Punt/Counterpunt: BYU 2015 Comment Count

Brian September 26th, 2015 at 9:36 AM



By Heiko Yang

Interesting matchup today.

Michigan’s head coach coached in a Super Bowl; BYU’s head coach sounds like he was named at a Super Bowl. Michigan’s quarterback can’t throw farther than 10 yards downfield; BYU’s quarterback throws Hail Marys like he’s excited about the Pope visiting. BYU likes to hit people in the balls; Michigan … Michigan understands that ball security is important.

Balls aside, the Wolverines really need to win, especially from a philosophical standpoint. The trajectory of each team over the last few games makes for a very Aesopian scenario: one team that’s been diligently chipping away at a giant rock is pitted against a team that’s just flinging dynamite in every direction. (Just to clarify, the rock in this case represents winning, not Penn State. (More specifically, turning the rock into something impressive like the Statue of David represents winning, because why would you want to chip away at winning? (You want to chip away the obstacles to winning, so maybe the rock itself in its raw form represents a conglomeration of obstacles (maybe the rock is Penn State after all.))))

The moral of the story should be something along the lines of “slow, steady, and safe wins the race and is also better than sorry.”

Except I’m kind of worried by this whole dynamite analogy now. It only works in Michigan’s favor if we’re talking about the long term. If the goal here is to turn Penn State into the Statue of David (just go with it), it really is much safer to use a chisel since David has some delicate features (balls) that could get destroyed by dynamite. Plus you might injure yourself and whoever else happens to be in the vicinity. In BYU’s case that already happened to Nebraska and Boise – UCLA almost fell victim – and now Michigan is the next victim at risk, even though this entire time it has been busy chiseling and minding its own business and protecting its balls.

Michigan will hopefully end the season with a winning record more closely resembling David than the pile of rubble and limbs BYU will end up with, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll survive its encounter with BYU without harm.

Anyway, the moral of the story here is “don’t play with explosives.” Also don’t get carried away with analogies.

BYU 19, Michigan 17.


by Nick RoUMel

My dad always referred to the BYU football team as the “clean livers.” The school has been long famous for their LDS (Mormon) church-centered honor code that requires “chaste and virtuous life,” clean language, and abstention from all manner of substances includes drugs, alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. Coca-Cola is supposedly permitted, but not sold on campus. Easy to see why they are the #1 “stone cold sober” campus 14 years running by the Princeton Review.

Perhaps the ban on premarital sex has led to a marriage rate five times the national average (more than half of students are married by graduation). Or maybe that has something to do with promotion of a family culture, as well as the greater maturity of students. Nearly all male undergraduates undertake a two-year mission trip before graduation. Then they marry somebody like Marie Osmond.


When you Google “Marie Osmond cheesecake images”…
You actually get images of her cheesecake recipe. Now that’s wholesome.

One of these man-child undergraduates is BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, a 22 year “freshman” who is fresh off a missionary trip to Chile. He graduated from high school in Idaho in 2012, and was ranked the third best pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals. I suspect he tossed a few footballs around with the natives during his mission, because he’s flung the rock pretty well in wins against Nebraska and Boise State, and during the narrow loss at UCLA. This is a school that’s produced quarterbacks like Steve Young, Ty Detmer and Jim McMahon, and Mangum is in the same mold - an excellent passer who’s also dangerously mobile – who can do it all without caffeine.

It surprises me that Michigan is favored. Mangum will be the best quarterback they’ve faced all year, and can only be contained, not stopped. It will be no surprise that Coach Harbaugh will try to keep the ball out of his hands with a conservative, run-oriented offense, and hope that Mr. Rudock and company reduce turnovers.

Fans may remember 1984, when BYU finished the regular season as the only undefeated D-1 team, but as a WAC team back then, were contractually obligated to play in the Holiday Bowl. While teams detracted their soft schedule and right to the title, nobody wanted to play them except for a mediocre 6-5 Michigan team. The Wolverines led in the fourth quarter but the Cougars’ defense stiffened, allowing injured QB Robbie Bosco to lead the offense to two scores for a 24-17 victory.

Pollsters reluctantly voted BYU #1 in the nation, but critics still denounced them. The next year they beat Boston College (#4 in 1984) and trounced a Washington team that many thought should have been atop the polls the previous year instead of BYU, by a score of 31-3.

The Cougars have maintained their excellence. They have more victories in the last 40 years than Michigan. The first four games of their schedule this year are as challenging as anyone’s. The oddsmakers’ logic to favor Michigan is puzzling, and must give great weight to the home field advantage.

Heiko has picked a narrow BYU victory. I cannot bring myself to disagree. My hope for Michigan this year under our new coach was that we would be competitive in every game, improve over the season, and position ourselves to return to the top level of college football within a few years. I don’t think we are quite there yet.

The “clean livers” prevail, but you won’t see images like this back in Provo:


Sorry, but when you Google “Mormon couch burning images,” you actually get this.



Autocracy Now

September 26th, 2015 at 9:44 AM ^

I don't read Punt/Counterpunt religiously, but I thought traditionally this column featured one person picking Michigan to win and the other picking our opponent. Is that right? Have they intentionally changed the format? These guys always seem to agree now. 


September 26th, 2015 at 9:48 AM ^

Have to disagree with you two. Michigan has this by 1 or 2 touchdowns. Michigan has some strengths which will exploit BYU weaknesses. BYU strengths do not have a corresponding weakness with Michigan.


