BYU vs. Tulsa: The Breakdown

The G-man takes us through the matchups for Saturday's game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Going through each position group, certain advantages become apparent as the Cougars look to rebound from last week's heartbreaking loss to the UCLA Bruins.

Quarterback

Tulsa: Paul Smith (6-2, 195 Sr.) is a three-year starter who is very comfortable, having played in a consistent and productive Tulsa offensive system. While Smith's numbers are solid, they don't necessarily jump out at you, as Smith has passed for over 2,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, but didn't come close to approaching 3,000 yards in either season. Smith is solid, but not necessarily spectacular.

BYU: We liked Max Hall's prospects going into the season, but his learning curve has been much quicker than we anticipated, and he has been very productive against two of the tougher defenses in the country in his first two games. Hall will have the challenge of going against a 3-3-5 defensive system for the first time, but we expect he will be ready for it.

Conclusion: Smith is a known commodity, while Hall is amazingly almost there after just two games. Smith won't likely beat himself, while Hall could possibly show some hiccups against a different defensive scheme on the road. Much like against UCLA, the edge goes to the opposition, but it isn't a certainty as Hall could very well prove to be the more productive quarterback.

Edge: Tulsa

Running Backs

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane feature two primary ball carriers, both of whom are coming off a productive opening outing against Louisiana-Monroe. Tarrion Adams (6-1, 210 Jr.) is their primary ball-carrier. He has just over 1,000 career rushing yards, and rushed for a career-high 129 yards in the season opener. He'll share rushing responsibilities with Jamad Williams (5-9, 193 Fr.), who rushed for 88 yards in his first game.

Tulsa's leading receiver from the first week was true freshman fullback Charles Clay (6-3, 222.). Clay was utilized a lot in his first ever collegiate game, catching eight passes for 92 yards. Tulsa has solid and good production at running back across the board.

BYU: The big news surrounding BYU's practices this week was Harvey Unga officially being named as the starting tailback. Unga saw amazing production his first game against Arizona, but wasn't utilized all that much against UCLA. Look for Unga to be featured much more against a perceived weaker Tulsa defensive front.

Meanwhile, Fui Vakapuna will continue his quest to regain his pre-injury form, this time against the opponent he had his best game against last season. Manase Tonga will get some looks as well.

Conclusion: Both systems use the running backs in similar roles as primary options in a lot of passing situations. While Tulsa's running backs saw good production in their first game, the talent level in the Cougar backfield should prove to be a notch higher than that featured in the Golden Hurricane backfield.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receivers

Tulsa: Tulsa's wide receivers saw somewhat scant production in their first game of the season. Their leading receiver was Cameron Clemons (5-11, 180 Sr.), who had five catches for 55 yards in his first career start. Not a lot of experience returns for Tulsa at wide receiver this season, and the receivers weren't used much against Louisiana-Monroe.

BYU: The Cougar receivers saw similar production as the Tulsa receivers during their first week, albeit against a much tougher opponent. Austin Collie was much more of a factor last week against UCLA, and look for him to emerge more and more with every game from here on out.

Conclusion: BYU has the edge here due to talent level and past production. As BYU establishes a solid running attack, look for more opportunities downfield for the Cougar wideouts.

Edge: BYU

Tight Ends

Tulsa: Although both Tulsa tight ends have some good experience, they both went without a reception against Louisiana-Monroe. Tulsa doesn't feature the tight end much in its new offensive system, using them mostly as blockers during short-yardage situations.

BYU: Like the Cougar wideouts, the tight ends began to emerge prominently against UCLA during the second half of last week's game. The Cougars feature three very talented tight ends that are seemingly interchangeable in any offensive situation.

Conclusion: A big edge goes to BYU here, as the Cougars used two-tight end sets for much of the second half against UCLA. We knew they'd be a strength heading into the season, and they should see more and more production as the season goes on.

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line

Tulsa: Tulsa only returns one starter on an offensive line that features a converted defensive lineman and a converted tight end. Tulsa is very big along their offensive front, with an average starting weight of 309 pounds.

