Jamie Hill was fired, the BYU Cougars are 1-4 for the first time since 1973, our offense is averaging just over 2 TDs a game while our defense is giving up 4 TDs a game, so what about this week's matchup has me sitting on the edge of my seat and feeling an excitement and encouragement that I have been lacking since our 35-14 loss to the Air Force Falcons?
Bronco is back in the saddle!
This week will pit student vs. teacher as Bronco Mendehall works to turnaround a defense in 1 weeks time, while Rocky Long finally has his San Diego St. Aztecs defense firing on all cylinders. I could not be more excited for a football game!The Aztec offense, led by 6-4, 214 lb Junior, Ryan Lindley is one of the top in the country...right now. But I am not buying into all the hype just yet. Sure they are averaging over 38 points and over 500 yards of offense per game. But aside from a stout Missouri team they haven't faced much competition yet. They do possess real threats in the passing game in the form of #1 DeMarco Sampson and #80 Vincent Brown. Both average over 15 yards per reception, so I would expect a game plan similar to last year where we see SDSU chucking it deep, especially in light of the fact that BYU will not have a healthy Andrew Rich to patrol the backfield.
On the ground game we can expect a heavy dose of #13 Ronnie Hillman (83 rushes for 532 yards, 6.4 yds/carry) with #34 Walter Kazee getting 6-9 carries throughout the game. Against a Missouri Tiger defense who gives up about 140 yds/game on the ground Hillman racked up 228 yards and 2 TDs. No doubt, Romney Fuga will be missed this week.
The Aztec defense is vastly improved from last year. The players are beginning to understand the defense more and Rocky Long has them playing at full tilt, much like the BYU defense under Bronco Mendenhall (more on this later). This is the biggest concern for me. SDSU will not just blitz Heaps because he is a freshman, they will blitz him because that is what the basis of a Rocky Long 3-3-5 defense is! I worry that Heaps will be rattled early and often because this defense is so unique and there is not way to prepare for how fast they play. The offensive line has a big challenge ahead of them this weekend. If they can make the right calls to pick up the blitzes and give Jake time to settle in then we will have success. Jake just has to remember to take it easy, breathe deep and be an athlete.
What I would like to see from Coach Anae this week is a lot more hurry up offense. This seems to take some of the pressure of Jake to think and analyze and allows his athletic ability and instincts to take over and generally we see more success and more accurate throws in these situations.
Defensively for the Cougars I would expect to see a whole new feel and a whole new attitude in the approach to this game. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the defensive meeting yesterday when Coach Mendenhall reintroduced himself as the DC. I can only imagine the amount of running and yelling that is taking place in Provo this week. What I like about this change is that football is such an emotional game. A drastic change like this could spark a fiery enthusiasm in the Cougar defense that could lead to a fantastic, emotional and physical performance in week 1 of the change.
While I am not going to bet the farm that BYU will run the table just because Bronco is the defensive coordinator once again, I have to admit that I have never been as encouraged and excited to watch a game this year as I am for this one. It is going to be a knockdown, drag out fight. I can't wait to see the Cougars return the pride to the program.