Mitch Mathews Eager for Season Opener

The BYU offense isn’t quite sure exactly what tendencies new Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and his staff will throw at the Cougar offense. It will be a mix of having a general idea, having played and watched past Oregon State film, and learning on the fly to have success against the Cornhuskers..

BYU’s offense might have an advantage having run, developed under, and knowing their offensive scheme for some time now. No longer are players wondering what they’re supposed to do on a given play in an offense now known for its fast pace.

On the other hand, when facing a defense with new coaches there might not be as much security within a system, but there also is a tinge of mystery as to what the new staff might implement within a new program.

“Always with a new coaching staff comes uncertainty,” said Mathews. “You’re just not exactly sure what they’re going to do and how Coach Mike Riley has changed. It’s one of those things where you watch their spring game and hope that’s what you see.”

Offensive tackle Ryker Mathews agrees with his wide receiver teammate’s assessment going into the Nebraska game.

“You just have to kind of learn as you go,” said offensive tackle Mathews. “There’s a plus to it in that you might have somewhat of an advantage because you’ve been running your scheme for a while. On the other hand when you’re facing a team with a new coaching staff you don’t know what new things they might do to mix things up with the personnel they have. It’s a give and take situation.”

With BYU having played Mike Riley and Oregon State in the past, the new Nebraska staff might try and mask some past defensive tendencies in an effort to throw the Cougar offense off. What might help keep the Huskers honest is the fast pace at which BYU’s offense operates.

“We’re not sure exactly what they will do, but we hope that the speed in which our offense operates will keep them more honest,” said Ryker Mathews. “We want to keep them guessing rather than us guessing what they’re going to do.”

Mitch Mathews believes the Nebraska defensive secondary will play primarily man coverage with the safeties roaming over the top. He expects the defensive backfield to play disciplined based on the Oregon State team’s he’s faced in the past.

“They have taller corners at 6-0 and 6-1,” Mathews said. “They play four-lock, which means they play cover four with press-man on the outsides. It’s combination of man-to-man and for the safeties it’s zone. It’s very beatable. They have great athletes and they’re very well coached. I’ve played against [Coach Riley] before and they will be disciplined with great athletes.”

The Husker defensive backfield will field two very capable cornerbacks in Daniel Davie (6-1, 190-pound senior) and Jonathan Rose (6-1, 195-pound senior). As a three year player, Daniel Davie could be the better of the two having five pass breakups and two interceptions on the season last year.

“They have a corner who is pretty big and pretty physical,” Mathews said. “He’s a guy they’re pretty high on so we’re looking forward to the matchup.”

While the cornerbacks of Nebraska aren’t vertically challenged, the receivers of BYU fall into the same category. Both Mitch Mathews and Nick Kurtz come in at around 6-6 on the outside. The height and speed of Mathews and Kurtz will pose a challenge for defensive backfields.

“Just height issues and being able to run and stretch the field vertically,” said Mathews. “We’ll be able to rotate a lot of receivers to keep us fresh and be as effective as we can be. Last season I was playing almost 70 plays a game and that’s a lot. At the end of the game you’re exhausted and your routes aren’t as crisp. We’ve got a lot of depth at receiver, which will help.”

Also entering the season opener will be a newcomer fresh off his mission. Although a freshman, Moroni Laulu-Pututau has recorded an outstanding fall camp and, according to Mitch Mathews, will see some time against Nebraska. Coming in at 6-4, Laulu-Pututau is also one of stature and is making a practice impact within the Cougar offense.

“I think the guy that comes to mind is Moroni [Pututau],” said Mathews. “He’s number 80 and he’s good and he’s a freshman. He’s tall and a big boy and he’s playing in practice now and nothing is going to change in the game. You’ll see him out there hopefully making plays and doing what he does best.”


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