CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Wide Receivers

Last week’s Tight Ends poll was much less dramatic than the previous week’s QB voting. Dennis Pitta ran away with it while Jonny Harline was a distant second.

This week we move on to wide receivers. If we were only allowed one vote, we might have a similar result. But we’re choosing two: Matt Allen, Β Toby Christensen, Austin Collie, Reno Mahe, Michael Reed, and Todd Watkins are the nominees.

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CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Tight Ends

Last week’s poll was exciting. With 324 votes cast, John Beck won the CougarStats QB of the decade over Max Hall by a mere 7 votes.

Now for the tight ends. We’re going to give 6 options. You can decided what your voting criteria is. Is it Harline for beating the Utes on his knees, George for splitting the gap in OT, Pitta, BYU’s all-time receiving leader, Doug Jolley for his role in BYU’s great 2001 season?

Choose on, the poll will be open for one week.


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CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Quarterbacks

The results are in for the first round of the CougarStats all-decade team for the 2000s. Luke Staley and Harvey Unga mad the team with 198 and 164 votes. Curtis Brown came in a distant third with 43 votes. Fui Vakapuna also ran.

This week it’s quarterbacks. Three nominees. Vote for one. John Beck, Brandon Doman and Max Hall. The poll will remain open for one week.

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BYU: The Most Clutch Team in America

Beginning with Beck-to-Harline, BYU has been the most clutch team in America. BYU has been an amazing 18-2 in games decided by 7 points or less since that moment.

Rank Team Wins Losses Win%
1 BYU 18 2 0.900
2 Wyoming 17 4 0.810
3 Utah 15 5 0.750
4 Cincinnati 15 5 0.750
5 East Carolina 22 9 0.710
6 LSU 17 7 0.708
7 Northwestern 21 9 0.700
8 Oregon St. 16 7 0.696
9 Hawaii 14 7 0.667
10 Syracuse 12 6 0.667
11 Oklahoma St. 12 6 0.667
12 Texas Tech 13 7 0.650
13 Rice 13 7 0.650
14 Kansas St. 13 7 0.650
15 Texas 11 6 0.647
16 Auburn 18 10 0.643
17 Boise St. 7 4 0.636
18 La.-Lafayette 12 7 0.632
19 Miami (OH) 15 9 0.625
20 Penn St. 10 6 0.625

Here are how some of these games have ended:

11/25/2006 – Beck-to-Harline TD pass for 33-31 win as game ended.

11/8/2007 – Dalton sacked twice to prevent game-winning drive in a 27-22 win

11/24/2007 – Hall-to-Collie on 4th and 18th capped off by Unga steamrolling into the end zone with 56 seconds remaining for 17-10 win

12/22/2007 – Eathyn Manumaleuna blocks UCLA’s 28 yard FG attempt on the last play of the game to preserve a 17-16 bowl victory.

9/6/2008 – Jan Jorgensen blocks Washington’s PAT attempt that would have sent the game into overtime, but instead gives BYU a 28-27 victory

10/25/2008 – Dennis Pitta hauls in a Max Hall pass with 1:46 left to put BYU ahead 42-35 against UNLV. Andrew Rich intercepts Omar Clayton’s pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to thwart a comeback.

11/1/2008 – Dennis Pitta scores with 22 seconds left as BYU rallies for a 45-42 win at Colorado State.

9/5/2009 – McKay Jacobsen catches a pass in the back of the end zone to put BYU up 14-13 against #3 Oklahoma. Oklahoma is misses a 55 yard FG as time expires.

11/28/2009 – Andrew George splits two defenders in OT and rumbles for a 25 yard TD in a 26-23 win over Utah.

9/3/2011 – Kyle Van Noy sacks the Ole Miss QB on 3rd and 27, forcing a fumble and then recovering it for a game winning TD in a 14-13 victory.

9/30/2011 – Riley Nelson, in relief of starter Jake Heaps, drives BYU an amazing 98 yards in two minutes and pinballs the game-winning pass to Marcus Matthews with 11 seconds left to beat Utah State 27-24

12/30/2011 – Riley Nelson decides winning another game with 11 seconds left is a good idea as he fake spikes the ball and catches Tulsa asleep as he throws the game winning pass to Cody Hoffman in a 24-21 bowl victory.

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2000s All-Decade Team voting: Running Backs

Now that the football season is over, we’re going to try something new . This is your chance to help choose the CougarStats all-decade BYU football team.

Vote for the all-decade team for 2000-2009. We’ll start out with running backs and in one week we’ll move on to another position until we have a full line-up. Nominees are selected based on stats, all-conference selections or because I just felt like it. Write-in votes accepted as comments to this blog post.

Later, we’ll select all-decade teams for the 90s, 80s and so on. Players who crossed over two decades can only be selected once. So, if Owen Pochman, for example, is not selected as the kicker of the decade for the 200s, he will be on the ballot for the 90s. If he wins for the 200s, then he will be kept off of the ballot for the 90s.

