Troy Verde/Total Blue Sports

Talo Steves and J.T. Smith did a Q&A session with one another about tomorrow's game between BYU and Cincinnati

The BYU Cougars face the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium tomorrow as BYU looks to go unbeaten in the home stretch of their schedule. Talo Steves of collaborated with contributor J.T. Smith for a question and answer feature as the two programs get set to collide on the gridiron.

Up first are the questions from Talo Steves of to J.T. Smith of

TBS Question: “The Cincinnati Bearcats have used three quarterbacks. Why has this been the case and what are the strengths of each quarterback?”

J.T. Smith Answer: “Honestly Hayden Moore played the best during spring and summer camp. Moore got hurt so Ross Trail, who has a lot of potential got the play, but seniors stood up for Gunner Kiel and that is the main reason he is at the helm. Moore is mobile and throws a nice mid-range ball, Trail is has a solid arm also and is the most mobile, Kiel is the pure gunslinger and has the biggest arm of the three.”

TBS Question: “Who are the primary Bearcat offensive weapons, and who should BYU fans know more about? 

J.T. Smith Answer: “Running backs Tion Green and Mike Boone. Keep an eye on receiver Kahlil Lewis, who has been on the rise.” 

TBS Question: “Who are the primary Bearcat standouts on the defensive side of the ball? Beginning with the defensive line, linebackers, and then secondary, who on the Bearcat defense should BYU fans look out for as they watch their Cougar offense?”

J.T. Smith Answer: “There are a lot good players on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive line, I'll go with Alex Pace. At the linebacker position, Eric Wilson will be all over the field. In the secondary, Alex Thomas has been really good this year. Shout out to the whole secondary as they have stepped it up this year.”

TBS Question: “What do the Bearcats need to do defensively in order to keep Jamaal Williams and BYU's ground game in check?”

J.T. Smith Answer: “The Bearcats will have to be aggressive in the second level to plug holes and get off the field on third down. Can't let BYU control the clock.”

TBS Question: “What do the Bearcats need to do offensively and defensively to beat BYU?”

J.T. Smith Answer: “They have to take advantage of big plays when they’re on offense. They’ll also need to take advantage of big plays on both sides of the ball and win the turnover battle.”

TBS Question: “What is your predictions for Saturday's game?”

J.T. Answer: “Sad to say I'm going with BYU 35-17 but I hope I'm wrong.”

Next up is J.T. Smith who asks Talo Steves of questions about BYU for Bearcat fans of Cincinnati.

J.T. Smith Question: “BYU has had a tough schedule, do you blame their record on schedule or personnel?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "BYU has played the nation's 7th toughest D1 schedule so far. They've lost four games by a combined total of eight points with a first year head coach, Kalani Sitake, and coaching staff implementing new systems without their recruits to fit that system. If anything the close losses could be attributed to a number of those factors. However one thing is certain, once Coach Sitake and his staff's new offensive and defensive systems are firmly in place with their recruits the future looks very bright for BYU."

J.T. Smith Question: “Last year, BYU had a strong second half against UC to pull off the win. What do the Cougars have to do to knock off the Bearcats on the road?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "This game should be another great game for both the Cougars and Bearcats. In speaking with BYU's players to get a feel for the Bearcats from their perspective, there is a lot of respect from BYU recognizing Cincinnati's players and coaching staff as being very good. BYU's players know that Cincinnati has a lot of returning talent that is capable of scoring points while defending their end zone.

"What BYU needs to do in order to win this game is get running back Jamaal Williams, who missed BYU's one point loss to 13th ranked Boise State due to an ankle issue, going with the ground game. If BYU can establish Williams, who is returning for the Bearcat game, that will open up BYU's passing game making things more difficult to defend."

J.T. Smith Question: “Everybody knows how electric Jamaal Williams is, who else should Bearcat fans worry about on the BYU defense?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "BYU just lost star defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma to a season-ending injury. However, there is still Corbin Kaufusi who is the younger brother of Bronson Kaufusi who gave Cincinnati fits last year. Corbin Kaufusi, who wears the same number (#90) as big brother Bronson, who is currently with the Baltimore Ravens, will be someone to watch. Also senior defensive end Harvey Langi (#21) on the weak-side will be someone to watch rushing off the edge.

“At the linebacker spot Fred Warner is a future NFL prospect and had a pick-six last game against Boise State. Also sophomore middle linebacker Butch Pau'u (#38) is a tackling machine, racking up 19 tackles against UCLA alone earlier this season. Pau'u has been hampered by a knee injury but should be ready to go against the Bearcats. In the secondary the Bearcats should be aware of Troy Warner, younger brother of outside linebacker Fred Warner, and safety Kai Nacua who is among the nation's tops in interceptions.” 

J.T. Smith Question: “I remember BYU having good ends last year, is that still a strong part of the team? How is the defense this year?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "Bronson Kaufusi has since graduated and been drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. BYU has switched this year from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, so 6-10, 260-pound Corbin Kaufusi should be someone to watch. Trust me you won't miss him because he's so tall. Others to watch for, as mentioned before, are Harvey Langi. Langi has felt his personal play has struggled lately but looks to get back on track against Cincinnati. One player that has really taken off lately is defensive end Sae Tautu on the weak-side. Tautu is a strong pass rusher and had a very good game against Boise State. The Cougars have missed the prowess of big Bronson Kaufusi but have still been able to get pressure from the edge.

"As far as the overall defense goes it's been a mixed bag as the Cougars implement their first year defense under Coach Tuiaki. The defense has done an outstanding job in run defense while creating a tone of turnovers both in the run game and in pass defense. However, at times the defense has struggled against the passing game such as in the Toledo, West Virginia, and Boise State games."  

J.T. Smith Question: “Do you believe this team will become bowl eligible?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "Yes, I believe BYU will be playing in a bowl game this year. After losing four games by a total of eight points, BYU's football team expects to win out the rest of the season going 8-4."

J.T Smith Question: “Predictions for Saturday's game?”

Talo Steves’ Answer: "This will be a tough game on the road. The Cougars are rested and healed up from a bye-week. They’re ready to get back out on the field and knock helmets again after facing UCLA, Arizona, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Utah, and Boise State. Cincinnati is another quality opponent making this another great game for both fans. However, BYU will win a hard fought road game against the Bearcats 31-24."


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