Mike Sorensen: BYU knows how to beat Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen in the last minute
SALT LAKE CITY — Last week I heard a local sports commentator discussing this week’s BYU-Wisconsin game. He talked about which team had the edge in different areas and said the wild card would be Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen because of his experience playing BYU.
I think he was saying it in a positive way — that Andersen would make the difference because he knew how to play against BYU as a result of a decade of experience while an assistant at Utah and the head coach at Utah State.
I see it another way. If there’s one team Andersen doesn’t know how to beat, it’s BYU.
Over a seven-year span, the Cougars snatched victory from defeat on three occasions because of last-minute breakdowns by Andersen-coached defenses and another at the end of the first half.
Ute fans recall the back-to-back 2006 and 2007 losses to BYU when Andersen was the defensive coordinator and his defense couldn’t hold off improbable late rallies by the Cougars.
In 2006, the prevent Utah defense allowed John Beck to move his team 75 yards in 1:19 for the winning score. That drive produced the famous John Beck-to-Jonny Harline pass after time had expired when the Utes opted to drop nine players back into coverage.
Then in 2007, when a prevent defense might have been in order when the Cougars faced fourth-and-18 at their own 12-yard line, the Utes’ cover-2 defense allowed Austin Collie to somehow get behind the defense for a 49-yard gain, which led to a 17-10 victory. For the second-straight year, the Cougars went the length of the field in less than 90 seconds to win.
As head coach at USU, Andersen’s teams went 1-3 against BYU, with a big loss his first year, an impressive 15-point win his second year, followed by two close losses that Aggie fans felt they should have won. In both defeats, the Aggies allowed long, deciding touchdown drives in a short amount of time.
In 2011 in Provo, the Aggies blew a 24-20 lead in the final 2 1/2 minutes as Riley Nelson led the Cougars on a 96-yard game-winning drive.
Then in 2012, the Aggies allowed a 61-yard touchdown drive in 25 seconds at the end of the first half, the only touchdown in a 6-3 BYU win.
Andersen is a good guy and a good coach and I wish him well at Wisconsin. But my advice for Andersen this week is, make sure your team is ahead by more than a touchdown in the final couple of minutes if you want a chance to win.
An ex-Ute and ex-Cougar leading Fresno State
Fresno State is poised to be the latest BCS buster with an unbeaten record of 8-0 and a No. 16 ranking in the BCS standings. If the Bulldogs remain the highest-ranked non-BCS team and finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or in the top 16 and ahead of one of the BCS qualifiers, they’ll earn a spot in one of the five BCS bowls.
Two key people in the Fresno State offense are former Utah football coach Dave Schramm and former BYU running back Josh Quezada.
Schramm, who coached at Utah from 2005-11, is the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator. He was the running backs coach for four years before being named offensive coordinator for the 2009 season. However, after two years of demotions — he was made co-coordinator with Aaron Roderick in 2010, then moved back to running backs coach in 2011 when Norm Chow was hired as offensive coordinator — Schramm left for Fresno State under new coach Tim DeRuyter.
Quezada played two years at BYU, gaining 505 yards as a freshman and 298 as a sophomore. This year, he is the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 488 yards, is the fourth leading receiver with 37 catches for 210 yards, and has scored four touchdowns. He rushed for a career-high 115 yards in Saturday night’s 41-23 win over Nevada.
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