BYU's 11th Ranked D Faces Wyoming O

BYU's 11th Ranked D Faces Wyoming O

Coming off a 24-3 win over Colorado State, the BYU defense wants to use Thursday's game against Wyoming to prove that its near shutout performance was no fluke. The Cowboys definitely have a better offense than the Rams, so the Cougar defense will face a bigger challenge.

This Thursday, the two top Mountain West Conference teams will face off when the Wyoming Cowboys come to Provo to face BYU. The Cougars face a team that has conference victories over Utah (31-15), Colorado State (24-0), New Mexico (14-10) and San Diego State (27-24).

"They look good and it should be a good battle," said outside linebacker David Nixon. "Their two tailbacks have their own special abilities. One of them can break it on the outside and the other can do some spinning and can juke some players out, so they've got some talent at the running back position and that's what we will have to contain."

The Cowboys will face the nation's 11th ranked scoring defense manned by Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week Cameron Jensen. In LaVell Edwards Stadium this season, BYU's offense is averaging 46.5 points per game and the Cougar defense is giving up and average of only 12 points per game. The 34.5 point average margin of victory is the largest in the 42-year history of Lavell Edwards Stadium.

The Wyoming offense has averaged 21.7 points per game and has rushed for 135.5 yards per game while passing for 184.9 yards per game. The preliminary scouting report on the Wyoming offense is that their success lies with their ability to run the football.

"They've got great tailbacks and a young but pretty good quarterback," said Nixon. "They've got a pretty good offensive line, and they've got pretty good receivers as well. The one thing that we are focusing more on is their tailbacks. Besides TCU, they have the best tailbacks that we will face all year, so that's what we are preparing for."

"They have some talent in the backfield and we know that," said freshman D-lineman Romney Fuga. "We just have to make sure that we play within our assignments, and I think we'll be fine.

BYU will focus on stopping Wyoming's 5th rated MWC rushing offense (78th nationally) led by Wynel Seldon (60.6 ypg), Joseph Harris (31.9 ypg), and Devin Moore (41.0 ypg).

"It's always our game plan to first stop the run," said Nixon. "Once you stop the run first, then you obviously have the pass. That's what our focus is on this game especially. First we need to stop the run and be sure they don't come back to it. If we make it to where they can't run the ball, we feel we have a great chance of winning the game."

Wyoming's backs will run behind an offensive line featuring three seniors and two sophomores.

"They're offensive line is very physical," said Fuga. "They are big, and they are quick and physical. Once again, it's going to be up to us to be sure we stay within our assignments. We know Wyoming is capable of scoring points, so we can't have a letdown this week. We're working on continuing to improve every week."

While BYU's defensive line and linebackers are working to employ their run stopping game plan, BYU's secondary will be covering 6-foot-2, 203-pound junior wide receiver Michael Ford, 6-foot, 179-pound senior Tyler Holden and 5-foot-9, 172-pound junior Hoost Marsh.

"They work hard and they're well coached," said BYU safety Dustin Gabriel. "Our job is to stop the vertical threat and to not give up anything deep. We're expecting a lot of screens with their running backs, who are elusive guys. They have pretty good receivers so they're fairly balanced but we'll be watching for their passing game. They don't have anyone really speedy like we've already faced. They all are just kind of the same where they do a good job in catching the ball and run pretty decent routes."

Wyoming uses the fullback or H-back to sometimes line up in the tight end's position. Although the tight end is not an integral part of the Cowboy offense, BYU's outside linebackers will have to keep an eye on 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior Wade Betschart lining up to block for tailbacks Seldon, Harris and Moore.

"Their tight ends are good," Nixon said. "More than anything we are focusing on their fullback number 46 [Betschart]. He moves around and moves into the tight end position as a fullback. He's a good player and a great blocker and that's who we are focusing on right now. Their tight ends are good but more than anything it's their tailback and fullback. I believe they are the strength of their offense."

Replacing Wyoming quarterback Corey Bramlet – who completed 20 of 25 passes for 241 yards in last year's game – is 6-foot-2, 204-pound freshman Karsten Sween from Inyokern, California.

"He's a good quarterback and he can throw it down the field," said Nixon. "Their receivers do a good job in getting open and catching the ball. He's an athletic quarterback and we are preparing for that. We're preparing for him to boot out and we will be rushing him and getting some pressure on him. It's basically the usual game plan: put some pressure on the quarterback, stop the run and come out with a W."

Being a freshman quarterback playing the nation's number 25 team on the road is going to be a tough challenge for Sween. With a freshman quarterback at the helm of an offense that is somewhat similar to TCU's, the match up would seem to heavily favor a Cougar defense that is looking to continue its prowess at home.

"First thing is even though their quarterback is young, he is capable," said Gabriel. "Being a younger quarterback, he doesn't have quite the experience, which is beneficial for us who are [experienced]. He hasn't faced the pressure that's going to be forced on him in different situations, so of course we are licking our chops a little bit, but we're not going to under estimate him at all. We're expecting a lot from him."

"I think it does help us a bit with him being less experienced," Nixon said. "I think a lot of the offenses that we've faced this year have had a similar offensive scheme. I would have to say that Wyoming runs a similar offensive scheme to TCU, and the fact that we did well against TCU just puts more confidence within ourselves to do well against Wyoming.

"As a conference team, I actually look back and would compare them more to TCU. I think they have a lot of similarities in their running game and their passing game is decent. I think that is exactly how TCU was because they have a great running back in Brown, and if they couldn't run, they would resort to the pass. That's exactly what Wyoming does."

"I don't know if I would compare them to TCU personnel-wise because TCU is probably a lot faster than Wyoming," said Gabriel. "Scheme wise Wyoming is very similar though, and they'll run similar type of running plays and try to stretch it out with their speedy backs. That's more for the linebackers to deal with though than us.

So come six o'clock on Thursday night in Lavell Edwards Stadium when the ball is kicked and the game is underway, what kind of Cougar defense can Wyoming expect to see out on the field?

"The same type of intensity that was seen when we came out against Colorado State," said Nixon. "That is our goal and we're going to do it. Our goal is to shut them down just like we shut down Colorado State, and that's pretty much all you can think about. Just going in there and dominating, and we think we can do it. We know they're a good team gut that's not going to hold us back from our efforts to dominate them on the field like we did against Colorado State.

"Mendenhall expects us to continue to improve and to dominate on the field at a higher level. We showed what we could do against TCU when that was Thursday night game and he still had us prepared. He always has a good game plan and always has us prepared, so we have confidence in his game plan and we just go out there to execute a dominating game plan."

"Coach Mendenhall is really good at keeping the team focused on our next opponent," said Fuga. "He wants us just to focus on our next opponent and not to worry about rankings or anything like that, and that's exactly what we're going to do this week. We're focusing on this game against Wyoming and nothing else.

To see how BYU's defense measures up against the Wyoming offense, click the TBS depth chart link below.

BYU's defense vs. Wyoming's offense

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