MadTown Badgers: Nine-Point Play(ers) for Week 11
The last time any of you probably heard about BYU football was after the Cougars put Mack Brown’s job on life alert in September with a 40-21 baptism in how to run the football. BYU ran the ball for a Badger-esque 556 yards on 72 carries in that game, yet still managed to attempt 27 passes. The Cougars operate quickly, but not always efficiently. They’ve been able to outscore opponents and make other teams one-dimensional; they’re basically an unpublicized version of past Baylor and Oregon teams.
I’m honestly somewhat concerned about this game. BYU knows Gary Andersen from his days at Utah State, and Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall has known Andersen since college. I also don’t have any vitriol toward BYU and I wonder if it’s because Mormons kill you with kindness and gorgeous women. Seriously, when I lived in Phoenix for a year I met a lot of Mormons and each one of them was one of the nicest, thoughtful people I’ve ever met. They’re so quiet and unassuming, which also explains a lot about their football team. However, there are some interesting undertones about BYU that diminishes the school’s seemingly utopian image.
REFRESHER: Article Background/Basis
It’s impossible to score nine points on one play in football. A touchdown directly leads to an extra point (7) or two point conversion attempt (8), but there is no way for the offense to score three points on a post-touchdown conversion.
Let’s critique nine humans on the opposing team that will either try their hardest to, or be in the best position to score/prevent nine points on one play this week. No guarantee that these eight players and head coach will be an important/relevant factor in the game, but it’s hopefully going to give you some insight about players other than some #hotsportstake.
(1) Kyle Van Noy: Outside Linebacker, Junior. Height: 6-3Weight: 245
Van Noy, #3, is a definite first-round NFL draft pick next spring. He was a big-time high school recruit out of Reno, Nevada (UCLA, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Nevada, UNLV, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona, San Diego State and LSU all recruited him) but chose BYU even though he initially had ‘zero interest’ in playing at BYU. I implore you to click on that last link for a good story about Van Noy.
As far as production is concerned, Van Noy has backed up the preseason accolades that named him a Preseason First-Team All-American and also saw him listed on six preseason award watch lists. Van Noy has 47 total tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss, four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. He should be a pleasure to watch on Saturday.
(2) Uani’ Unga: Linebacker, Senior. Height: 6-1 Weight: 235
Unga, #41, transferred to BYU from Oregon State, where he played for two years. He has already served his LDS (Latter Day Saints) mission in Guatemala and is married. His family is full of football players, as his twin brother plays for Oregon State, his older brother played for Arizona State, and his cousin Harvey Unga is BYU's all-time leading rusher and plays for the Chicago Bears.
The Cougars’ defense is led by Kyle Van Noy, but Unga quietly makes a lot of plays. He recorded a career-high and tied a school record with 17 tackles against Utah State, which led to him being named the FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week. Two weeks ago, he made a team-high 15 tackles, with one TFL, one pass breakup and one forced fumble verse Boise State. This year, Unga has 85 tackles in eight games (five tackles for loss) and has forced two fumbles while recovering one fumble.
(3) Spencer Hadley: Linebacker, Senior. Height: 6-1 Weight:227
Hadley, #2, has a marvelous moustache. Please click on his player profile and soak in its glory. I’m participating in the Movember movement to grow a moustache for prostate cancer awareness, and my stubble has a picture of Hadley’s cookie duster hanging on the wall. As one of eight children that was raised on a dairy farm, I’m sure his moustache-growing capabilities both set him apart from siblings and kept his face warm in the winter months as he worked cattle on the farm.
Hadley has only played in five of the team’s eight games this season, but has made his presence felt when he steps on the field. He has 36 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a fumble recovery, and made an interception on the first play of the game against Houston. One third of his tackles this season came two weeks ago against Boise State, so Hadley seems to be rounding into form as the season progresses. He will have to meet Derek Watt in the hole on Saturday and blow up running plays for his team to win.
(4) Scott Arellano: Punter, Junior. Height: 6-1 Weight: 190
Arellano, #26, is surprisingly active for a team that scores a lot of points and runs as many plays as BYU. He averages 6.5 punts per game for 41 yards each. In contrast, Wisconsin’s Drew Meyer punts 4.25 times per game and averages 39 yards on his kicks. Arellano was recently named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List along with 85 other punters, including Meyer.
This is Arellano’s first year as BYU’s punter. It’s been an interesting career so far for Arellano, who did not take the traditional route to BYU like many of his Mormon brethren. He did not record a kick last year and spent his freshman year at BYU-Idaho, where his only football exposure came from intramurals. From there, he transferred to a California junior college, where he punted and played safety before walking on at BYU.
(5) Taysom Hill: Quarterback, Sophomore. Height: 6-2 Weight: 220
Hill, #5, is a talented runner that has steadily developed as a passer over the course of the season. At the start of the year, Hill would put up stat lines similar to Denard Robinson: in the first game at Virginia, Hill was 13-of-40 passing and ran 11 times for 42 yards. Even against Texas, when he ran for an absurd 259 yards on 17 carries, he was abominable throwing the ball (9-for-26). Something must have clicked after a loss to Utah in Week 3, when Hill went 18-of-48 and ran 20 more times for 99 yards. Since then, he has completed at least 66% of his passes in four out of five games.
