BYU vs. San Diego State: The Breakdown

BYU is riding high after soundly defeating last year's conference champs on their own turf. San Diego State is winless and decimated by injuries at every position on offense. Does this add up to a Cougar blowout? The G-man uses his position-by-position comparison of the Cougars and Aztecs to predict the winner of tomorrow's showdown.


San Diego State: The Aztecs are now down to their third quarterback after starter Kevin O'Connell went down three games ago and backup Darren Mougey dislocated his shoulder last week against San Jose State. The Aztecs will be forced to go with redshirt freshman Kevin Craft, who is 3 for 8 for seven yards and two interceptions in his career.

BYU: Meanwhile John Beck will call the signals for the Cougars coming off of what was his most complete performance as a BYU quarterback.

Conclusion: Does anything else need to be said?

Edge: BYU

Running Backs:

San Diego State: The Aztecs entered the season Lynell Hamilton, who many considered the best running back in the conference. Hamilton subsequently got injured and will be out for tomorrow's game. San Diego State will go with redshirt freshman Atiyyah Henderson at running back. Henderson rushed for 98 yards last week.

BYU: The Cougars will again field their three-headed monster in the form of Curtis Brown, Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga. Collectively, they make up the best backfield trio in the Mountain West Conference.

Conclusion: This would have been a bit tougher to call had Hamilton been running strong.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receivers:

San Diego State: The offensive woes for the Aztecs do not stop in the backfield. They also lost two of their best receivers for this game in DeMarco Sampson and Roberto Wallace. Brett Swain is the Aztecs leading receiver this season having with 18 receptions for 167 yards.

BYU: The Cougar wideouts have been the featured targets in Anae's offense over the past two games. Matt Allen, Michael Reed, Zac Collie and McKay Jacobson make up a solid rotation. They have proven capable of running solid routes and making clutch plays.

Conclusion: While Swain has more catches than any single Cougar wideout, Allen has over 100 more receiving yards and Collie and Jacobson are less than 10 yard short of the Aztec receiving leader.

Edge: BYU

Tight Ends:

San Diego State: The tight end position is in worse shape than the quarterback spot for the Aztecs. After entering the season at fourth string, freshman Matthew Kawulok will be the starter. He has one catch in his career.

BYU: BYU has senior Mackey Award candidates Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats as Beck's primary options at tight end.

Conclusion: Hmmmmmmm....................

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line:

San Diego State: Only one offensive lineman is injured for the Aztecs, but another starter is serving a suspension this weekend, so SDSU will start three juniors, a sophomore and a senior up front. The Aztec offense has proved anemic at best through its first four games, which is a direct result of a porous offensive line.

BYU: BYU's O-line has been a patch job this season due to injuries. Offensive Line Coach Jeff Grimes has had to shuffle his front numerous times this year. While the replacements have done well in protecting Beck, they have yet to mount an effective running attack since Eddie Keele went down.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Line:

San Diego State: The Aztecs are led by Antwan Applewhite who was on just about every preseason watch list for defensive linemen. Applewhite's strength is his pass rush from the end, but so far, San Diego State has proven weak in run defense. The Aztecs are giving up over 150 yards per game on the ground against opponents that includes San Jose State and a Utah team who hasn't faired well at all on the ground this season.

BYU: The Cougar D-line started out strong, but they slowed down in recent weeks. Most notably, the rushing yards have been piling up. BYU's defensive line has proved serviceable and consistent, but they are still in search of a dominant outing, which may come this week against a very bad Aztec offense.

Edge: BYU


San Diego State: The Aztecs' 4-3 defense will be led by a good one in senior middle linebacker Joe Martin. Just like the defensive line, the SDSU linebackers have given up way too many yards on the ground to average offenses.

BYU: The Cougar are the strength of the defense. Bryan Kehl, David Nixon, Cameron Jensen, Aaron Wagner and the rest have proven to be legitimate play-makers in a defense that features the linebackers.

Edge: BYU


San Diego State: The Aztecs have fared a bit better defending the pass this season. The held opponents to under 200 yards per game over their first 4 games.

BYU: The improvement in the Cougar's secondary has been one of the biggest stories of the season. Teams are still putting up decent passing number of BYU, but the defensive backs are not giving up big plays like last year.

Conclusion: It's a good match up for the BYU secondary in that the Aztec's quarterback has yet to complete a pass for more than five yards in his career. Meanwhile the Aztec secondary looks to be the strength of the team although BYU will mount the best passing attack they have gone against this year.

Edge: San Diego State

Four Predictions

1. BYU will jump out early and cruise

San Diego is a fragile team right now as their injuries have just about put their season on ice. Imagine a BYU team without John Beck, Jason Beck, Curtis Brown, Daniel Coats, Jonny Harline, Matt Allen and Michael Reed and you can imagine what San Diego State is dealing with. It is a team that will not have much fight come Saturday. Once BYU gets up early they will cruise without much resistance.

2. The Cougar run game will be featured and will run for over 200 yards

Fui Vakapuna will be back in a strong fashion after a minimal impact last week against TCU. San Diego State is not strong against the run and the Cougar running backs will run wild.

3. John Beck will complete over 70% of his passes

Beck is on fire, and the Cougar's success on the ground will leave wide-open receivers for Beck.

4. Ray Hudson will be the featured player during the fourth quarter

As this game should be over by halftime Cougar fans will get their first glimpse at Hudson this year. At least that should be the case late in the game.

5. Matt Smith will record his first catch.

After recovering from ACL surgery and biding his time of the depth chart, the redshirt senior wide receiver will haul in the first pass of his Cougar career.

Top Three

BYU's top offensive performers other than John Beck will be Fui Vakapuna, Ray Hudson and Jonny Harline.

Final Score: BYU 48 San Diego State 0


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