COMMENTARY — BYU beat Georgia Tech pretty handily last Saturday and it was the second straight performance in which the Cougars had well-rounded play from the offense, defense, and special teams. BYU is now really starting to gel and this could help them rack up the wins and secure another bowl game.
The offense of the Cougars showed that it is dynamic and full of depth, while the defense just dismantled the Yellow Jackets offense for the second year in a row.
Taysom Hill continues to grow at his position and shows improvement from game to game. It makes me feel better weekly about my prediction very early in his college career that he has the potential to be one of the many great BYU QBs, perhaps destined for a place alongside Nielsen, McMahon, Bosco, Detmer, Young and the rest of the legends. I have to remind myself that he is still a young college player, but then again, he has two full season left at BYU and this is a very exciting thought for the program. Hill, with 644 rushing yards already, runs better than Steve Young (his best year, 1983, he had 444 yards) and his passing accuracy is improving at a rapid rate.
So many people jumped off the Hill bandwagon after his low completion percentage early in the year led them to believe he was another Riley Nelson. Hill is starting to prove those people wrong. Many of them will be in the stands for home games, rooting him on as he becomes a star. Remember, he’s just a sophomore. The sky’s the limit for Hill.
Last week, Cody Hoffman tied BYU’s career receptions mark and now he is looking forward to breaking it and setting a new record with the second half of this 2013 season ahead of him. Hoffman had a great diving 45-yard touchdown reception that showed that the rest of the season between Hill and Hoffman could be really special if both stay healthy. Having a great ground attack, with Hills, Jamaal Williams and Algernon Brown, opens up things for Hill and Hoffman downfield and makes the offense so hard to defend. Hoffman’s TD catch tied BYU All-America tight end Dennis Pitta at 221 career catches.
BYU’s defense is on track to climb up further in the national defensive rankings and is on course to be a Top 10 D. The Cougars held a really good Yellow Jackets offense to 20 points, making this 12 games in a row where teams have not scored over 21 points on BYU. Kyle Van Noy once again racked up some very impressive defensive statistics with six tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Another highlight was seeing Spencer Hadley’s return to the team after being suspended for Honor Code violations before the Utah game. He took advantage of the opportunity and recorded 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. It will be helpful to see him add his experience and depth again to this great defense as it still has many tough opponents in the second half of the 2013 season.
This week the (Blue) Cougars of BYU will meet up with the (Red) Cougars of Houston and it looks to be set up for a good battle down in the Lone Star state. Surprisingly, these two teams have never met before in a football game. Houston has a 5-0 overall record with wins over teams like Temple, Rice, and Memphis so far this season. The Houston Cougars are a dominating member of the American Athletic Conference this year. The AAC, made up primarily of former Big East schools, also includes Rutgers and Louisville.
But BYU looks to be the toughest team on Houston’s schedule. This is exactly what BYU needs to watch out for. I am sure that the BYU game has been circled on Houston’s calender for a long time. This is a very solid program from Texas and BYU needs to go into this game knowing that Houston sees this as an opportunity to play a non-conference game with a team that should beat them easily. If Houston can pull out a win, it will make their program look better than the current Texas Longhorn (a team BYU beat earlier this year), which can help them in recruiting in-state talent.
Houston averages 39.8 points per game on offense and their defense is holding teams to just 19 point a game. Some of Houston’s players to watch and that BYU must gameplan for are running backs Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow. Jackson is averaging 78.2 yards per game with 4 TD’s while Farrow is not far behind with 69.3 yards per game and 2 TDs.
Quarterback John O’Korn is averaging 226.2 yards per game in passing and throws mainly to receivers Deontay Greenberry and Daniel Spencer. Greenberry already has 606 yards and 3 TDs receiving this season. BYU needs to eliminate him and his playmaking ability early. This QB is a young player who is said to make great plays, but a lot of mistakes. The Blue Cougars need to capitalize on his mistakes and turn them into touchdowns. BYU should have no problem shaking up Houston’s offense and keeping the Red Cougars to under 21 points.
Linebacker Derrick Mathews is by far Houston’s stand-out statistically on the defensive side of the ball with 49 total tackles. Along with Mathews, BYU will have to shut down defensive end Tyus Bowser, who has racked up the most backfield pressures with 3 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss so far this season. But Houston hasn’t seen an offense as talented as the Blue Cougars, so I expect Coach Robert Anea and Co. to put up 30-plus points.
BYU is a 9 1/2-point favorite by Vegas’ determination, and that’s about how I see it as well with how strong BYU is playing currently. BYU needs to get back on the road and win another game convincingly to propel itself in the right direction heading into next week’s game vs. Boise State.
Now, I never like to look past an opponent — in fact, I believe you take games one week at a time — but I do have a personal grudge against Boise State from way back in my playing days at BYU (more on that next week). Plus, factoring in the heartbreaking loss up in Boise last season and it’s easy to see why next week’s game will be so important. But for now, let’s focus on beating those Red Cougars.
Scott Young is a sports columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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