The Vandals of the University of Idaho are coming to Provo this week in what will likely amount to a very cold football and wet football contest as this game kicks off a full two hours after sunset. As a season ticket holder, I find it very hard to get excited to go to this game. If it weren’t for the three F’s – family, food, and football, it wouldn’t be very bearable at all. But as it is, I get to spend time with my family, we are going to hit up the Pupusaria on Center Street in Provo for dinner, and of course, we’ll be cheering loudly for our Cougars, so all is well as Saturday approaches.
Just a little background on our foe this weekend. In the major statistical categories, Idaho stands thus:
Additionally, the Vandals complete passes about 54% of the time, average less than 5.5 yards per attempt, passed for more than 250 yards in a game only once, and toss more than one INT per game. In the rushing department, they average less than 3 YPC. Defensively, they give up over 280 yards in the air and almost 125 on the ground per game. In terms of Sagarin rankings the Vandals are ranked 135 based on the 99th toughest schedule in FBS this season.
On the other side of the ball, BYU looks like this:
The Cougars are passing the ball a little more efficiently, completing 61% and approaching 9 yards per attempt. However, the Cougar quarterbacks have struggled to take care of the ball this season averaging 1.5 INT per game. In terms of the passing game, the stats have not changed much since Riley took over the reins with the only notable improvements being an increased efficiency in the passing in terms of completions and yards per attempt. Where Nelson has really brought a value to the team is in the running game as BYU is averaging 90 yards more per game on the ground since he took over compared to the season average. BYU’s Sagarin ranks BYU at 57 based on the 85th toughest schedule this season.
So BYU should win going away right? I’m not going to make some bold prediction here that they won’t win, because one, I’m a fan and two, I’m not crazy. But I don’t think any of this should come as a surprise to anyone. BYU should win this game well before we reach the 4th quarter on Saturday. I’ll give you my prediction now: BYU 44 Idaho 17.
What I want to discuss is what I want to see on Saturday. I firmly believe BYU is heading for its third straight year of a QB controversy. The only way to alleviate this potential distraction is to either get firmly behind one QB now or hope that one of them takes himself out of the equation. Brandon Gurney reported today in the Deseret News that Jake Heaps is open to redshirting next season. If that happens, I’m happy with that. But if he is not ready to concede the starting role without a fight, then the battle needs to be settled on the field here and now.
So to my previous statement: what I want to see on Saturday. I want to see BYU dominate early like they did against Idaho State. I want to see a clean game where we do not turn the ball over. It’s been done before, just not this season. I want to see four full quarters of intensity, passion, and determination to win this game. To that end, I want to see Heaps get the ball sometime again in the third quarter. I want the coaches to leave in Hoffman and Apo for him to throw to. BYU is paying for Idaho State to be here. I think they deserve to the right to toss the ball for four quarters. I want to see DOMINATION on the defensive side of the ball. The Vandals don’t run very much or very well so the secondary has to step up and play coverage so Van Noy, Kaveinga, and the rest of the D-Line can pressure the quarterback, pick up some sacks, and create some general chaos.
I’m ready for some dominating BYU football – even if it is against Idaho State.
I still feel this is Jake’s job; but as it was so nicely said on the Loyal Cougars website, a QB can still learn his job from the sideline. I think Heaps is learning valuable lessons in adversity, patience, and leadership while watching Riley Nelson perform his job duties better than he had been able to all season. I hope the coaches work with both quarterbacks over the next few months leading up to Spring Practice and that when the time comes Jake can go out and take his job back and be ready for it. But until then, I’ll continue to cheer: Ri-ley-Nel-son! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!