Oct. 26, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
– Only on occasion do the best on-paper match-ups work out so as to match the drama dreamed about ahead of time, but the idea of Brigham Young bringing the nation’s No. 4-ranked defense into Bobby Dodd Stadium sure feels worth looking at.
The Cougars are allowing just 276.9 yards of total offense per game, and more interestingly they’re surrendering a mere 93.3 rushing yards (No. 8). Compounding interest, BYU is ranked No. 7 in third-down defense while allowing a conversion rate of 27.8 percent.
These are stout numbers.
Given that Tech is No. 15 in total offense (497.7 ypg), No. 3 In rushing (339.6 ypg) and No. 17 in third-down conversions (49.5 %), there’s the match-up, right?
BYU’s offense (No. 82, 377.4 ypg) has struggled, after all, and so has Tech’s defense (No. 77, 413 yapg).
Tech’s head coach has a background steeped in offense, and Paul Johnson calls the plays. BYU’s head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, was a defensive coordinator before and calls the “D” now.
He’s seen his share of option offenses over the years.
“I am passionate about [it]. I like it a lot,” he said earlier this week. I have good days and bad days defending the option. More good than bad, but when you’re playing it well, it’s very gratifying. When you’re not, you’re helpless.”
Tech doesn’t run the option all the time, but watching Mendenhall’s men work against Johnson’s should be compelling. The Cougars’ 3-4 is aggressive, and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (No. 47, 6-feet-6, 270 pounds) is no run-of-the-mill man.
He and the Cougars will get after it. He has 10 of BYU’s 60 tackles for lost yardage (No. 15 in the nation). Tech has allowed 42 tackles for lost yardage, ranking No. 80.
Linebacker Brand Ogletree (No. 44) leads BYU with 64 combined tackles and assists, and fellow linebacker Kyle Van Noy (No. 3) has 7.5 sacks among the Cougars’ 23. Their average of 2.88 sacks per game is No. 8 in the nation.
“I think they’re big and physical upfront, and they can stop the run with just the front seven; they don’t have to use the secondary,” Johnson said. “Then they give you a lot of looks and they get you in third-and-long, a lot of blitzes. They’re good tacklers.
“They’ve got the defensive end, Ezekiel Ansah, he is a heck of an athlete and is probably a first round draft pick.”
On a different subject, Johnson is confident that he has addressed the Jackets’ occasional sideline malaise. There have been times where the energy down there has been sub-standard. Coach used the word, “corpses,” earlier this season.
“We’ve come to Jesus. We understand. We’re on the same page,” Johnson said. “I think it’s an immaturity thing, something that has changed through the years that I’ve been coaching. If you’re on the team, you have a vested interest in what’s going on, and you should be there supporting your teammates.
“Through the years, it’s changed gradually where it’s almost like if guys aren’t playing they’re non-attached. It’s like I explained to them, if you’re non-attached then if we win a lot of games and go to a bowl game, then you’re non-attached. You’re part of the team, and you should be there cheering on your teammates and excited about what’s going on.”
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