The Cougars are headed to the islands to play the Warriors of Hawaii. This will be the regular season finale for the Cougars, and honestly, who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii in December? Here’s a look at what to expect in what should be an exciting matchup.
Well, this certainly isn’t the 10-win team that the Warriors fielded in 2010. They still have some fight though, especially at home, where they are 4-2 this season. The Warriors offense features a prolific passing attack, which ranks 10th in the country, averaging 311 yards per game. Their 101.9 rushing yards is only good enough for a ranking of 110th. Pretty much, you can think of this team like a beefed up New Mexico State. They are likely to put up more of a fight than the Aggies, but a look at common opponents pretty much tells the tale. The Warriors lost a close game to Utah State (BYU won). They beat Idaho 16-14 (BYU won 42-7). They beat New Mexico State 45-34 (BYU won 42-7). Finally, they lost a close game to San Jose State (BYU won 29-16).
With this game, BYU has the opportunity to finish out the season a perfect 5-0 against WAC teams – that’s good enough for a share of the WAC championship right? All kidding aside, BYU has shown that they are more than capable of handling the WAC this year. The Cougars will be looking to close the regular season with a strong showing against the Warriors, and again in the Armed Forces Bowl, which would enable them to complete a 10 win season.
Keys to the game
Jake Heaps. It has been said that Riley Nelson is well enough to play, and is cleared to play. In fact, it’s been said that the decision about whether or not to play will be left up to him. I don’t think there is any way that Riley Nelson doesn’t start this game. However, I do believe that Jake filled in admirably last week, and especially showed some new escapability skills that he probably picked up in his weeks watching Riley from the sidelines. I will be excited to see Jake have the opportunity to come in late in this game (especially if it means the Cougars are already resting on a comfortable lead).
Receivers. I still don’t think we’ve had a “stellar” game from this crew this season. Hoffman has shined more than most, and Apo, Falslev, and DiLuigi have had some great moments, but I would really love to just see someone go out there and have a monster game against Hawaii – whether it’s Nelson or Heaps at QB. The Warriors typically give up 235 passing yards – and the Cougars are above average competition for the Warriors.
Defense. The Cougar defense has faced quite a few pass-dominant teams lately, and I have been impressed at what they have been able to do to stop them. Bronco usually focuses on taking away the run, and forcing teams to be one-dimensional, relying on the pass. In the games against teams that typically rely on the pass, the Cougar defense has shown that it can take away the pass when needed. I think recent experiences will help against the Warriors, but they are likely to still put up some points, even if the game gets lopsided in the Cougars’ favor.
The Warriors are tough, especially when playing at home – I hear that Honolulu flight is a real bugger – but I think the Cougars will beat both the jet-lag and the Warriors this weekend. BYU 49, Hawaii 20