BYU vs. Eastern Washington: The Breakdown

BYU matches up against Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse Eastern Washington Saturday at LaVell Edwards stadium. The G-man goes through each position group and gives the edges each team should enjoy come game day. As one could well imagine, the edges are extremely lopsided.


Eastern Washington: The Eagles start sophomore Matt Nichols (6-2, 200), who has enjoyed a productive season thus far. In six games, Nichols has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 16 touchdowns to go against only three interceptions. He has good mobility and is a threat to run with the ball, having gained just short of 200 yards rushing so far this year.

BYU: Max Hall has been somewhat quiet over his past two outings after an outstanding start to his Cougar career. He has thrown for just short of 2,000 yards this season to go along with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Conclusion: Nichols' numbers are obviously better, albeit against much weaker opponents than those that Hall and the Cougars have faced. Look for Hall to have a very productive game and prove to have a significant edge over Nichols for this game.

Edge: BYU

Running Back

Eastern Washington: Despite their wide-open offensive system, the Eagles do run the ball effectively. They are led by Dale Morris (5-9, 205 Jr.), who has rushed for 416 yards and four touchdowns this year. Alexis Alexander (5-10, 230 Jr.) is the fullback and also gets reps playing running back. He has rushed for 263 yards and five touchdowns through six games. Both running backs have combined for just six receptions on the season.

BYU: Harvey Unga is coming off of a dominating game against UNLV. In this game he'll join with Fui Vakapuna, who looks to return to the lineup and should be raring to go. It's the first time both backs will be together in the lineup since the first series of reps against Tulsa.

Conclusion: The Tongan trio of Unga, Vakapuna and Manase Tonga are back together and should romp all over a suspect Eastern Washington front line.

Edge: BYU

Wide Receiver

Eastern Washington: The Eagles are led at wideout by Aaron Boyce (6-2, 205 So.), who has snagged 46 passes on the year for 719 yards and five touchdowns. Just about every pass in the Eastern Washington system has gone to the receivers so far this season, as the running backs and tight ends rarely get into the act.

BYU: The Cougar wideouts are coming off of a very quiet collective outing against UNLV a week ago. The three-man rotation of Austin Collie, Matt Allen and Michael Reed have seen good production this season despite last week's disappearing act.

Conclusion: Look for the Cougar wideouts to respond strongly to their underwhelming performances of a week ago by proving to have a significant edge to the wideouts of Eastern Washington.

Edge: BYU

Tight End

Eastern Washington: The Eagles seldom throw to their tight ends and don't use them frequently in their usual three- and four-wideout sets. Tom McAndrews (6-0, 240 Sr.) is their starting tight end and has just six receptions so far this season.

BYU: Dennis Pitta has risen to become Hall's main target on the passing tree. Vic So'oto had a productive game last week, catching his first touchdown pass.

Conclusion: It's not a hard conclusion that BYU holds a significant edge at the tight end position.

Edge: BYU

Offensive Line

Eastern Washington: The Eagles start five offensive linemen who are all close to 290 pounds. It's an experienced line with three seniors, one junior and a sophomore fronting the Eastern Washington offense.

BYU: The Cougars will hurt a bit from Ray Feinga's absence in this game due to suspension. Feinga and his cohorts really hit their stride last week in the second half, mounting the type of dominating run attack fans have been expecting since the first game this season.

Conclusion: Look for the Cougar offensive front to dominate, proving to be much too physical and talented for the Eagle defensive front.

Edge: BYU

Defensive Line

Eastern Washington: The Eagles feature a four-man defensive line that is a bit undersized and has had trouble defending the run this season. The d-linemen average about 250 pounds across the front.

BYU: The Cougar defensive front has been steady and productive all season long. It hasn't accounted for many sacks, but has held opposing runners well below their average in most games.

Conclusion: As one should suspect, the biggest edges a Football Bowl Subdivision team should enjoy over a Football Championship Subdivision opponent is with the offensive and defensive lines. BYU should prove much more effective on the defensive front than the Eagles.

Edge: BYU


Eastern Washington: The Eagles feature two linebackers in their 4-2-5 base system, which is much like the system the Cougars faced against UNLV last weekend. Eastern Washington's linebackers weigh in at 230 and 215 pounds.

BYU: BYU's backers are obviously the strength of the team. They are led by senior Bryan Kehl, who has dominated the course of play during most games this season.

Conclusion: The Cougar linebackers have proven to be consistent playmakers, while the Eagles LBs should have their hands full.

Edge: BYU


Eastern Washington: The Eagles have been prone to giving up big passing yards so far this season, as opponents have thrown for over 1,600 yards against them through six games. They will feature a rove-type safety/linebacker hybrid in their secondary, much like UNLV did last week.

BYU: The Cougars are healthy and have been very good against the pass this season, save for the obvious hiccup against Tulsa. It will be interesting to note how the reps are split up between Ben Criddle and Andre Saulsberry at the boundary cornerback position.

Conclusion: The Cougars have given up less yards through the air against much tougher opponents.

Edge: BYU

One Thing

If BYU plays its game and limits turnovers, the Cougars should win this game running away. The edge they enjoy in every single matchup is significant and should bear out to a comfortable win on Saturday.

Final Score: BYU 42, EW 13

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