BYU vs. Air Force: What I Liked and Didn't Like

After reviewing the Air Force game tape three times and breaking down the plays, there's obviously a lot more NOT to like than like.

I like the potential of this BYU football team. The offense is showing signs of breaking out as the starting freshmen gain more experience and become more consistent. Meanwhile, it's not a great time to be a diehard Cougar fan. I believe this will become a productive offense in time.

I don't like how long it's taking this offense to develop. They looked bad against Stanford, but showed improvement in a losing effort to Air Force last Saturday.

I'd liked to think BYU's offense was on the brink of becoming its old prolific self. I'm now of the mind it may take longer than expected for the offense to find its game. While they may indeed improve, it does not look like they will be breaking out into once-was-normal 40-point blowouts anytime soon. Prior to the game against Air Force, I ventured this was a critical breaking point game for the Cougars. It didn't happen. Does it mean this team, or more specifically this offense, won't be effective any time this season? No, it just means more struggles are on the way and that Crowton's offense isn't as close to clicking as was previously hoped. We're in for a slug-em-out season.

I don't like BYU's offense averaging a mere 11.3 points per game over the last three games. We can throw one of those out due to the adverse circumstances of the New Mexico game, but that still leaves BYU averaging 12 points per a game against decent defenses at Stanford and Air Force. Hard to win games with those numbers, regardless of how well our defense is playing.

I liked how BYU defended the option while limiting Chance Harridge to only 20 yards rushing. I liked the defensive scheme with Manaia Brown playing defensive end and Brady Poppinga as a roving linebacker. Both are incredible athletes whose tremendous abilities must be highlighted even more against future opponents.

I don't like the defensive lineman, who shall remain nameless, biting all over the fake to the fullback on two of the most crucial downs during the game. One of them came on Air Force's first touchdown; the other, on the most crucial of 3rd and 10 after Jernaro Gilford dropped a would-be interception. The Falcons fullback on the dive play is the nose guard's responsibility. If the defensive end gets sucked in, the Air Force option is bound to generate yards – this defensive end is crucial in stringing out the option, but didn't do it. I can't recall many yards by Air Force on the dive play, so why double-team it?

I liked the Cougar defense as a whole. They played well, for the most part, and again played well enough to win the game.

I don't like the interception dropped balls by Mike Tanner and Gilford. With the offense playing as poorly as they are, BYU must not give up these types of possible turnovers – that could have changed the course of the game, rubber cast or not. Gilford and Tanner both played well otherwise.

I liked the arm-strength and mobility that true freshman quarterback John Beck continues to show. I liked how Coach Crowton rolled Beck out more in this game and use of the option play. These are areas that Beck excels in.

I don't like how Beck handled the blitz. Teams are quickly learning that Beck has trouble checking off and hitting a receiver on a hot route when the defense shows blitz. He prefers to fade back and huck it deep. This is the biggest difference of having Beck start compared with Matt Berry. Berry showed he could burn a blitz by immediately looking to the place the blitz was coming from, standing in the pocket, and delivering it on a hot route. Beck still tends to fade away from the blitz and doesn't pick up the hot routes. This will come with time and experience.

I liked the pass protection provided by the offensive line. Beck did not take many hits in the pocket during Saturday's game and credit goes to the offensive line. They're not close to where they should be, but it was apparent, reviewing the game tape repeatedly, that the offensive line gave adequate protection on most passing plays.

I don't like the run-blocking, but its coming. Crowton stuck with it during this game. The prime example, coming midway though the second quarter, when Brathwaite ran for three yards on first down, Crowton called Brathwaite's number on second down where he ran up the middle for six yards, followed by Tahi pounding it up the middle for 2 yards. Effective running attacks need rhythm and patience. Crowton worked with the run game and it started to shine as the game progressed. This game saw a lot more two-back sets and consecutive running plays. This is something I hope Crowton sticks with. I believe it will become a strength – if he's patient enough with it.

I liked the play-calling much better this week than during last week's debacle against Stanford. Crowton called a good game, for the most part, using a good mix of run versus pass. Crowton showed more patience this week with the play-calling although Beck is still trying to hit the home-run more often than is warranted.

I didn't like the stretch hand-off call on a crucial third and short on BYU's final drive. BYU was in obvious four-down territory at that point and choosing any play that takes a long time to develop with a chance to lose more than two yards is hard to understand.

I liked the play of Manaia Brown. He's proving to be all that he was hyped to be – and then some. He's a defensive tackle with insane speed and burst off the snap of the ball for a guy well over 300 pounds. I liked how Mendenhall used him and I like that he's playing more. This needs to continue.

I liked the play of Chad Barney. We haven't heard much from Barney since he filled in for injured Brandon Heaney and that is a very good thing for a cornerback. Barney is quietly doing an outstanding job providing run support and locking down receivers in coverage.

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