BYU Cougars vs. Boise State Broncos Complete Game Preview
A year ago, BYU and Boise State put together one of the greatest defensive games in recent memory, in which neither team scored an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter.
This year's showdown will likely be another story.
The Cougars put up 47 points on Houston last week, and the Broncos have failed to score less than 34 in any game this season. Both teams feature solid running games, but have improved through the air.
It will be a great Friday night game to watch in Provo, and here's a complete preview.
Time: 6:00 p.m. MDT
Place: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN, ESPN3
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)
Spread: BYU -7
BYU's Keys to Victory
Buy Taysom Hill Time in the Pocket
Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill's throwing accuracy and ability has been a hot topic, but he silenced most doubters with a 417-yard, four-touchdown game against Houston.
Hill proved how dominant he can be when given time in the pocket, and it will be up to the offensive line to do that.
Score. A Lot.
The Broncos are ranked 19th in the country in scoring—they average nearly 40 points per game—and BYU will face a tall task containing them.
If they struggle, there's only one solution.
Hill and the offense proved they could make plenty of trips to the end zone last week, and that momentum will need to continue this Friday.
Get Pressure on Grant Hedrick
The last time BYU entered a game against a backup quarterback, Cody Vaz and the Oregon State offense embarrassed the strong Cougar defense.
To prevent the same from happening, BYU will need to get pressure on Boise quarterback Grant Hedrick and force him to make quick, sloppy decisions.
Boise State's Keys to Victory
Take Advantage of Third-Down Offense
Boise State is among the FBS's best third-down offenses, ranked fifth, and BYU has struggled in defending that.
Ranked outside the top 25, the Cougs have not yet established themselves as a dominant defense on third down, and Boise should look to exploit that weakness.
Contain Taysom Hill
Washington's Keith Price and Fresno State's Derek Carr both found ways to shred Boise's defense with their arms, and the Broncos had no more success with Air Force's dual-threat quarterback.
Taysom Hill can't yet be described as an all-around "dominant" quarterback, but he is well on his way, and BSU will need to stop that.
Take Deep Shots at BYU's Secondary
It was obvious that the Cougars would face some depth and talent issues in their defensive secondary, but Houston got almost whatever it wanted last week.
It seemed that the deep passes were always open, and with Boise having good receivers like Shane Williams-Rhodes and Matt Miller, expect the Broncos to air it out.
Key Players for the Cougars
Cody Hoffman (WR)
Hoffman set the BYU record for career receptions last week against Houston, and he could have another record-breaking game this weekend.
He needs only one touchdown to break the career TD mark and 71 receiving yards to shatter the career yardage record.
Taysom Hill (QB)
BYU hasn't had a quarterback take over a game as dominantly as Hill did against Houston in a long time, and the momentum will carry into the Boise game.
He is truly the do-it-all guy for the Cougar offense, and should play a great game on Friday.
Skye PoVey/Craig Bills (DB)
The BYU defensive backs were consistently being beaten by Houston's receiving corps, and that will need to change against Boise.
The Broncos have a strong group of wideouts, and no matter if PoVey or Bills will start, they need to be ready to play.
Key Players for the Broncos
Jay Ajayi (RB)
Boise State dynamic running back Jay Ajayi leads the country in rushing touchdowns, and has the potential to pose problems for BYU.
Ajayi's top-end speed is unparalleled by many college backs. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Grant Hedrick (QB)
It's not too often that BYU gets to face a 6'0" backup quarterback in a starting role.
Problem is, Grant Hedrick is not your typical backup. He is 30-of-37 on the year (81 percent), and completed a whopping 85 percent of his passes in a come-from-behind victory against Nevada.
The offensive duo of Ajayi and Hedrick could be a handful for BYU.
Demarcus Lawrence (DL)
Demarcus Lawrence is the type of hard-nosed, run-stuffing lineman that any coach loves, and is the nightmare of any running back. Jamaal Williams and the BYU backfield could have their hands full against Lawrence, and it will all start in the trenches.
What They Are Saying
It will be different than it was last year...I do think that. I know [BYU is] playing at a really high level on offense. Taysom Hill is a heck of a quarterback. He's in a great groove and he's hard to stop. This I know, we have to score a lot more points than we did last year to hang in there with those guys.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, per Sports Illustrated:
''Boise is completely different offensively than they were a year ago and in an entirely different system. They're scoring a lot more points. They're more potent. We're better offensively as well. I wouldn't anticipate 7-6. I don't know what the score will be, but it probably won't be duplicating that one.'
BYU outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga, per the Deseret News:
I think [Boise QB Grant Hedrick] does some things better than their starter did. We as coaches kind of ask ourselves all the time this week, ‘Why wasn’t this guy starting?’ Not that the other guy isn’t good, but this guy does some really good things. We’re going to have to play very well.
Boise State will pose a huge challenge, especially offensively, but BYU will find a way to win. The Cougars' dynamic offense will be too much to handle for the Broncos, especially at home.
Sure, Grant Hedrick will probably take advantage of secondary struggles and convert on a few deep passes, but BYU's firepower on offense will be too much to compete with.
BYU wins, 31-21.