BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BYU Defense: What do the shutouts mean??

The Cougars have outscored their opponents 103-0 over the last two games, but what do these shutouts really say about the strength of BYU's defense...

103-0 looks really good on paper. At the end of the day that is what really matters when it comes to positioning in polls in college football. The people that are ranking teams very rarely watch any game, they normally look at box scores. When you see a shutout in the score that is a very impressive statement. Yet, just how good is the BYU defense? Is the defense really that good or is the teams they are playing that bad? Is BYU setting themselves up to be exposed?

Looking at the two shutout you have to look at the opponents that BYU has faced. First, UCLA. The Bruins are not looking very good. After getting their butts kicked in Provo, they followed up that performance with a big loss to Arizona. In the Arizona game the Bruins didn't score an offensive touchdown. Their only offensive points was a 35 yard field goal. UCLA was able to score on Arizona in the game, and they also beat Tennessee. Tennessee looks to be in a down year, but their lose to Florida was deceptive. Tennessee turned the ball over three times, and gave up a punt return. The Vols defense played well it the ball game. Limiting Florida to just 96 yards passing, and 243 total yards. An impressive performance considering the starting field position that their offense gave up. UCLA isn't the best offense in college football; however, they did put points on the board against quality opponents.

Wyoming, isn't as good as UCLA. The Cowboys just aren't that good of a football team. They only scored three points against Air Force, and squeaked out wins over Ohio and North Dakota State. Yet, the Cowboys did score points in all of their games until they played BYU.

Although the teams they were playing haven't been huge offensive threats, that is only part of what makes shutouts special. A team has to be perfect in all aspects of the game. The offense has to be able to move the ball to not allow the other team to gain good field position. The special teams have to pin the other team on kickoffs and punts. Plus, the defense can't give up any big plays.

The fact that a team can't have any slip ups in any facet of makes the shutout very rare in college football. So far this season there has only been ten shutouts. (BYU has two of them, and South Carolina State has been shutout twice) So far this season there have been more lop-sided match ups than either of BYU's last two games. (Texas vs. Florida Atlantic for example) Yet, the underdogs in those match ups have managed to put up points. Does that mean that the defenses of the top teams aren't as good? No, it is just hard to complete the shutout.

Especially in games when one team is blowing out the other. The teams will insert their second or third string players, and that allows the other team to move the ball down the field. Also to maintain the intensity on the field with these lesser players is very difficult. Everyone is really waiting for the clock to run out on the game, and move on to the next week. Yet, to have the second and third string players maintain the shutout is very impressive.

So what does this say about BYU's defense? Does this mean that BYU's defense could handle the offense of USC or Oklahoma? No, BYU's defense would have their hands full with either of those teams. What the last two shutouts say about BYU is that they can play with elite programs. They aren't a Hawaii that have a great offense and a terrible defense. BYU have athletes that can keep BYU in games. With the offense that BYU has they don't need to have a perfect performance from the defense they just need a few stops per game. The defense has proven in the last two weeks that they are at least on that level.


Scott said...

You have to give props to BYU for shutting a team out. That is very difficult to do and to do it twice in a row is amazing, but I agree with Larry's comment in the other article. BYU hasn't played a competent offense all year. The teams they have played are down right bad (did you see what Oklahoma did to Washington!!!???) Personally, I have not felt very comfortable with how BYU plays D. They give up yards and get bailed out with a TO. That trend cannot and will not continue.

The shutouts against Wyoming and UCLA do not give any evidence that BYU can play with elite BCS programs. The reason they can compete with quality teams is because of their offense, not their defense.

Mark said...

BYU vs. Washington
Washington's total yardage: 337
Locker's total number:267 yds 3 TD

Oklahoma vs. Washington
Washington's total yardage: 336
Locker's total numbers:204 yds 1 TD

These looks pretty similar...

The big difference between the two games was Washington's turnover numbers. Against BYU Washington had 0 turnovers, and against Oklahoma Washington had 3. Washington put the ball on the turf four times against BYU, and recovered all of them. Sometimes a team plays a good game and gets some bounces. The game that Washington played against BYU was nearly perfect.

Shutouts are a complete team effort. Sure there was luck involved; however, in the words of Urban Meyer, "You make your own luck."

Larr said...

Remember Oklahoma didn't have their starters all game in either because they killed Washington so its tough to compare. Yes OU's second team defense is comparable to byus first team defense. That's why OU only had fourteen points against them. If I remember byus defense is the only reason why that game was close cause Washington's defense wasn't going to stop byu offense so the only reason it was close was unga fumble and byus sorry defense.

Mark said...

In that game BYU's secondary wasn't good. Not at all. The last drive there was a defender within ten feet of receivers; however, not including the last drive the defense was rather solid. Only giving up a few big plays. The defense even created take-away opportunities, the ball just didn't bounce BYU's way. Locker wasn't in the entire game against OU. He put those number against the first team defense of OU. Did OU's defense play better? Of course, look at the score of the game, and the number of turnovers. The point is the differences in the defenses aren't as large as people think.

Yet, Larry you are making my point for me. The reason the shutouts are that impressive is because of the solid team effort. It takes more than a defense to shutout a team. You need to have great games from you offense, defense, and special team people to have a shutout. UCLA's first team offense that scored on Tennessee couldn't score on BYU's second and third team. That was an impressive effort.

Larr said...

I agree that shut outs are huge but I
will not be impressed until they shut-out someone higher than 116 and 115 in the country for total offense. They are ranked so low cause they can't move the ball. I agree you can't shut someone out without a complete team effort. But as far as I'm concerned byus defense alone couldn't shut-out anyone. byus strength of schedule is 83! and utah's is 99! Neither team has a true test besides themselves tcu and each other. They are winning big but don't have any big wins which makes you wonder what they can do in a big game. I never said byus offense didn't look good against the 94th and 119th ranked teams in total defense, they should and did look good against such pitiful defenses. I'm just saying everyone needs to be cautious! Last time byu got upset with the way they were ranked and tried to make a bcs push they were told by the Rainbow Warriors in a very real way that they don't belong. 72-45 if I remember right. And HI didn't even make a bowl game that season. Just be careful about what you say and who you attack. Just ask GARY CROWTON!

Mark said...

The Cougars haven't played a really great football program for a while. And BYU has been involved in a lot of close calls. The two-straight shutouts are impressive, but as defensive coordinator Jaime Hill told me today, you have to take a lot of the defensive hype with a grain of salt right now because the Cougars have not faced a great, explosive offense this season.

Mark said...

Found that quote above and I thought that worked well into Scott and Larry's argument