Thursday, October 28, 2010

BYU to Vegas?

Don’t look now, but BYU could be headed to another Las Vegas bowl come December. After a rough start with some close losses (and some not so close), BYU is improving and is looking halfway decent for the second half of the season. With Air Force losing to SDSU a few weeks ago, BYU could end up tied with Air Force and SDSU for 3rd in the conference, and I would bet (but not in a Las Vegas way) that the Cougars could be headed there for the 6th straight year. The first year BYU went to the Las Vegas Bowl, they were 6-6. I wouldn't doubt it if BYU ended up with that same record. After victories against SDSU and Wyoming, BYU’s defense has been dominant against middle-class offenses and held its own against TCU as well. If you take out the offense giving away great field position through a fumble, interception, or shanked punt, SDSU, TCU, and Wyoming offenses scored an average or 11 points per game. I don’t care who you are, that is at least a decent defense. You know you are in trouble when your offense allows more points per game than your defense (over 15 points a game). BYU can make a bowl game this year, but these are a few keys on the road to Las Vegas.

Use Brian Kariya and Juice more steadily - after relying heavily on JJ Di Luigi for the first half of the season, it has become apparent that teams are keying on him in the running game. Last week against Wyoming, Kariya, Di Luigi, and Quezada all had a rushing average of greater than 4 yards. Yes, Di Luigi is quicker, but he is also riskier with his running, often trying to beat the offense to the corner. Kariya and Quezada won’t break out any huge runs (their longest runs this year have been 15 and 17 yards, respectively) but they will usually get you around 3-6 yards per rush and will not lose yardage, simply because they almost always fall forwards when they are tackled. Also, Kariya and Quezada are better blockers in the shotgun, so defenses have to stuff the middle to stop their run but also be ready for the pass to the receivers out wide.

Andrew Rich has to stay healthy - there are already enough defensive players hurt, but Rich is the backbone of the defense. He is essential in breaking up screen passes and hitting opposing RB’s at or behind the line of scrimmage. Rich already has some lingering injuries (one reason why he wears long sleeves at every game), but please, don’t get any more. I want to go to Vegas. For the bowl game.

Luke Ashworth can’t have any more drops - he was a key part of a few of BYU’s drives last game, but this year in earlier games he has had several drops. BYU’s TE’s are fickle, but they are also new to the system. Ashworth is an experienced receiver and has the ability to catch anything, we saw it all of last year. He isn’t incredibly quick or fast, but he was a consistent catcher. He can’t fall back into dropping passes. We know his ability, we saw it last year. Just keep doing what you did last week, Luke.

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