Bearcat Insider: BYU has had a tough schedule, do you blame their record on schedule or personnel?
Steves: "BYU has played the nation's 7th toughest D1 schedule so far. They've lost four games by a combined total of eight points with a first year head coach, Coach Kalani Sitake, and coaching staff implementing new systems without their recruits to fit that system. If anything the close losses could be attributed to a number of those factors. However one thing is certain, once Coach Sitake and his staff's new offensive and defensive systems are firmly in place with their recruits the future looks very bright for BYU."
Bearcat Insider: Last year, BYU had a strong second half against UC to pull off the win. What do the Cougars have to do to knock off the Bearcats on the road?
Steves: "This game should be another great game for both the Cougars and Bearcats. In speaking with BYU's players to get a feel for the Bearcats from their perspective, there is a lot of respect from BYU recognizing Cincinnati's players and coaching staff as being very good. BYU's players know that Cincinnati has a lot of returning talent that is capable of scoring points while defending their end zone.
"What BYU needs to do in order to win this game is get running back Jamaal Williams, who missed BYU's one point loss to 13th ranked Boise State due to an ankle issue, going with the ground game. If BYU can establish Williams, who is returning for the Bearcat game, that will open up BYU's passing game making things difficult to defend."
Bearcat Insider: Everybody knows how electric Jamaal Williams is, who else should Bearcat fans worry about on the BYU defense?
Steves: BYU just lost star defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma to a season ending injury. However, there is still Corbin Kaufusi who is the younger brother of Bronson Kaufusi who gave Cincinnati fits last year. Corbin Kaufusi, who wears the same number (#90) as big brother Bronson, who is currently with the NFL Ravens, will be someone to watch. Also senior defensive end Harvey Langi (#21) on the weak-side will be someone to watch rushing off the edge. At the linebacker spot Fred Warner is a future NFL prospect and had a pick-six last game against Boise State. Also sophomore middle linebacker Butch Pau'u (#38) is a tackling machine racking up 19 tackles against UCLA. Pau'u is back and will be ready to go against the Bearcats. In the secondary the Bearcats should be aware of Troy Warner, younger brother of outside linebacker Fred Warner, and safety Kai Nacua who is among the nation's tops in interceptions.
Bearcat Insider: I remember BYU having good ends last year, is that still a strong part of the team? How is the defense this year?
Steves: "Bronson Kaufusi has since graduated and been drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. BYU has switched this year from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, so 6-10, 260-pound Corbin Kaufusi should be soneone to watch. Trust me you won't miss him because he's so tall. Others to watch for, as mentioned before, are Harvey Langi. Langi has felt his personal play has struggled lately but looks to get back on track against Cincinnati. One player that has really taken off lately is defensive end Sae Tautu on the weak-side. Tautu is a strong pass rusher and had a very good game against Boise State. The Cougars have missed the prowess of big Bronson Kaufusi but have still been able to get pressure from the edge.
"As far as the overall defense goes it's been a mix bag as the Cougars implement their first year defense under Coach Tuiaki. The defense has done an outstanding job of run defense while creating a tone of turnovers both in the run game and in pass defense. However, at times the defense has struggled in the passing game such as in the Toledo, West Virginia, and Boise State games."
Bearcat Insider: Do you believe this team will become bowl eligible?
Steves: "Yes, I believe BYU will be playing in a bowl game this year. After losing four games by a total of eight points, BYU's football team expects to win out the rest of the season going 8-4."
Bearcat Insider: Predictions for Saturday's game.
Steves: "This will be a tough game on the road. The Cougars are rested and healed up from a bye-week and are ready to get back out and knock helmets again after facing UCLA, Arizona, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Utah, and Boise State. Cincinnati is another quality opponent making this another great game for both fans. However, BYU will win a hard fought road game against the Bearcats 31-24."
|BYU Cougars Depth Chart - 2016|
|WR||NIck Kurtz||Colby Pearson||Mitchell Juergens|
|TE||Tanner Balderree||Hunter Marshall|
|LT||Andrew Eide||JJ Nwigue|
|LG||Keyan Norman||Jacob Jiminez|
|C||Tejan Koroma||Quin Ficklin|
|RG||Parker Dawe||Tuni Kanuch|
|RT||Thomas Shoaf||Austin Hoyt|
|WR||Moroni Laulu-Pututau||Jonah Trinnaman||Aleva Hifo|
|QB||Taysom Hill||Tanner Mangum|
|FB||Algernon Brown||Brayden El-Bakri|
|HB||Jamaal Williams||Squally Canada|
|Base 4-3 Defense|
|LDE||Moses Kaumatule||Corbin Kaufusi|
|LDT||Travis Tuiloma||Kesni Tausinga|
|RDT||Logan Taele||Handsome Tanielu||Tevita Mo'unga|
|RDE||Harvey Langi||Sae Tautu|
|WLB||Fred Warner||Morgan Unga|
|MLB||Butch Pau'u||Adam Pulsipher||Austin Heder|
|SLB||Francis Bernard||Kavika Fonua|
|CB||Troy Warner||Dayan Lake||Chris Wilcox|
|SS||Kai Nacua||Matthew Hadley||Zayne Anderson|
|FS||Micah Hannemann||Eric Takenaka||Tanner Jacobson|
|CB||Michael Davis||Austin McChesney||Isaiah Armstrong|
|K||Rhett Almond||Andrew Mikkelsen|
|P||Jonny Llnehan||Rhett Almond|
|H||Mitchell Juergens||Jonny Llnehan|
|PR||Garrett Juergens||Mitchell Juergens||Micah Hannemann|
|KR||Aleva Hifo||Matthew Hadley||Jonah Trinnaman||Garrett Juergens|
|LS||Corey Edwards||Andrew Mikkelsen|