Game Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs

The Brigham Young Cougars will play their second conference game this week against San Diego State. While the first five games have been very disappointing, this week is almost like a new season for BYU. The most notable reason is that defensive coordinator Jaime Hill is gone and head coach Bronco Mendenhall has taken over the defense again. As bad as the first five games were, only the Air Force game counts against the Cougars in the conference standings. Hopefully, the BYU team that comes out on Saturday will be a different one than the last four games.

Even with a new attitude and new energy, it will take a lot from BYU to win this game. Just like Utah State, the Aztecs will be giddy to release years of frustration on the 2010 BYU team. BYU has won 13 of the last 15 meetings. San Diego State comes into this game fresh off a bye. The week before, San Diego State crushed the same Utah State team that just beat BYU. In Brady Hoke’s second year as head coach, San Diego State has a new identity. Quarterback Ryan Lindley leads the passing attack, and he is the only quarterback to have a good game against Utah State. Not only does San Diego State feature a strong passing game, running back Ronnie Hillman has amassed 532 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground through four games. The Aztecs (3-1) are off to their best start since 2003. If it wasn’t for a 68-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left by #22 Missouri, San Diego State would be 4-0 for the first time since 1981.

Things to watch for:

  1. Will the injury situation get worse? Injuries have depleted the BYU defense the last two weeks. Andrew Rich and Jordan Pendleton join Romney Fuga, Jameson Frazier and Steven Thomas on the sideline this week.
  2. How will O’Neill Chambers play in his return? The outspoken wide out will return to the field this week following his two week suspension. He has been talking big this week. Now, it is time for him to play big.
  3. More or less dropped balls? Has Las Vegas set an over/under for dropped balls in this game? At some point, the receivers will start catching these passes. This week will be a good time to start.
  4. Home field advantage. Most teams typically play better at home than on the road, and that is especially true when BYU plays San Diego State. BYU has held the Aztecs to 14 points per game in LES going back to 2000, as opposed to allowing almost 29 points per game in San Diego.
  5. Protecting Jake Heaps. Former New Mexico head coach Rocky Long is the defensive coordinator at San Diego State. Long is notorious for using complicated blitz schemes. Will the offensive line be able to protect Heaps from these blitzes? Will the running backs be effective on the ground to help slow the blitz? One thing is certain, BYU cannot throw the ball 55 times like last week. The run-pass selection must be more balanced.
All-time series: BYU leads 26-7-1
Last: BYU won 38-28 (2009)
Streak: BYU won 4

TV: The Mtn.
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Other recent posts on BYU Football Talk:
Thursday Trivia: 10 Consecutive wins
Flashback: Brigham Young Cougars 45, San Diego State Aztecs 44 (1993)
Brigham Young Cougars Football, 2010: A New Low?
Poll Results: When will Jake Heaps have his first 300 yard passing game?
Brigham Young Cougars Relieve Jaime Hill of Defensive Coaching Duties