Peoples Gushes over Cougar defense

JonRyheem Peoples

Many witnessed firsthand the dominating performance by BYU's defense in Bronco Stadium on Thursday. The Cougars held Coach Peterson's prolific offense to just 261 total yards and no scores, despite BYU turning the ball over five times. Also watching the great defensive performance was BYU commit JonRyheem Peoples.

An often calm and collective Coach Mendenhall let his emotions loose during the BSU game following a valiant goal-line stand by his defense. What Coach Mendenhall expressed on the sidelines is how BYU fans felt around the country, and that include Rigby High School defensive tackle JonRyheem Peoples.

"Oh man, it's ridiculous!" Peoples said. "That defense is stacked, man! There are so many good players and I was thinking, ‘This is the defense I'm going to be playing on next year!' I'm excited about that defense."

While BYU's defense has been an impenetrable barrier, the offense has struggled to find its rhythm.

"The offense, I really think they'll get it going, but, man, our defense is solid. I wouldn't change nothing with our defense," he said. "Our defense is so good, but we lost a couple, but we'll get it going, you know what I mean? We'll get there. If not this year, we'll come back next year and make it happen."

Okay, we get it. Peoples is excited about the defensive dominance, and rightly so. He's a defensive lineman, and so that's where his heart lies. But what about the Cougar offense and the struggles its encountered this season?

"You know, I think we're running good plays and I'm liking what I'm seeing," said Peoples. "I think our play-calling is fine and like what I see at times. I just think we need to straighten some things out and keep it together. I think it will happen eventually, but right now they're just trying to find themselves and get that straightened out."

During the Boise State game, quarterback Riley Nelson was replaced by true freshman quarterback Taysom Hill, who took BYU's offense on a 95-yard touchdown drive late in the game. Peoples is excited to know that Hill will be a part of BYU's program for years to come.

"Oh man, he's great and he's a really good player," said Peoples. "He actually went to school with my sister and my stepmom teaches there [at Highland High School], so he knows some of my family. So, he knows about me a little bit and all that."

BYU's defensive performance was one of the best seen by a Cougar squad in recent memory. The Cougar defenders held Boise State's prolific offense to no points, which is something no one would ever have imagined.

"That defense is among the tops of the nation!" said Peoples. "I think they could compete against some of these top offenses in the nation and hang with them with no problem, no problem. It wouldn't even be an issue."

At BYU, Peoples will be coached by assistant coach Steve Kaufusi. BYU's front seven held Boise State running back D.J. Harper to just 2.9 yards per carry on 40 attempts.

"Oh man, that defensive line played incredible!" Peoples said. "That's what I was watching the most. They basically held one of the best running backs in the nation in check. A lot of scouts have been looking at their running back and their offense, and for BYU's defense to stop one of their powerhouse offenses like that was incredible. I think BYU's defense and linebackers – their front seven – came up big and they had a big game. They really stepped up and moved around the field a lot. I have to really give it up to them. You have to give them much respect."

After seeing the dominance of BYU's defense, Peoples can't wait to be a part of it.

"Oh man, my enthusiasm is sky-high!" he said. "I was thinking, ‘Man, I'm going to be playing in that defense and can't wait to be a part of it.' I'm going to do whatever it takes to be a part of that defense and be in the two-deep roster.

"I want to come in and help out the team as much as I can, and hopefully I won't have to redshirt and just come in and help BYU win that national championship. With a defense like that we can do it down the road and I'm excited to be a part of that defense."

In speaking of true freshman playing, one defensive lineman that Peoples has been watching is Bronson Kaufusi. Kaufusi has seen playing time in every game this season and is setting himself up to be a starting player next season.

"I actually TiVo all the games and go back and rewatch them," said Peoples. "I'll actually pause and rewind the plays and study to watch what he's doing to see what's effective and apply it to my game. That way I can be ready for not only this season but for next year, knowing what it is they want me to do so I can effective at BYU next year.

"That way I can be more effective and take from them by seeing what they're doing. This is what Coach Kaufusi likes. Now I got to work on it and get better. I've been working on my moves, my speed and quickness, so that way when I get there I can be an effective run blocker and pass rusher."

Having recorded the games, Peoples has already begun breaking down BYU's defensive line to know what's expected and better prepare himself by the time he gets there. It's actually a very smart move on his part.

"Hey, you have to start now, and it's already kind of started for me," Peoples said.

Meanwhile, Peoples had his own game to worry about on Friday night.

"Coach Cahoon and I think Coach Kaufusi will be coming up to watch me play tonight," Peoples said. "I'm pretty sure, but I know Coach Cahoon is coming up. I'm going to try and put on a show for them tonight."

In parting, is there anything Peoples would like to say to BYU fans around the nation to cheer them up after two heartbreaking losses?

"Yeah, don't worry because I'm not worried and we'll be good. We're going to take it to them next week," he said. "We just need to focus up and get it done. I'm excited to be there next year and I can't wait to get it done and play for BYU."

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