PROVO — The Cougars will take on the Idaho State Bengals this Saturday at LaVell Edwards stadium. It will be BYU’s first matchup against an FCS school this year, as they’ll attempt to win their fifth straight game on the year after starting out 1-2.
If you’re thinking that this won’t be a competitive game, you’re probably right. Most matchups between a Division I-A team and a Division I-AA program is assumed to be lopsided. But considering what the Bengals have done so far this year, their matchup against BYU would appear to be even more so.
Idaho State comes in with a 2-5 record and fresh off of a 39-12 loss against Weber State. Their two victories of the year came against Northern Colorado and Division 2 Western State.
Summarily, the matchups don’t look competitive on either side of the football heading into Saturday’s game.
BYU rushing attack vs. Idaho State
The Cougar rushing attack has taken off since Riley Nelson took the reigns as the Cougar starting quarterback. The first five games of the year saw them run the ball 154 times for 472 yards, while in just the last two games they’ve run it 92 times for 506 yards.
A lot of this has been due to coaches simplifying the run-blocking schemes along with giving Michael Alisa the primary ball-carrying responsibilities. Alisa has run the ball 36 times for 175 yards over the last two weeks.
“We’re definitely doing better in our run-blocking,” said offensive lineman Houston Reynolds. “The coaches made some good changes and with Riley (Nelson) in there, and with the help he gives us in motivating the team and with what he can do running the ball himself — you’ve seen a lot of improvement.”
The Bengals gives up 246 yards per game and not against what many would consider strong rushing attacks. They gave up 308 yards on the ground last week against Weber State.
They’ll operate out of a 3-4 base defense that features three senior starting linebackers.
BYU should run a lot and run well against a very suspect Idaho State front. Riley Nelson and the Cougar offense will likely do what they want on the ground to the tune of well over 300 yards gained on the ground come Saturday and probably surpassing 400 yards.
BYU passing attack vs. Idaho State
As the running game has improved, so has the Cougar passing attack. With a productive running game, the offense has forced defense to play closer to the line, leading to more play-action opportunities for big yardage.
Cody Hoffman in particular has seen a resurgence with his former roomate running the show at QB. He’s coming off of an Austin Collie-like performance a week ago and should be raring to go against the Bengals.
Idaho State gives up 192 yards per game through the air, but that’s largely a comment on teams being able to run on them for their yardage more than anything.
Don’t look for the Cougars to throw a lot in this game. Nelson even attempting more than 20 passes would seem like too much, considering that they should be able to romp over the Bengals on the ground.
This game should see the return of Jake Heaps under center some time during the second half of play.
How he’ll look will certainly be worth noting as he tries to regain his perch as the BYU starting quarterback while earning the trust and respect of his teammates. Building that case against the likes of Idaho State is a tough prospect, however, as there is little to prove against what looks to be a vastly inferior opponent.
BYU rush defense vs. Idaho State
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