Scouting Report: Tulsa's Secondary

BYU's offense just faced two tough Pac-10 secondaries, raking up 288 yards against Arizona and 391 yards against UCLA. Up next is Tulsa, and wide receivers Matt Allen, Michael Reed and Austin Collie give Total Blue Sports the secondary scouting report.

The Cougar offense, led by sophomore quarterback Max Hall, racked up the eighth-most passing yards in the history of UCLA opponents. In only his second start in four years, Hall threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns in a tough loss at the Rose Bowl.

The Cougars outperformed the Bruins in just about every facet of the game. The Cougar offense racked up near 200 more passing yards than a senior-laden Bruin offense. The Cougars had nine more first downs (24 to UCLA's 15).

However, the Cougars also had 11 penalties compared to four for UCLA, and had three turnovers to UCLA's one.

Putting aside what should or could have been, the Cougars of BYU now turn their attention to the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa. With Coach Kragthorpe having moved on to coach Louisville, Tulsa is now led by new head coach Todd Graham.

"[BYU's] receivers are very capable players," said Coach Graham during a press conference. "Austin Collie was a freshman All-American in 2004, then went on his mission. Now he's back and is very fast and is a sub 4.5 guy, and we think he's a 4.4 guy. He burned UCLA on a couple of different occasions, as well as No. 3 [Michael] Reed, who is a pretty good player as well that stretches the field vertically. They have very capable receivers that you can't just line up and play man on. Our philosophy is to play zone, play the run and break on the football. It's going to be a challenge for us."

Tulsa runs a 3-3-5 defense and features nearly the same defensive backfield as last year's team. First among the defensive backs that BYU will face is 5-foot-11-inch, 205-pound junior defensive back Roy Roberts, whom the Cougars faced last year. Roberts had five tackles in last year's contest.

Next is 5-foot-9-inch, 155-pound sophomore speedster Charles Davis at the cornerback position. Davis played in 12 games last season, but saw most of his playing time on special teams.

The Cougar receivers will also face another good defensive back in 6-foot-1-inch, 211-pound senior Anthony Germany, who started in all 13 games last season. Germany is considered to be one of the top defenders in Conference USA, and in 31 career games has 87 tackles, 19.5 stops for -83 yards, five quarterback sacks for -38 yards and 12 pass breakups.

Also expected to see the field will be 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound junior safety Ty Page, who has played in 21 games and has 11 tackles. Most of Page's contributions to the Golden Hurricane have come on special teams.

Finally, 6-foot-2-inch, 188-pound junior Randy Duncan rounds out the Tulsa defensive backfield. Duncan played in nine games during the 2006 season and totaled five tackles before suffering a season-ending hip injury.

"We know those guys are pretty good, but we also know that we as receivers are pretty good," said Michael Reed. "I'm not going to treat them any differently than how I treated Arizona or UCLA. We treat everybody the same and we're going out there expecting to win."

Despite expecting to go out and win, Reed said he expects a challenge.

"They're athletic guys that can get into and out of their breaks just as fast as the receiver," said Michael Reed. "We've seen on film that they work hard and don't give up. It's going to be one of those games where we have to work hard. We want to bring it to them in the first half and try to fix what we didn't do against UCLA in the first half."

The Cougars will see some similarities in the Tulsa secondary to what was seen against UCLA. However, BYU will face more of a cover-three defense than the cover-two or Tampa-two defense that the Bruins primarily ran.

"A cover-three is when the corners and the safety take up a third of the field, and they like to cover that deep off the line of scrimmage," said Matt Allen. "They'll play deep and we feel like we'll be able to get some underneath stuff against them."

"Tulsa does a lot of different things in their secondary," said Reed. "They're going to do a little man coverage; two-man coverage, cover-three and things like that. At least, that's what we expect from them.

"We've faced this team before and we feel like we as receivers know what the corners and DBs are going to do," said Reed. "We just have to first of all eliminate the problems and mistakes we had against UCLA. We just have to go out there and get open and run our routes and continue to improve upon what we've already accomplished."

"No team is going to run one single coverage," said Allen. "UCLA ran some cover-two, some Tampa-two, and they also ran a little bit of two-man, which is man coverage underneath with two high safeties for the deep balls. Tulsa also runs a little bit of that and they also like to play a little bit of two-man coverage.

"So they do some things that are similar to what UCLA did, and they also like to mix it up as well. It's just one of those things you have to look at by how they set up. Then, you run your route based on how they've set up or based on how they're covering."

The Tulsa secondary no longer has 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound safety Bobby Blackshire. Blackshire played in 38 games and racked up 203 tackles, 10 stops for -43 yards, 13 pass breakups and four interceptions.

Blackshire was named the nation's eighth-ranked free safety heading into the 2006 season by The Sporting News. However, despite that loss, the Cougars don't expect Tulsa's defense to be a step down from the one than what was fielded at LaVell Edwards Stadium last year. If anything, they expect the opposite.

"We feel like they're a better defense than last year's team," Reed said. "But at the same time, going against two tough Pac-10 schools, we saw and showed everyone where we stand. We've seen on film what we can do better and how we can improve as wide receivers."

The Cougar receivers have to build upon the experiences of playing against secondaries the likes of Arizona and UCLA, and implementthose improvements against Tulsa. BYU assistant coach Patrick Higgins has been putting the belief in the minds of his Cougar charges that even though this isn't a high-profile team, there is no room for getting lazy or simply skating by.

"Our focus now is to not let our guard down because they're not an Arizona or a UCLA," said Reed. "We can't do that. We have to improve upon what we saw on film and go out there and do better than what we did against Arizona and UCLA.

"We know that if we are not improving upon our personal performances, we're letting ourselves, our teammates and our coaches down. So we're going to continue getting better because that's who we are. We just know we have to come out there and execute. I can't really say they remind us of Arizona or they remind us of UCLA. They are a totally different team with totally different schemes [and] different coaches."

"Concerning playing the good cornerbacks and defensive backs of Arizona and UCLA, we felt that we played well against them," said Allen. "We felt like we could do what we needed to do for the most part against those teams, so now facing a team that doesn't have as highly touted of a secondary, we have to continue playing our game. We can't go down to their level of play and not get lazy because they're not as highly touted."

Total Blue Sports caught up with BYU receiver Austin Collie to get his thoughts on the up-and-coming game against Tulsa.


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