Week 6: BYU at UNLV
It was another week and another victory for our boys in blue. There were no surprises here as the Cougars flexed their muscle to beat the Aggies of Utah State, 35-17. It wasn’t nearly the offensive explosion that I predicted but at least I picked the winner, right?
This Utah State team is a good bunch and, with a few more years under coach Gary Anderson, they will be giving us a run for our money. Mark my words. But as for the right here and right now, the Aggies were no match for the Cougars physically.
Battle of the Trenches
After watching the game under Friday night lights, it was clear who the better team was. It wasn’t because the Cougars had stellar quarterback play or because our wide receivers were that much faster. This game, just like every other, was won in the trenches.
In the days leading up to the game, people were wondering if BYU’s defense would be able to contain the light-footed Diondre Borel. Even though he took charge in the first quarter and made some plays to take the lead, he was held in check for most of the night thanks to the strong play of our defensive line.
In the two previous games, the Cougars faced strong and experienced offensive lines and were unable to put pressure on the quarterback. This week against a weaker opponent, they were able to get to Borel and company with straight pressure and some blitzes.
The offensive line played just as well if not better. BYU amassed 213 yards on the ground and gave Max Hall plenty of time to throw the ball. Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the teams with the strongest line play are the teams that will give the Cougars trouble. We all know about how explosive Jerry Hughes and the TCU defensive line are and Utah return another experienced batch on the offensive line.
No Surprises Here
Five weeks into the season there are certain things that we are expecting from the Cougars: Harvey Unga will get 100 yards and a touchdown, Dennis Pitta will catch every ball thrown in his direction — and then there is Max Hall. He is good to throw a couple touchdown passes a game, along with two interceptions.
Every time Hall drops back to pass Cougar fans are wondering if that pass will be one of his two interceptions for the game. In this last game, BYU was fortunate that his two interceptions came while they had a sizeable lead and they were downfield passes. He was getting too greedy and sailed the ball over the middle.
After watching Reily Nelson scamper for 13 yards on his one play against Utah State, some BYU fans want to give Max the hook and put in the fleet-footed transfer. The only thing is that those two interceptions per game would still take place with Riley in the game.
If anyone has ever watched Nelson throw the ball, they know he can throw a tight spiral about half the time. The other half, the ball is just plain ugly. Maybe by next season he will have his throwing motion down and he will be the second coming of Brandon Doman. As for now, we will just have to hope Max doesn’t make too many more mistakes.
Welcome to BYU South
This week the Cougars are back on the road to play their first conference game away from home. This is not to say that they won’t have home field advantage when they come strolling into Sam Boyd Stadium this Saturday. As always, BYU fans will show up in droves to get away from Provo and the weather for the weekend.
After UNLV’s huge loss to in-state rival Nevada, many think BYU will be able to roll over the Rebels’ 112th-ranked defense to an easy victory. Then again, that’s what people said last year too. After BYU’s embarrassing loss to TCU, everyone was positive that the Cougars would come home and beat up on the lowly Rebels. That game turned out to be a shootout in which BYU won on a last minute interception in their own end zone.
Based purely on statistics, this should be an easy win for BYU. They should be able to run the ball up and down the field with ease and put up big numbers. UNLV will also be able to put up some serious points. They have the type of offense that gives BYU all kinds of trouble. They spread the field and give the ball to their playmakers. If BYU can push with their front three and replicate their performance against USU, then the UNLV scoring should be minimal. If not, this is going to be a shootout.
Last week I thought the offenses of both teams were going to explode for huge numbers. That wasn’t exactly the case. This week a lot of people are looking for another potential offensive shootout — and I beg to differ. Seeing how UNLV struggled against the ground game last week, BYU will look to run the ball and control the clock. Unless BYU turns the ball over and gets down early, this one should be an easy victory. BYU 38, UNLV 20.
1. Dennis Pitta — After being on the Jeer list last week, Mr. Pitta returns thanks to his TD catches
2. J.J. DiLuigi — The first player to return a kick longer than three yards in a long, long time.
3. Manase Tonga — Lead the Cougar rushing charge with some beautiful blocking.
1. Max Hall — Only one more touchdown than interception this season.
2. Reily Stephenson — We were hoping he could do better than Mitch Payne on kickoffs…
3. Spencer Hafoka — Had only one catch, which he eventually fumbled after a six-yard gain.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He remains on the Max Hall bandwagon despite the fact that he currently leads the country in interceptions. You can follow him on Twitter @jraywelch.
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