BYU’s defense should set the tone for the season, starting Saturday against the USF

Is it cruel to say that the success of the BYU season lies in the Cougars’ defense?

Mostly not.

If the BYU defense finds a way to force a turn, put pressure on opposing QBs and legitimately stop running and off the field, it would be a huge help to offensive coordinator Aaron Rodrik and the attack that appears loaded.

The task of making a defensive statement begins Saturday in Tampa when the Cougars would prefer a win over the University of South Florida.

The main point of interest is how Cougar defenders chase, chase, press and make an impact on Baylor’s transfer quarterback, Jerry Bohannon.

It was Bohanon who looked like a statue behind Baylor’s big offensive line in Waco last season and eventually led the Big 12 champion to a comfortable 38-24 home win over BYU.

In that game, Bohanon didn’t have to do all the work because Baylor ran the ball effectively – 47 holds for 303 yards. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 231 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, a pick by BYU linebacker Payton Willgar on the goal line.

But here’s the dirty case. Using offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes’ effective protection and zone management schemes, Bohannon was never fired. BYU had only two treatments for the loss. It was a defensive failure in the face of a very good Baylor attack.

Bohannon should feel more pressure Saturday in the Bulls’ colors than he did in the Baylor uniform. The first thing BYU can do to apply this pressure is to stop running.

Can they do that?

It’s not just a matter of the week, it’s about the season.

Just who will be the BYU champions in defense who reach Bohanon, apply pressure, and get some sacks?

We can start with linebackers Ben Bywater, who was the Cougars’ main striker in the loss to Baylor, and Keenan Bailey, who never played against Baylor. Pewter ended up being the season’s leading contender for the BYU defense.

Then you have to think about the other stress plays that will come from insider Gabe Summers, who can play DE or DE Tyler Batty.

Summers, 6ft 295lbs strong, is sneaky with a great first step. He has very good feet and his technique has greatly improved. His skill is to hack and devour two blocks if possible.

Patty, 6-5, 245, is the closest thing BYU has to a sack artist. He has the ability to speed, drive and chase to do edge games.

Frequently injured Lorenzo Foatia interrupted his career in BYU repeatedly, but after graduating from high school, he was one of the best recruits in the defensive line that the Cougars signed alongside Jerez Tonga.

The dark horse that surprises BYU fans is Fisher Jackson, a 6-5 defensive end, 245 pounds from South Jordan. He has the tools to be an effective rusher and he’s been great at fall camp.

Bohannon. Does he play an untouched statue or does he feel some heat?

Defense coordinator Elisa Toyaki knows Bohannon can be effective, even in a very different attack than he ran at Baylor.

Toyaki told reporters on Tuesday that Bohannon is working with very different schemes than Baylor.

“But quarterback? We’ve watched the movie Baylor to see his talent and his athleticism and what he can do. This game is going to line the charts with a bit more of what South Florida does, but we’ll look at what he’s done athletically.”

When Bohannon came to South Florida from Baylor last spring, he immediately made a leadership impact with the team, according to Jeff Scott, head coach of the United States Forces. In his first 10 drills with the Bulls, he completed 80% of his passes and had a completion rate 13 percentage points higher than any other QB player, including last year’s starter Timmy McClain.

On the day Scott Bohanon appointed the initiator, McClain hit the transfer gate.

“It’s definitely accurate,” BYU linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa said. “He’s a great midfielder as we saw last year, a great runner, so it will be a great challenge to take on.”

With the BYU schedule, ranked the 13th most difficult in the country, all enthusiasm about the improved acumen of Tuiaki’s defense will be severely tested.

It all begins on the East Coast on what will surely be a wet, humid afternoon at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the USF.

The bulls replay each meaningful start to the attack but McClain and a tight end.

We’ll find out real quickly if USF protection and game play is close to what Bohanon had at Baylor.

Tuiaki and his company’s work for them was cut short.

May be the whole season depends on it.

BYU linebacker Ben Bywater is interviewed during BYU Football Media Day in Provo on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Bywater was the leading contender for the Cougars in 2021 and is back for more in 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Desert News


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