PROVO — BYU's defense enters Saturday's game against Utah ranked No. 10 nationally in total defense, No. 10 in scoring defense, No. 4 in sacks and No. 12 in rushing defense.
But Cougar linebacker Brandon Ogletree said the defense hasn't come close to reaching its potential.
Comparing this year's defense to last year's version, Ogletree said, "We're faster, especially in the secondary. I don't think we're as physical yet as we could be. I don't think we're as good at preparing as we could be. Last year we had some veteran dudes that really led the way, and we kind of had a system where our preparation was on point all week long. Once we learn how to do that, this defense will be really dominant. I don't think we've reached that level yet."
In last year's 54-10 loss to the Utes, BYU allowed a pair of long fourth-quarter touchdown runs by running back John White IV.
"Our focus probably wasn't where it should have been," Ogletree recalled. "As a team, we could have focused more. The plays they gashed us on, we didn't get dominated physically, it was just mental errors. We'll clean those up hopefully."
BYU's defense has held its last eight opponents, dating back to last season, below 300 yards of total offense.
"Eight games is a lot to have that kind of production," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "They've been consistent. Hopefully we'll be able to do that exact same thing as this season progresses."
NO BLECHEN: Utah safety Brian Blechen will not play against BYU due to a three-game suspension. Blechen was also sidelined for games against Northern Colorado and Utah State.
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson said the Utes have the depth to compensate.
"They're very deep. A team like Utah has a lot of talent," he said. "Though they may be missing a few guys, I know the guys they have on the field are definitely adequate and very good players."
NELSON AND HAYS: Nelson can relate to Utah quarterback Jon Hays, who is expected to take plenty of snaps Saturday, now that injured Jordan Wynn has retired.8 comments on this story
"Jon has been thrown in a lot like me," Nelson said. "I don't know him personally at all. I've never met the guy or even been able to say hello to him. I know he's been thrown in a lot so I can share that with him, because that's been my role for the majority of my college career."
RANKINGS: When BYU is ranked in the Associated Press, and Utah isn't ranked, the Cougars have posted a 13-1 record against the Utes. BYU goes into this weekend's game ranked No. 25 in the AP poll, while Utah is not ranked.