Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
September 2, 2012I've seen enough. This is, without a doubt in my mind, the best BYU defense of Bronco Mendenhall's tenure at BYU. It was only one game, and it was against a team with a new head coach and offensive coordinator. But it was utterly dominant against a quality passing team. Quality quarterback and quality receivers, and this BYU defense wouldn't let them breath.
One difficult aspect about game planning for WSU is you know that they are going to pass the ball a lot, but they throw a lot of quick throws which makes blitzing ineffective. If you blitz on a quick throw then the quarterback will have the ball out before you can pressure him, and now your secondary is spread thinner when converging to make the tackle. Bronco didn't do very much blitzing last night, and rarely if ever rushed more than 4 guys. The problem with that is that WSU doesn't always make quick throws, and when you give a quality quarterback with quality receivers that much time in the pocket it's very hard for the secondary to maintain coverage that long. Well, most secondaries.
For the best BYU secondary in the Bronco era, it's all in a days work. Tuel looked very uncomfortable in the pocket pretty much all night, and it wasn't because they had 5 linemen to block our 2 rushing linemen and 1 blitzing linebacker. It was because nobody was open. Most of the times that Tuel flushed out of the pocket were because of the coverage downfield, because he wasn't experiencing tons of pressure from the pass rush. Not that the individual pass rushers aren't great players.
Van Noy is a beast, and so is Manumaleuna and Ziggy. Manumaleuna looks much quicker than he did last year, one of Van Noy's sacks was a product of Manumaleuna blowing past a tackle to the outside and the quarterback had to step up into Van Noy to avoid Manumaleuna. At times it looked like Tialavea was shadowing Tuel, as if he was afraid that Tuel would take off downfield, which didn't seem to make much sense. Tuel was not going to take off downfield and BYU really needed pass rushers, not shadowers. But when Tialavea committed to rushing he looked good. Remington Peck displayed his quickness on his sack where he beat the tackle to the outside. On the deep pass to Marquess Wilson that was called back because of holding, Van Noy was double teamed by the guard and tackle. Van Noy is so athletic and explosive he split them and would have gotten to the quarterback if the guard wouldn't have held him. On the jump ball that Marquess Wilson caught in the back corner of the end zone, Ansah spun on the tackle to the inside and the tackle wasn't athletic enough to keep up without wrapping his right arm around Ziggy.
While those holding calls were partly because of BYU's superior athelticism, Ziggy's call seemed like a ticky tack call because he didn't really have anywhere to go to the inside anyway, which is why he spun back to the outside. The Cougar defense's biggest weakness is their lack of manners. BYU needs to work on their "pleases," "thank-you's," and "how do you do's" before the next Pac 12 officiated game. And how dare Friel not politely hand the ball to the official after a big gain, he should make sure to bow for good measure next time as well, just to make sure that the referee feels appreciated and respected. This BYU team has obviously been spending way too much time at the Provo Beach Resort where improper manners and wild behavior must abound.
BYU's linebackers are crazy good. Spencer Hadley reminds me an awful lot of Jordan Pendleton, and this was his first start at OLB. Minus 5 rushing yards against a nickel defense. Ridiculous. By the way, I'm fine with Ogletree having a hard time covering and tackling their 5-foot-8 170-pound slot receiver. I'm just glad he was covering him on a short cross and not on a wheel route.
The secondary was the unit of the day. Daniel Sorenson's acceleration on the pass that he deflected into Kaveinga's arms was incedibly athletic, and that play changed the momentum of the entire game. Hague dropped a gift wrapped tipped pass, but Sorenson and Kaveinga made up for that a few plays later. Preston Hadley really played well, he covered his man very tightly all game and wouldn't let his receiver breath. One play that stood out to me was the break that P. Hadley made on the ball while covering Marquess Wilson on a 13 yard comeback. The ball was overthrown but I was very impressed at how tightly he covered it. Jordan Johnson capitalized on a poorly timed deep out thrown to Wilson, and ran out of gas or else that might have been a pick-6. He is an interception machine, he really has a knack for the ball and good hands. The entire secondary was phenominal, and I believe that the biggest difference is BYU's new found two deep talent and athleticism at free safety.
