Game Preview: Brigham Young Cougars vs. TCU Horned Frogs

The Brigham Young Cougars rebounded a little last week beating San Diego State, but they have no time to dwell on that win with the TCU Horned Frogs up next. BYU needs a win on Saturday to avoid losing to the same team three consecutive years for the first time since they lost to Utah in 2004.

Beating the Horned Frogs will be very difficult. TCU has registered back-to-back shutouts (27-0 and 45-0). TCU has also managed to outscore BYU 70-14 in their last two meetings combined. Bronco Mendenhall and his staff may have devised a solid game plan for TCU this year, but the question remains: can the players execute that game plan?

Adding to this grudge match is the fact that TCU coach Gary Patterson was particularly upset about BYU announcing independent status in football last August. It is clear that Patterson targets BYU. Whether it is a BYU helmet on the tackling dummy or signs in the weight room, the BYU game means more to him than any other. How will he handle this game? Will he keep starters to preserve a shutout? Will he try and hang as many points on the board as possible?

Freshman quarterback Jake Heaps is the key for BYU to be successful Saturday. TCU will load the box to stop the run game and force Heaps to beat them with his arm. BYU should have prepared for this by working on 6-8 pass plays that can be run from multiple formations, and they can’t be those passes three yards or less. They need to be real down field throws. Heaps will need to be able to make the reads for these plays in his sleep—no matter what coverage TCU runs.

Things to watch for:

  1. BYU run game. Can the line open holes for J.J. Di Luigi, Bryan Kariya, and Joshua Quezada to pile up the yards again, even with TCU expecting it? Harvey Unga ran for over 100 yards last year and it didn’t make a difference. Even if the backs can run effectively, will it be enough? Without a run game, Jake Heaps could be sacked more than he was at Florida State (8).
  2. The real impact of Bronco taking over the defense. Most changes have a positive impact, initially, and it is hard to tell if those positive results will be sustained over the long run. The TCU game will give us a much better idea how good this move has been.
  3. Beating number 4. BYU has been able to beat high ranked opponents, when they are non-conference games. Number 3 Oklahoma and number 1 Miami quickly come to mind. The story is very different when that top 10 team is a conference member. Utah (2004 and 2008) and TCU (2009) have registered blowout victories. However, they were not ranked number four. BYU did play number 4 Air Force in 1985, and pulled off the upset. Will BYU do it again?
All-time Series: BYU leads 5-4
Last: TCU, 38-7
Streak: TCU won last 2

TV: Versus
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