Another big key will be how well the Cougar receivers get off the line. Utah will be aggressive and try to jump routes, which puts the onus on Apo and company to exploit that down the field.
Look for BYU to find better gains with its passing attack than it did a week ago. Utah will be clogging up the middle of the field, so Apo and Cody Hoffman should have some good chances deep with outside routes.
BYU rush defense vs. Utah
BYU has faired very well against a straight running attack so far this season, but against Texas’ zone-read attack led by its quarterback, the Cougars struggled. The defense simply wasn’t ready for that style of attack last week and should see improvements as a result.
The Cougar front seven can be dominating and are the strength of this year’s defense. They’ll feature the same six-man defensive line rotation that will work to keep the Cougar linebackers free to make plays.
Utah struggled to mount an effective running attack against the Trojans. Primary ball-carrier John White rushed the ball 20 times for only 56 yards.
Despite his struggles last week, Cougar defenders are impressed by him and know they’ll have to be at their best to stop him.
“He’s a very good back from what I’ve seen,” said linebacker Jameson Frazier. “He’s fast, he hits the hole hard and he’s shifty. He’ll be someone we have to account for and be focused on stopping to have a good game against them.”
The strength of the Ute offensive front is with senior tackles John Cullen, 6-5, 300, and Tony Bergstrom, 6-6, 315. They’ll present a very traditional approach, running out of a predominant pro-style offensive alignment.
“They’re a lot different with some things than what we’ve been used to over the years,” said safety Travis Uale. “They don’t spread the field as much, but they’ll run a lot of different things at you from the same formation. There’s a lot more deception that we’ll have to be ready for.”
Look for the Cougars to rebound nicely from their surprising ineffectiveness against Texas last week. Utah starting quarterback Jordan Wynn is hardly a running threat, and they won’t have to key on him and go full bore after White.
It’s hard not to like this Cougar front seven against any straight-up running attack that focuses between the tackles. Summarily, look for BYU to hold Utah to well under 100 yards rushing.
BYU pass defense vs. Utah
The Cougar backfield, while not being severely tested as of yet, has proven to be adequate so far this season. It has been able to limit downfield opportunities and keep passing attacks from going for big gains.
“I’m happy with how we’ve down in defending the pass, but Utah will bring a new challenge,” said Uale. “There are some mistakes we’ve made that we’ll have to clean up against them if we’re going to limit them and their chances.”
The standout play so far has been provided at boundary corner where a rotation of junior college transfers Preston Hadley and Joe Sampson has proven to be very effective. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said this past week that their play at that position has improved from last year.
Utah will provide a variety of weapons, starting with junior wide receiver DeVonte Christopher, 6-1, 200. Christopher caught just short of half of Wynn’s completions last week, tallying 11 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown.
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