Sufficient Prep Time

As the Cougar defenders hone in on the Arizona game this weekend, they're feeling like they've had ample prep time for what they believe Arizona will present offensively. Arizona will utilize the type of spread offense developed at Texas Tech and used in some form by BYU's own offensive squad.

"Yeah, I feel like we've been prepping for Arizona's offense for the past two years," said linebacker Markell Staffieri. "Of course, we don't know exactly what they do yet, but we know that they're using Texas Tech's system, which we've been seeing for the past two years here."

Indeed, Arizona has been working to implement a new offensive system that uses the wide splits by the offensive line coupled with multiple receiver sets. As noted by Staffieri, it's an offensive system BYU has seen for the past two years…or is it?

"We really don't know," said linebacker Kelly Poppinga. "We think we have a good idea of what they'll try and do offensively, but we have no game film to go on. Every offensive system is different. No team runs exactly the same offense, so we'll just have to see what they bring on Saturday, complete our assignments, adjust our assignments maybe a bit for what they're doing, and we'll be fine."

In the Film Room

Watching game film is of course a big part of any team's preparation. With Arizona implementing an entirely new offense, one that is anticipated to be a wide departure from what they ran in previous years, game film from Arizona last year has been left on the shelf by-and-large.

"I've watched hardly anything on Arizona from last year," said Staffieri. "I've watched last year's game we played against them to look at certain guys, but mostly we've been watching Texas Tech film because of the scheme we believe they'll be bringing on Saturday."

"We feel that we know the scheme by practicing against our own offense and by watching Texas Tech from last year, but every coach adds their own stuff here and there, and we'll learn here soon what those might be," added Poppinga.

Execution Emphasis

Regardless of the opponent and what they may be running, what is most important for any team is concentrating on their own execution. Without specific game film on what the Wildcats present offensively, the BYU defense draws comfort in their own execution, knowing that executing at a high level will lead to success regardless of what scheme they go against.

"The defensive system we have here is solid for every type of offense," said Poppinga. "It's all about completing our assignments, respecting who Arizona is and the players they have, but knowing that if we complete our assignments we'll be fine."

With Arizona likely to spread the field offensively, a lot of passes are anticipated to be thrown around. Regardless of the amount of passes that may or may not be thrown by Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, the Cougar defense, and the linebackers specifically, go by the same credo as they do with any other opponent.

"Read run first and then defend against the pass," said Staffieri. "As linebackers it's always about stopping the run first. That doesn't change no matter who we play against."

New Heights

With the defensive system in place, the Cougar defenders have been able to improve upon and settle into the 3-4 system, which saw a lot of success last year. Given the foundation in place and the degree of success seen last year, the Cougar defenders believe they can reach new heights.

"We only allowed 14 points per game last year," said Poppinga. "To improve upon that would be difficult, but we all believe we can do that. We're confident in what we're doing and how we've progressed this past spring, and so far this fall, as a defense."

Like his head coach, Poppinga is reluctant to draw comparisons between last year's squad and this year's squad.

"We don't know until we play just how much we've improved or if we haven't improved…" said Poppinga. "But what I do know is that we all feel more prepared defensively this year than we did last year. We're ready to go and improve upon what we did last year. Hopefully we can."

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