Perfection, or very close to it, was what the Cougar passing offense was last week against Wyoming. Max Hall and company come into their matchup with the Lobos clicking on all cylinders, with Hall using all of his receivers and offensive coordinator Robert Anae showing greater commitment to screen plays.
The Lobos haven't stopped much of anything through the air this season, giving up an average of 258 passing yards per game. It's a defense the features a freshman and sophomore starting at cornerback. They have some better experience at safety, where they'll start two seniors in Frankie Baca (6-0, 199) and Frankie Solomon (5-10, 185).
Gone is the 3-3-5 defensive system that defined New Mexico's program. A more conventional 4-3 alignment has taken its place. Up front the Lobos have soon some ability to get to the quarterback, accounting for 19 sacks on the season with their two undersized yet quick defensive ends.
Look for the Cougars to put up a similar performance through the air as they did last week against Wyoming. The Lobos appear to have little of anything that would prevent Hall and company having one of their better outings of the season.
BYU run offense vs. New Mexico
The Cougar offense was romping over Wyoming with Harvey Unga giving what has now become his usual performance. The Cougar offensive front pushed around the Cowboys with Manase Tonga, J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya all complimenting Unga nicely during the game.
The Lobos have given up an average of 171.1 rushing yards per game, although their average yards per run yielded is a somewhat respectable 3.8 yards. Up front Carmen Messina (6-2, 222 So.) not only leads his team in tackles from his middle linebacker position, but leads the entire nation in that category.
Unga and company, much like Hall and company on the passing end, should see similar if not greater success than they did last week against Wyoming.
BYU pass defense vs. New Mexico
While the Cougar pass defenders' performance has been spotty this season, they are coming off of a very strong outing against Wyoming. Whether that performance continues is yet to be seen. Up front the line ran some more stunts and other things to get to the quarterback a bit better than they had been heading into the game.
New Mexico will start Donovan Porterie, who brings a wealth of experience to the field. Porterie, like most quarterbacks BYU has faced this year, is mobile. However, he doesn't tend to run the football quite as much as Wyoming's or even TCU's quarterbacks. The Lobos have managed 216 yards per game through the air, but two of their leading receivers are injured and are not expected to play in Saturday's game.
New Mexico operates with a spread offense on occasion, which has given the Cougar defense problems, but will alternate with a classic two-back set. Overall the Lobos look to be better through the air than on the ground.
All of New Mexico's wideouts are well over 6 feet tall, which could cause some headaches if they choose to attack with midrange passes. Look for them to try and exploit one-on-one matchups with the Cougar cornerbacks, who are both coming off an outstanding effort a week ago.
BYU run defense vs. New Mexico
Outside of poor outings against TCU and Florida State, the Cougar run defense has been very stingy and especially so against the run up the middle. Last week saw the containment issues that ailed the defense to be much improved as well.
New Mexico uses a three-man rotation at running back that has recently given way to true freshman Kasey Carrier (5-9, 175), whose height and weight attest to his ability to get outside of the defense. He'll rotate with fellow true freshman Demond Dennis (5-9, 196) and James Wright (6-0, 239 So.), who is their bruiser and primary short-yardage back.
Overall they average just below 96 yards per game and will have to improve upon that average should they want to keep the Cougar offense off of the field of play. They will utilize a fullback, although they do go with single-back formations quite often during the course of a game.
Should the Cougar containment remain consistent, they should be fine against a running attack that has not been very proficient this season. The Lobos are playing some of the worst football in the country and shouldn't prove too much of a test of the Cougars.
Prediction: BYU 42 New, Mexico 10