Bye-Week Wishes

The G-man gives the top five things that need to have been addressed and improved on over the bye week as the Cougars prep for the home stretch. Many things about the team have been good, but there is always room for improvement. Penalties, other stupid mental errors, and underwhelming run production are several of the things that have plagued the Cougar football team.

1. Reduced Penalties - Penalties have to be improved on for the rest of the season. Holding penalties, untimely illegal procedure calls, and stupid personal fouls have played way too much of an impact this season thus far. One could easily argue that stupid penalties cost the Cougars a victory over Tulsa more so than any other factor.

The good news is that improvement on the penalty front has surfaced over the last two games. Even more improvements in this area hopefully will come about because of the bye week, so that the Cougars can finish out strong without shooting themselves in the foot for the rest of the season.

2. Improvement on the Edges - The edges have not been secure during most games, as almost all of the pressure that quarterback Max Hall has seen when he has dropped back to pass has come from either side. Indeed, a lot of the Cougar turnovers have resulted from breakdowns in pass protection from the tackle position.

The pressure is not coming from the middle on most occasions, as Ray Feinga, Travis Bright and Sete Aulai have proved solid in their overall pass protection. It's on the edges where the pass protection needs to see improvement for the rest of the year.

3. Improved Run-Blocking - One of the more disappointing aspects this year has been the mediocre run production in just about every game so far. Has the run-blocking been bad? No, but with the increased focus brought by Coach Weber and the returning talent along the offensive front from a year ago, most fans should be relatively underwhelmed by BYU's ground production thus far.

As the Cougars get into the meat of their Mountain West Conference schedule, look for a greater emphasis on the ground game, and look for Hall to be setting up under center with two backs behind him more than he has been prior to the bye week. The Cougar ground game should see much better production down the stretch.

4. Better Secondary Run-Support - Relative to the fantastic secondary run support from the safeties that existed throughout most of the 2006 season, it's not there up the middle for the most part this year. Too often the second wave of tacklers, which usually includes the safeties, has not pushed the opposition's running back backwards.

This became most apparent against New Mexico, when Rodney Ferguson proved to be too much of a load for most of the game. It won't get much easier this coming week as the Cougars will be asked to push back UNLV's Frank Summers (5-10, 240), who has proven to be a load in his own right so far this year.

5. A healthy return of Fui Vakapuna - Chief among many fans' wishes is the quick and full recovery of Fui Vakapuna. He's been missed so far this season, as he came out a bit gimpy due to lingering injury problems. His only run against Tulsa before breaking his hand looked more like his old self.

Since Vakapuna went out with a broken hand, many have maintained that it would prove to be a blessing in disguise for him and indeed the entire team. Look for Vakapuna to return to pre-injury form and romp over the Mountain West down the stretch.

Five games in, the Cougars are about where many thought they would be, with a 3-2 overall record and a 2-0 record in league play. With so many improvements readily apparent, fans should be excited for the prospects of this team down the stretch, especially as more improvements look to be made and the five wishes listed above look to be fulfilled.


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