BYU vs. Washington State Preview: BYU Offense Scoring Points Will be the Key

The Brigham Young Cougars’ season opener is just hours away. The 2012 season will open with shades of 2010 with a Pac-12 foe from the Apple State coached by a BYU alumnus.

BYU graduate Mike Leach will bring his Washington State Cougars to LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is the inaugural game for Leach as the head coach at Washington State. He has spent all spring and fall installing his “air raid” offense. With an experienced quarterback Jeff Tuel and very talented wide receiver Marquess Wilson, Leach has what he needs to be successful in year one, but what about game one?

The BYU defense should have what it takes to contain Washington State, but it won’t be easy. The BYU defense should be focused and not underestimate Washington State. The terrible win-loss record over the last four seasons is meaningless.

Another similarity between the 2010 and 2012 season openers is the BYU starting quarterback. Riley Nelson will take the first snap of the season once again after a long, tumultuous journey during the intervening two seasons. It is a journey that has caught the eye of ESPN senior writer Ivan Maisel. 

BYU will count on Nelson to lead the offense efficiently once again. Third down conversion percentage was extremely high when Nelson ran the offense in 2011. Ball control and sustained drives will be the game plan.

The Washington State defense was putrid last year, and a quick, major improvement isn’t expected. However, BYU offenses have come out of the gates flat in the Bronco Mendenhall era.

BYU has won five straight season openers.

The key to the game will be the BYU offense scoring points. The BYU defense may do a great job grounding the Washington State air attack, but the BYU offense needs to put points on the scoreboard to put the game out of reach by the start of the fourth quarter.

If Washington State is able to hang around and be within two scores when the fourth quarter rolls around, then the offense will still have hope that with one big play they can be in a position to win. If they get that big play, then the Washington State offense will have their confidence soar, and could become unstoppable. Despite controlling the game for 50 minutes, BYU could find itself stuck with a disappointing loss in the end.

If the BYU offense is regularly moving the ball well and scoring points, then the hope on the Washington State sideline will be squashed. One big offensive play will not re-energize them because they know they still have a long way to go, even if the WSU defense stops the BYU offense.

All-time Series: BYU leads 2-1
Last game: BYU, 50-36 (1990) 
Streak: BYU won last 1


Radio: KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM*,, Sirius XM 143

* KSL’s coverage of the game will be broadcast on 103.5 FM during Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention.

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