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.
Hayward’s shooting has been wayward
Too bad the Jazz couldn’t have signed Gordon Hayward to a long-term deal before last week’s deadline. It’s a roll of the dice for Hayward, who as a restricted free agent can still sign with the Jazz after this season or sign with another team with the Jazz being able to match the offer.
If Hayward has a great season, his worth will obviously increase and he’ll get a bigger contract. If he struggles or sits out with an injury for an extended time, his value will go down.
It’s way early to draw any conclusions, but Hayward appears to be pressing a bit, perhaps trying to show he’s a go-to player for the Jazz. He’s forcing some shots and he'd better improve his shooting if he wants a big contract at the end of this season.
In 11 games — eight preseason and three regular season — Hayward has yet to shoot at least 50 percent in a game. After shooting just 37.8 percent in the preseason, he is shooting 37.0 percent for the regular season.
Jimmer needs change of scenery
Turns out that maybe Keith Smart wasn’t so dumb after all.
Some Jimmer Fredette fans castigated Smart for Fredette’s lack of playing time during his first two years in the NBA when he had 18 DNPs and averaged 16 minutes per game.
However, this year under new Sacramento coach Mike Malone, Fredette’s playing time has hit rock bottom.
Fredette didn’t play in the first two Kings games and in Saturday night’s loss to Golden State, Fredette only got in for the final three minutes of a blowout loss, scoring two points.
I believe there’s still a place in the NBA for Fredette as a shooter off the bench, although the former national college player of the year is never going to be an NBA star or even a starter as many folks figured after his brilliant senior season at BYU. Jimmer definitely needs a change of scenery.