"Wyoming can expect to see everything," said BYU tight end Daniel Coats. "We're going to throw it and we're going to run it and do everything that we have been doing. We're going to come out and play Cougarball. That's what Wyoming should expect."
"The odds of us going in to Utah and playing BYU and winning are small," said Wyoming Head Coach Joe Glenn.
Wyoming's defense ranks number one in the Mountain West Conference in total defense (248.0 yards allowed per game) and eighth in the nation. John Beck and the Cougar offense will have their hands full facing the nation's fourth ranked passing defense (140.1 yards allowed per game) and the team with the most sacks in the conference.
"Offensively we're expecting a lot of zone blitz," said BYU fullback Manase Tonga. "We're expecting a lot of stunts but nothing too serious, nothing too tricky or fancy from the Wyoming defense. They usually only bring about four or five guys with each down but they do come hard. Occasionally they'll bring a six man blitz, but for the most part, we're confident in our offensive scheme and what we've got planned for them.
"They've got a mixture of both physical and quick players on their defense. Their interior linemen are physical bruisers and their ends and outside linebackers are the fast type, and they do mix it up a lot during the game. They hustle a lot and they all play really hard."
"Their D-linemen are fast and quick," said BYU junior center Sete Aulai. "Their outside linebackers are speed rushers when they come, and they do a good job in disguising a lot what they do on defense. You never know when they'll bring their corners or do a zone blitz from each side or bring a safety. The responsibility of seeing and making the right call will be on my shoulders, but I'll see it, and I think we'll get the job done."
"They're hardnosed Cowboys," said Coats with a smile. "They can fight, they can scrap and their tough, but I think we can out game plan them. If it does come down to who is the most physical I'm confident that our O-line is tougher, but they're tough kids and we just have to prepare for it."
Aulai feels the Cougar offense will have to keep on their toes against a physical Cowboy defense looking to bring the heat to BYU quarterback John Beck.
"They're a very physical team actually," said Aulai. "I think they're one of the better defenses that we will go against in conference. They bring the heat a lot about 80 percent of the time from what I've seen on film, but it's nothing that we can't handle and haven't faced before.
"Their defensive linemen are very physical and they never quit. They'll bring the bull rush and if you stop that then they'll change and try to figure something else out to try and get to the quarterback. From what I've seen on film they won't stop and just have that motor that won't quit. It's going to be a battle for me and the rest of my offensive linemen to keep up with them, but I think we can do it. It will be a challenge for us but I think we can keep up with them."
Although the Cowboy defense poses a real challenge for the Cougars, Aulai is confident that the Cougar offense is better and more balanced that what the Cowboy defense has already gone up against.
"On the other side, they haven't faced an offense like us before where we're a threat at every position," said Aulai. "We've got receivers that can catch, linemen that can block, quarterback that can throw and running backs that can run and catch. We have the whole offensive package and they haven't faced an offense like the one we have before."
During this week of practice, BYU's offense has been working on picking up the zone blitz, which they will see from the Cowboy defense tomorrow at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"I personally feel we'll be alright and we've been working on our blitz pick-ups," said Tonga. "The blitz reads fall on the offensive line. As long as they make the right calls within their blocking assignments and do it, we're the second layer of defense to keep them off of John [Beck] so he has time to make the right reads. It's no secret what John [Beck] can do when he has time in the pocket.
"John has been working on making the right reads based on the type of defense or blitzes they'll run, and everyone has been working on doing their assignments to make sure we're able to pick apart these guys and soften them up a little."
One advantage BYU has going into the game is that Cowboys run a similar defensive scheme to that of Colorado State. During practice over this past week, BYU's offensive coaches and personnel have been working out the kinks they learned from the CSU game heading into their contest with Wyoming.
"I would say Wyoming is like Colorado State, the team we just finished playing," said Tonga. "Obviously their defense is a bit different with how they run a 3-4-4, but physically and schematically they're pretty much in the same boat. They don't do anything fancy but they'll come and smack you in the mouth. They're a straight up defense with a zone blitz."
"Their defense is very much like Colorado State's," said Aulai. "I think they're a little better than Colorado State's defense though. I think they're a little more physical. I don't want to take anything away from Colorado State but I do think Wyoming does have a better defense. Manase [Tonga] is right; they are somewhat similar to Colorado State."
Having faced similar defenses in the past, BYU's offense will be well prepared for what the Cowboys bring defensively.
Aulai wanted to pass along some praise to those BYU fans that have come out all season long to support their hard work and efforts on the field.
"I just want to say to BYU fans to keep coming out," Aulai said. "You've been great all season. We're going to keep on doing our best and winning for you guys, so come on out and cheer us on because you've been great."
To see how BYU's offense stacks up against a tough Cowboy defense, click on the depth chart roster below.
Click on the following link to hear BYU wide receiver Matt Allen give his take on the Wyoming defense:
According to a recent BYU press release, this Thursday night's game will be broadcasted nationally on CSTV beginning at 6:00 p.m. (MT). Also included in the BYU press release were a few quick facts about the Cougar program:
• BYU is ranked 25th in this week's Associated Press poll, 26th in the Harris Interactive poll and 27th in the Coaches Poll.
• With three games remaining, BYU can clinch a share of the Mountain West Conference title with a win over Wyoming on Thursday.
• BYU needs to win two of its final three regular-season games to win the outright MWC title.
• BYU will be looking for its first conference title since the 2001 season.
• BYU will be looking for a share of its 21st conference championship.
• BYU has won an outright league championship 13 different times.
• BYU is currently 5-0 in league play.
• BYU has posted five perfect records in league play. (1979, 1983, 1984, 1996, 2001)
• BYU is riding a six-game win streak -- the longest winning streak since the 2001 season.
• BYU is bowl eligible with a current 7-2 record and is expected to participate in the program's 25th bowl game.
• BYU is 4-0 at Edwards Stadium this season.
• BYU is outscoring opponents by an average of 34.5 points per game at home.
• BYU ranks fourth nationally, averaging 297.67 yards passing per game.
• BYU ranks seventh nationally, averaging 440.78 yards of total offense per game.
• BYU ranks 11th nationally in scoring, averaging 34.44 points per game.
• BYU ranks fourth nationally with an average 1.22 turnovers per game.
• BYU ranks fifth nationally, posting an overall passing efficiency of 167.64
• BYU ranks 11th nationally, allowing just 14.2 points per game.
Giving A Helping Hand
With a win over Wyoming, BYU will help put third place Utah (3-2 in conference) into a three-way tie for second place in the conference. A Cougar win also puts Utah in a good position to secure one of the conference bowl bids.
"Yeah, you know you gotta help out the other guys when they're down a little bit when ever you can," joked Coats.
"Really? That's weird," said a perplexed Aulai when asked if he knew that a BYU win would help their rivals. "We'll, I don't like to help them, but we're going to go out and do our thing to the best of our ability and try and win. If going out and winning benefits Utah then it benefits Utah, but I do not care about them and I have no intentions of helping them. I just don't care because it's about what we do. Everything revolves around BYU."
"It doesn't matter as far as we're concerned," said a disinterested Tonga. "We're only here to win so we can better ourselves and we don't care what the outcome is for other teams. We're just focusing on what we can do to get better and don't worry about everybody else."