Skip to main content

Now a handful of days removed from BYU’s 14-0 win over Sam Houston to kick off the 2023 season, and with proper time to overreact to one game, it’s time to take a look forward to the Cougar’s next matchup as Southern Utah comes to town for just another “in-state game.” With the Thunderbirds coming to Provo there is little time to dwell on the past game and yet it is crucial to take note of ways that BYU, and the offense in particular, can continue to improve week to week. So, with that being said, here are three things I am expecting to see this Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. 

  1. An improved offense

The offense has been the talk of Cougar Nation these last few days as they struggled to move the ball against the Bearkat defense. Aaron Roderick was high in his praise for the offense in Fall Camp, calling this year’s offense “stronger at every position group…than we were a year ago.” But for all that talk coming into the season the offense only mustered 14 points, 257 yards and went 5-16 on third downs. 

Much of the issues on offense were self inflicted. Penalties stalled a total of five drives for the Cougar offense and run blocking was, at best, inconsistent, as highlighted by Coug Connect earlier this week. 

The feeling among the offense, however, is that these struggles won’t continue throughout the season. For starters, penalties are an easy fix and often times the results of week one jitters. But give the Sam Houston defense credit as well. Multiple players on both sides of the ball highlighted Sam Houston as having well above average cornerbacks, when asked this week. 

But Sam Houston aside, I have trust that an Aaron Roderick led offense won’t look like what we saw on Saturday for an entire season. This is still an offense with a veteran quarterback, a first-round NFL talent at left tackle, an incredibly deep WR room and a freshman phenom at running back alongside a four-star transfer running back who rushed for 1,000 yards last season.

Until the sample size is large enough to prove otherwise, I have to trust that this offense will turn it around this Saturday. 

  1. A bounce back game from Aidan Robbins

Speaking of a four-star transfer running back who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, Aidan Robbins struggled to get going against the Sam Houston defense last week. The UNLV transfer had just two carries in the second half, en route to finishing the game with seven carries for 23 yards as BYU rode the hot hand of LJ Martin in the second half. 

I don’t disagree with Roderick giving the ball to LJ in the second half. He was having success. But after speaking to people around the team, they all still expect Robbins to be the guy in that running back room. While Martin may have a larger role than initially expected, particularly this early on, I still expect Robbins to be the starter and should get most of the carries. 

Both Joe Wheat and I predicted on the Hype Train Podcast that Aidan Robbins would have a big bounce back game. While Joe predicted he would finish with over 1,000 yards rushing, I picked him to finish with two rushing touchdowns. Robbins is still the best running back on this team and I don’t expect him to struggle this Saturday against SUU like we saw in the season opener. 

  1. Another dominant defensive performance

Can we take a moment to appreciate this BYU Defense?

Thank you. With as much talk about the offensive struggles this past week there have been so many that have completely ignored the fact that the BYU defense shut out an FBS opponent for the first time since 2021. And yes, Sam Houston is technically FBS now. After last season where the talk after every game was ‘why doesn’t this BYU defense make any adjustments?’ or ‘why can’t the defense get off the field on third down?’ and even ‘this tackling school has a worse standard than the school up north,’ I figured there would be more people talking about how awesome that defensive performance was. 

The talk of the offseason was centered around how this new and improved defense would look after the Cougars let go of Ed Lamb, Preston Hadley and Ilaisa Tuiaki and replaced them with Sione Pouha, Justin Ena, Kelly Poppinga and Jay Hill. And buddy, what a statement they made last Saturday. Zero double-digit play drives allowed, an opponent third down conversion percentage of 14(!!!) and three forced turnovers checked just about every box that BYU fans have been asking to see from a defense for the last decade. 

And the best part is, I don’t think it was a fluke or an outlier. Of course, I don’t think we get defensive shutouts every week. TCU, Texas, Oklahoma and other teams on the schedule look like they have really good offenses. But this is a really good BYU defense and with an FCS team coming to Provo, I think another shutout could be on the table. 

Opponent: Southern Utah (0-1)

Location: Provo, Utah

Time: 1:00PM MT

Channel: ESPN+

Weather: Partly Cloudy, 74

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: