BYU's run defense against USU's run offense

Utah State's Robert Turbin is a Doak Walker Award candidate and has been selected as a preseason this-or-that by a bevy of sporting news outlets. So, is he the best the BYU defense will have faced thus far this season? Cougar linebacker Brandon Ogletree seems to think so.

Last season the Cougars never got a dose of 5-foot-10-inch, 215-pound Robert Turbin, but they will this Friday. He didn't play last year due to injury, and was in street clothes cheering on his fellow Aggies when they beat the Cougars last season.

"It's in the back of your mind, but really we just focus on us," Ogletree said about losing to Utah State last year. "We try not to worry about what happened last week or last year. If we play BYU football, we'll win the game."

If BYU is to beat Utah State, the Cougars will have to first stop Utah State's running game. That means containing lightning in a bottle, or Robert Turbin.

"He's good," Ogletree said. "He'll probably be the best running back that we play all year, so I mean he's really good and we respect him a lot."

Ogletree compared Turbin to a back that has already had success against BYU.

"Yeah, he's kind of a smaller guy but he's really fast," Ogletree said. "He's kind of like Utah's [John] White. He's probably a lot like him."

With Turbin back in action, he joins 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pound Kerwynn Williams. While Turbin ran for 70 yards against Auburn, Williams was right behind him with 69 rushing yards.

This Friday's contest is gearing up to be a smash-mouth showdown between Utah State's run game and BYU's run defense. That's the word coming out of the Cougar camp.

"Oh yeah, I mean, it's a huge challenge for us," Ogletree said. "To us it's a slap in the face to come on our field and say we're going to run the ball on you, so yeah, at inside linebacker and the front seven in general, we're getting pretty hyped for it."

"Their overall offense is they want to pound the ball," said Coach Poppinga. "They want to run it and they want to do it from multiple formations. They want to get defenses shifting and misaligning. They go with a quick tempo and all that stuff to get a defense to play soft so they can just pound the ball.

"If we can just continue to know exactly what the call is when the play comes in and align correctly and play physical, we'll stop the run. If we stop the run then we can get [quarterback Chuckie Keeton] in passing situations. If we are able to do that, then we can get into our nickel stuff and be able to do some exotic blitzes and things like that to where we can put some pressure on the quarterback."

In order to first get to that position, BYU has to play sound football and everyone has to fill their gaps according to Ogletree, or Cougar fans could see a repeat of what happened late in the game against Utah.

"You saw what happened against Utah when one person doesn't fill their gap," said Ogletree. "The play can break for 60 yards, and they definitely have the backs that can do it. We just have to play gap-sound football."

Utah State runs the ball out of different formations to utilize the strength of their offense, one being the option with Keeton, a mobile quarterback.

"He's very athletic and he gets out of the pocket and is able to run," said Coach Poppinga. "It's more in the option stuff that he's been hurting teams. He's been keeping the ball in the option and being able to get in to the end zone on critical situations, so he's a very good player and very athletic. I think they're lucky to have him."

Ogletree's keys to victory

As the Cougar defense prepare for what will be a game of wills, Ogletree believes the keys to victory are sweet and simple. They all, for the most part, revolve around stopping the run.

"Stop the run," he said. "Run to the ball and don't give up first downs on third down. To do that we have to play assignment-sound on first down and then get them into second and third and do what we do and eat them up."


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