VANQUISH THE FOE: In last year's track meet of a game, Houston kept pace with BYU with some big plays, particularly on special teams. Who are the key playmakers for Houston this season?
Hannah Exley: Deontay Greenberry had an impressive first game this season with six receptions and 96 yards. Greg Ward Jr. entered the 2014 season as the starting punt returner and has played quarterback as well. During the matchup against Grambling State Ward Jr. proved his versatility with a 12-yard keeper scoring the first touchdown of the game Saturday night. Kyle Bullard has proved his accuracy connecting on four field goals last week against Grambling State.
VANQUISH THE FOE: Last year Houston torched the BYU defense through the air, but through the first two games of the season John O'Korn has struggled. Is the sophomore signal caller due for another big game?
Hannah Exley: O'Korn has grown in every way a college quarterback can since his debut as a starter last season. The matchup against BYU would be an ideal time for him to regain his rhythm and rekindle the chemistry we have seen him have with his receivers to show the nation what progress he has made.
VANQUISH THE FOE: After another standout game against Texas, BYU QB Taysom Hill is getting some national attention. What players on the Houston defense will need to step up in order slow down Hill?
Hannah Exley: The Houston defense, otherwise known as the "Third Ward D," received some national attention as well last season. The Houston defense leads the AAC in scoring defense and was the nation's turnover leader in 2013. The Houston coaching staff has certainly acknowledged Hill as the epitome of a dual-threat quarterback and they will continue to prepare accordingly on the defensive side of the ball to be able to step up to the powerful BYU offense.
Linebackers Derrick Mathews and Efrem Oliphant put up impressive stats from their first matchup this season against UTSA. Mathews equaled his career high with 16 tackles, and Oliphant with 14 tackles. NFL prospect, Joey Mbu is another defensive weapon for Houston. Mbu achieved his career-high five stops in 2012 against ECU and made his first career interception against SMU. Mbu also led all defensive tackles in 2012 with 27 tackles, and again last season with 29 tackles.
VANQUISH THE FOE: A lot of teams that visit Provo tend to struggle with the altitude difference. Have the Cougars been doing anything different to prepare for the thin air?
Hannah Exley: Head coach Tony Levine had this to say about preparing to play in Provo.
"I worry about some of our coaches breathing... some of that thin air. I think our athletes will be fine, and again we've had some of our coaches that have actually played up there, coached up there, and again I think every location has different challenges if you will. I don't think the air up there is going to be as much as we think."
VANQUISH THE FOE: Running back Kenneth Farrow is coming off a big game on the ground. Will he be a focal point of the offense on Thursday?
Hannah Exley: Coming off of his first 100-yard rushing game, Farrow will undoubtedly maintain that momentum and remain a key offensive player that will continue to produce more of the same results. He is definitely the kind of player that opposing coaches should game plan for.
VANQUISH THE FOE: With this game being played on a Thursday night in front of a national audience on ESPN, could this road matchup against a ranked team be Houston's biggest game of the season?
Hannah Exley: The Houston coaching staff continues to stress to the team to take each week one game at a time and not to put too much emphasis on one specific game more than another. So I would not call it the biggest game of the season necessarily. No one can deny the impressive season BYU has had so far along with the fact that this is the first road game for Houston. Whenever the Houston football program is exposed on a national stage it presents an opportunity for people around the nation to take notice. I would call it an important matchup and it's imperative that they play the game they are capable of playing and avoid careless (and oftentimes costly) errors.
VANQUISH THE FOE: How do you see the game playing out?
Hannah Exley: I see BYU most likely coming away with the win and hopefully UH being able to keep up and walk away with no serious injuries this early on in the season. However, after watching UH closely for several years I have also learned that you never should discount this Houston team, especially when they are the underdogs . I would like to see a real competition between these two Cougar teams that are both loaded with talent. That is what any football fan likes to see; those are the games people love to watch, much like the matchup last season. I know that BYU is going to be a tough opponent for Houston and will be the first real challenge this season.
Thanks again to Hannah and CoogFans.com for their help with this article.