PROVO — After back-to-back lengthy road trips, BYU will return to LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first of two remaining home games this season as San Jose State comes to town. The two schools will be playing for the 18th overall time, with the Spartans leading the all-time series 10-7.
The Cougars will be looking for their fourth win in the last five meetings, including a dramatic 17-16 win in the Bay Area in 2015. Here are six numbers to watch for as the Cougars look for their second win of the season this weekend (Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT, BYUtv).
Last week, BYU threw for the most yards of the season so far as junior quarterback Tanner Mangum completed 26 of 41 passes for 319 yards. This marked the first time in 15 games that BYU quarterbacks had more than 200 yards through the air. The last time BYU threw for 200+ yards in a game was when Taysom Hill had 248 yards against Toledo on Sept. 30, 2016.
San Jose State quarterbacks have also struggled this year, with both quarterbacks who have started throwing for less than 200 yards in most games played so far. However, sophomore Josh Love and freshman Montel Aaron each accounted for 300 or more yards once. Love had 315 in a 41-13 loss to UNLV while Aaron registered 322 last game versus Hawaii.
A large reason for the improved passing stats last week against East Carolina was due to receiver Aleva Hifo’s big game. The sophomore from Menifee, California, had a break-out game against the Pirates, as he registered nine catches for 148 yards. That was a 16.45 per catch average. Hifo had 130 yards total this season in all games prior to the trip to Greenville last weekend.
With Hifo’s yardage accumulated last week, it was the first time a Cougar receiver had more than 100 yards in a game since Mitch Mathews tallied 158 yards against Utah State on Nov. 28, 2015, in Logan against Utah State.
BYU’s defense has struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season. So far, the Cougars have registered nine sacks. That 1.13 sacks per game ranks the team No. 119 in the country. Corbin Kaufusi leads the team with 3.0 sacks.
San Jose State’s offense has allowed 20 sacks this season, or an average of 2.50 sacks per game. The Cougar defensive line will need to get pressure on the Spartan quarterbacks this weekend if they want a chance to get a win.
The Spartan defense has given up 1,449 yards passing on 130 completions. They have also allowed 12 passing touchdowns and a pass efficiency defense rating of 142.64, which ranks them No. 106 in the country. The Cougar defense is statistically similar, allowing 1,743 passing yards on 146 receptions. Cougar opponents have scored 12 passing touchdowns as well. BYU’s pass efficiency defense rating is 145.71, ranking it No. 106.
Both defenses are allowing more than 60 percent pass completions — the Spartans are giving up 60.1 percent while the Cougars are surrendering 66.0 percent. This weekend’s game will pit two of the worst pass efficiency defenses in the country, so there could be a lot of passing yards from both teams.
Another statistic that both teams have struggled with this season has been turnover margin. BYU has tallied four fumble recoveries and five interceptions. The Cougar offense has given up four fumbles and thrown 14 interceptions, which equals a turnover margin of -9 for the season. Giving up -1.13 more turnovers per game ranks the Cougars No. 118.
San Jose State’s defense has taken away 10 turnovers (seven fumbles, three interceptions) while the Spartan offense has accounted for 14 lost fumbles and 12 interceptions, or a turnover margin of -16. Their -2.00 turnovers lost per game rank #128.
With both the Cougars' and the Spartans' offenses struggled through eight games this year, each team has struggled to keep the ball. Both teams are ranked in the bottom 5 percent of all FBS teams in time of possession. BYU has a slight edge, averaging about 26:00 minutes per game, which ranks it No. 122. San Jose State is averaging 24:00 minutes per game, which has it slotted at 128 of 129 teams.
Landon Walters studied history and political science at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: [email protected]