Déjà Vu in Tan & Blue

When was the last time BYU scored 41 points in one half of a game? It was, in fact, Dec. 1, 2001. The Cougars have scored more than 41 points only twice since then – once a year in both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. As I watched the Air Force game last Saturday, I had a delightful déjà vu moment.

Is this…?

Couldn't be…

What year is it?

For a minute, I thought I saw Reno Mahe catching passes, Luke Staley slicing through secondaries and Brandon Doman finding every receiver on the roster.

Who's calling these plays? Who's executing this offense to perfection? It's déjà vu! I think I've seen this before! Check out this statistical comparison of last week's game against Air Force and the 2001 game against Mississippi State.


First Downs................... 23 / 28
Rushes-Net Yards............ 39-173 / 43-139
Passing - Net Yards............. 354 / 390
Passes Attempts - Comp-INT........... 32-21-1 / 32-23-3
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS -YARDS..... 71-527 / 75-529
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-27 - 2-18
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 1-11 / 7-147
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 / 1-9
Punts (Number - Average)............ 3-42.3 / 4-25.3
Fumbles - Lost.................. 2-1 / 1-1
Penalties - Yards............... 9-70 / 9-70
Time of Possession............... 30:33 / 36:37
Sacks By: Number - Yards........ 3-20 / 1-7

I know, it's eerie. Except for the kickoff returns, these stats couldn't be closer. Also, consider the many other things that made BYU's offense against Air Force seem like the ghost of 2001 on the field …

* In the second half, BYU was 6-6 in possessions and scoring
* They were 4-4 in red zone scoring
* The average time of possession on a scoring drive was 2:28 minutes
* The team ran a successful flee flicker and fake punt
* Cougars were 2-2 on fourth down conversions

All of the sudden, Gary Crowton's play calling seemed two steps ahead of the competition. Everything worked; everyone was involved; everyone was happy!

The similarities are almost uncanny. What caused this déjà vu? Where did this blast from the past come from?

Have the Cougars finally turned the corner? Did someone turn the light bulb on? What did they eat at halftime? Can I have some? Did Crowton find his missing rabbits foot?

Only tell if the newfound success is here to stay. You have to wonder if the pieces are finally just coming together.

Now we know Air Force isn't having their best year, but consider this is a team and coach that have this game circled on their calendar every year. Consider they had an extra bye week to prepare for Crowton's Cougars. DeBerry and his team wanted this win bad. They felt like they were prepared; they were at home; they were confident.

Air Force's loss against Utah was the Utes' closest game of the year so far. Their loss to California doesn't look as bad now that Cal is ranked in the Top 10. Navy is a very good team that was ranked when they played them. BYU now joins these very good teams in notching a win against Air Force.

It might be pointed out that Air Force handily defeated UNLV who beat BYU, plus the Falcons pasted the New Mexico in their last game before playing BYU. Air Force at home is no pushover and BYU was unstoppable in the second half.

Crowton says his team continues to progress every game and every practice. We shall soon see. There is no hiding the fact many long-suffering Cougar fans have been feeling the sting of the last two years and were particularly anxious for some retribution against the Falcons.

I must admit a feeling of euphoria every time a big Cougar play put Fisher DeBerry in a frenzied fit of temper. Not many things are as gratifying in life than watching DeBerry kick the grass in disgust after Matt Payne's supremely successful fake field goal play he audibled himself.

It's like finally getting that infected tooth pulled; or using an ear q-tip after a week-long camping trip; or getting your wife to scratch the itch you can't reach smack dab in the center of your back.

What joy and irony I felt that Air Force scheduled their bye before the BYU game to give them a decided advantage.

Now, Air Force wallowed for a week with the pain and realization they wasted two weeks of preparation for a game they ended up getting blown out in. Meanwhile, BYU has two weeks to bask in the memories of the Falcons' misery. Revenge is sweet.

If you need a good excuse to get Tivo, consider this: It has this cute little button called the 8-second rewind.

The Top 5 game highlights to 8-second rewind (several times in a row):

1. Todd Watkins' 70-yard fingertip catch for a touchdown
2. Dennis Pitta's punt block and Gary Lovely's recovery for a touchdown
3. Fake reverse and throw to Naufahu Tahi for a long gain
4. Matt Payne's fake punt and run
5. BYU's 45-yard flee-flicker play to Watkins

The Top 2 Fisher DeBerry highlights to 8-second rewind:

1. DeBerry's conniption and demonstration of Jon's Burbidge's foot trip. If you watch closely in Tivo HD slow motion, you can see that vein right below his hairline on the right side of DeBerry's forehead… pink!… give way
2. DeBerry picking up his hat after the Payne fake punt. You didn't have to actually get to see the hat come off and get thrown onto the field. If you just close your eyes, you can see it happen almost as if it were on live TV…

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