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FOR COACHES, FIRST WEEK IS THE WORST

It's Week 2 of the local college football season and, if you're a coach, this is extremely good news. It hasn't come a minute too soon. For coaches, the really great thing about Week 2 is that it comes right after Week 1.

That means things are going to get better. They couldn't be worse. As far as coaches are concerned, the opening weekend of the college football season is like getting a Christmas present from your grandma: you never know what you're going to get, and you're not sure you want to find out.Take last Saturday's game, for instance. Please. Take them and throw them away.

From the first play of the first game, when a fellow named Charlie Brown (good grief) fumbled, to the first play of the last game, when Hema Heimuli required a sewing job, it wasn't a pretty sight. The Clintons have had better days than this recently.

Opening day can put a coach's teeth on edge faster than Joe Cocker singing the high notes. Scrimmages and two-a-day practices are fine, but they aren't the same as a real game.

On Utah's first offensive play of the season against Utah State on Saturday, senior tailback Charlie Brown - supposedly the Utes' most improved player - fumbled while the Ute line was opening a hole big enough to drive a Winnebago through. He played the second series, producing runs of 8 yards and minus-1 yard, and then was never seen in the backfield again. He does not appear on the two-deep this week.

The Utes, who did manage to beat the Aggies, also had a blocked punt and missed two extra points.

Maybe it was the potato. The Utes traditionally eat an ice-cream sundae the night before a game, but last Friday they decided to break tradition. Instead of sundaes, they served baked potatoes. Yum.

Coaching proved no easier than playing in Saturday's game in Logan. Utah head coach Ron McBride not only coached a football team but also had to fend off a bill collector. In the second quarter, he noticed that he was being followed on the sidelines by two officious-looking men. McBride, turning from the game briefly, asked for an explanation.

"I need money for the food," said the man.

"What?" said McBride.

"I need money for the box lunches."

"I don't have any money," replied McBride. "Go find the athletic director."

Maybe the USU collection system will improve this week. But beware future Aggie opponents requiring box lunches after the game.

Meanwhile, in Cedar City Southern Utah University was in over its head against Idaho, a team that whipped bowl-bound Utah last year. It was, of course, no contest, as the 43-10 score indicated, and the Thunderbirds did their part to help.

In the first half, Shawn Jones broke a long kick-off return and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone when he stumbled over his own feet at midfield, allowing the pursuit to catch him. Later in the game, Jones - same guy - broke another long return but this time collided with his own blocker at midfield, sending both of them to the ground.

No one had more reasons for opening-night goofs than Weber State coach Dave Arslanian, who fielded 19 new (and possibly temporary) starters while also auditioning another 30 players for starting jobs. All of which made it difficult to keep track of personnel. On one occasion the Wildcats called for a two-point conversion play - but left their kicking team on the field.

In the first quarter, starting safety Jed Davies was pacing the sidelines when he noticed that none of the other defensive starters were around. He looked at the field just in time to see the defense lining up for a play, with 10 players. He raced onto the field as the ball was being snapped.

That notwithstanding, Weber managed to beat Western Montana anyway.

BYU also managed to defeat Hawaii in Honolulu by one point, but it wasn't exactly smooth sailing. On the opening kickoff Heimuli got his fingers caught in an opponent's helmet, cutting one finger to the bone and another to the tendons. After his hand was sewn in the locker room, Heimuli returned to the lineup - and fumbled three times.

Then there was quarterback John Walsh. The BYU media brochure bills the '94 season as Return of the Deadeye, referring to Walsh, but on Saturday night Deadeye overthrew several receivers, including Tom Nowatzke on a gimme extra-point pass in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, one of Deadeye's touchdown passes was called back because of a penalty.

Kicker David Lauder had his own problems, missing one field goal and having two other attempts blocked. It was his first game since missing two field goals and an extra point on the same field in the 1992 Aloha Bowl.

Not to worry, BYU coaches say, the Cougars will get better. They have to. After all, the season opener is behind them.