BYU vs. Wyoming: The Breakdown

The Cougars open their conference play against the Cowboys of Wyoming Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars are flying high after last week's romp over the Bruins. G-man breaks down Saturday's game, analyzing the matchups and revealing what fans should expect come Saturday.

Not much if anything went wrong last week for the Cougars as they jumped on the UCLA Bruins early and kept their foot on their throats throughout the game. This week the Cougars turn their focus to a Wyoming team that has struggled to put up points on the board.

While the Cougars are expected to continue their dominant play, the Cowboys are looking for the type of boost offensively that simply has not been there over their first three games of the year. At a glance this is a matchup that is strongly weighted the way of the Cougars.

BYU running game vs. Wyoming

The Cowboys have fared decently in defending against the run over their first three games. They held Air Force to less than 300 yards rushing, and the Falcons tried next to nothing through the air. The Cowboys will defend the run out of a 3-4 base defense that can be very solid and stingy at times.

Wyoming has some good size along its defensive front, with a couple of 270-pound defensive ends flanking a 301-pound nose tackle. At linebacker the Cowboys start two seniors, one junior and a freshman. They'll be led by Ward Dobbs, who plays the WILL position on the inside.

Meanwhile the Cougar ground game has seemingly hit its stride, putting together two consecutive successful outings against Pac-10 opponents. Harvey Unga is running as well as ever and is aided by the lead blocking of Fui Vakapuna, while the Cougar offensive front has melded into the dominating unit most fans were aching for all of last season.

Prognosis: The Cougars could continue in their dominating ways on the ground against Wyoming. While the Cowboys certainly aren't pushovers on defense, it's doubtful that they'll pose the type of threat against the run that UCLA did a week ago. Don't expect a complete romp over the Cowboy front seven, but do expect a consistent and productive performance from the Cougar ground attack.

What I'll be Watching: Since there are not many questions surrounding the Cougar ground game as far as the starters go, I'll be watching for the continued contributions of J.J. DiLuigi and Wayne Latu. Both players had regretful outings against Northern Iowa, but both rebounded nicely a week ago against UCLA.

I'll be interested to see if both DiLuigi and Latu will be working their way into the rotation during the first half, as they've certainly gained a bit more trust from the coaches since the first game of the season. Should this game prove to be a romp, I'll be anxious to see if the second-team running backs and offensive line can continue their impressive output that they saw against UCLA.

BYU passing game vs. Wyoming

The Cowboys have yet to be really tested through the air so far this season, but that test is certainly looming Saturday, as they will be taking on a Cougar air attack that has astounded so far this season. Wyoming's strength in the secondary is in the middle with their safeties. Their best player in the secondary looks to be strong safety Quincy Rogers, who is a returning starter.

At cornerback the Cowboys have their work cut out for them, as they are fielding a freshman and sophomore at corner, both of which are in their first year starting. Austin Collie and his cohorts should be licking their chops come Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Cougars will have to make do without the services of the very consistent Michael Reed. In his stead, O'Neill Chambers, Luke Ashworth and Spencer Hafoka look to spell his production. All three are capable backup options, and don't look for that much of a drop-off in production opposite Collie, although Reed will certainly be missed.

Prognosis: Good luck to the Cowboys, as they'll be facing their first true test of the year at defending against the pass. Oh yeah, the Cougars also have Dennis Pitta, who has been unstoppable so far this year, as has quarterback Max Hall, whose numbers have been nothing short of incredible so far this season.

The Cougar air attack shouldn't be missing a beat against the Cowboys, as it should prove able to do basically what it wants through the air come Saturday.

What I'll be Watching: I'll most certainly be watching the rotation of receivers opposite Austin Collie. Ashworth, Hafoka and Chambers all saw plenty of reps with the first-team offense this week, and we'll see who emerges as the primary option opposite Collie.

BYU run defense vs. Wyoming

Due to their struggles in the passing game, the run attack has had to carry the Cowboys so far this season. Wyoming has two very good running backs in Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon, who will both rotate in and out and lead the Cowboy offensive attack.

Up front the Cowboys field an offensive line that have worked to open some good holes for Moore and Seldon. The strength of the line is on the left side, and this is where they'll likely attempt to make their yards, as the right side of the line has seen some difficulties early on.

Quietly but surely the Cougar defensive front has worked to limit opposing teams' effectiveness at running the football - with the exception of Jake Locker, who obviously was an uncommon threat at running the ball from the quarterback position. With a wealth of experience along the defensive line and promising linebackers, the Cougars look to do well against the Wyoming ground attack.

Prognosis: This is where the Cowboys needs to prove productive if they're to have any shot at making this a ball game. The passing attack has seen horrendous production and it will very much be in their interest to make sure the Cougar offense see the field as little as possible. So, you can expect Wyoming to pound it out on the ground often.

What I'll be Watching: While the Cougar inside backers are very good in space and in defending against the pass, they've yet to be truly tested in their ability to stuff holes and throw an opposing ground attack backwards. I'll be watching Matt Bauman, Matt Ah You and Shawn Doman closely to see how they do at defending a Wyoming run attack that will surely be trying to pound away at the Cougar front seven all day long.

BYU pass defense vs. Wyoming

Make no mistake about it; Wyoming's passing attack has seen better years. Through their first three games, the Cowboy passing attack has yet to top 300 yards total on the season, and they've only had one game where they passed for more than 100 yards.

Dax Crum took over for last year's starter Karsten Sween and has had big-time struggles with seeing any production through the air this season. The pass protection has been inconsistent, with the right side of the Cowboy offensive line seeing most of the struggles. Meanwhile, the wide receivers haven't been running good routes.

The Cougar pass defense saw the influx of a nickel package last week that the Cougars will undoubtedly be fielding again, although probably not as much as they did against UCLA due to Wyoming's focus on the run. The Cougar pass defense has been solid so far this season, and Wyoming certainly won't be posing the most difficult of tasks this week.

Prognosis: It's very difficult for me to see any way Wyoming sees good production through the air. The Cougar pass rush was the most underrated facet of the game against UCLA, and they should see very good production on this front against the Cowboys.

Look for the Cowboys to try to utilize play action to go long more than a few times, as Crum is obviously having a hard time seeing coverages so far this year.

What I'll be Watching: I'll be watching Brandon Bradley and Brandon Howard mostly . I'll be watching Bradley for how often he's used in the nickel formation and in BYU's regular formation, as he saw a lot of reps with the starters on defense this past week.

Brandon Howard has been decent, but has been beaten deep in coverage and has struggled in run support so far this year. We'll see how he rebounds this week as he looks to prove more consistent at his field cornerback spot.

Conclusion

Folks, it's going to get ugly. Wyoming was already a team that BYU matched up very well with most years, and now that they're struggling, it's not unreasonable to expect a score much like we saw last week against UCLA. It's difficult to imagine any scenario where Wyoming wins this game, let alone keeps it close.

Final Score Prediction: BYU 48, Wyoming 6


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