If last year’s 45-42 score of this match-up is any indicator, a lot of points are going to be put up by both the CSU and BYU offenses and the game will be in the hands of the defense to make stops at critical times.
Max Hall, BYU’s quarterback is arguably the most talented passer the Rams defense will face this season. In three games thus far, the three-year starter has passed for 944 yards and six touchdowns, while completing 69.3 percent of his throws.
“He’s very experienced and a great leader for them. He’s really that guy that makes that thing go. He’s a poised quarterback,” defensive coordinator Larry Kerr said.
CSU (3-0, 0-0) knows first-hand of Hall’s poise after a 45-42 loss at Hughes Stadium last season. Giving the ball back with just less than two minutes left on the clock, Hall led the Cougars to a game-winning drive, finding tight end Dennis Pitta in the end zone with 22 seconds left.
“That was a frustrating game for us because we didn’t come up with a play,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to credit BYU’s offense because they’re good at what they do.”
Coming into Saturday’s game however, the Ram’s defense feels confident it can stop the potent Cougar offense if the game becomes a shootout.
“I feel that when it comes down to the wire we can step up to the challenge,” sophomore linebacker Mychal Sisson said.
BYU (2-1, 0-0) is coming off of a 54-28 loss to Florida State at home, a game in which Hall was pressured by the Seminoles defense causing him to throw three interceptions. CSU also plans on pressuring Hall to get him off his rhythm.
“Like any quarterback, if you can get to him, make that pocket tight and get a hit on him every now and then, they’re less effective,” head coach Steve Fairchild said.
“You give him time, he can eat a defense alive,” Sisson said. “You can’t just let him sit in the pocket.”
Hall likes to share the ball around. Against Florida State he completed passes to nine different receivers, and the week before against Tulane, he hit 10. His favorite targets are receivers Mckay Jacobson and O’Neill Chambers along with Pitta, a tight end.
CSU’s secondary gets a needed boost for covering these receivers with the return of cornerback Gerard Thomas. The sophomore’s re-emergence in the starting line up should allow cornerback DeAngelo Wilkinson to slide back to the nickel spot.
Thomas will spend the day covering his cousin, Chambers.
“I’m very excited. I get to line up against my cousin, so that’s a big one for me,” Thomas said. “We’re all pretty hyped for this game.”
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.