Many fans threw in the towel after the Cougars shell-shocked performance in San Diego. Many of the same were all ready to call out coach Mendenhall for not replacing QB John Beck with veteran senior Matt Berry. I acknowledge guilt in wanting Beck to come out for a series so that he could talk with Doman via field phone to help get his head into the game, but a wholesale game change? Talk of Berry for Beck died down after BYU returned to Provo with a win in their back pockets. As to the thoughts on John Beck's ability as a QB? The following quotes offer more than enough evidence that the right man is at the helm of the BYU Cougar Offense:
"John Beck has proven himself in many different situations," Mendenhall said. "He executed the plan when asked to in critical times, and the best quarterbacks, that's what they do."
"John [Beck] took the team down the field like it was nothing," said Kuresa, who didn't start because he was ill before the game. "John took the opportunities we gave him and made the most of it. He showed he is the man."
"He[Beck] knew it from the get go, you know," said Coats. "It's great when you can look at the face of the quarterback, and he's like, ‘Okay guys, lets hurry up and score and win this one really fast.' You know what I mean? There was no doubt in his mind and it showed and we all knew we could go down field and win this game because we felt we should win this game.
At least for one Saturday, BYU honored its heritage in true fashion.
Last week my keys to victory were to jam the line, have a balanced attack, and be patient. When the Cougars took the field with their corners still 7-8 yds off the line of scrimmage, I took a deep breath because I knew this was going to be a tight game. With BYU's frontline almost back to normal with their starters, there was a marked difference in the kind of pressure Lobo QB Cole McKamey was under. While they did not record any sacks, the pressure was enough to keep New Mexico's offense under a modicum of control.
I am still not a fan of calling quick outs to the running backs as rushing plays in this offensive scheme, but if that is how the coach wants to call it, I will go with the flow. With that in mind, the offensive game was much more balanced. There was more running with the ball, even the old fashion kind. Curtis Brown rushed for over 100 yards, and when he does that, BYU tends to win, which of course they did.
The most vital key of being patient was what in my opinion was the difference maker. When John Beck threw an interception instead of a TD pass in the 3rd quarter, the Cougars could have easily let things get out of hand. When the Lobos on the ensuing drive threatened to score inside the red zone, the Cougars kept their focus on the task at hand.
With McKamey zigzagging towards the end zone on a 14 yard scamper, the task at hand almost became insurmountable until K.C. Bills got a hand on the ball and knocked it out of the New Mexico QB's hand. Once BYU recovered, their patience paid off. Things started clicking, and the Lobos played on their heels committing a couple key penalties while John Beck surgically cut the defensive backfield apart.
Winning that game was a needed boost all around, but there is plenty of season left to worry about, and this week's match-up pits the Rams of Colorado State against BYU. This being Homecoming for the Cougars, we can expect to see the largest crowd so far this season at LES. The Rams bring a type of offense that BYU is used to seeing, and this weeks keys to victory are:
1. Put pressure on Holland 2. Shut down Bell 3. Use the Hurry up Offense
The Colorado State offensive line has been outstanding this season at protecting their signal caller Justin Holland. Opponents have collectively only recorded a paltry 3 sacks on the Ram QB. To be fair, most of their opponents have not lit up the backfield with pressure to opposing QBs, averaging 5.8 sacks on the season among them. BYU has 7 so they are not that much better.
One of the secrets to CSU's passing attack has been Holland's time in the pocket. He is the second true pocket passer that BYU has met this season. Every MWC signal caller BYU has had to play against would take off running at the drop of the hat. Ballard, O'Connell and McKamey all made life difficult by their added threat to run with the ball. Combined they have rushed for 637 yards this season.
Holland has rushed all of -4 yards. With four wideouts and a TE having over 100 yards in receiving including their star David Anderson (470), the time in the pocket has provided Holland with the luxury to take advantage of breakdowns in the defensive backfield. Given that BYU is still finding itself in the secondary, the last thing they need to do is give Holland time to throw.
More important than pressuring Holland, is shutting down their star running back Kyle Bell. This kid is a horse who likes to pound it up the middle. The good news is that Lubick loves to run the ball to set up the pass. More good news is that Bell is it. Contain him, and BYU contains CSU's running game. Given his size and playing style, he plays into the Cougar's strengths, especially considering that BYU starters should be a lot healthier than in recent weeks. Utah held Bell to 40 yards until the 4th quarter when their defense wore out and the offensive line was able to begin bowling the D-linemen over. Bell finished the game with 140 yards rushing. BYU's depth on the line will be an issue. The linebacking corps is going to have their hands full.
Finally BYU needs to score quickly and early. The idea is to force CSU into a shootout. The sooner CSU is forced to abandon the running game the easier it will be for BYU going into the final quarter. By forcing CSU to throw, the defense gets to rest more, and will have the horses at the end of the game to not let an eventual tight game slip away.
Sure the passing game has been BYU's defensive weakness all season, but Holland is most effective if he is working from 2nd or 3rd and shorts, instead of dealing with the pressure of stretching the field. This allows our linebackers to get involved in clogging up the passing channels. Passing becomes even more difficult inside the red zone where the 3-3-5 defense actually becomes harder to navigate with the lack of space. I am not saying that BYU will keep them from scoring, but every trip down the field should end with either a punt or a field goal attempt.
Beck and company are perfectly capable of striking fast enough to start racking up the points. The Ram defense has not really stopped anyone from scoring, and other than Minnesota, BYU is the most explosive offense that CSU will meet this season.
Look for BYU to reach their goal of 40 points a game in this one with a little insurance for good measure. Unlike the TCU shootout, the Cougars will not let this one get away.