The Brigham Young Cougars faced many of the same challenges coming in to the 2010 football season as they did in 2007. Coming off an 11-2 season, BYU opened the season at home against a Pac-10 team. The Cougars had to replace their three year starting quarterback, their all-time leading rusher, and their all-conference tight end. This has been pointed out by many already. Now that one game is in the books, let's compare how the first game went in 2007 and 2010.
2007: BYU 20, Arizona 7
2010: BYU 23, Washington 17
The important thing here is that BYU won in both 2007 and 2010. BYU did limit Arizona to less point in 2007, but that team did have less to replace on defense.
2007: Total yards-392
2010: Total yards-408
Just as the team scored slightly more in 2010, the offense had slightly more yardage on Saturday.
2007: Passing yards-288
2010: Passing yards-262
Max Hall threw for 26 more yards three years ago than Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps did combined. Hall was more accurate (26-39) than BYU's two QBs on Saturday (24-40). With each averaging about 11 yards per completion, the greater accuracy in 2007 is the reason for the difference.
2007: Rushing yards-104
2010: Rushing yards-146
BYU ran for much more yardage in this year's season opener. The clear difference being Riley Nelson. In 2007, Hall had 4 yards rushing. Nelson had 45. Harvey Unga and J.J. Di Luigi had comparable stats. Unga had 15 carries for 67 yards. Di Luigi had 13 carries for 69 yards.
2007: Tight end production-6 receptions, 66 yards (Dennis Pitta, 4-33; Vic So'oto, 2-33)
2010: Tight end production-5 receptions, 77 yards (Richard Wilson, 3-45; Mike Muehlmann, 1-15, Marcus Mathews, 1-17)
Once again, production was similar. While 2007 had more receptions, 2010 had a better average yards per reception. The only real difference is that Pitta had a touchdown reception. Wilson almost had one.
While it is just one game, the 2010 offense has the potential to be just as good as the 2007 offense. The real difference between 2007 and 2010, thus far, is the defense. BYU only allowed 255 yards total offense (32 rushing) in 2007, while the D surrendered 394 (128 rushing) to Washington on Saturday. That doesn't come as a shock. As stated earlier, the 2007 defense did not have as many holes to fill as the 2010 defense. The other key difference is the opponent. Washington (31 rushes, 39 passes) was a more balanced pass-run team than Arizona (19 rushes, 38 passes). The biggest question, though, is whether Washington will be better than Arizona (5-7) was that year? In three more months we will have answers for all these questions.