Hill’s recent success is the mark of a supremely talented player who has started to figure ‘it’ out. He originally committed to Stanford before going on a mission to Australia, and was he also recruited by Arizona, Washington State, Boise State and Utah. As a high school senior, Hill was listed as the 30th-best quarterback prospect in the nation in 2009 by Scout.com and Rivals.com and top recruit in the state of Idaho by Rivals.com. Hill will need to use that talent both running and passing on Saturday; he is the focal point of the Cougars’ offense.
(6) Jamaal Williams: Running Back, Sophomore. Height: 6-0 Weight: 200
Williams, #21, played in every game as a freshman, starting eight. He had the most carries, yards, and touchdowns for a freshman in BYU history, with his 166 carries going for 775 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams also added 27 receptions for 315 yards and a touchdown last year; he is a dual threat running back that has earned his place on the Doak Walker Award watch list despite being a true sophomore.
Oregon, UCLA, Boise State, Arizona State and several other schools attempted to sign Williams; if the Ducks think you’re good enough to play running back in Eugene, you’re good. Williams’ mother was a sprinter at UCLA, and at 6-0, 200, the Cougars’ running back has proven he can handle a heavy workload. In the first two games of the season, Williams had 33 and 30 carries against Virginia and Texas, respectively. He didn’t have more than 17 carries or 86 yards in the next five games, but against Boise State two weeks ago he had 21 carries for 107 yards along with four catches for 24 more yards. Williams will be the player that the Cougars rely upon to keep Wisconsin from keying on Taysom Hill, and my bet is that he will have to run for over 100 yards for BYU to win.
(7) Cody Hoffman: Wide Receiver, Senior. Height: 6-4 Weight: 210
Hoffman, #2, is a wily veteran that will give the Badger secondary problems with his height and experience. The Cougars’ top receiver only needs 15 yards on Saturday to pass Austin Collie as the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards. This would mark the third straight game that Hoffman would set a school record; he became the school’s all-time reception leader three weeks ago against Houston and two weeks ago he became the all-time receiving touchdowns leader for BYU. In six games, he has collected 29 receptions for 524 yards and three touchdowns.
The preseason All-American and Biletnikoff Award watch list member hasn’t played in all eight games because he missed the season opener against Virginia and was suspended for one other game after violating team rules (which are undoubtedly stricter than other schools’ team rules). It’s interesting to note that Hoffman, like Van Noy and Williams, is black. Here’s an article about how minorities are treated at BYU, which is almost exclusively composed of white or Pacific Islander students. Furthermore, please excuse me if saying ‘black’ is offensive, but I’ve been told that African-American can actually be more offensive, especially to someone like Wisconsin’s Hugs Etienne, who is a native of Haiti. I’d like to see Sojourn Shelton matched up with Hoffman on Saturday – it will be a great experience for the Badgers’ freshman wunderkind.
(8) Skyler Ridley: Wide Receiver, Senior. Height: 6-0 Weight: 180
Ridley, #17, is the senior citizen on the Cougars, much like Curt Phillips is for Wisconsin. Ridley redshirted the 2007 season before going on a mission in England from 2008-2010. The 24 year-old is married and he is a proud Eagle Scout – in short, he’s your basic BYU student-athlete. Gary Andersen and Utah recruited Ridley coming out of high school, but Ridley chose life in Provo instead. That meant redshirting for a year, then going on his mission and not playing for two years upon his return.
Although he ranks third on the team with 20 catches for 216 yards, Ridley missed the first half of BYU’s last game at Boise State two weeks ago because of a targeting suspension enforced from a block that he made against Houston the week before. He did not catch a pass in the second half of that game, but against Houston he had a career high in receptions (8) and yards (106), not to mention the game-winning touchdown.
(9) Bronco Mendenhall: Head Coach,
8th Year. 2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6) Overall: 80-31
Since the start of the 2011 season, when BYU became an independent in football, Mendenhall has guided the Cougars to a 24-10 record against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. BYU rarely plays teams that are not in one of the ‘Big Six’ conferences, and thus their record is the result of hard-earned victories.
Mendenhall has guided the Cougars to seven straight bowl invitations, two outright conference championships and regular national top-25 rankings. The Cougars finished their first season as a football independent in 2011 with a 10-3 record and No. 25 final ranking. They have finished nationally ranked five times in the last seven seasons.
Vegas Line: Opened at Wisconsin -7.5; currently Wisconsin -7.5
The Badgers have been the best team in college football to bet on this season, with their 7-0-1 ATS record. Look for that streak to continue.
Paul’s Pompous Prediction: Wisconsin 27, BYU 14 (initially had 37-24; felt that was pretty high-scoring for a November game and questions surrounding Abbrederis)