Stanford 9.
0:10 – Daniel Coats catches an over-the-shoulder 31-yard touchdown pass on a trick play from back up quarterback Lance Pendleton (Payne converted PAT). Score: BYU 14 – Stanford 9.
4th Quarter: 8:50 – Michael Sgroi kicked a 24-yard field goal. Score: BYU 14 – Stanford 12.
3:51 – Trent Edwards 14-yard touchdown run (Edwards' two-point conversion pass failed). Score: Stanford 18 – BYU 14.
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