BYU vs. Tulane: The Breakdown

The Cougars venture into unchartered territory Saturday when they take on the Green Wave in New Orleans. While Tulane didn't show very well against Tulsa in their season-opener, they do present some unique challenges that the Cougars will have to overcome. G-man breaks down the matchups and lays out what fans can expect against Tulane.

BYU run offense vs. Tulane

This is an area where the Cougars could romp and will hopefully be aided here by the return of Harvey Unga, although he'll be a game-time decision. Against Oklahoma the Cougars didn't account for much on the ground, although they were far more productive than most imagined considering what the Sooners presented up front along and the absence of Unga.

Should Unga not be ready to go the team will again rely on Bryan Kariya, who showed well against the Sooners, as well as J.J. Di Luigi and Manase Tonga. If he's able to return, Unga should be very effective against a rather porous Green Wave defensive front.

Tulane gave up 201 yards rushing a week ago to Tulsa. It was a game where the Golden Hurricane obviously saw some weakness along the Green Wave's defensive front, as they attempted 43 rushes on the day.

The Green Wave operates out of a 4-3 base defensive formation, with the strength being their two experienced defensive ends in Logan Kelly (6-2, 246 Sr.) and Adam Kwentua (6-3, 251 Sr.). Kwentua has started during the past two seasons, and Kelly has seen extensive playing time over his career.

Up the middle they are relatively inexperienced at defensive tackle, with two 285-pounders starting for the first time this season. At linebacker they're light but very quick to the football, with both of their outside backers weighing less than 220 pounds. Tulane's primary playmaker on defense is their middle linebacker David Kirksey (6-1, 225 Sr.), who started last season and recorded 10 tackles last week against Tulsa.

Outlook

As mentioned, the return of Unga should lead to some very productive ground gains for the Cougars in this one. The offensive front of the Cougars looked to be very cohesive and relatively productive last week against what could well be argued as the top defensive front in the nation.

Against Tulane the Cougar front should be able to dominate. Look for the Cougars to run for well over 100 yards in this one without Unga in the lineup, and approach maybe even 200 yards rushing should he be ready to go.

The Cougar passing offense was effective against the Sooners, although they weren't overwhelming. The attack again focused on getting the ball to top tight end Dennis Pitta, although Max Hall was very effective in getting the ball underneath to the running backs.

Last week against Tulsa the Green Wave gave up 211 passing yards on only 20 pass attempts, 15 of which were completions. The Green Wave are experienced at cornerback with returning starters Charles Harris (6-3, 190 Sr.) and Phillip Davis (5-10, 173 Jr.).

Tulane's most experienced defensive back is their strong safety Chinonso Echebelem (6-1, 208 Jr.). He is a playmaker for the Green Wave on defense, having recorded 12 tackles and a forced fumble a week ago against Tulsa. At free safety they'll start Alex Wacha (6-0, 196 Jr.), who was a part-time starter last season. Their primary pass-rushers will be their aforementioned defensive ends, who have combined for 16 sacks during their careers.

Outlook

Look for the Cougars to have fewer pass attempts this week, but have relatively the same production through the air and throwing for about 300 yards. Nothing the Green Wave presents appears to be problematic on the passing front and Hall and company should be very effective through the air.

BYU run defense vs. Tulane

This was an area last week where the Cougars proved very able. The Sooners presented two 1,000 yard rushers from a year ago, yet the BYU defensive front held them in check throughout the ball game with their experienced set of defensive linemen and linebackers.

Tulane, meanwhile, saw scant production on the ground, although the focus of their offense is certainly passing the football. Their primary tailback will be Andre Anderson (6-1, 212 Sr.). Anderson accounted for just 49 yards on the ground on 19 carries last week.

Tulane plays a fullback on some occasions, although he rarely carries the football. Up front the Green Wave's offensive line features five returning starters. They'll be led by center Andrew Nierman (6-1, 296), who has 25 starts in his career.

Outlook

Don't expect Tulane to run the ball much, as the strength of their offense is spreading out defenses and throwing the football. Should they focus on the run or try to establish something on the ground early on, they likely won't see success against the very capable Cougar run defense.

BYU pass defense vs. Tulane

The Cougars surprised everyone with how effective they were able to defend the pass against Oklahoma. They used a lot more blitz packages during the game than normal, which, combined with some great secondary play, limited the Sooners through the air.

Tulane meanwhile did see good pass production against Tulsa in their opening game. They threw for 325 yards on just 32 pass attempts, as they were forced to play catch-up throughout last week's game.

The Green Wave's starting quarterback is sophomore Joe Kemp (6-4, 215) who is generally a pocket passer and not much of a run threat. Kemp's main target will be flanker Jeremy Williams (6-1, 205 Sr.), who caught five passes for 139 yards a week ago. Williams was a part-time starter last season.

Casey Robottom is their second-most productive receiver, having hauled in six catches a week ago for 82 yards and a touchdown. Tulane does feature a tight end in their offense, although they're generally used for blocking purposes.

Outlook

You can expect offensive coordinator Bob Toledo to throw the book at the Cougars while attempting to spread them out. Oklahoma didn't do a lot of this last week, but when they did they proved to be effective.

This will present a new challenge for the Cougars, who traditionally struggle against spread offenses, although they've made strides to improve on this facet of their defense during preseason practices. Last week defensive coordinator Jaime Hill didn't use a nickel package, but this could certainly change should Tulane choose to attack them from spread-offense formations.

Look for Tulane to approach 300 yards passing Saturday while abandoning the run game. You can also look for the Cougars to prove more effective against the pass than they did last season against most spread offenses.

Prediction

The Cougar offense should be cranking against a suspect Tulane defense. Look for a lot of yards and points from BYU Saturday. I also believe Tulane will be more effective on offense than most fans are expecting. Unlike Oklahoma, they'll likely choose to attack BYU's perceived weaknesses on defense as opposed to just doing what they do.

Final Score: BYU 38, Tulane 24


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