With the Cougars opening on the road, against a supposedly inferior opponent, on the East Coast, it got me thinking about that old quote from Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
If you’re like me, you’ve probably had your memory of last season’s opener against Virginia scrubbed clean, “Men in Black” style. But are the Cougars in for a repeat of last year? Below are a few reasons why the Cougars could be leaving Connecticut with their proverbial tails between their legs, 0–1.
1. Practice!?! We’re talking about PRACTICE!
A favorite pastime of mine is to troll the Internet on a day after Bronco announces he’s canceled a practice like he did last week to take the team to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. The shockwaves that reverberate across Cougar Nation are almost laughable.
But do they have a point? Should Bronco be utilizing every minute of practice time allotted to him by the NCAA to help prepare his team for the season? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know I’m still scarred from seeing Vanilla Ice do this in the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. So at the very least, Bronco should have better judgment on what movie he takes his team to see.
2. Top players M.I.A.
Last season, the Cougars were without the services of their top receiver, Cody Hoffman, for the season opener against Virginia. Hoffman missed the game with a strained hamstring, and the Cougar offense struggled that day to find any continuity.
This season we already know that the Cougars will be without receivers Nick Kurtz and Devon Blackmon, but most notably Jamaal Williams will be serving a one-game suspension against the Huskies. The BYU coaches have been touting the team’s depth this season and that depth will be put to the test a week from Friday, 5 p.m.
When BYU travels to UConn to face the Huskies on Aug. 29, it will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. This could be both a blessing and a curse for the Cougars.
On one hand, UConn won’t have the experience of playing against Robert Anae’s go-fast, go-hard, hurry up offense — so the BYU offense could catch the Huskies off guard.
But on the other hand, BYU could struggle against unfamiliar defensive schemes and stadium environments, like they did last year at Virginia.
4. Unpredictable weather
There are lots of things that coaches can do to simulate game-day environment. They can pump in loud music, practice against the other team’s scheme, and sequester them from their loved ones. One thing they can’t do is prepare the team to play in a monsoon.
Last season against Virginia, the game was delayed by two hours because of lightning and second half rains made the Cougars and Cavaliers look like they were the Keystone Cops playing football.
I’m not predicting the Cougars and Huskies will be playing in a downpour, but I’m also not, not predicting it either.
The game will be played smack dab in the middle of hurricane season on the East Coast, and if you factor in El Niño, the rains could be coming down like the second half of “Noah.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about El Niño over the years is it’s Spanish for “The Niño!”