Cougar fans know the grisly details of those past three games all too well, as their team was outscored a combined 101-17 score, a minus-7 turnover ratio, and was generally hit in the mouth over and over and over again.
The Cougars believe it will be different this year, however. With a good week of practice, a renewed attitude and focus, they’re confident.
“We’re excited for this one,” said senior running back Bryan Kariya. “Guys have been focused and we have some new things to throw at them, so we all feel that we’ll be able to compete better than we have the last few years.”
It’s a bit of a different Horned Frog team this season. Gone is the dominating defense that defined the Horned Frogs over the past three years, but the offense looks to be as prolific as ever, averaging 43.6 points per game among other gaudy stats.
So how do the Cougars match up against TCU and is there good reason to believe that those matchups will warrant a different result this time around?
BYU rushing offense vs. TCU
The Cougars have been running the ball very well as of late. With Michael Alisa being the primary runner, the Cougar ground attack has proven to be efficient and even punishing since the San Jose State game.
They’ll need every bit of that against a Horned Frog defense that has allowed very few rushing yards to BYU in recent years.
“I think in most games, just about all of them recently, it seems that we got down big early and couldn’t run it like we wanted to,” said Kariya about BYU’s rushing performances against TCU. “We just can’t do that. It’s easier said than done, but I think if we can continue with a good game plan and not get behind early that we can do some good things on the ground.”
TCU has been good against the run this season, but not in the dominating fashion that it has in recent years. The Horned Frogs go for 123.7 yards per game, which gives them a 39th ranking nationally.
They’ll present a 4-2-5 defensive system that relies on quick reads, aggressive play and great overall team speed in limiting opponents.
“You look at their film and they’re very fast and athletic like they always are,” said tight end Marcus Mathews. “They’re as good as any defense we’ve faced so far and they’ll be a challenge.”
Their defense is led by senior linebacker Tank Carder, 6-3, 237, who is second on the team in tackles with 34 from his middle linebacker spot. He’ll be joined at linebacker by junior Kenny Cain, 6-1, 210, who is sixth on the team in tackles despite missing two full games.
Up front, they feature four very athletic defensive linemen, though only one of the four started last year.
“People say that they’ve lost a lot of guys up front and that they won’t be as good, but they’re as good as they’ve always been,” said starting center Terence Brown. “We haven’t had much success on them the last few years and they’ll be a tough challenge again regardless of who they might have lost from a season ago.”
As always, TCU will feature a dominant play-making defensive end. While Stansly Maponga, 6-2, 265, doesn’t come in with the pedigree of Jerry Hughes, he is a handful, leading the team with 6.5 tackles-for-loss, among other stats.
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