By Joseph Simmons
I still get goose bumps when I think of the catch.
It was perfect. The team let the Utes, and all of their “faithful” fans think they were actually going to win. Then, John Beck and company ripped out their hearts and made a dog-pile on top of them. As an objective journalist I, of course, showed no emotion.
It is with this same cold-blooded approach that I submit to you, the reader, that there is no way that the 2007 team will be as good as 2006.
I take no joy in this, but let”s face the truth and give it a hug. It”s just not that common that you get a team like we had in 2006. They went through the fire for years to get where they did. Now, a whole bunch of those players who fought and grew from the challenge are gone.
The losses are just too great. John Beck was the heart and soul of the offense, maybe the whole team, and not only is he gone, but his backup is gone too. No quarterback on the BYU roster has ever played a snap of Division I football. Is that a big deal? Yup, that”s a huge deal.
The last time there was a similar situation it was not good. Beck started his career in 2003 as a return missionary, just like Max Hall and Jacob Bower. He had been a standout in high school like Hall and Bower too, but things started rough. His first two seasons he went 9-14, and that was with some pretty decent offensive weapons in 2004. It just takes time; it”s not fair to expect that whoever ends up at quarterback will be close to as good as Beck became.
To add to the problems, BYU loses its two top offensive weapons, All-America tight-end Jonny Harline and running back Curtis Brown.
In 2006, BYU finished with 6,051 yards of total offense. To break that down, 1,845 of those yards were rushing, with 4,206 passing. Of those 1,845 rushing yards, Brown was responsible for more than half, with 1,042 yards. Of the passing yards, Brown was also responsible for receiving 566 of those yards, and Harline for 935 yards. Add it all up, and that”s 2,543 yards. That equals 42% of BYU”s offense, gone.
Offensively, there just won”t be enough firepower, especially facing Arizona again, and playing at UCLA and Tulsa early in the season. The team will drop a few games early, and will lose its confidence, and bam, we”re back in the cellar.
As if these woes weren”t enough, defensively BYU will lose its general – Cameron Jensen. Jensen was not only the most consistent player on D, but led the unit emotionally. Now he”s gone, and there”s a big hole at middle linebacker to be filled. Justin Robinson, who played as hard as anyone on the team, will be gone at cornerback, and the D-line will lose Matangi Tonga and Ian Dulan to missions.
The defense will be a little better off than the offense, but still, they will have to go through the same growing pains.
To top everything off, BYU will be playing with a huge target on its back. After beating everyone in the conference this year, it follows that everyone in the conference will be looking for revenge next year. If the fact that everyone already hates BYU anyway wasn”t enough, now they have the challenge of defending a championship to add to their problems.
I wish that this wasn”t the case, but the numbers don”t lie. Remember this year, and when things get rough come fall, think of The Pass, think of the Las Vegas bowl, think of the TCU game; we were spoiled, it was great.
There just isn”t enough talent coming back to match this year”s accomplishments. I wish this wasn”t the case, but, it is. Let”s take joy in what was, and get ready for the beating, because it”s coming.