Sunday, September 11, 2011

Execute the buck

Scene: Last night, 10:30, watching Seinfeld to laugh away the BYU loss
Christina: Why did you get mad during the BYU game?
Me: *after some thoughtful soul searching and some meandering explanations* I think it comes down to the frustration of watching the team being on the cusp, but then having the coaches tone everything down. They basically told the team with 1:47 left in the first half that they weren't playing to win, but were playing to hold on to their fragile 13-3 lead. The play calling became increasingly conservative on both offense and defense. Runs up the middle every first down with DiLuigi. No misdirection. No screens, no variation. Pass plays were all short routes. Defense in the second half rarely rushed more than four or stacked the box when the running QB was in. No attempt to blitz and rattle the confidence of the backup Texas QBs. And, what's more frustrating, is that the coaches will blame the players by saying that they didn't "execute" the gameplan. 

Scene: The next day.
Deseret News. Dick Harmon "analyzing" the game. Article title: What BYU Had Here Was a Failure to Execute.

Quoting from the beginning:
Play calls? Need to execute.Cougar breakdowns on critical Texas drives? Need to execute.
An offense that struggles to score touchdowns? Need to execute.
It was a talking parrot convention.
"It was failure to execute at critical times," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"We didn't execute like we're capable," said quarterback Jake Heaps.
"It was just not doing small things that cost us execution," said senior offensive tackle Matt Reynolds.
"We didn't execute," said Spencer Hadley.
"If we executed like we are capable, we would have won," said safety Travis Uale.

Am I surprised that Harmon chooses this angle and runs with it, without questioning the coaches? Of course not! Harmon is a suck-up who doesn't want to ruffle the feathers of BYU coaches so that he gets invited to go golfing with them, or go to their booster events, etc. He's not going to go after Doman or Mendenhall for failing to make any meaningful change in the second half to kill Texas's momentum.

At least there was one staff writer at the Deseret News who had the guts to challenge the coaches. I'm not sure who Dan Rasmussen is, but I imagine he gets paid a pittance of what Dick Harmon makes for hanging out with the coaches on the golf course. He wrote:

"BYU’s offense looked fairly decent throughout the first half under new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman, but the Cougars got extraordinarily conservative in the second half. Doman didn’t open up the offense at all after halftime until it was too late. In the second half, Heaps didn’t throw one ball down the field once until he chucked an interception on a desperation long ball to Ross Apo. All in all, it was a poor performance from BYU’s new coordinator."

One of the reasons I like watching college football is the fallibility of the players: because they are young, even the best ones are going to make crippling mental and physical mistakes that bring a sense of chaos to the field.  So, after a loss, it's not much fun to sit there and yell at the players on your favorite team because, of course, someone at some point is going to blow something. But I don't have as much of a problem of pointing out that the self-proclaimed molders of men are letting their boys take the fall instead of protecting them. That doesn't seem right at all. And that is why I am mad.

(If you think this post sucked, it's because my imagination failed to execute the plan properly. The topic and the outline was brilliant.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Classic confusion of cause and effect: "failure to execute" was not the cause. The opponent caused the failure to execute: they changed their defensive attack, they switched quarterbacks and plays, they played with new energy. If you do not adjust to those changes, what worked in the first half will not work in the second. The coaches should have anticipated those changes, not sat on their complacent butts at halftime and congratulated themselves on how good this "band of brothers" was.