Never in my entire life have been I so happy to be so wrong.
In my preview for last week’s BYU-Oklahoma game, I predicted the game would be close in the first half, but that the Sooners would eventually flex its muscle and pull out an easy victory. My official final score prediction was 38-21.
Little did I know that BYU had plans to shock the nation and win a defensive battle with the Sooners. It still baffles me to write the words “defensive battle” and “BYU” in the same sentence, but the Cougars seem to have turned a new leaf.
Review: The Showdown at Jerry’s Place
Get Rich or Die Trying
The leader of the BYU defense was undoubtedly safety Andrew Rich. When the BYU offense struggled to hold onto the football, Rich was a part of two pivotal turnovers that kept the Cougars in the game.
One hit that he made on DeMarco Murray basically defined the type of player Rich is. The Sooners ran a sweep left and had some big bodies clearing the way. Before you know it, number 22 flew in and delivered a blow that jarred the ball lose. Even though OU recovered the fumble, Rich had set the tone for the rest of the game.
While the defensive secondary was never really tested deep by either OU quarterback, it was clear in the first game that this unit is a definite upgrade from last year’s group. Instead of softies Kellen Fowler and David Tafuna, they have Rich and Scott Johnson, who both pack serious punch. The corners, Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley also had a solid game. They never got burned deep and made quality open-field tackles.
The true test for this unit will come against a high-flying Florida State team that will throw deep early and often. From what I saw in fall camp, our corners had a tough time with play action and double moves. We will see later if they are vertically challenged, but as for now I am impressed with their ability to hit.
Change of Scenery
Some of the best defensive performances in the OU game came from players that changed positions this season. Vic So’oto moved from linebacker to defensive line, Scott Johnson moved from field corner to safety and Jordan Pendleton moved from safety to outside linebackers.
Pendleton was flying all over the field making plays. He did everything from forcing fumbles to knocking down passes. He is a physical specimen to behold and should continue to be a huge playmaker for the Cougars.
No Harvey, No Sweat
Okay, that might be a little misleading, because I know a lot of us were stressing when we didn’t see the 240-pound beast take the field. That was until Brain Kariya busted off a few nice runs. He was held to only 42 yards rushing on 17 carries, but he showed he is a very qualified backup for when Unga does go down. He had a few big runs and a huge 49-yard reception that put the Cougars inside the OU ten.
Something I noticed was Kariya’s foot speed and quickness. While Harvey Unga does have pretty good quickness for his size, he is not as agile as Kariya. When Unga comes back into the lineup, the Cougars should continue to use Kariya. If a guy can bust off big plays against a quality defense, you want to have him on the field.
Preview: Surfs Up on the Green Wave
This week the Cougars hit the road again, this time to the Big Easy down in New Orleans to take on the Green Wave of Tulane. This game should be a cake walk for the Cougars, but then again the same thing was said about Oklahoma in last week’s game. BYU should use this as a heads up and remind themselves that any team can show up and win at any time.
But, in all reality, this game shouldn’t be a challenge. Tulane is not the same type of program that laid a smack down on the Cougars back in ’98.The Green Wave have lost nine consecutive games and posted a dismal 2-10 record last season. They lost their first game of the season to a rebuilding Tulsa team, 37-13.
The last time BYU played Tulane was way back in 2001 in the inaugural game of the Gary Crowton experiment. We put up video game-like numbers in a 70-35 beat down. Don’t expect the same result this time around.
Playing It Safe
We should expect the BYU offense to be very vanilla in this game. They will pound it out on the ground and keep it short in the passing game. They don’t want to open up too much of the playbook before Florida State comes into town.
The only reason I see BYU putting up big numbers is if the coaching staff decides to take advantage of the national stage and throw the ball downfield regularly. Max Hall has started to get some Heisman buzz and maybe the Cougar staff will want to use this game as a showcase to show he is the real deal.
BYU should have no trouble moving the football and putting up points. The defense should also flex their muscle and beat up on an inexperienced Tulane offense. They showed a lot of shotgun spread against Tulsa, so look for the Green Wave to throw the ball and test BYU deep. If the BYU corners are not able to contain these guys deep, I will be very scared for the FSU game. Even if the whole team decided to go romp around Bourbon Street for a while (not that fine, upstanding BYU students would do that) and stay up till the wee hours of the morning, they would still win this game. BYU 44, Tulane 10.
1. Andrew Rich — My love for him almost transcends my hatred for Kellen Fowler. Almost.
2. Max Hall — Watching him execute on third down in the final drive was a thing of beauty
3. O-Line — Gave up a few sacks, but overall did a phenomenal job
1. Mitch Payne — Kick. The. Ball. Straight. Is it really that hard? You almost blew it.
2. Robert Anae — Gee, BYU is in an I-formation. I wonder if they will run the ball?
3. O’Neil Chambers — Nice run after the catch, but hold onto the ball, son.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He maintains an irrational hatred for Kellen Fowler and probably will until the day he dies.
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