BYU's pass defense is nonexistent

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald
There is a lot of attention on the ineptitude of the BYU Cougars offense, but nothing has been as bad for BYU as the pass defense. In short, it is nonexistent. What has happened the last three games is reminiscent of 1993 when the Cougar defense had just five interceptions and 21 sacks.

Everything seemed fine after the season opener against Portland State. BYU allowed a true freshman to complete 44 percent of his passes. He was sacked three times, hurried another three times, and intercepted once. Pretty much what was expected.

What wasn't expected was how the BYU defense would be carved up by its next three opponents. Since that Portland State game, LSU, Utah, and Wisconsin have completed 61 of 74 passes (82 percent) for 755 yards and 4 touchdowns. The BYU defense that was second in the nation last year in forcing turnovers has zero interceptions in the last three games. Opposing quarterbacks have rarely been under pressure. They have been hurried twice and sacked once.

It's not like BYU doesn't have any talent. When was the last time BYU fielded two cornerbacks who were four-star prospects out of high school? Let's not forget that these two cornerbacks beat out Michael Davis last year; the same Davis who suited up for the Los Angeles Chargers yesterday.

Granted, the Cougar front seven has been preoccupied with stopping potent rushing attacks in two of the three contests (LSU and Wisconsin). However, that does not justify the passing numbers that have been allowed. Mississippi State, a team BYU beat last year, also had to deal with LSU's rushing attack, but two days ago the Bulldogs were able to limit LSU to 13 of 29 passing for 137 yards. That's a far cry from the 15 of 18 for 185 yards that BYU gave up.

Saturday versus Wisconsin, the Badgers quarterback was nearly perfect. He completed 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. His pass efficiency rating was 277.4. To put that into perspective, that level of efficiency is in the same neighborhood of Ty Detmer's historic performance against Utah in 1989, and Max Hall's flawless game at Wyoming in 2009.

San Diego State quarterback David Lowry had three touchdown passes of 75 yards or longer in the 1991 shootout against BYU, but his pass efficiency rating was only 226.2. Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer shredded the Cougars in 1993, but his efficiency was merely 213.3. Three years ago, when Boise State quarterback Grant Hendrick put on a clinic against BYU, his pass efficiency rating came out to just 224.7.

The "best" game BYU has had defending the pass, lately, was allowing Utah's sophomore quarterback making his second career start to complete "just" 75 percent of his passes for 300 yards.

What already feels like a long season will turn into an eternity if pass defense doesn't improve. The 1993 team lost 2-3 games that were easily winnable with better pass defense. Let's hope that isn't the case this year.

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