Student Becomes Teacher in 59-0 Whipping

Oh, the irony of it all. The student, BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae, became the teacher Saturday in a 59-0 blistering blowout of UCLA – an unexpected reversal of roles that undoubtedly generated a measure of pleasure and pain from offensive wunderkind and UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Anae's former BYU mentor and opposing UCLA counterpart on this day.

Friends for more than 20 years, Chow personally recruited Anae from Kahuku High School in Hawaii to play for him at BYU in the early 80s and helped oversee his early development as a standout Cougar offensive lineman and latter development as a coaching confidant and colleague.

As the north end zone scoreboard clock read 56:08 minutes before kickoff Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Chow stood with folded arms on the 10-yard line by the north end zone silently observing a small contingent of UCLA players perform their pre-game warm-up drills.

With only a smattering of BYU players and coaches on the opposite end of the field and less than 500 fans in their seats, Chow made no effort to meet or mingle with any of the BYU coaches or players from the school where his legend was born. He was all business.

But that didn't prevent an on-field mini reunion of sorts.

Anae and fellow coach Lance Reynolds (probably Chow's best friend at BYU), along with former Cougar offensive stars Mark Atuaia and Jamal Willis, emerged from the locker room and walked all the way across the field to meet master Chow – much more of a nationally-acclaimed offensive guru now than anytime during his venerable 27-year coaching stint during BYU's glory years in Provo.

They exchanged customary best wishes as friends and foes for the day in a five-minute exchange. Chow, in fact, spent more time talking with Atuaia and Willis than Anae, possibly reminiscing about shared moments in another time together on this same field and for the same team.

Later, as other Bruin and BYU coaches milled about and took the opportunity to talk to their counterparts and opposing players, Chow noticeably did not.

Unlike the first time he returned to Provo as the star-attraction offensive coordinator for the opposing USC Trojans before leaving victoriously, perhaps Chow had an ominous sense of impending doom and gloom.

In any event, Anae and his offensive staff devised a masterful game plan that Chow could appreciate more than most others, as they shellacked his Bruins into hopeless submission with priceless precision in the first 39 minutes of the game. BYU mercifully removed their offensive starters with almost six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The hue and cry from ignorant UCLA fans feigning indignation that the Cougars continued to "run up the score" had absolutely no basis in fact.

Indeed, as backup quarterback Brenden Haskins entered the game, he spent 30 seconds talking to super-freshman and backup wide receiver O'Neill Chambers on the field – probably informing him they would be running the ball on EVERY play for the rest of the game except on obvious third-down passing attempts to maintain possession and kill the clock.

BYU's simple intent was to try to preserve the shutout to reward their determined defensive dominance. Indeed, they were so dominant that UCLA's offense did not even touch the BYU side of the field until 14:16 in the second quarter.

Some will argue the Bruins were operating from a position of weakness without their injured starters in tailback Kahlil Bell, tight end Logan Paulson and wide receiver Marcus Everett. Those players may have prevented the shutout, but few doubt the win-loss outcome would have been the same. The Bruins were held to only nine yards rushing on 16 rushing attempts.

Some Bruin fans questioned the audacity of the Cougars' decision to kick a field goal late in the game. Would these know-nothing arm-chair experts have preferred that BYU attempt a fourth-down running play inside UCLA's 10-yard line for yet another touchdown for a final trouncing of 63-0 instead? I didn't think so.

By the way, another running touchdown was definitely doable with the efficient manner that backup running backs J.J. DiLuigi and Wayne Latu were generating positive yardage against UCLA's starting defense – operating behind BYU's backup offensive line.

UCLA, for its part, gamely kept its starters in until the final three minutes of the game – hoping in vain to put any points on the scoreboard to avoid one of the school's most embarrassing and lopsided shutouts in the Bruins' storied football program.

Meanwhile, Cougar offensive line coach Mark Weber, a former UCLA line coach, spent almost 10 minutes walking the field talking to Bruin coaches and players. Weber coached four linemen drafted in the first round of the NFL draft during his stint at UCLA, but proclaimed before the season started his current collection of Cougars on his offensive line could be the best unit he has ever coached.

That's saying a lot. But Weber and his young Cougar charges made believers Saturday of UCLA players, coaches and even hardened and skeptical Cougar fans of the glass-half-empty variety.

In his postgame comments, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel provided deserved recognition for the Cougars' impressive performance on both sides of the ball: "Give credit to BYU. It was a very dominant performance. This is a very painful defeat," he said. "We did not come in here with the idea that we were going to do anything other than play a really good game and have a chance to win -- and that got taken away really quickly."

Neuheisel appropriately singled out and praised the play of Hall: "He [Hall] just was having an unbelievable first half," he said. "It wasn't like these guys [Hall's receivers] were making unbelievable catches; his throws were right on the money. He is an outstanding player."

Commenting on the Cougars' sterling defensive effort, he added: "I thought [BYU's defense] played terrifically. They were able to play everything in front of them because of the lead and we weren't able to execute to the level that we needed to execute against this caliber of an opponent.

"Our game is always going to be the same. We are going to have to stay on the field and keep our defense off it," Neuheisel said. "We could not do that today. We left our defense out there far too long. BYU was methodical, as they have been their first two games."

