Opponents average 222.8 yards per game through the air and 7.5 yards per pass against the Spartans so far this season. It's a pass defense that features two play-making safeties along with two experienced corners in senior Peyton Thompson, 5-11, 180, and junior Ronnie Yell, 5-10, 181.
"They're not like any defense we've faced so far this year," Mathews said. "They play zone almost all the time and they're athletic. They don't make a lot of mental errors, either, from what we've seen. They know their scheme and they don't make a lot of mistakes."
As Mathews mentioned, the Spartans don't blitz all that much. They've summarily only accounted for three sacks so far this season.
On paper, the San Jose State pass defense appears to be just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Jake Heaps. A zone-heavy system isn't exactly the best defense for a quarterback like Riley Nelson, who is given to run the ball out-of-the-pocket as much as he's given to throw it.
I still fully expect Nelson to be the guy, however, and he should be able to beat the Spartans with a lot of underneath passes going for short to intermediate gains. Don't look for the Cougars to be throwing a lot come Saturday, however.
BYU run defense vs. San Jose State
The Cougar run defense is looking to rebound after a subpar outing against Utah State last week. It was big plays that did them in, with players taking some bad angles and other mental errors providing some huge gains.
"We just need to quit making mental errors," Richardson said. "When we look at film, we're not getting beat by anything an offense is doing, but by us beating ourselves with some dumb mistakes."
Consistency will be key this week for the Cougar front seven. They'll be facing a San Jose offense that is very similar to the team they faced a week ago.
"You watch them on film and they're almost exactly like Utah State; it's almost like we're watching the same team," observed Richardson. "They'll spread you out, but they definitely like to run it right at you, like Utah State did."
The Spartans average 146.8 yards per game on a 4.3 yards per carry average. They feature a running quarterback in Dasmen Stewart, 6-4, 213, who will alternate snaps with Matt Faulkner, 6-2, 204, who is their throwing quarterback.
"That will be a challenge, but it's something I think we've prepared for well in stopping them both," said Richardson. "We just have to be aware of which guy is in there, but, more importantly, stay disciplined, stay with our assignments, contain when their running quarterback is in and we should be fine. They'll be a challenge though, that's for sure."
The stud running back for the Spartans is senior Brandon Rutley, 5-11, 192. There are some injury concerns with him entering Saturday's game, but he expects to play.
"He's very, very good," said Richardson. "He runs the ball very well. He's fast and he'll be one of the best running backs we see this year."
Rutley averages 103 yards per game on a 5.7 yards per carry average. Stewart is the second-leading rusher on the team, averaging 27 yards gained per game on a 5.6 yards per carry average.
It's all about not giving up big plays for this Cougar defense. While they've been able to stuff most rushing attempts up the middle, they've made too many mistakes on the edge, leading to some big gains.
Look for the team to have cleaned up a lot of the mental errors that have plagued them so far this season. With Rutley looking a bit gimpy, the Cougars should be able to hold the Spartans to well below their average and maybe under 100 yards.
BYU pass defense vs. San Jose State
The Cougar pass defense has been relatively solid so far this season. They give up 189.4 yards per game, although they haven't faced a team that likes to throw the ball a lot so far this season.
The Spartans don't look to be a pass-happy team, preferring to use a balanced approach in beating an opposing defense.
They average 200 yards per game through the air and will be looking to get the ball to sophomore Noel Grigsby, 5-11, 170. Grigsby is the team's play-maker and is someone who can torch an opposing defense with his speed.
"They have some fast guys for sure," observed cornerback Corby Eason. "They can beat you deep, they're quick and they're athletic, so we'll have to be ready for that."
Overall, the Spartans don't look to be much of a threat through the air. The Cougar defense should do fine in limiting big plays and keeping the SJSU passing game grounded for the most part.
Prediction: BYU 31 San Jose State 17
The Cougars get a do-over this week against a team that looks very similar to Utah State in schemes and overall approach. Given that they had an extra day to recover and prepare for this week's game, it should provide for some good returns.
Look for BYU to figure some things out this week, especially on offense, and put together its most complete effort of the year. San Jose State looks to have enough to keep it relatively close, but BYU should be able to secure its most comfortable win of the season, regardless.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
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