Our secondary must just be glad that they don't have to face Hoffman in a game. The separation that he creates is incredible. Whether it's on a slant for the 3rd and 5 conversion or on a corner route where he makes the cornerback look silly, he is so fast and his routes are so well distguised that he makes it really easy for Riley. I think that Hoffman is a much better route runner and is a better all around receiver than Marquess Wilson. Ross Apo was very dependable as he caught every catchable ball thrown his way, Riley had a hard time getting him the ball accurately enough to let him run with it after the catch, but atleast the passes were completed. Falslev looks faster than he did last year, and he really is effective running after the catch. The bubble screen was really effective all night, it will be interesting to see how it does against Utah. Skyler Ridley was extremely impressive. He looked good catching the touchdown pass, but that wasn't his most impressive catch. Later in the game he had to elevate to catch a high pass and he brought it down, then later he caught a bubble screen and showed his athleticism running after the catch for a nice gain. Then the most impressive catch was the high ball he hauled in near the sideline while getting smashed by the WSU defensive back. It turns out BYU is quite deep at the wide receiver position.
The depth at wide receiver can't touch the depth at quarterback though. Taysom Hill is so fast. He could have run it in from 18 yards out but the ball moves a little faster than him so he figured he ought to throw it. He has Jake Locker's physical tools. And this is the third string quarterback we're talking about. In defense of Riley, the throw to Friel that looked dangerous but went for a touchdown, and the throw to Apo that was almost picked off were both okay decisions if Riley would have gotten more on the ball and led the receiver. He underthrew both of those so that they looked like good old Riley jump balls. Speaking of Riley jump balls, go back and look at the classic Riley jump ball that Mckay Jacobson caught against Utah State. In looking at the replay Jacobson actually had a step going back to the middle of the field on the DB that was covering him. So Riley led him enough for Jacobson to make the catch, and although the ball didn't go as far and it wasn't as pretty as BYU fans would like, you have to give Riley credit. I thought Riley made good decisions other than a number of the times that he decided to run. His feet were much more eager to run than I thought they would be after the camp that he had. I actually like Riley in the pocket on a 3 and 5 step drop where he can get his feet set and make the right read. He is much more accurate that way. Things didn't look as good when he was bootlegging or rolling out of the pocket. Riley performed about how I thought he would against a defense like WSU's, other than his urge to try to run over linebackers, which he'll need to get under control and have more patience in the pocket to let the receiver's routes develop.
Friel was great, caught everything that was thrown his way, and he is not a small or a slow man. He made a great play coming back to catch that touchdown grab at its highest point, then he demolished the DB who thought about tackling him. He runs really well and he looks bigger to me this year, the roster only shows a 6 pound gain from last year but it will be interesting to hear how much of a difference the improved weight trainging program made for him. I think that the disappearance of the tight end the last couple of years was more because of the quarterback that was making the reads than the tight ends running the routes. Either way each individual tight end keeps getting better and their utilization is an important part of Riley's success on third downs.
Alisa and Foote both looked really good, Foote is a good running back and I think that Alisa is a really good running back. Williams got some playing time, but I don't know if Cougar fans got a chance to see his speed and quickness. He'll wow you once he gets in the open field. Alisa is the best running back outside the tackles that BYU has had in a long time, I would say even better than Curtis Brown just because of Alisa's balance, strength and ability to break tackles. But oh the woes in between the tackles.
I hope I am wrong Cougar fans. I hope that WSU goes on to have a dominant front 7, and that BYU runs all over Utah in between the tackles. But if WSU's front seven is as bad as I think they are, then BYU's running game is in a lot of trouble. Not because of the running backs, Alisa, Foote and Pritchard are great in between the tackle backs. There were way too many defensive linemen in the backfield stuffing BYU's run plays for any Cougar fan to have any confidence in this O-Lines run blocking against one of the four most difficult defenses on BYU's schedule. There weren't very many rushing yards in the second half period, let alone in between the tackles. WSU caught on to the option, and the only success I can think of in the second half was Alisa bouncing out a run play designed to go in between the tackles. The O-Line was pretty good in pass protection, Mathews got beat twice by Travis Long that both resulted in sacks, but he's a second team all Pac 12 player going against Mathews in his first game, so overall the pass protection was fine. I was encouraged that the Cougar O-Line didn't get called for any holding calls in their pass protection considering how nit-picky the referees were regarding holding. I think that is a testament to the improved quickness and athleticism of the offensive line. But the run game will likely be non-existent against Utah despite Alisa's best efforts.
What did we learn in summation? The Cougar defense is elite. Maybe even one of the top 10 defenses in the country. This defense will keep BYU competitive in every game they play this year, and the Cougars have a very real chance of winning every individual game on the schedule. The wide receivers and tight ends are probably better than we expected, and Riley is about where we thought he would be. By the way, I think that seeing the defense fly around gets Riley pumped up. He really responds to momentum shifts caused by the defense. This is about as good of a situation for Riley as he could hope for, other than the run blocking. It's great to have Cougar football back after another long offseason!