September 26th, 2015 at 10:04 AM ^

I usually like this column, but the arguments here are basically "BYU is dangerously unpredictable" and "their old freshman who is the definition of high-variance and is 2 plays away from being 0-3".  To me, that doesn't feel like a sustainable offensive plan, and their defense remains suspect.  And I know people keep talking about their schedule, but BYU played at 1-2 Nebraska, beat Boise at home, then lost to a UCLA team playing a true freshman at QB who coughed up 3 INTs.  It looks scarier on paper than it probably is in fact, and I'm banking on them having even more trouble on the road against a prepared UM.


September 26th, 2015 at 10:11 AM ^

Punt and punt again. They both agreed on BYU being the better team and both picked BYU to win. Don't they know we have HARBAUGH! They must think we still have Hoke?


September 26th, 2015 at 10:12 AM ^

I love cheesecake.  Plain ... nothing fancy, no toppings ... just cheesecake.

Back in the 7th grade I had to compete with Donny Osmond for the affection of the girl behind me in history class.  I didn't care for the Osmonds then, and time hasn't changed my outlook.



September 26th, 2015 at 10:24 AM ^

A new little Italian restaurant opened in my neighborhood earlier this year that serves cheesecake made with ricotta instead of the usual cream cheese. It's amazing. Now I can't go back to regular cheesecake though.


September 26th, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

My submission titled "Leave The Offense On The Field We're Going For It".

With all due respect to the immense writing talents of Heiko and Nick, Brady Hoke is not walking through that door.

There are a host of Michigan fans (rightly so) traumatized by the past. Well not here, not today.

Mighty Meeeechigan is installed by Vegas as a near touchdown favorite. There's a reason for this! Mormon Touchdown Jesus doesn't wake up by noon Eastern Standard Time (and he's actually been quite overworked so far this season). Jake "Don't Call Me Shirley" Rudock will stand tall in the pocket and deliver throws as of yet unseen as the whispers of an NFL first rounder BYU defensive tackle are just that, whispers. Ty Isaac and DeVeon Smith will take turns running over outmatched BYU linebackers as Michigan sustains drives with aplomb that would make even Lloyd crack a curmudgeonly smile.

Today is the day.

Jabrill Peppers is going to truck an unsuspecting slot receiver so hard on a third down that BYU has no choice but to stand aside and let him march down the field for a punt return on the following play.

Rashan Gary will witness an absolute devastating DLine attack from the Wolverines and know, deep down inside, he's next.

There will be a moment, probably in the second quarter, when the stripes miss an unspeakably obvious pass interference call. But every player, every coach, every one of the one-hundred thousand fans, and Coach's clipboard will know what happens next. I don't even have to say it. But it will *work*.

A peace and calm will come over the stadium from the resultant tirade. Order will be restored.

Zero turnovers. Four offensive touchdowns. One punt return TD. One more rousing chorus of The Victors and the faithful are rewarded and the traumatized shall once again know the feeling of domination.

Michigan 35, BYU 14.


September 26th, 2015 at 10:23 AM ^

Usually an entertaining read, but the lack of logical argument and the overly effusive self-awareness of the 'what am I really saying' type make for an awkward read this week. 


September 26th, 2015 at 10:44 AM ^

How about if you guys are wrong we don't have this feature again this year? It got annoying last season, we don't need the negativity this year. Good vibrations please. 


September 26th, 2015 at 10:48 AM ^

whether to be concerned or enthused that the doctor coaching me in a life with inguinal herniea could be a poetic soul capable of that kind of metaphorical imagination.

Either way, I'll go with "Chip away at obstacles, protect the balls."


September 26th, 2015 at 10:49 AM ^

"BYU likes to hit people in the balls; Michigan … Michigan understands that ball security is important."

This will go down as one of my favorite quotes.


September 26th, 2015 at 11:13 AM ^

The whole we suck thing is getting old. I swear half of our fanbase is damaged beyond repair. BYU is a decent team but they aren't that good. I would be shocked if this is close game at the end.


September 26th, 2015 at 1:19 PM ^

I am for sure damaged, hopefully not beyond repair, by the last several years of futility. M football Saturdays used to be the best time of the year. The last several years have been like watching a slow-motion train wreck, knowing there's going to be a crash, over and over again. So I stopped watching, for my sanity. I settled for watching on the DVR, hoping nothing would happen to put us on TWIS. But of course it happened often.

I can't even watch THIS game live. Used to be, we'd truck a team like this at home.

People say games like Michigan-Minnesota is a toss-up, and I shrug and agree. That's how far Michigan has to go.

I'm hoping that Jim stays around long enough to fix this and put us back on top where we belong. Oh, and freaking beat MSU most years and OSU (YTOSU) at more than a 50% rate.

Though we are still wandering aimlessly in the desert of suck, we are being led out by a man who might just be a genius. Here's to hoping that's true.


September 26th, 2015 at 11:26 AM ^

how today will go. Whether you go with the skeptical "We will probably lose because our offense won't score on their D and they have the better QB" or the optimistic "Our D will dominate and we will do enough offensively to drive home a solid win" probably depends on your personality and outlook on life. Me, I like to sit on the fence so I say it can go either way!


September 26th, 2015 at 11:37 AM ^

Long time reader here, about 7 years. I remember when Brian started writing whacky, seemingly-unrelated introductions to his posts. These introductions would tie in somehow. I enjoyed it. I still do. We've all watched Brian and the other writers on this site grow and improve. Nowadays, many contributors (both on the front page and in diaries) have copied that aspect of Brian's style with varying degrees of success. Sometimes we get into the "I was too lazy to actually write a column so I wrote this" zone. Meh, it's game day. GO BLUE