The BYU Cougars gave up 692 yards of offense against Toledo, most of that was passing (505) with 187 yards given up on the ground. BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki shouldered much of the blame for the defensive performance last week.
“I think we got out-schemed a little bit; my fault for that one.” Coach Tuiaki said. “We gotta stick to our game plan. I felt like we weren't stopping the run enough, and so we wanted to be a little bit more base [defense], and base just wasn't good enough. We talked to the kids about playing more fundamentally sound, but this one was really on me as a coach.”
“Yeah, it was a wild game but a dream come true for me to be out there with my brothers playing BYU football,” said Pulsipher. “It was such a blast. It was a wild game and you had to have a short memory and focus on the next play. Luckily we made one play in the fourth quarter where Kai [Nacua] made that interception to give our offense an extra possession to win the game.”
Moving forward the Cougar defense will face another tough foe in Michigan State, but Pulsipher feels the game against the Rockets may have prepared the Cougar defense mentally for a fight they know they’ll be in till the final whistle blows.
“I think the game against Toledo helped prepare us for Michigan State because it was such a high powered offense,” Pulsipher said. “I think mentally it will help prepare us, but Toledo plays a different type of game than Michigan State. Toledo liked to attack the edges and spread the field. Michigan State is more downfield with a power run and play-action. They get to the edges in a different way, so it’s a different style of offense play with more power. We’re excited to get this sick taste out of our mouth from last week.”
Michigan State is big up front. However, the offensive line has gone through some shake ups with players being moved around in hopes the offensive line will be more productive come game time against BYU. Regardless, the Cougars are expecting a physical game up front with a heavy dose of running.
“It’s more 12 and 21 personnel were they use tight ends or an extra back to smash you in the mouth, but that’s the type of game I like is between the tackles,” Pulsipher said. “I like to play in the box and make tackles. There’s nothing like hitting a running back.
“I would say they’re similar to UCLA. They have the really big offensive linemen up front but they can pound the ball, so we have to play physical and play aggressive up front and be sure we get our reads early to fill the gaps so they’re not chewing up big yards play after play.”
Michigan State will feature redshirt junior Gerald Holmes, redshirt sophomore Madre London, and sophomore L.J, Scott in their backfield. Also in the backfield will be SMU graduate transfer Prescott Line.
“They have good running backs and they’re a little bigger than last week,” said Pulsipher. “They try and get more downhill and with their scheme press the A-gap. Toledo was a little more shifty side to side. Their identity of offense is much more run heavy and then they’ll pass over the top of you. Their quarterback can run a little bit, so we’ll have to keep our gaps and contain. That’s kind of their counter to the power run. We’ll be ready for it.”
To get that bad Toledo taste out of their mouths, the Cougar defense will need to clean up their technique, play within their assignments, and match physicality with physicality.
“Yeah, I think there are some things we need to do on defense that will help us for the Michigan State,” said Pulsipher. “I think we need to clean up our technique and play physically within our scheme and our assignments. We have a great scheme and great players, but we need to do our assignments and clean up our technique a little bit from last week. We did some good things last week but at times we were out of position, so we need to clean those things up. I think we’ll be ready and up for the challenge though.”