This weekend's matchup against the Colorado St. Rams has a lot of great story lines which may make this game closer than the revitalized Cougar Fan may think. Going into Fort Collins, has historically been tough for BYU. Both teams are starting true freshman quarterbacks. BYU's offense may be without key players. Both defenses are playing very physical, and are getting better each week. BYU needs a win to improve case for bowl eligibility.
So how do the two teams really stack up? And what will the shake out be from tomorrow's game?
No doubt the BYU offense is riding high after last week's drubbing of UNLV. The offense could do no wrong. They were a staggering 11-17 on 3rd down and amassed a grand total of 516 yards throughout the game. They need to carry that momentum into this week's game, and live up to the old adage, "Confident, not cocky!" They can't read their own press clippings, and need to come out hungry, just as they did against the UNLV Rebels.
The trick this week is that the Ram defense is far superior to the defense the young Cougars played last week. Led by linebackers Ricky Brewer #56 and Mychal Sisson #6, this is a defense that held TCU to just two field goals in the first half of their game. They held TCU to 2 three and outs and held them on a 4th down try. And they were on the field the whole game (CSU's offense went 3 and out on 7 of 15 possessions, only running 55 plays the whole game). Sisson is the guy to watch though. At 5-11 (more like 5-9) 209 this guy is an animal. He is all over the place and he will hit you right in the mouth! He plays almost a hybrid SS/OLB position, and he can sure fly around and make plays.
The key to beating this defense will be our ability to sustain a strong running game. For whatever, BYU always has their best rushing game of the year against the Rams Tampa 2 defense. This year we need to make that happen again.
Nothing to worry about here as far as I am concerned. The Rams are averaging slightly less points a game than BYU with 18/game (BYU - 20/game). The rush offense is currently producing 121 yards/gm, but I don't expect them to rush for more than 70. BYU's current defense (not the mis-guided Jaime Hill one), is only allowing 61 rush yards a game. That includes holding the TCU Horned Frogs, who average 261/game to just 108 yards on the ground.
Good news for Rams fans is that they are in the top 50 in the nation in passing. Now that's not impressive for most schools, but keep in mind that BYU is not in the top 50 in any category and it's somewhat impressive. The secondary for the Cougars is going to have to prove the headlines that were written before the season started, that they are one of the best in recent years at BYU.
Playing in Ft. Collins:
BYU's average margin of victory against the Rams in Fort Collins dating back to 1993 is just 9.2 points. The good news about that is BYU has only lost 2 games out of 7 in that span. But think about this for a minute, BYU's average margin of victory over the Rams at LES is 23.6 points a game dating back to 1990 (to get an equal 7 game sample both home and away). Now BYU has also lost 2 game at LES in that same 7 game span. But make no mistake, Ft. Collins is a tough stadium to play in, especially late in the year. It is going to be cold and windy in that little bowl and the fans hate BYU just enough to make it that much more miserable.
As a player though, I have to say that it was one of my favorite places to play. The stadium is nice and cozy (sounds cheesy, but that's the only way I know how to describe it). It's not an overwhelmingly huge venue, so it has a very intimate feel to it. The fans are close, the grass is real (or was when I played), and the weather is just chilly enough for football. If I were to choose a game to travel to as a fan, this would be the one!
The Battle of the Freshman QB's:
This has been beaten to death this week in the media. These guys are pretty similar. They are not razzle dazzle guys. They are strictly pocket passers, who seem to be getting a little better as the season goes on, but neither has lived up to their billing yet. Thomas has been performing slightly better than Jake to this point in the season, but Jake has had better individual games (like the one last week). If the game against UNLV was a sign of things to come, I give the edge to our boy, Heaps. I would also like to say that this could be the start of a great career rivalry, but seeing as how the Rams can't wait to not have to play the Cougars anymore, this will be the first and last game the two play against each other.
BYU 25 - Colorado St. 10