BYU Football: What to Watch for Against Utah State
Another year, but the story is very similar. The offense is sputtering. There is a lack of confidence evident on the field. And fans are upset with the play-calling of the offense.
Luckily, the Cougars pulled out a win against UCF, or this game would have been EERILY similar to last. But last time around the players and coaches rallied and found the offense.
So will this year’s squad avoid the bad loss to an inferior team? Or will it have to rebound again?
Here’s what to watch for...
On the Defense
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If there has been something the Cougars can bank on this year it’s their defensive front seven. This group has been very solid against good teams, stuffing runs and punishing opposing players.
That is, when it isn’t on the field non-stop.
In many cases, this unit is dependent on the offense to move the ball and eat up time of possession to give it much needed rest. When that doesn’t happen, the result are second halves like the one against Utah.
Utah State’s defense has been downright porous early on in the season.
If BYU can’t gain yards and score against this defense, it might not get to six wins.
Heaps at the Crossroads
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I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on how much this game might impact the future success of Jake Heaps.
But a win in which the offense breaks out likely puts this team on the right track for the rest of the season, where a very soft finishing schedule would allow the Cougars to get close to 10 wins.
But a loss might just wreck him for the season. If BYU can’t move the ball offensively (especially in the run game) against an inferior program, this might be a long, long season and leave pessimists for Heaps' junior and senior seasons.
Some Play for Play-Action
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Considering the fact that the run game was productive against Central Florida, it was astonishing how little play-action was called. Instead, predictability ruled the first half and short out routes with little chance of big gains ruled the second.
If this offense, stripped down to simplify formations and timing, doesn’t run play-action, it may as well send over its playbook and a schedule of play calls to the Aggies.
Watch for the Cougars to establish the run early and finally take some shots downfield.
On the Outs
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Offensive Coordinator Brandon Doman was inexplicably enamored with short out routes against Central Florida, despite the fact they didn’t work.
Those that were completed were stopped for short gains or losses, and the remainder were poorly executed as timing between Heaps and his receivers was off all night.
Look for the Cougars to look for more crossing routes and less timing plays to give Heaps confidence and give receivers room to run.
Gary Andersen's Defense
BYU, for a variety of reasons, has historically had difficulty with Gary Andersen’s defenses. Aside from a couple outings with Max Hall in his early days at Utah State, the Cougars have found themselves confused by the pressing defense of the Utes and now Aggies.
And last year, the Cougars seemed totally inept against the Aggies. At the end of last season most Cougar fans felt like, given the chance to play that one again, it would be an easy win.
Can the same be said after four games this season? Uh, no.