Defense Continues to Improve

For the second week in a row, the Cougar defense is coming off a solid performance, but as with last week the BYU defenders are not content to rest on their laurels. The next challenge is a Boston College offense that is averaging 32.5 points per game thanks largely to an efficient passing attack and a tough running game.

"We've seen two totally different offensive systems now," said linebacker Cameron Jensen. "I think we did well against both the offenses we faced, which is positive, although we still lost that first game, which isn't positive. Now it's all about correcting the mistakes out there and making sure we get better."

A Multitude of Keys

Prior to the game against Tulsa the defensive line explained that the difficulty of Tulsa's offensive system was that it required the defense to be much more disciplined in their reads. Arizona had a very vanilla offense, but Tulsa ran misdirection on every play.

"The guys on the defensive line are doing a great job", said Jensen, "They came out and played really well allowing us to win. All the guys around me are doing a great job."

Against Arizona, there were basically two keys to be read by the Cougar defensive front. Reading either run or pass was pretty much it, but Tulsa required the defense to read four to five different keys on any given down.

"It was a lot more complicated and we responded for the most part," said Jensen regarding the defensive performance against Tulsa. "They ran a lot more stuff from different formations and we shut them down pretty good for the most part. This week will present different challenges and we'll prepare accordingly."

Tough Middle

Jensen of course operates in the middle of the 3-4 defensive formation along with Aaron Wagner and Markell Staffieri. For any defensive system to be successful, it must consistently stop the run up the middle. So far, the Cougar defenders are doing a good job of clogging up the middle.

"They're not getting much up the middle which is what you want," said Jensen. "They're countering that by trying to go outside in the flat with short passes which is what you want to force an offense to do. Let them know that they can't get anything up the middle."

To solidify the middle, the middle linebackers must fill gaps created by the offensive blocking schemes. To do this effectively, offensive linemen must be kept off of the linebackers, which is the job of the defensive line. The Cougar defensive line is stacked with freshmen and a lone senior in Hala Paongo, but so far so good.

"Hala is doing an amazing job up there," said Jensen. "Me, Aaron and Markell are the ones who benefit most from his play. All those guys are getting it done. We can't be effective as linebackers without them playing well, but so far they're getting it done."

Protecting the Edges

A hallmark of BYU defenses in years past has been a solid middle without the ability to pursue effectively from sideline to sideline as speed was lacking on the edges. With David Nixon and Bryan Kehl as the primary outside linebackers teams are finding the edges not so easy to exploit.

"It's not just Bryan, David, Kelly [Poppinga] and Chris Bolden," said Jensen. "The cornerbacks, Ben Criddle and Justin Robinson are also doing a phenomenal job in run support. They're hitting guys and getting physical as are the safeties. So far it's been a group effort which I love. We'll have to continue to get that much better this week if we're to beat Boston College."


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