The Cougar ground game is humming coming into the game. Both J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya have remained productive, but it's Joshua Quezada who has really come on strong over the past two games.
With BYU showing forth a more balanced attack, teams won't be able to stack the box against the Cougar rushing attack, which should lead to even more productive run attempts.
The Rams are ranked 95th nationally in run defense, giving up 188 yards while operating out of their 4-3 base system. They've given up a lot of yards on the ground against the likes of Utah, Air Force and TCU, and San Diego State proved very effective on the ground against them last week.
It's a defense that features an undersized defensive front with linebacker-sized defensive ends and safety-sized outside linebackers. They're somewhat good in their lateral pursuit, but can be had up the middle.
"I think our guys will be able to run effectively against them, at least that's the plan," noted quarterback Jake Heaps. "Our offensive line has been blocking great and we expect them to do very well against Colorado State."
Their leading tacklers are their two undersized outside linebackers and their strong safety.
Look for a similar output on the ground this week as was seen last week against UNLV. Colorado State doesn't have much along their front seven that will limit what has proven to be a very good rushing attack here of late.
BYU passing attack vs. Colorado State
The Cougar passing attack came to life after the bye week, albeit against a weak UNLV team. They simply looked like a BYU offense last week, although there were perhaps more deep pass attempts than the norm.
"We're excited, that's for sure," said Heaps about the passing game's resurgence. "We have to make sure we keep it going against a good Colorado State team so we can be as balanced as possible. That's when you're good, and when you're able to do things is when you're balanced."
The Rams are somewhat average in defending the pass, yielding 220 yards per game, but they've been very poor in regards to pass efficiency ranking. They rank 117th nationally in pass efficiency defense, which certainly indicates that they can be had through the air.
They'll provide a lot of different coverage looks in an attempt to confuse Heaps and the Cougar offense.
"They give a lot of different looks, and from what we've seen, they change from game to game," observed Heaps. "They're pretty basic in what they do in coverage, but it's the looks they give you pre-snap and how often they blitz - that's what throws defenses off. Sometimes they'll play a lot of coverage in some games and others they'll bring the house."
CSU isn't a team that plays a lot of base cover-two as it has in the past, but the Rams do like to play quarters out of a nickel formation, which they'll go to often. Heaps has noted a lot of zero coverage when they bring the house.
"We'll have to be ready for anything," he said. "They're good at what they do, they're coming off of a very good game against San Diego State, and we'll have to be at our best to be productive against them."
The game which saw the Rams blitz most was against Utah, a game in which the Rams were burned for big yardage. Given that fact, look for them to play a lot of coverage and to mix that coverage up a lot while still bringing some different blitz packages.
It's easy to like what Heaps was able to do last week, as he proved to be very accurate in BYU's base offense that had all but disappeared prior to the UNLV game. He should struggle a bit more with this game being on the road and with the Rams looking to be more potent in their overall defense than UNLV.
Fans can expect BYU to throw for over 200 yards while approaching 250 yard, as the focus will again be on running the football.
BYU rush defense vs. Colorado State
Rush defense is an area which has seen drastic improvement since the Utah State game, and there is little reason to not believe it will continue.
"We're a confident bunch, that's for sure," expressed cornerback Brian Logan. "Our front seven are doing a great job in making it pretty boring for us in run defense, which is a good thing. They're playing extremely well."
Overall, Logan has noted some inconsistency with the Ram running attack.
"It seems as if they'll have two good runs in a row and then they'll go again and everything goes wrong and they lose yards," he noted. "So consistency is a problem for them. I really think that with our front seven, they'll continue to struggle in this game."
The Rams average 3.6 yards per rush and have been somewhat limited throughout the year in averaging 118 yards per outing. They'll rotate three backs, but have settled on freshman Chris Nwoke (6-0, 215) here of late.
"He's good for a freshman and he'll become a very good back, I think," noted Logan. "All their guys play hard and we'll have to be up for them and equal their effort if we want to be successful."
BYU has been holding opposing rush offenses below their average here of late and it's reasonable to expect the same in this game. Should the Cougars employ a good and balanced attack, it should limit CSU's opportunities and force them to throw the ball more than they want.
BYU pass defense vs. Colorado State
Despite all the difficulties this team has managed so far this season, they're yet to be exploited much through the air. They have given up some big gainers on occasion, but overall the pass defense has been very good and consistent.
Colorado State will bring in a very good freshman quarterback in Pete Thomas (6-5, 218), who is coming off of a solid outing against a very solid Aztec pass defense.
"He's good," noted Logan about Thomas. "He's poised, he's good in the pocket and he's really improved. He's sort of like our quarterback in that he has a great arm and won't run it much."
The Rams could be defined as being average in their ability to throw the football. Much like the Cougars, their best work has been their latest work, which speaks to breaking in a young quarterback.
It's an offense that uses deep routes to stretch the defense and that will check off to fullback Zac Pauga (6-1, 248) often. Their two main targets deep will be sophomore Lou Greewood (6-0, 183) and senior Tyson Leggett (5-9, 186).
Unlike most Colorado State teams of years past, they don't utilize their tight ends much this season, which again points to being similar to BYU's offense.
"They have good guys that can beat you deep, they're very decent," said Logan.
Overall this looks to be an interesting game that should see the Cougars continue their momentum as they work to become bowl eligible. They haven't seen much of any success on the road, and they'll have to get over that hurdle.
CSU is certainly a better team than UNLV, but not overwhelmingly so. CSU should do well in keeping the game somewhat close, although BYU should come out of Fort Collins with a win.
Final Score Prediction: BYU 28, Colorado St. 17