BYU Preview - Further Analysis
Posted Aug 7, 2006

BYU Cougars Preview 2006 - Cougar Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Back to the Future? – It might not be Marty and Doc Brown returning to Hill Valley, but the return of the BYU offense was a sign that all was right in the world.  After scoring only 16 points a game, yes, 16 points a game in 2003, the 2005 Cougar offense scored 33 points a game, averaging 462 yards per game in the process.  Ahhhh, just like the days of Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer and Steve Sarkisian in Provo.  Psst, want to know the good news?  Sure, bring it on.  Almost all of them are back.  Well, the ‘stars’ anyway.  QB John Beck threw for over 3,700 yards and 27 touchdowns, even though most of the nation had no clue that he was blossoming into one of the best QBs in the country.  The senior consistently takes what the defense gives to him, he’s accurate and he has a strong arm.  He doesn’t need much space to stick a tough 12 yard deep out.  But, he’s got help and not from where you’d expect it – running back Curtis Brown.  The senior ran for over 1,100 yards and provided the ying to Beck’s passing game yang.  However, in typical Cougar RB fashion, he snared 53 balls from Beck, which shows how willing Beck is to take his check down routes throughout the game.  Beck’s biggest receiving threat is the undefinable Johnny Harline.  He’s not a TE and he’s not completely a WR – he’s more like Tulsa’s former pass catching stud Garrett Mills.  Overall, what makes this offense different than the McMahon/Detmer units is that the run game/passing games can feed off one another in the same game or one might carry the other.  For example in the TCU game last season, the running game couldn’t find solid footing, but Beck threw for 517 yards.  Colorado State set out to stop Beck and the passing game, but Brown and the running game piled up 274 yards rushing.  But, when it flows, together, as it did against Air Force, your defense is toast – 300 yards rushing, 383 yards passing and 62 points.  That’s what MWC teams will face this season – an experienced, 1.21 gigawatt powered offensive bunch that has designs on repeating the past, with an eye on a future MWC title.

2nd and Seven – Armor all protection – With all of the skill talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Cougars, the offensive line is often thought of as, well, they’re not really thought of at all.  But, the line returns three key starters from a unit that was one of the biggest in the nation.  Really big.  Suffice it to say, they don’t move all that well and need Beck’s quick release to avoid half a dozen sacks a game.  However, they’ll lean on light defensive lines, wearing them down by the fourth quarter to open running lanes for Brown and company.  Quicker edge rushers and one-gap defensive tackles give the line some problems on passing downs, but the pass protection improved throughout the season.  Adding Tom Sorensen, a transfer from Vandy, solidifies this unit that much more.  If this unit keeps the total sack number under 15, there might be no stopping this offense in 2006.

3rd and Three – Lynch-ed – “No, Marshawn…get him.  TACKLE him!”  Coach.  Coach?!?  Huh, oh, must’ve been dreaming.  Well, what was it about?  Man, kept seeing #10 for Cal run for touchdowns and yards, over and over again.  We just couldn’t tackle him.  Coach, uh, that wasn’t a dream; that was the Las Vegas Bowl nightmare.  Oh boy, is it over?  Hopefully.  Although Cal’s Marshawn Lynch ran over nearly every team in his path last year, it was the nightcap in Vegas when he ripped the BYU run defense to shreds that should worry head coach and defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall.  But, it wasn’t the first time that the Cougar defense was tapped for over 200 yards on the ground.  In the aggregate, the defensive front actually gave up one fewer yard per game than in 2004, but in BYU’s biggest games, they got torched up front.  It didn’t help matters that Lynch’s performance was magnified in front of a national television audience.  Linebacker Cameron Jensen had a solid 2005 season, but he lost much of the defensive line protection he had in front of him, so keep an eye on the BYU run defense in 2006.

4th and One – Mighty Mouse – So many young kids won’t play football because they argue they’re too small.  “I’m only 5’6” and a buck thirty, what can I do?”.  The reality of the situation is that it really doesn’t matter.  If you can play, you can play.  Consequently, these kids need to look no further than BYU corner Justin Robinson.  The 5’7”, 154 pound senior isn’t much bigger than the pimply faced freshmen at your local high school, but the kid can play.  He’s not afraid to be physical, even at his size, and he had 10 passes broken up last season.  He may not be coming to save the day, but he and Kayle Buchanan form a solid cover corner duo.  However, they have to be even better on the perimeter to better the pass defense, after giving up 269 yards per game in 2005.

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