UMass may only have a 3-7 record but no one can say the Minutemen are boring to watch. They can score on a minute’s notice. BYU’s defense will be tested and the BYU offense will likely need to be on all cylinders to keep pace with the scoring. Here’s a look at the matchups.
When BYU has the ball
The Minutemen defense is giving up nearly 31 points and 195 yards rushing per game. While the defense is below average, it is not terrible. The pass defense may look a little better than it is because it’s been a little easier for teams to run on the Minutemen front seven. The defensive line is actually pretty good but the linebacking corps leaves a lot to be desired.
BYU will likely look to build on its success rushing the ball last week against UNLV, with Squally Canada being the focal point.
It will be interesting to see how freshman quarterback Joe Critchlow performs in just his second start. Against UNLV, Critchlow looked poised in the pocket as he scanned the field through his reads. Of the four quarterbacks who have played for the Cougars this year, Critchlow has been more effective pushing the ball down the field than any of them.
Critchlow will likely be asked to just manage the game as the Cougars look to establish dominance in the run game.
When UMass has the ball
UMass has an explosive offense. While the Minutemen are not very efficient on the ground, they can gain yards in chunks here and there, as evidenced by junior Marquis Young averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Lanky junior southpaw quarterback Andrew Ford is a pro-style passer who can pick apart a weak BYU pass defense if he has time. The Cougars’ game plan will likely be focused on collapsing the pocket as much as possible on Ford.
Ford has a lot of help in the receiving corps with wide receivers Andy Isabella and Sadiq Palmer and tight end Adam Breneman providing reliable targets. The Cougar pass defense will certainly be challenged on Saturday.
When the ball is kicked
The UMass special teams are well below average. BYU’s special teams are slightly below average but still superior to the UMass special teams.
UMass should have success passing the ball on BYU, while BYU should have success running the ball against UMass. Throw in home field, better talent and special teams and the Cougars have the slight advantage in this one.
Projected score: BYU 28, UMass 24