Here are the running back nominees. Pick 2. Curtis Brown, JJ DiLuigi, Luke Staley, Harvey Unga and Fui Vakapuna.

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What if bowl stats before 2002 counted

The career stat lists on CougarStats do not include bowl game stats for players prior to 2002, the year that the NCAA started including bowl games in their official stats. For a long time, I’ve wondered how much of a disadvantage this gives the older players. Would it make much of a difference in the top 10 rankings if pre-2002 bowl statistics were included?

For passing and rushing leaders, the bowls make no difference. The top ten is unchanged. For scoring and receiving, the leaders would change.


Dennis Pitta is BYU’s all-time leader in receptions with 221. 15 of those catches were in bowl games. Matt Bellini is third with 204. If Bellini’s 24 bowl game receptions were included in his career totals, he would take over the top spot with 228.

Official receiving leaders:

1 Pitta, Dennis 221
2 Collie, Austin 215
3 Bellini, Matt 204
4 Hooks, Margin 189
5 Odle, Phil 183
6 Hudson, Gordon 178
7 Mahe, Reno 166
8 Drage, Eric 162
9 Brown, Curtis 157
10 Christensen, Todd 152

Receiving leaders with pre-2002 bowl games included:

1 Bellini, Matt 228
2 Pitta, Dennis 221
3 Collie, Austin 215
4 Drage, Eric 195
5 Hooks, Margin 194
6 Hudson, Gordon 192
7 Odle, Phil 183
8 Mahe, Reno 173
9 Heimuli, Lakei 161
10 Christensen, Todd 160

If the NCAA did not change the rule in 2002 and no bowl game stats were included, Pitta would still be #1, but Bellini would hold the second place spot ahead of Austin Collie.

Receiving leaders with no bowl game stats:

1 Pitta, Dennis 206
2 Bellini, Matt 204
3 Collie, Austin 198
4 Hooks, Margin 189
5 Odle, Phil 183
6 Hudson, Gordon 178
7 Mahe, Reno 166
8 Drage, Eric 162
9 Christensen, Todd 152
10 Bellini, Mark 146



Austin Collie officially has the most receiving yards in BYU history and if pre-2002 bowl stats were included he would still hold the title. However, Eric Drage has more yards in regular season games.

Official receiving yards leaders:

1 Collie, Austin 3,255
2 Drage, Eric 3,065
3 Pitta, Dennis 2,883
4 Hooks, Margin 2,841
5 Bellini, Matt 2,635
6 Odle, Phil 2,548
7 Hudson, Gordon 2,484
8 Bellini, Mark 2,429
9 Smith, Chris 2,367
10 Kozlowski, Glen 2,223

Receiving yards leaders with pre-2002 bowl games included:

1 Collie, Austin 3,255
2 Drage, Eric 3,227
3 Hooks, Margin 2,953
4 Pitta, Dennis 2,883
5 Bellini, Matt 2,868
6 Hudson, Gordon 2,600
7 Bellini, Mark 2,600
8 Odle, Phil 2,548
9 Smith, Chris 2,463
10 Kozlowski, Glen 2,330

Receiving yards leaders with no bowl game stats:

1 Drage, Eric 3,065
2 Collie, Austin 3,029
3 Hooks, Margin 2,841
4 Pitta, Dennis 2,742
5 Bellini, Matt 2,635
6 Odle, Phil 2,548
7 Hudson, Gordon 2,484
8 Bellini, Mark 2,429
9 Smith, Chris 2,367
10 Kozlowski, Glen 2,223


The biggest loser in this little experiment is Mitch Payne, bless his heart. In the official stats Payne leads Owen Pochman by a single point. If you add Pochman’s bowl stats, he takes over #1 with 341 points. If you take away Mitch’s bowl stats, he gets passed by Pochman and Mitch’s big brother Matt.

Official scoring leaders:

1 Payne, Mitch 334
2 Pochman, Owen 333
3 Payne, Matt 312
4 Staley, Luke 290
5 Unga, Harvey 266
6 Gunther, Kurt 243
7 Willis, Jamal 240
8 Brown, Curtis 218
9 Hamilton, Waymon 192
10 Heimuli, Lakei 192

Scoring leaders with pre-2002 bowl games included:

1 Pochman, Owen 341
2 Payne, Mitch 334
3 Payne, Matt 316
4 Staley, Luke 290
5 Unga, Harvey 266
6 Gunther, Kurt 258
7 Willis, Jamal 252
8 Brown, Curtis 236
9 Hamilton, Waymon 198
10 Heimuli, Lakei 192

Scoring leaders with no bowl game stats:

1 Pochman, Owen 333
2 Payne, Matt 312
3 Payne, Mitch 308
4 Staley, Luke 290
5 Unga, Harvey 254
6 Gunther, Kurt 243
7 Willis, Jamal 240
8 Brown, Curtis 200
9 Hamilton, Waymon 192
10 Heimuli, Lakei 192

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Jake Heaps post-mortem

Now that Jake Heaps has decided to take his talents elsewhere, let’s take a look at the (statistical) legacy he’s leaving at BYU. While they won’t be building him a statue in the Hall of Quarterbacks, he does hold a number of BYU freshman records including:

Passing Yards: 2,316
Passing Attempts: 383
Passing Completions: 219
Passing Touchdowns: 15
Wins: 6
Games Started: 10
Games Played: 13

Heaps leaves BYU ranked 16th in career passing yards with 3,768, about 500 yards less than Sean Covey. His 2010 season was the 29th most yards in a season.

