BYU’s Win Can’t Hide Glaring Weakness
As expected, BYU rolled over Weber State 45-13 on Saturday. What was unexpected was the way the Wildcat defense held its own along the line of scrimmage.
After struggling to run the ball between the tackles last week against Washington State, the primary focus of the BYU offense this week was to improve its run blocking.
However, the Cougar offensive line once again had its troubles and was unable to move the Wildcats from the FCS off the ball for much of the afternoon.
The Cougars did finish the game with 225 yards on the ground, but closer inspection reveals that that stat is deceiving.
Wide receiver JD Falslev got 53 of those yards on one carry around the right side, while the three BYU quarterbacks combined for 52 yards on QB draws, wildcat plays and scrambles.
BYU’s three primary running backs on the depth chart — Michael Alisa, David Foote and Iona Pritchard — combined for just 76 yards. Alisa had 53 yards for the game, but got 21 of those on one play in which he was able to bounce it outside. Take that run away and Alisa ran the ball 10 times for just 32 yards — a 3.2 yard average.
David Foote also averaged just 3.2 yards per attempt and finished the game with 16 yards on five carries. Pritchard, meanwhile, managed just seven yards on the ground on two carries. Not exactly the kind of performance that BYU was looking for after averaging just 3.0 yards per carry last week.
There were high hopes for this offensive line coming into the season. The big news coming out of fall camps was that these guys had dropped weight and gotten in better shape. But so far the improvement in fitness level hasn’t translated into better play on the field from this group. The fact that a Big Sky team could stymie the BYU running game between the tackles is alarming.
Mark Weber and his linemen need to have a gut-check meeting and decide who wants to play this season and who wants to sit the bench. One might be able to point to the fact that the starters along the line had limited opportunity to work together during fall practice as an excuse for their poor performance in week one against a PAC-12 team, but there is simply no excuse for not dominating a defense from the FCS.
The inability to run the ball between the tackles against both Weber State and Washington State is a big cause for concern as BYU now goes on the road to face the defenses of both Utah and Boise State in a five-day span. If BYU thought that moving the Wildcats or Cougars off the line of scrimmage was difficult, wait until they get a load of the Utes and Broncos.
It’s becoming apparent the offensive line could be the unit that keeps BYU from having a special season if it doesn’t make dramatic improvement in its run blocking in pretty quick order.