6 min read

Level Setting

Level Setting
Photo by Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Frustration can only come when we have unmet expectations. It's why in pretty much any business discussion there is a conversation around 'level setting' or finding a mutual place of understanding of a starting point identifying what all parties want to get out of the discussion.

Last weekend I had all sorts of expectations, some met and others not.

The Japanese soaking tub in my hotel room? Never done that before but now I want one in my house.

The tasting menu that included a small piece of A5 Wagyu that was the single best bite of food I've ever consumed? Certainly blew me away.

Getting almost halfway home only to have the freeway close, wait 90 minutes to be turned around and drive almost back to Henderson turning a 5 hour drive into a 10 hour drive? That freaking sucked.

And then there was the game itself.

Five Guys and In-N-Out

One of the age old (and most stupid) internet debates is whether or not Five Guys is better than In N Out.

They are not the same thing. And they are not trying to be the same thing. They are not direct competitors and what I expect from each of them is different, so why would I make a direct comparison?

In-N-Out costs like $4 (I haven't been there in forever so I don't even remember) for a burger and Five Guys I damn near need a second mortgage on my house. In-N-Out is aiming (literally right in the name) to be as fast as possible with a simple menu. Five Guys wants to be a premium burger and most locations don't have a drive thru.

Unmet Expectations

If I look back at last Saturday, I put 65% give or take of the blame on the offense.

Could the defense have pitched a shutout and we won 20-0? Sure. But we (hopefully by now) have all leveled our expectations of what we think this defense can do.  Nobody really believed we were going to hold the Irish under 20 points. If you did that's your fault.

Offensively - we've seen slow starts for the first half of the last 5 games. Something isn't working (it's both sides of the ball the last 5 games really...) and the ship needs to be righted. Ask any BYU fan with a pulse and the expectations we had coming into this season were some defensive improvement with more variety than we saw last season schematically (check) and a top 15-20 offense (nope).

One side of the ball the majority of the reps go to players that either are PWO or de-facto PWOs where BYU was their only offer. There's a serious talent ceiling on what the defense can do. We saw it last year as injuries piled up and while we've stayed healthy and seen more variation this year than last year, we just don't have the horses (and don't get me started on the hockey subs).

But still I believed we have the talent to be a unit ranked in the 40-50 range in most computer rankings and while they wouldn't WIN us any games, they would never let a game get out of reach and LOSE us a game.

And Saturday I feel like they did that.

On the other side of the ball though, hoo boy.

Puka and Gunner have been hurt. Holker transferred. That stings. But Epps and Roberts have been major, major bright spots. Hill progressed as we expected.

But we have 3 guys with legit NFL talent on the OL (Freeland, Barrington, Kingsley), another that will get a look (Connor Pay), a 6th year RB in Katoa, added a former 4* RB from a P5 school where he had over 1,700 career yards and a three year starter at TE in Isaac Rex. And Masen Wake.

Oh, and don't forget this is all surrounding a returning starter at QB.

We are sitting at 32 points a game which is in the 30s. I expected Top 20 (and maybe as the schedule softens we climb that high). But I didn't expect to ever, in any circumstances, see a first half that went:

  1. INT on the first play
  2. 4 plays, 20 yards, 1:57 off the clock
  3. TD  (7 plays, 26 yards after massive PR, missed PAT)
  4. 3 & out (6 yards, 1:26 off the clock)
  5. Safety on the first play.

The offense effectively contributed 4 net points.

Yeah, the defense shouldn't have given up such a long drive, but eventually they got a stop on downs which could've been a huge momentum swing. Then piss all of that away and now only fall fruther behind on the scoreboard, we punted the ball back to them only to give up a TD drive with an already exhausted defense.

That doesn't excuse the defense from sharing part of the blame (see my 35% above) but I expect more from this offense. And I think they do as well, but something isn't right. Something isn't working and something needs to change.


At the game I ran into my OL coach from high school. It was great catching up with him. Hadn't seen him since graduation in 2009. My hair is catching up to his bald head.

In the 4th quarter when we were driving for a chance to tie, I was definitely annoyed by the sudden shift away from the passing game that was working - I get we were trying to chew the clock a bit, but when you struggled for half the game I don't think you have that luxury. But I'm also not paid to be a coach, so what do I know.

1st down - 5 yard run. Great, staying on schedule. Drive still going.

2nd - 3 yard run. Okay 3rd and 2 is manageable and we will need 2 downs anyway.

3rd - 1 yard run. Would've liked a pass there because we can always fall back to the run on 4th down if we need to, or Jaren can scramble for it. Frustrating we couldn't get 2 yards.

4th down: (I need a paragraph for this one)

We call a time out, go back in, pulled out the 230+ pound running back to put in the 205 lb guy and instead of giving him a lead block to clear the way, Masen Wake pulls backside to head off the defensive end crashing down. I do not understand why in 2020 Wake had 42 snaps lined up in the backfield as a traditional full back and we've completely gone away from it (just 6 this year). Why do we not have a short yardage situation where we can get baby-rhino-sized Houston Heimuli in there at FB with Wake on the wing?

All of those questions aside, it was one yard, and the play call shouldn't matter. As an offensive lineman that is the time to shine - it's 4th down and you need 12 inches otherwise you will almost assuredly lose the ball game and coach calls your numbers. This is where you prove it and leave it all on the field.

And this is what we got:

We (incorrectly) touted this as possibly the best OL group in school history. Potentially 4+ NFL guys in the starting 5.

Barrington gets cut, Freeland pushes his guy down (which is fine) but the cut held up boht Pay and LaChance on their double team. Kingsley got no push and Rex skipped over a guy rather than going inside out which maybe is to sell the jet sweep and try to take the inside defender with him (which almost worked).

The entire play got blown up and it was doomed from the snap. But it shouldn't have mattered. This is the group we expected to excel in any game they played and now for 5 of 6 games they've been completely MIA for the first 2 quarters of every game.

Is it a schematic issue?

Maybe overthinking some stuff and need to simplify, but I'm not in the room so I couldn't tell you.

Is it an attitude issue?

I think to some extent. We aren't seeing nearly the number of runs finished off with pissed off big uglies moving the pile to get 2 extra yards that we've seen the last 2 years.

Is it frustrating as hell?

Yes. To me, much more than the defense because of how far it is from what the ceiling could be for this group. Total offense and total defense are surface level stats, but they are still directionally accurate and as it sits today the offense is #59 and defense is #58.

SP+ has the offense #45 and the defense #55. Never thought I'd see that.

FEI is more favorable with the offense at #17 and defense at #50

Offensive available yards gained has been under 50% in the 3 games we've played that have a pulse (and by that I mean Utah State and Wyoming are ~90th in most categories and USF is one of the bottom 5 defenses in the country).

I'm not writing this to let the defense off the hook - but they were slightly below average last year, I expected a little improvement this year and I expected a star studded offense to put up numbers against everybody because, well, when you are star studded that's what people expect.

I'm annoyed that I have 2 double doubles from In N Out when I paid for one of those and a double bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys.