How BYU makes their adjustments this season will prove how much success they will have.
In many ways this season seems to be a flashback to BYU’s 2008 football campaign. There were unrealistic expectations the local and national media placed on the Cougars before the Florida State loss. Now the backlash of the national media who feel like jilted lovers for jumping on the BYU bandwagon before it failed. This can be seen in BYU’s drop in both polls despite winning big at home against an undefeated opponent.
Last season BYU never learned how to make improvements after winning. It always seemed to take a loss in order for BYU to make changes. It is important in order for BYU to be successful this season that the Cougars make improvements each game, regardless of winning or losing.
BYU’s rout of Colorado State was great for the team’s moral. The game was never in danger after the first quarter of play. The defense looked solid and came up with key stops to keep Colorado State out of the end zone. The offense was able to move the ball well for the most part, and Harvey Unga finally started to look comfortable in the offense for the first time this season.
Yet, there are still problems the Cougars are going to have to address as the season continues in order to have success in conference. While Colorado State is improved from last season, and a surprise team in the conference this season, Colorado State clearly was out matched by BYU’s talent.
Colorado State didn’t have the talent on their team to take advantage of the weaknesses BYU has this year. When BYU faces stronger and more athletic opponents this season in conference they will struggle, unless the team makes some adjustments.
One concern BYU has this season is the lack of production they are getting from their defensive line. Going into the season the concern many people had about the Cougars was the offensive line; however, the defensive line is proving to be the major liability.
Jan Jorgenson was supposed to anchor BYU’s defense, but he has been virtually non-existent in the first four games of the year. After setting the Mountain West Conference record for sacks in a single season two years ago, Jorgenson has not registered a sack this season.
Jorgenson has a total of 13 tackles through four games, which ties him for tenth on the team. He is second on the team with two and a half tackles for loss. He is also created with one QB knockdown this season, although there have been multiple times he has forced the QB to throw early due to added pressure.
Overall, Jorgenson’s stats are unimpressive and he has been non-impactful. His most memorable play this season was his costly fumble, on a kick return, late in the first half against Florida State.
Teams are definitely game planning to stop Jorgenson, and he has been facing double and triple teams all season. With teams placing so much emphasis on stopping Jorgenson, BYU expected more production from the other members of the defensive line.
Brett Denney the other defensive end has unimpressive numbers through four games. He has just eight total tackles, with a single assisted tackle for loss. Russell Tialavea was injured in the Florida State game, but in the first two games he didn’t show much on the field. Romney Fuga is the one pleasant surprise on the defensive front with 14 total tackles, two for a loss, and the only sack registered by the defensive line.
The defensive front has not been able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. This has forced the linebackers and safeties to cheat up to protect against the run. This defensive shift has left BYU vulnerable to the play action pass; a play which hurt BYU in both the Florida State game, and against Colorado State.
Brian Logan is another issue which needs to be addressed by the BYU coaching staff, although Logan is a much different problem. Florida State and Colorado State both targeted Logan throughout the game, and forced him to make plays. His lack of height leaves him susceptible to giving up big plays to taller, more athletic receivers.
Logan for the most part has risen to the occasion when other teams have targeted him. He is third on the team in tackles with 25(17 of which are unassisted). He also leads the team in both interceptions (with two) and pass breakups (recording seven already this season). Logan was also one of the major reasons BYU beat Oklahoma to start the season.
Logan did blow some defensive assignments against Florida State and Colorado State. Bronco Mendenhall commented on these defensive miscues from Logan. Mendenhall believes Logan isn’t suffering from his lack of height, but he is simply lacking in proper coverage techniques. Whatever the case for Logan’s problems in coverage, teams will continue to throw at him in games until he proves he can shut down the pass.
The secondary for the most part is the biggest surprise this season for BYU, and teams targeting Logan might not be the worst thing for BYU. Logan has proven he can make big tackles in the open field. He has also proven that while he might be beaten at times in coverage, he is a vast improvement over any corner BYU has had for the last five years.
Safeties Scott Johnson and Andrew Rich have also provided additional support for both Logan and the entire defensive unit for BYU. Having Scott Johnson back on the field for the Colorado State game made a big improvement in how the defense played.
Another problem BYU has faced the entire season is the lack of consistency from the offense. BYU’s offense put up 21 points in the first quarter, but this was due to favorable field position from turnovers and a blocked punt.
After scoring with :25 seconds left in the first quarter, BYU did not score again until the 6:56 mark in the third quarter. The offense has suffered from these scoring droughts in every game this season. Turnovers and lack of execution has hurt BYU’s offense this season.
More consistent play from the offense would help to protect the holes which BYU has on the defensive side of the ball. BYU has not controlled the time of possession in the past two games, and that is wearing out the defense as the game progresses. BYU needs to control the ball more, like they did against Oklahoma, or simply put up easy points, like they did against Colorado State, in order to protect the defense.
Unga once again returning to full strength should help the Cougars to eat up more clock by moving the ball more on the ground. BYU should be able to implement the ground game more in their next three games against Utah State, UNLV, and San Diego State in order to prepare for a showdown with TCU at home.
The score to the Colorado State game is somewhat deceptive, and BYU still has a lot of adjustments which they need to make. Hopefully the coaching staff has learned how to identify major problems and correct them even when they are winning this season.
BYU still has a chance to make some national noise this season, but there are problems the team needs to address in order to improve.
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