Los Angeles Times columnist Kurt Streeter was not so subtle in his assessment of the Bruins' beat-down in Provo: "Of course, nobody thought UCLA was going to come to Provo and blitzkrieg a team that hasn't lost in a dozen games. Then again, nobody thought a Bruins team that had just beaten vaunted Tennessee would fly home from Utah with two black eyes, a fat lip, a neck brace and a stiff limp."

UCLA's loss Saturday marks its worst since a 76-0 loss to Pac-10 rival USC in 1929.

BYU's dismantling of a good Bruin defensive unit that upset the 18th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers' team two weeks earlier in Westwood was expected by knowledgeable observers of this BYU program, but nobody believed they would annihilate the Bruins.

NOBODY. Not like this. Not against this team – with consistent top 20 national recruiting classes every year run by a celebrated coaching triumvirate comprised of Neuheisel, Chow and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.

Perhaps Walker, a former BYU defensive assistant coach, had an inkling something big and bad (for the Bruins) but also beautiful (for the Cougars) was looming in Provo.

In a local KFAN Radio interview earlier in the week with hosts David James and Patrick Kinahan, Walker said even though his team had played BYU two times in the last year, the preparation for Saturday's matchup may have been the most difficult because of the way the Cougar offense has evolved. He said his defense had to stop the whole offense and not try to defend just the pass or just the run.

His words were more prophetic than he could have possibly imagined. As much and he and the Bruins tried, they failed miserably.

Junior quarterback Max Hall continued the Cougars' amazing third-down completion average, successfully converting 10-of-11 third-down opportunities Saturday before he exited the game with unimpressive stats by his own 2008 standards: 271 yards on 27 or 35 attempts. What are impressive were Hall's seven touchdowns to four different receivers with practiced pin-point precision.

For the game, Hall earned an astounding 202.4 quarterback rating and has an impressive average 187.5 rating over the first three games. Several national college football TV pundits even ventured on air Saturday that Hall's early season performance, particularly Saturday's against a name opponent, warrants legitimate and serious consideration for him in this year's Heisman Trophy sweepstakes.

Hall earned a coveted game star from ESPN college football anchor Mark May Saturday night with a startling five-touchdown and 35-point second quarter blitz – the most the Cougars have ever posted in the second period and the second-highest total in any quarter. BYU put up 36 points in the fourth quarter of a 50-36 win over Washington State in 1990.

Hall's six first-half touchdowns broke the LaVell Edwards Stadium and Mountain West Conference mark. He also tied another BYU record when he added a seventh touchdown pass in the third quarter, matching a lofty benchmarks set by BYU quarterbacks Marc Wilson in 1977 and Jim McMahon in 1981.

Notably, it was perhaps BYU's best and most complete game performance on both sides of the ball in the Cougars' illustrious gridiron history against a nationally recognized team.

Cougar fan David White summed up the game as well as anyone on TotalBlueSports.com: "I have watched a lot of BYU games over the years. This will go down as one of the most dominating games BYU has ever played. We beat them in every aspect of the game. We outcoached them; out-schemed them; outhustled them; and outhit them. This was no patsy football team we were playing. This was UCLA. Their offense needs some work, but their defense is tough.

"One great sign of total domination has to do with injuries. We not only beat this team, we beat them up. We hit them hard and sent a big message. BYU is a VERY physical team. When the UCLA players went into the locker room at the half, they looked like they had been knocked out. There was a dazed look on their faces. This is going to be a very special year," White added.

The bad news for future Cougar opponents is this Cougar offense is still a year away from what many predict will be an even better offensive team – assuming no major injuries and early outs for NFL paychecks . That's downright scary if you're not a BYU football fan or a media pundit with a differing agenda.

With the exception of senior receiver Michael Reed and fullback Fui Vakapuna, all the other Cougar offensive stars and budding big-game performers are juniors, sophomores or freshmen.

While the senior-dominated offensive line will be sorely missed next season, the Cougars enjoy an embarrassment of riches in excellent backups for next year and beyond.

If the Cougar football team and fans hated the negative headlines and consistent commentary from the controversial officiating from the BYU-Washington game, they will love the ensuring positive comments after their dominating defeat of the Bruins.

Therein, also, lays the biggest obstacle to continual progress and growth for BYU's self-proclaimed "Quest for Perfection."

Next up at home next Saturday is Wyoming and the beginning of the Cougars' all-important bid for a third consecutive Mountain West Conference title.

You can certainly expect the Cowboys or any team they will face this season to try and take advantage of any hint of overconfidence or emotional letdown after already achieving such a lofty perch against UCLA so early in the season.

In a postgame radio interview on KSL Radio, BYU's Max Hall said head coach Bronco Mendenhall allowed the team an extended 10-second boisterous locker-room celebration and then turned his and their focus immediately to Wyoming.

Utah's shocking loss last season against then MWC bottom-dweller UNLV right after walloping a highly ranked UCLA team in Salt Lake City 44-6 should provide the BYU football team and the Cougar faithful a refreshed reminder of what could happen on any given Saturday.

For now, Cougar fans everywhere can just sit back, relax and enjoy this special shining moment.

It took the Cougars 20 years to come close to matching a victory over a BCS conference school when they impressively walloped Texas 47-6 in 1988. Total blue BYU sports fans can only hope it won't take be 20 more years before it happens again.


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