Tale of the Tape: Wyoming at Brigham Young

·4 min read

Sep. 23—Quarterback

Quality quarterback play from Andrew Peasley has been a key part in Wyoming's turnaround over the past three weeks, with the Utah State transfer completing 68.7% of his passes since the season opener. Brigham Young's greatest strength is behind center, however, with Jaren Hall — who has been projected as high as a top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft — leading the offense. Hall has thrown for 827 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception through three games, while posting a 68.8% completion rate.

Advantage: BYU

Running back

After battling injuries early in the season, the Cowboys' one-two punch of Titus Swen and Dawaiian McNeely seemed close to full strength last week. The pair combined for 144 yards and a touchdown, while averaging over 5.5 yards per carry in a win over Air Force. The Cougars have 456 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season, but the bulk of this production came against South Florida in the season opener. They've only rushed for 144 yards and two scores in the two games since.

Advantage: Wyoming

Wide receivers and tight ends

It's difficult to gauge who has the edge in terms of the receiving corps, with BYU missing its top two wideouts — Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney — for most of the season. If these two are available and healthy, the Cougars should have an edge in this department. If not, however, UW's recent success in the passing game could give the Pokes an advantage. After recording two drops in the season opener, the Cowboys' receivers and tight ends have only dropped two passes in the last three games, according to Pro Football Focus.

Advantage: Push

Offensive line

UW's offense line has been a pleasant surprise this season, as a group that lost three starters has only allowed two sacks in four games. It appears veteran offensive tackle Frank Crum is making progress after missing last week with an injury. He said on Wednesday night's Craig Bohl Radio Show that he will play against the Cougars. BYU's offensive line has NFL talent, something that was on display as the Cougars racked up 312 rushing yards on an average of 8.4 yards per carry against USF. However, they've been held under three yards per attempt each of the past two weeks.

Advantage: BYU

Defensive line

Similar to receiver, injuries have cast some doubt on the outlook for BYU's defensive line. Defensive ends Tyler Batty and Earl Tuioti-Mariner didn't play in last week's 41-20 loss at Oregon, and their presence in the pass rush was greatly missed, as the Cougars failed to take down the quarterback once. UW, meanwhile, will enter Saturday with plenty of confidence after holding the nation's top rushing attack to 337.5 yards below their season average.

Advantage: Wyoming

Linebackers

After utilizing three linebackers to slow down Air Force's triple-option based offense, the Cowboys will go back to its two-linebacker set this weekend. Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa have been solid for the past three weeks, although BYU's offense will test them with its balance. The linebackers are the strength of the Cougars' defense, with Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili likely to take their talents to the NFL level in the near future.

Advantage: BYU

Defensive backs

The Cougars' secondary was solid throughout the team's 2-0 start, giving up a total of 309 yards while holding their opponents to 60.3% passing and 5.3 yards per attempt. Last week was a step back, though, as Oregon's Bo Nix completed 13 of 18 passes for 222 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Still, defensive backs account for six of BYU's seven highest defensive grades on PFF for the season. The Cowboys rank sixth in the Mountain West in opponent's passing efficiency, and they'll be tested by arguably the most talented quarterback they'll face all year.

Advantage: BYU

Special teams

Special teams has been an undoubted strength for Wyoming, with sophomore kicker John Hoyland's 42 points accounted for being tied for the most in the country. He's 11 of 12 on field goal attempts, with a 55-yarder against Tulsa marking the longest successful attempt in the FBS this season. BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd has missed three of his seven attempts this year, and has yet to try a field goal from over 40 yards.

Advantage: Wyoming

Final score: BYU 38, Wyoming 27

Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at jcriswell@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.