I have been waiting a long time for this game. The Cougars of BYU come to Boise to kick off a 12 year series. Join me after the jump as I am brutally honest about what I think the BYU offense and defense can and can't do against us. This edition of keys to the game will include help from Jim Rome and LT. Lets get to it.
The BYU Cougars bring with them a 2-1 record, and come off of a very dramatic game in which they lost a heart breaker to the Utah Utes. For those of us that watched the game, it should not have been as close as it was, and I mean, Utah should have won by 10 points or better, but their offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator took turns napping in the cockpit against the Cougars. Do the Cougars have a good defense? Yeah, I wont argue that, however lets take a look at their previous opponents..... Washington State, MY beloved Cougars lost at the hands of BYU. Folks, Wazzu's defense is about as bad as it gets, BYU should have hung 45 plus on them, but didn't. Not only that but Wazzu gave BYU exactly what they wanted.... easy throws, more on that later. Weber State, Big Sky opponent. Next. Utah Utes, a team without a starting quarterback, and without their leading rusher and still managed to throw for close to 200 yards and score 24 points. Utah was plagued by the offensive coordinator refusing to take what the BYU defense gave him, and continually played away from his quarterbacks strengths.
BYU does have a good defense but the scheme is what can be exploited. They run a non traditional defense that is best categorized as a defense that plays their defensive backs usually 8 yards off the ball, and they backpedal at the snap.... meaning the concede the five yard hitch, the one step slant, and the short out route. This is where Utah could have built confidence in a quarterback that was struggling and an offense that stalled at times. Our coaching staff will take these short yardage plays because they know almost every time it will set up a 2nd down and 4 yards.
BYU also benefits from bad offensive play calling. If I could describe BYU's offense it would be that of a high school offense. Two wide outs, one tight end, and two running backs. I could not imagine the potential if BYU had an offensive coordinator that was willing to leave a 1987 offense in... well... 1987. BYU has two great wide receivers, Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo. Imagine having two Austin Pettis' who could beat most defensive backs. That is what BYU has. They are dangerous, but they can be stopped, and the scheme is almost too easy.
BYU is lead by Riley Nelson:
And he looks an awful lot like:
Mountain West Commissioner, Hair Thompson
Nelson is very athletic, but struggles to display consistency in the decision making process. He can be very good at home with his crowd behind him and his teammates picking him up, but he can struggle on the road in an environment that is hostile.
What must Boise State do to beat BYU.... In my opinion, the answer is simple. There are those who would say, "hatemay, I think we should respect BYU's athletic receivers and give them respect." Hit it LT
Jim Rome Manual Buzzer (LT) (via BHDZ12)
Thank LT. Yeah, I don't like that call. Not a very good call. We must do the opposite. We must get Gavins and Taylor in the face of Apo and Hoffman all night long. This is something Utah did for about 75% of the night. They knew (as do I) that Riley Nelson struggles to throw the ball accurately beyond 20 yards. He will not carve up a defense with the deep post, double move, or deep roll out, he can only throw the short game. This is where Wazzu went wrong. They gave Nelson the short game all first half, and it made the BYU offense look like a juggernaut. We can still give safety help, we just can't give Apo and Hoffman breathing room. Make Nelson throw the check down to his tight end or try to scramble. In baseball, do you steal a base based off of how strong the catchers arm is? No, you steal off of how slow or fast the pitcher makes his move to home plate..... we are pressing Apo and Hoffman knowing they may get behind our guys, but counting on Nelson to Air Mail the throw. If we do this, we win the game.
Stats wise, we must keep Nelson under 200 yards passing. We must also sack him four times. He did not fare well with pressure, and at times had a hard time throwing a proper incomplete pass. We must stop the run with six men in the box, this means, our front four, and two line backers. If we can do that, then we can lock up Apo and Hoffman and still let our safeties give help, then we win. We must win the turnover battle. We got away with it last week because of the inferiority of our opponent.
Offensively, we must be aware of BYU's All American line backer Kyle Van Noy. He is a bad dude. We must run away from his side, but their may be times we counter to his side. We must not let him get through our offensive line un-molested. He has the ability to hurt people, and we must make sure our tackles and full back know where he is at all times. We must take advantage of BYU's deep secondary. What is more effective, a four yard rush or a four yard pass play? According to Frank Stallone's Coaching Manual: "If we achieve four yards on a running play, or four yards on a pass play, there is no difference, the yardage is reached and both have potential to further the cause of running or passing." Thanks Coach. We must take what the BYU D gives us.
We must rush the ball for over 100 yards. We did it with variety of ways last game. Look for us to lean on the Wild Potter again this game. Also, the coaching staff flashed the Wild Potter, and look for us to pass out of that set. Remember, Chris Potter played quarterback as a senior in high school. We will throw out of that, and I think it will be against BYU. Southwick must not throw an interception this game. Our margin of error is small this game, we can't continue to turn the ball over in these situations and expect to win. Look for Southwick to complete 55% of his passes or better for 265 yards or better, we win the game with that.
Special teams, I think we must have one return inside opposing teams territory. Chris Potter does a great job of holding the field on returns. He has great vision and I think he can find a crease.
Our crowd must be into this game. BYU self destructed under the crowd noise against Utah. We must make it hell for BYU. We must be insane.
BYU is a good team, don't get me wrong. However, we have the better team. We have more talent in the backfield, we have good talent at wide receivers, and our coaching staff has the clear edge against Bronco Mendenhall and Co. Look for this to be a close game at half, we then break away late third quarter and finish it strong with a 28-13 victory.