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Sunday, September 26, 2010

For the first time in a while, BYU's problem is offense

The rap against BYU in the past has always been that its offense can put up numbers against the, but that its defense can't hold anyone. In Gary Crowton's first, 2001, year they averaged 45 points/game but gave up 30 or more points to the likes of UNLV, Utah State, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Mississippi State, and Hawaii (who racked up 72 points). After ticking off 12 straight wins to start the season, the BCS announced that BYU would not be considered for a BCS bowl game because of its weak schedule and pourous defense. The Cougars went on to lose to Hawaii and Louiville, so perhaps the BCS bosses weren't far off.

In recent years the trend has been toward a more balanced team. In the past four seasons they have only given up 30 points or more 6 times (2 fewer than the entire 2001 season) while averaging a respectable 34 points/game. The Bronco era in full effect, BYU's generally defense keeps the Cougars within striking distance in games where the offense has trouble.

This year the Cougs find themselves in unfamiliar territory. The defense is playing decently, but the offense is completely inept. in four games, With the exception of JJ DiLuigi, they look like they're running in quicksand with vegetable oil on their hands. Just about every series has been a nightmare of dropped passes, bad throws, fumbles, sacks, and 3-and-outs.

The result: BYU's defense is on the field far too much. In their three losses, BYU has lost the time of possession battle by an average of 12 minutes. That means that the defense is getting short breaks between long drives. This is a receipe for disaster when up against the capable offenses of Air Force, Florida State, and Nevada.

If BYU can close the TOP gap then their defense will be able to keep the games winnable in the fourth quarter. Even if the offense is unable to post the 30-40 points per game that they're used to, I think that keeping the defense off the field will give them the fresh legs to make 6-7 wins possible.

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