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Friday, October 5, 2012

Brigham Young Cougars’ identity is being challenged, again

The Brigham Young Cougars (3-2) took exception to Washington State head coach Mike Leach saying, “We’re going to look like BYU more than BYU will.” The result was BYU limiting Washington State to 224 yards of total offense. The BYU offense scored 24 points in the first half and had 426 yards of total offense for the game.

For a second time this season, BYU’s identity is being challenged. The local Utah media has been singing the praises of Utah State (4-1) and its quarterback Chuckie Keeton. They have not been shy about crowning the Aggies the best team in the state of Utah and Keeton as the best quarterback. Such labels have long been reserved for BYU.

BYU’s identity isn’t being challenged by the media only. Utah State players and coach aren’t giving the Cougars much respect.

Utah State head coach Gary Andersen didn’t give much credit to the BYU offense for its dominating win over Hawaii. Said Andersen, “They kind of caught some mojo [defined by dictionary.com as “magic”], if you will, on the offensive side of the ball.”

At least one Utah State player is flamboyantly tweeting that the Utah State defense is better than the BYU defense.

The Aggies D has played well this season. Nationally, they rank no. 11 in total defense (280.8 ypg), no. 24 in rush defense (106.4 ypg), no. 15 in passing defense (174.4 ypg), and no. 18 in scoring defense (14.2 ppg). While impressive, the Aggies rank below BYU in all four categories (5, 2, 11, 4, respectively).

The Aggies bravado may come from being a missed field goal at Wisconsin away from being undefeated. They stunned a Utah team that BYU struggled with (and lost to), and they remember that it took a miracle for the Coguars to win head-to-head a year ago.

Utah State lost some talent to the NFL last April, but a year of experience for players like Chuckie Keeton and Kerwynn Williams have made the 2012 Aggies more dangerous than last year. Keeton has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 1,281 yards with an 11 to 4 touchdown to interception ratio. His pass efficiency rating is 156.4. Williams is averaging 104 rushing yards per game, and is the team’s leading receiver with 262 yards.

This will be the biggest test yet for the stout Cougar D. Bronco’s boys have been impressive shutting down Mike Leach and Christ Petersen’s offenses. That is no small feat in any year. The front seven needs to effectively pressure Keeton when he is passing, and smother any ball carrier trying to get out of the backfield.

For the second straight game, BYU will probably start Taysom Hill at quarterback. The true freshman was named the independent offensive player of the week, but he will need to throw the ball better (12-21, 112 yards) this week for BYU to beat Utah State. There is no doubt that the Aggies will come ready to stop Hill from being an effective runner. Hill and Cody Hoffman were a little out of sync last week. Hopefully, they have been able to smooth things out in practice.

Jamaal Williams exploded last week with the help of a revamped offensive line. BYU will need Williams to take pressure off Hill with effective running.

However, the key to the game for BYU will be the offensive line. Hill cannot be expected to throw the ball well if defenders are in his face every time he drops back to pass. Williams cannot be expected to run well if there are no holes to run through. If the offensive line is playing physical like last week, then the BYU offense should be productive enough to win this game.

All-time Series Record: BYU leads 43-35-3
Last: BYU won 27-24 (2011)
Streak: BYU won 1

KICKOFF: 8:15 PM (Mountain Time)
TV: ESPN
RADIO: KSL 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM Ch. 143, www.ksl.com

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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