The BYU Cougars have left a wake of angry opponents and opponents' fans over the last three games.
A brawl against Memphis last season in the Miami Beach Bowl (with one player sucker punching two Tigers), a cheap, late hit on a defenseless receiver's knees in the Nebraska win in week 1, and the now infamous "nut punch" against Boise State late week. In the two games this season, BYU has won in the final minute on a pair of Hail Mary passes, so most Cougar fans appear to have swept their "issues" under the rug.
Their coach certainly has.
Here are the punishments levied for each of these three blatant acts: 1 game suspension (for the two-time sucker puncher); nothing for the knee dive; and "internal discipline" against the "nut puncher." The videos of these plays have been posted in some of the other articles this week; I am not going to link to them here today. If you haven't already seen them, you can easily find them if you want.
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I thought long and hard about what song to use for pregame guesses this week. Achilles had such an edgy feel to his Pregame Guesses in past years, which I loved. I started in a similar vein, with the Clash's "London Calling," and Bruinette88 picked me up last week with AC/DC's "Las Vegas," a bit of classic rock/metal. I wanted to go in a different direction this week. But I also wanted the connection to be meaningful. (The connection between "London Calling" and the UVa game was beyond tenuous: the name of UVa Head Coach Mike London, and that they could be "calling" for his head at the end of the season . . Calling for London, London Calling, ha ha, get it? Ehhh).
I finally settled on a song last night. The match is not perfect, but a strong analogy can be made. Here is "Barbarism Begins At Home," by the 80s alternative / indie trailblazers out of Manchester, England, The Smiths:
It is an exceptional, upbeat melody driven by Andy Rourke's bass and songwriter and guitarist Johnny Marr's layered chords, juxtaposed (as so many Smiths' songs are) against Morrissey's maudlin lyrics, moans, snarls, and "noooooo"s. Not even close to the biggest hit on the 1985 album, Meat is Murder (that would be the iconic "How Soon Is Now?"), "Barbarism Begins At Home" continues the album's commentary on corporal punishment, from school (in the opening song, "The Headmaster Ritual") to the household in "Barbarism Begins At Home." I connected with the song the day I bought and first listened to the album and it remains to this day my favorite song on the album.
Unruly boys who will not grow up must be taken in hand
Unruly girls who will not settle down, they must be taken in hand
A crack on the head is what you get for not asking
A crack on the head is what you get for asking
The Smiths are basically saying that much of the violence we face today can be traced back to violence at home. Parents and others molding our young ones into responsible citizens must set an example. Violence begets violence. Football coaches, too, must set an example. Chip Kelly set an example in 2009 when he suspended LaGarrett Blount for punching an opponent in the face (a Boise State player, no less) after a season opening loss. Kelly suspended Blount for his entire senior season but, after Blount apologized, followed a program set by the school, and was approved to return by the conference, he was allowed to play in the last two games of the season. Blount ultimately was suspended nine games for his punch. Bronco Mendenhall, one game (for two punches) or none at all (for the "nut punch").
Football is a violent sport. But that violence can spill over the boundaries of sportsmanship and basic human decency. When that happens, there must be consequences. Our children and young adults are learning from the example we set.
About two weeks ago, in the waning moments of a high school football game, two defensive backs on the losing team who didn't like a call decided that when the ball was snapped, rather than make a football play, they would sprint towards a ref who made the call and "lay the wood." Here is the play:
That is hard to watch. As a lover of football, it literally turns my stomach. It is even harder to fathom. But it happened. So did this, last week, in another high school game:
We must set a better example for our young people.
Barbarism begins at home.
A crack on the head . . .
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Well . . . after that, we must have a question about "extracurricular activity" in the game this Saturday so, without further ago, here is PREGAME GUESS #1: Which team will incur more personal foul penalties on Saturday, UCLA or BYU? FYI: I haven't been able to find anything on whether there will be a PAC 12 officiating crew this Saturday (BYU is an independent), which may affect your answer.
Another hot topic in this game is the battle between the true freshmen quarterbacks. We all know about Josh Rosen, who is currently 50 for 77, for a 64.9% completion percentage, for 574 passing yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Rosen has a 141.2 quarterback rating. Although Taysom Hill is gone, the Cougars have not missed a beat with Tanner Mangum, who is currently 24 of 39, for a 61.5% completion percentage, for passing 420 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Two of those touchdowns were Hail Marys in the waning seconds of the games. Mangum has a 167.1 quarterback rating. And Mangum did it against better competition. So, for PREGAME GUESS #2: Whose passer rating will be higher for this game. Rosen's or Mangum's? Remember, passer rating is a mathematical calculation that takes completions, attempts, touchdowns, passing yards, and interceptions into consideration. You can find a passer rating calculator here if you'd like to "run some numbers" before making your guess; be sure to use the NCAA setting, since NFL ratings are calculated differently).
I also love the matchup tomorrow between UCLA's offensive line and BYU's defensive line. I think that it is a major key, if not THE key, to the game. So here is PREGAME GUESS #3: Which number will be greater: the number of UCLA rushing first downs (which includes rushing touchdowns) or the number of BYU sacks and tackles for loss?
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Pregame Guesses. List your answers or any comments you might have in the thread below.
Cannot wait for the game tomorrow!! Go Bruins!!!
Editor's Note: Earlier this week, I reached out to the Pac-12 in an attempt to find out which conference the officiating crew will be from and if the crew will be made aware of BYU's "style of play" and a conference spokesman replied, "Pac-12 officials have been assigned to work UCLA’s game Saturday with BYU. And as with each game, the Conference expects its officiating crews to enforce the playing rules." -- JP