Di Luigi wants to continue tradition

The Cougar motto is "Tradition, Spirit, Honor," and there is one part of that slogan that J.J. Di Luigi would like to continue. BYU has won 15 straight home games against Utah State, and this Friday the Cougars will have a chance to make it 16 straight. That's a tradition that Di Luigi expects to continue.

BYU wants to continue their home field tradition of sending Utah State back to Logan with a loss.

"Of course we do," J.J. Di Luigi said with a smile. "Our slogan is ‘Tradition, Spirit, Honor,' and tradition comes first right there, so we can't break tradition."

A Cougar offense that has yet to hit the ground running will first have to get past head coach and defensive coordinator Gary Anderson's defense. He came to Utah State with the intention of bringing the defensive success he once enjoyed at Utah over to the Aggie program. This season, he instituted a new defensive scheme that resembles BYU more than Utah.

"They're running a 3-4 this year," Di Luigi said. "It's similar to what we do with our defense with the scheme. Even though their head coach came from Utah, which runs a 4-3, they've changed it to be more like what we do here."

The primary standout defensive player for the Aggies is preseason Butkus Award candidate Bobby Wagner. Wagner, a linebacker, has also been selected to the Rotary Lombardi and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists.

"They're physical guys and run well to the ball," Di Luigi said about the Aggie defense. "They cover the field really well in both the run and pass game. That's something we noticed on film is how well they flow to the ball, and so it's going to be a good test for our offensive line and our running backs."

When talking about USU's defense, effort was a common theme spoken of by Cougar offensive players.

"They're a pretty athletic defense and they fly around like ours and Utah's," Di Luigi said. "Then their defensive line is very similar to Utah's in how they play."

At defensive tackle, the Aggies feature 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound Bojay Filimoeatu and 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound Levi Kosken. At nose guard they have 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound Al Lapuaho, who is the older brother of BYU recruit Ului Lapuaho.

"They move well on the ends while trying to lock down the middle, but we're going to try and grit down and hit the holes," Di Luigi said. "We're going to try and crease some of them and our linemen are going to mash, and it's going to be a battle all game. Their d-line isn't as big as some of the guys that we've already faced in previous weeks but they're that much faster, quicker and very aggressive."

Fullback Zed Mendenhall recently returned to the field after dealing with an injury and will play against Utah State. Cougar fans should expect to see a variety of run formations, including the power-I, a BYU staple.

"I think we'll mix it up," Di Luigi said. "We're still going to be BYU's spread offense and run out of the I-formation. We're going to do it all because that's what we do.

"I'm just happy that Zed is back and healthy so we can run out of that I-formation and get him smacking those linebackers in the mouth to open up holes for us."

In the Aggie defensive backfield, the Cougar receivers will face a pair of 5-foot-10-inch, 177-pound cornerbacks in Nevin Lawson and Jumanne Robertson. The strong safety spot will be manned by McKade Brady, and free safety by Walter McClenton.

"In their secondary, they've done some things very similar to what we saw in the Utah game," Di Luigi. "They have similar athletes back there and they're fast guys that cover really well. They remind me a lot of what we saw at Utah."

As the Cougars prepare to host the Aggies, they have one thing on their mind: continuing the tradition of beating Utah State in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"That's what we want to do," Di Luigi said. "We have to keep it going."


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