PHOENIX — The Desert Duel should provide points galore.
When BYU and Arizona clash tonight in University of Phoenix Stadium, whoever has the best defense will likely reign. Will defense be in short supply?
Rich Rodriquez and his fast-break spread offense is led by veteran skill players and a solid offensive line. The Wildcats will move the ball, and when they do, it’s a unit that can put up touchdowns in a matter of minutes.
So, aside from BYU’s own post-Bronco Mendenhall defense being put squarely in the crosshairs, new head coach Kalani Sitake knows the chore of stopping Arizona must be spread around, and that means duties will fall to his offense as well.
Ty Detmer is in the midst of designing what should be a solid offense, built on sound principals from the hogs in the trenches to his QB, backfield and receivers. It will take time. But many expect BYU’s offense to come out gunning, flinging the ball around like Heisman crazy. There could be some of that.
But a more sound strategy in this matchup may call for Detmer to use BYU’s superior size and weight up front and play smash-mouth football against what historically has been a leaky Arizona defense. In other words, eat up clock, create long drives and keep Arizona’s breakneck speed offense on the sidelines by the drink coolers.
Arizona is breaking in a new defensive coaching staff. It will be built on a philosophy of changing up looks, mixing fronts and coverages. But it is also build with linemen who are 20, 30, maybe 40 pounds lighter than BYU’s offensive blockers.
Football science dictates Detmer attack that with Jamaal Williams, Algeron Brown and Squally Canada behind blockers who scale out at 301, 306, 295, 307 and 335. Then, sprinkle in a little Taysom Hill when he sees a sprint lane.
Arizona’s listed D-line is anchored by a nose tackle who weighs 247.
The laws of physics dictates Detmer run the ball right at Arizona defenders until they consistently stop it.
Still, this is a season-opener, and strange things tend to happen. What appears obvious on paper sometimes ends up being cast aside as the game takes on a life of its own and adjustments are made.
A key for BYU is to use Sitake’s new attacking defense to produce turnovers. It’s one of the biggest factors in wins and losses and is contingent on finishing on the plus side of take-aways versus give-aways. Fumbles, interceptions, muffed punts and tipped passes usually crown victors and name losers.
Today begins the season’s first set of weekly prognostications. Here are picks for this weekend’s games.
Boston College 28, Georgia Tech 24: This one is in Ireland; Notre Dame lite wins.
Oklahoma 28, Houston 21: Superior line play lifts Sooners past AAC challenger.
Ohio State 42, Bowling Green 7: Urban Meyer is tuning it up.
Boise State 34, Louisiana Lafayette 14: Broncos out-execute once again.
West Virginia 24, Missouri 14: Big win for Big 12 in pre-conference play.
Washington 38, Rutgers 21: Pac-12 is flexing some muscle.
UCLA 24, Texas A&M 21: Josh Rosen is not longer a rookie.
LSU 31, Wisconsin 21: Tigers deliver on neutral field.
Virginia 28, Richmond 10: Successful debut for Bronco and the boys.
Alabama 24, Southern Cal 21: Trojans struggle in prime time.
BYU 34, Arizona 28: Kalani Sitake's defense forces turnovers.