The Cougars used a spread offensive system to get the offense and the ground game going last week. It looked a lot more like the BYU offense of old with the pass helping to set up the run rather than the other way around.
As the approach found some success, it’s very reasonable to expect them to bring the same approach on Friday. The hope is to allow a power running attack to help finish the Aggies off, as it did last week against a stout Central Florida defense.
BYU passing attack vs. Utah State
The Cougar passing attack stalled big time in the second half last week against Central Florida. Receivers weren’t getting open and quarterback Jake Heaps made some head-scratching throws, leading to a lot of questions before this week’s game.
BYU finished their game with Central Florida averaging only 3 yards per pass and will definitely look to improve upon that number come Friday night.
“Pass game has to get better — everything needs to get better,” said Di Luigi. “I think we’re on the right track, but we can’t let up. We definitely need to be better on all areas if we hope to beat a very good Utah State team.”
The Aggies have given up only 187 yards through the air so far this season. They feature two inexperienced cornerbacks in junior college transfer Jumanne Robertson, 5-10, 176, and sophomore Nevin Larson, 5-10, 177.
The pass rush will be lead by their two rotating outside linebackers. Senior Levi Koskan, 6-4, 250, and junior Maurice Alexander, 6-2, 209, have combined for 4 sacks on the year.
“They bring some blitzes and they use a lot of nickel,” observed Holt. “They have some good pass rushers and they like to mix it up. So we’ll have to be ready for that.”
As surprising as the lack of run production has been, the Cougar air attack being grounded is certainly something most viewers weren’t anticipating.
Utah State has put up some good numbers in defending the pass, but they have yet to go against a potent passing attack. Whether the Cougars will prove to be potent remains to be seen, but they certainly look to have the potential.
Cody Hoffman will be the key here as will Ross Apo, if he recovers from his mild concussion and plays. Utah State will present a lot of man-coverage with BYU’s two towering receivers appearing to have an advantage against the Aggie’s undersized and inexperienced corners.
Look for BYU to finally find a way to exploit a defense deep in this game.
During last year’s matchup, receivers were getting open and Jake Heaps was getting the them the ball accurately and on time. The problem was with the receivers not being able to simply catch the football.
Look for that to change come Friday with the Cougars putting forth their best passing performance of the year.
BYU rush defense vs. Utah State
It’s been a lot of Jekyll and Hyde for the Cougar ground defense so far this year. We’ve seen them capable of stale-mating some pretty good rush offenses while being run all over by those same offenses in the second half.
Last week against Central Florida they yielded some long runs, which kept the game close.
Utah State is an offense that will look to run the ball and run it a lot. They’ve found a lot of success with their ground game this year, averaging a very impressive 316 yards per game on a six-run-per-carry average.
They’re led by junior Robert Turbin, 5-10, 216, who most consider to be the best running back in the state. He’s averaged 121 yards per game on a 5-yard-per-carry average.
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