Jake’s -157 is the 8th most yards lost in BYU history. Not necessarily a terrible thing considering the quality of some of the QBs below him — Sarkisian, Detmer, Nielsen, Walsh.

QB Rating
His final passer rating was 114.1, comparable to some other QBs that had limited success at BYU — Bob Jensen, Matt Berry, Bret Engemann.

TDs – Ints
Jake wraps up his BYU career with a +7 TD to Int total. In 2011 he was only at +1

Win-Loss record as a starter
Career: 10-6
2010: 6-4
2011: 4-2

CougarStats wishes all the best for Heaps and hopes he can live up to his potential and turn into a great quarterback wherever he ends up.

So long Jake, we hardly knew ye.

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The Perils of Dink and Dunk Passing

Over the past 10 to 15 years, college football passing attacks have adopted an increasingly dink and dunk flavor where they get an increase in their completion percentage by decreasing their yards per completion. In 2000, the NCAA had an average completion percentage of 54.1% and an average of 12.7 yards per completion, compared to 2011, where the averages are now 60.4% and 12.0.

The problem with this approach, however, is that some teams have taken the dink and dunk to enough of an extreme that their increase in completion is not sufficient to overcome the loss of efficiency resulting from shorter throws. Take a look at the grid below, which shows the winning percentage for a given combination of completion percentage and yards per completion. This is based on over 13,000 games played between 2001 and 2011.

Note the neat little diagonal in the middle of the chart which shows where the threshold is between a winning and losing record. It also shows that even if a team can complete 70%-75% of their passes, if they average less than 10 yards per completion, their odds of winning are still less than 50%.

This season, Jake Heaps has completed 57% of his passes for 10.1 yards per completion. The grid above shows that historically, that results in a winning percentage of 35%. Contrast that to Riley Nelson’s 61% completions for 14.8 yds per completion, which matches up with a winning percentage of 69% in the grid. Nelson is completing a higher percentage of his passes than Heaps and for a significantly larger average gain. This is the single biggest reason why BYU’s offensive output has shot up over the beginning of the season.


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Analysis of BYU’s Defense — Strength of Schedule

BYU is currently 17th in the nation in total defense. Β A common response from the fan base is ‘yeah, but their strength of schedule is poor’. Β Let’s look at how BYU did at limiting opposing offenses, relative to the other teams.

Opponent Yds Allowed Rank
Ole Miss 214 5
Texas 289 4
Utah 481 12
UCF 399 7
USU 406 4
SJSU 325 4
OSU 365 6
ISU 251 4
TCU 283 1
Idaho 241 3
NMSU 249 1
Hawaii 299 2

On average, BYU has held their opponent to the 4th fewest yards they’ve gained this season. Utah is the big outlier, otherwise BYU has held every other opponent at or below their average except for UCF.

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Week 10 stat list update


Riley Nelson‘s 56 passing yards vs. Idaho were enough to pass up Eldon ‘The Phantom’ Fortie for 27th in career passing at BYU.


Last week Nelson passed up Jake Heaps in passing for the season. This week, Heaps passed up Nelson.


It was a bad week for the Phantom. JJ DiLuigi passed him to move into 11th in career rushing yards.


One catch was enough to move McKay Jacobson into a tie with Jay Miller for 25th.

JJ DiLuigi has the same number of receptions in his career (86) as Luke Staley (and Daniel Coats, and Scott Pettis).


Jacobson moved up one spot to 17th, ahead of Jonny Harline.


Jordan Pendleton finished his career in the 111th spot for career tackles at BYU with 130.


Jake Heaps moved in to 16th place, passing Marc Lyons.


So far, the team is averaging 1.3 interceptions per game. That would be the highest average since 2006.


Heaps’ rating moved up a bit from 110.3 to 112.7, Nelson’s also increased from 147.7 to 148.6. Heaps’ career rating compares with Jason Beck and Bret Engemann. Nelson’s is similar to Robbie Bosco and John Walsh.


Nelson’s rating for 2011 (159.7) is identical to Brandon Doman‘s rating in 2001.


A good thumping of Idaho lifted BYU’s points-per-game margin from +3.6 to +6.7.


If Justin Sorensen can go three more games without missing an extra point he will have the BYU record from most PATs without a miss in a season.

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