In just over 24 hours, the offseason officially ends and your Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Brigham Young Cougars in a Saturday Afternoon matchup in Memorial Stadium.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing over the Cougars, who bring in a big time QB and a tendency to be streaky (Won 4, lost 4, won 4 last season).
We wanted to know more about the Cougars, so we brought in Jake Welch, contributor to the SBNation BYU community Vanquish The Foe.
I asked and Jake answered, and he did a pretty good job. Thanks to Jake and good luck tomorrow in the game.
1. Well, the season finally arrives and BYU goes on the road for the first week to take on a Nebraska team with both not completely sure about the other it seems. What is the feeling of the game in your neck of the woods?
I think there is a sense of guarded optimism as it relates to this opening game. The first game of the season is always filled with unknowns and with Nebraska breaking in a new head coach and a completely new offense and defensive scheme, it seems like BYU has less to worry about. But as I mentioned that optimism is definitely guarded. There is definitely a sense of respect for the Huskers and the tradition that exists in Lincoln. While we might think that we have a shot at a W, we know that it’s going to be a dogfight.
2. Taysom Hill is not your average Quarterback, and may very well be the best one Nebraska plays this whole year. What are you expecting from Hill this week, and how should Taysom look post injury?
This isn’t the first time Taysom will be coming back after a major leg injury, as he missed the second half of the 2012 season with a knee injury. He didn’t shy away from contact after that injury and I don’t think he will hold back again this year. I think he will be smarter about avoiding big hits but I expect him to the electric quarterback that he was last year before he went down. He will be a decent passer but his running ability is what makes him special and that’s what he’ll use to be a playmaker.
3. Between Jamaal Williams and Algernon Brown, who do you expect to get a majority of the carries for the Cougars on Saturday? What are the differences between the two backs?
The bulk of the carries will be given to Algie Brown as Jamaal has elected to leave school and redshirt this season. Brown is a big bruiser who isn’t going to run past anyone but is definitely quick on his feet. Don’t be surprised to see him as a primary receiver out of the backfield. Senior running backs Nate Carter (great field vision but a little undersized) and Adam Hine (nice open field speed but runs too high) will also see time.
4. Nebraska’s coming in with a brand new D scheme and new Secondary theory. Do you think this plays well into how Mitch Matthews could play? How about JUCO transfer Nick Kurtz making a debut in this weekend’s game?
From what I’ve seen from Mitch Matthews and the BYU wide receivers over the years, I know that they struggle with cornerbacks and safeties that are big and physical. Both of these guys might stand tall at 6’6’’ but they’re not the fastest guys on the field and use their height and long strides to create separation. They will definitely get their catches but if they Nebraska secondary is physical from the outright they can stop these twin towers from having their way on the field.
5. Last year’s D was ferocious against the run, but a lack thereof against the pass. What is the thought of this year’s group vs. a run-heavy Offense like Nebraska? Is the plan to make Tommy Armstrong beat you with the arm?
With Bronco Mendenhall back as the acting defense coordinator we’ll likely see a group that will be stout against the run and preventing big pass plays over the top. Against a team like Nebraska they will most definitely attempt to slow the rushing attack and make Tommy Armstrong win the game with the short to intermediate passing game. The secondary almost willingly concedes the 5-8 yard routes, forcing the opposing offense to commit to long, disciplined drives down the field. The BYU defense will bend but it won’t break.
6. Last year’s team had no issue walking into DKR in Austin and embarrassing Texas. What makes Bronco Mendenhall teams so good on the road?
A lot of it has to do with confidence. Bronco and his staff feel like they can win every single game and the players usually reflect that confidence on the field. While they’ve had their fair share of road losses, I’ve never once a BYU team on the road that looked scared of their opponent.
7. Speaking of the schedule, BYU’s opening schedule this year could be easier than thought of, and at the same time be brutal. What is a good goal for this team after 3 games this year?
BYU fans would be ecstatic with a 3-0 or 2-1 start but a 1-2 record after three games is more realistic and understandable considering the opponents. If BYU starts off 0-3 Bronco Mendenhall could be on the hot seat.
8. How many folks from Utah are making the trip East to Lincoln? Will there be a lot of Blue in the Sea of Red?
There will definitely be a good showing from Cougar fans at Memorial Stadium. Lincoln is definitely the marquee road game of year for BYU (in terms of the opponent and the fantastic game day atmosphere is Lincoln) but with Michigan and UCLA also on the schedule fans have a few more quality road trip options. I would suspect that BYU fans will have representation similar to other mid-level BIG 10 teams.
9. Who have we not mentioned yet that should have a pretty good day come Saturday?
BYU lacked a consistent defensive playmaker last season and I think the player to fill that role will be OLB Fred Warner. BYU’s 3-4 defense gives the outside linebackers lots of opportunities to disrupt the opposing offense. Warner played well last season and has a chance to really step up from role player to impact starter.
10. Alright, prediction time. Tell us how you see the game going down, and a winner.
Predicting the first game of the season is an absolute crap shoot. I remember back in 2012 I predicted that BYU was going to heavily use a certain wide receiver to lead them to victory. It just so happened that the certain wide receiver didn’t play a single down and was eventually red shirted. That being said, I think that BYU will eek out a close victory in Lincoln. Taysom Hill will do something special to in the second half to put the Cougars ahead and the defense will hold on in the end. BYU 23 Nebraska 17