BYU: The Cougar offensive front has seen some good production, although they didn't establish a productive running attack a week ago against a very good UCLA defensive front. Look for that to change this week.

Conclusion: The Cougars should prove to have a big edge at this position. While BYU's offensive line has similar size to that of the Tulsa offensive front, BYU has a lot of returning experience. Look for the Cougar OL to prove dominant in this game, while Tulsa's OL has many question marks.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Line

Tulsa: Tulsa runs a three-man front, which is manned in the middle by Terrell Nemons (6-4, 330 Jr.), who started all of last season. He'll be flanked by Morton Hopkins (6-3, 270 Jr.), who also started last season, and Brandon Jones (6-2, 281 Sr.), who saw his first career start two weeks ago at the defensive end position.

BYU: The Cougar defensive front has been severely tested during the first two weeks and has met the challenge. Both Ian Dulan and Jan Jorgensen have improved their game after starting last season as freshmen, and Eathyn Manumaleuna has shown surprising production in the middle as a true freshman.

Conclusion: The Tulsa defensive front gave up over 200 yards rushing to Louisiana-Monroe in their first game, while the Cougar defensive front has held much stronger opponents to much less over their first two games.

Edge: BYU

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane are led by Nelson Coleman (6-2, 235 Sr.), who plays middle linebacker and has been named to just about every preseason watch list for linebackers. He'll be flanked by some smaller and quicker LBs with not a lot of collective experience among them, save for Chris Chamberlain (6-3, 225 Sr.), who also started last season. Tulsa is very solid at linebacker coming in.

BYU: The Cougars of course feature their four linebackers in most defensive sets, counting on them as primary playmakers. Bryan Kehl has put together two very impressive outings, while inside linebacker Kelly Poppinga showed very strong against UCLA a week ago.

Conclusion: Experience and overall playmaking ability gives BYU the edge.

Edge: BYU

Secondary

Tulsa: Tulsa starts five defensive backs in the 3-3-5 system. They're led by Anthony Germany (6-1, 222 Sr.), who is much more like another linebacker than a coverage safety. Germany has started for the past two seasons. The other two safeties also have good experience, and they'll be used much more aggressively than typical safeties in conventional defensive systems.

Their cornerbacks are led by Roy Roberts (5-11, 205 Jr.), who started all of last season. The other cornerback is Charles Davis (5-9, 170 So.), who saw some playing experience a season ago.

BYU: The Cougar secondary has been as solid as one could hope over their first two games of the season. They'll likely be tested more this week, as Paul Smith looks to be the best quarterback BYU has faced yet.

Conclusion: While Tulsa has some good experience in their secondary, the Cougars feature four starting seniors who have been stifling in their coverages over the first two weeks of the season.

Edge: BYU

5 Things

1. BYU will run for over 200 yards

We've been talking about the improved run-blocking since the first week of fall camp. Look for this improved run-blocking to make itself apparent this week against a somewhat weak Tulsa defensive front. The Cougars will establish a very productive running attack this game.

2. Long Ball

Congruent with a productive ground game will be increased opportunity for Hall, the tight ends and especially Austin Collie to exploit the Tulsa defense with play-action and long passes down the sideline and up the seam.

3. Tulsa won't beat themselves

This is an experienced quarterback playing in a very established system. While the experience around him is somewhat lacking, don't look for Smith to beat himself, as he'll do well to exploit any turnovers by BYU's offense or coverage lapses by BYU's secondary.

4. Kicking Game will see improvement

Brian Smith will be handling much more of a load this week, which would seem somewhat overdue to those who attended preseason practices. Smith was the more consistent and productive kicker and punter during just about every practice session in the preseason.

5. BYU will win comfortably

This is the first game where BYU is clearly superior athletically at just about every position on the football field. After two tough games, BYU should be well-honed for this matchup as they look to rebound from last week's disappointing loss to UCLA.

Final Score: BYU 35 Tulsa 17


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