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BYU vs. Boise State Q&A: Broncos bring 'legit' defense to Provo

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After one of the most thrilling victories in school history, BYU will face another tough opponent in Boise State. We caught up with B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune to give us some insight on the Broncos and their new faces offense.

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After one of the most thrilling victories in school history, BYU will face another tough opponent in Boise State. We caught up with B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press-Tribune to give us some insight on the Broncos and their new faces on offense.

Vanquish The Foe: The Bronco's first game of the season was low-scoring affair with quite a few mistakes made by both teams. It's tough to make concrete judgements after one week but what were some of the key takeaways from that game?

BJ Rains, Idaho Press-Tribune

The biggest takeaway was that the Boise State defense is legit. There was plenty of preseason hype surrounding the defense, which returns eight starters from last season and had four players on the the preseason all-Mountain West team, and the Broncos did nothing to slow that train Friday with a dominant performance in the opener. They held Washington to 179 total yards, including 29 rushing yards, and kept the Huskies out of the end zone despite being put in bad spots on multiple occasions. The only Washington points came on a 76-yard punt return and two field goals that came when they had great field position following two bad punts. The Boise State offense wasn't great in the second half, but it didn't need to be. The defense looks like it can single-handedly win games if it needs to.

Vanquish The Foe: Cougar fans will be thankful they don't have to see QB Grant Hedrick or RB Jay Ajayi, the duo that torched the Cougar defense last season. Who are their replacements at quarterback and running back and how do they measure up to their predecessors?

BJ Rains:

Ryan Finley started his first career game at quarterback on Friday. He was OK, but his performance was nothing to write home about. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 129 yards and had a bad interception with Boise State driving in the second quarter. The play calling was pretty conservative in the second half once it became apparent Washington couldn't move the ball against the Boise State defense. Finley "managed" the game, which Boise State coaches were impressed with in his first start. He just missed a possible touchdown on a deep pass to Chaz Anderson, and was just off on a couple other throws as well. Coaches say those corrections will be made this week.

At running back, Jay Ajayi had more total touches than any player in college football last year. That won't be the case this year. Boise State has three running backs that will see time. Sophomore Jeremy McNichols accounted for 113 total yards and had two touchdowns, while Kelsey Young and Devan Demas also had some decent runs. Young is a graduate transfer from Stanford and had 48 rushing yards, but also lost a fumble in the second half. Dumas showed some speed and had four carries for 20 yards. All three will again see time against the Cougars, but it's hard to say any of them are equal - at least now - to a fifth-round NFL Draft pick in Ajayi.

Vanquish The Foe: The BYU offense will feature a highly-touted passing quarterback and three receivers that are all over 6'5". How will the Boise State secondary match up?

BJ Rains:

The height was an issue for the Broncos two years ago in Provo, when they suffered the second-worst loss in the Chris Petersen era to the Cougars. Boise State has an experienced secondary, including preseason all-Mountain West players Donte Deayon (corner) and Darian Thompson (safety), and expect to be better this time around. Deayon is only 5-9, but routinely has to answer questions about his height and going up against taller receivers. He says it's not an issue. Boise State's other starting corner, Jonathan Moxey, is only 5-10, so it will certainly be worth watching.

Vanquish The Foe: BYU's defense was relatively stout against the run but gave up chunks of yardage (particularly on third down) through the air. Will the BSU offense take priority with the passing game or look to establish the run?

BJ Rains:

Boise State's priority is always to establish the run, but I think there will be an added emphasis on getting the passing game going this week after Finley only passed for 129 yards and no touchdowns in the opener. A good number of fans in Boise were unhappy with offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz's play calling, and the Broncos could look to air it out a little more and quiet the doubters.

Vanquish The Foe: The offensive line for BYU didn't clear many running lanes but did a great job protecting the passer against Nebraska. How will BSU's defensive front seven challenge BYU's O-line?

BJ Rains:

The defensive line is the strength on a stacked Boise State defense. The Broncos have seven seniors along the defensive line and a junior, all-Mountain West first teamer Kamalei Correa, that could be playing in the NFL at this time next season. The line had two sacks on Washington's final drive of the game last week and held the Huskies to only 29 rushing yards for the game. There won't be many offensive lines this season that get the best of the Broncos up front.

Vanquish The Foe: This will be the fourth meeting in as many years between BYU and BSU. Do the players and coaches recognize this as a rivalry or is it just another non-conference game?

BJ Rains:

Players and coaches were asked about this on Monday and the growing sense is that yes, it's becoming a rivalry. There's obviously a lot of BYU fans in Boise, and a good number of fans travel each year to the opposing stadium with the trip only about six hours away. The fact that the teams signed such a longterm contract to play annually only enhances the growing rivalry, which players and coaches said is getting stronger each year.

Vanquish The Foe: How do you see the game playing out?

BJ Rains:

I see this game coming down to the fourth quarter and likely ending as a single-digit game. Vegas has Boise State as a slight favorite. I thought BYU would be a slight favorite at home, but Boise State's impressive defense apparently was enough to give them the slight edge. I won't pick a winner, but I expect the game to be close and competitive and come down to the wire. It should be a great game.

Thanks again to B.J. Rains and the Idaho Press-Tribune for the help with this article.