- Time: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MT
- Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium and No-Tailgating Zone, Provo, UT
- Weather: 77 degrees, Clear
- Odds: Boise State is an 2.5 point favorite
- TV: ESPN2
- Commentators: Dave "Cranston" Lamont, Ray "Ban" Bentley, and Allison "Wonderland" Williams
1. Taysom Hill is done for the year...again
Seeing as Hill was instrumental in BYU's lone win in the series—a 37-20 beating in Provo in 2013, this news might be welcome to some Boise State fans. However, the way that Hill was injured (basically stopping running after an untouched TD scamper) and the fact that this is his 3rd season-ender in 35 months really sucks. I mean it really sucks...and not just for BYU fans, but for football fans in general. Hill was the extra dimension in BYU's offensive attack.
2. Tanner Mangum isn't so bad himself
Quarterback dynamism takes a huge hit with Hill done for the year, but don't cry for BYU, Argentina...their backup can still "sling it" as the kids say (kids also don't get the Evita reference earlier in this sentence). Mangum, an Eagle High grad may be fresh off his Chilean mission, but back in 2011 he was the Co-MVP of the Elite 11 Finals with some bum named Jameis Winston. Mangum may be a "true freshman", but he grayshirted for the Cougars before his mission and isn't exactly a fresh-faced teen.
3. BYU receivers are seven feet tall
BYU's receiving corps may not have elite speed or athleticism, but they make up for that with overall beanpoledness. Mitch Mathews, Terrenn Houk, and Nick Kurtz are all 6'5" and above. Boise State's starting CBs are 5'9" and 5'10" and our starting safeties are 6'1" and 6'2". Make sure Dale Holste doesn't forget to iron some flubber onto the bottom of the cleats this week. Speaking of height, what is going on in Provo? BYU has FIVE O-linemen that are 6'7" or above and DE Austin Kaufusi is 6'8".
Boise State - Boise State has won 10 straight games dating back to last season
BYU - Has won 5 of last 10 contests dating back to last season
Best names on their roster
A familiar one...RB Squally Canada. We'll also accept RB Toloa'i Ho Ching or the motivational speaker and "deep snapper" Matt Foley.
Best player picture on their roster
OL Kyle Johnson. Also, "most BYU looking guy on the roster"
Players to watch
I mentioned before that Kaufusi was 6'8", which is passing-lane-clogging in and of itself...but the senior DE is also on the Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists and was named a preseason All-Independent first teamer by Phil Steele. Kaufusi led the Cougars in sacks last season (7) and needs to be kept at arms length by our tackles. The only problem: his arms are longer.
Again with the height. Mathews, a 6'6" WR creates matchup problems just by existing. He's basically a slightly slimmer Holden Huff with Biletnikoff credentials. Mathews had 922 receiving yards and 9 TDs last season and you might recognize him as the guy that caught the most poorly defended Hail Mary pass in the world against Nebraska. By the way, is it still called a Hail Mary if an LDS institution pulls it off? Hail to the Prophet?
Warner was a bigtime LB commit for the Cougs in the 2014 class and showed his mettle against the Broncos last season when he pick-sixed a wayward Grant Hedrick throw. Warner has a huge upside, but what's most impressive is that he's even suited up after a broken back that he suffered last season against UNLV. Warner, who had a USC offer before becoming a Coug, spent six months in a back brace but is "back" to aid the BYU D this year. Warner had 5 tackles against Nebraska on Saturday and I think will be a real good one for BYU in fairly short order.
Players to NOT watch
Taysom Hill is sadly out for the year, as is star nose tackle Travis Tuiloma—an Outland and Nagurski watch lister. Tuiloma is a pretty big loss for the Cougar D-line—he's out 4 to 6 weeks with a knee injury suffered against Nebraska. Running Back Jamaal Williams, the Cougars only real run threat withdrew from school citing the ever-popular "personal reasons". With Hill out, Williams presence would have been a welcome one for the Cougars, as they're pretty one-dimensional without the duo. It should be noted, however...that the remaining dimension is still a pretty good one.
Keys to victory
- PASS THE BALL. I noted in yesterday's "by the numbers" article that the Broncos were far from their balanced offensive attack against UW and ran the ball nearly 65% of the time in the too-close-for-comfort win. BYU's secondary is nowhere near as talented as Washington's, so the Broncos need to attack that relative weakness to chew up some yardage.
- Get off to a hot start. This was a key last week and sort of bore out, but I apparently forgot to mention the second part of this tactic: avoid a cold finish.
- Hang on to the ball. Boise State lost this battle to the Huskies and would do well not to do the same against BYU. Nothing kills momentum or stalls a comeback (if one were needed) like coughing it up.
- Blitz. Boise State needs to rattle Mangum by getting in his face early and often. If Mangum has time to sit in the pocket, he's going to find one of his height-advantaged WRs.
- Score more points. This one almost didn't pan out on Friday, but I'm convinced it's still the best tactic we've got.
Boise State 32, BYU 24