Focus and effort should not be a problem for BYU on Saturday. Florida State embarrassed BYU last year at home. However, the Seminoles will be just as focused this Saturday as they were for last year’s game. In 2009, Florida State had played poorly in a win against FCS foe Jacksonville State the week before the BYU game. This year, Florida State played poorly in a blowout loss to Oklahoma. Any hopes that Florida State might overlook BYU due to the ease of the win last year have been greatly diminished.
BYU is going to have to play their “best game of the season” to win on Saturday. They cannot be intimidated by their opponent, or by the environment. They will need to execute flawlessly. A lot will depend on the coaches. Not only do they need to have a great game plan ready, they need to be ready to provide leadership and guidance to this young team. Guidance and leadership that will give their players the confidence they need to confront any of the challenges, expected or unexpected, that they may face in this game.
Things to watch for:
- How will BYU respond to losing at Air Force? BYU can bounce back with more motivation and determination, or they can be miserable and depressed. When BYU lost games last year, the team moved on quickly and bounced back with strong performances. That, however, was a veteran team. The year before, 2008, BYU struggled to return to the same form after losses.
- Will BYU stop the run? We all remember last year. Florida State came into Provo and ran right through the BYU defense for 313 yards. How could we forget last week, either? BYU could not contain Air Force, and the Cadets piled up 409 yards on the ground. The run defense was even suspect against Washington in the season opener with Washington running back Chris Polk averaging nearly 6 yards on his 16 carries.
- How will the quarterback reps be managed? What we do know about the quarterback play this week is that Riley Nelson will start. Bronco Mendenhall has said that the coaches do plan to move away from alternating Nelson and Jake Heaps every series and start using a situational rotation.
- Can BYU shut down another Heisman Trophy candidate? BYU put the clamps down on Washington’s Jake Locker in the season opener, and some were calling for an end to his hype as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder in on many people’s Heisman watch lists. While his campaign took a hit last week, he looked like a Heisman candidate when he played BYU last year. Disrupting Ponder’s timing in the passing game and limiting his ability to make plays with his legs will be crucial for the Cougars.
- Will Florida State’s speed be a problem? BYU showed that by executing and playing assignment sound football, they could neutralize an opponents speed advantage when they played Oklahoma to start 2009. Two games later against Florida State, the Seminoles’ speed was problematic. Nothing has changed this year in the overall team speed of either team.
- What will happen if BYU falls behind? Last week, the young and inexperienced Cougars panicked when Air Force took a 7 point lead into the locker room at the half. If BYU trails at the half, or gets into a big hole before halftime, will BYU maintain their composure?
Last: Florida State, 54-28 (September 19, 2009)
Current streak: Florida State won last 3
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