Utah gets all the attention for beating Stanford, but BYU handled its business last week as well, dispatching Georgia Tech 38-20. The Cougars were effective in the passing game and stifling on defense, harrassing Tech’s triple option defense all afternoon long. However, BYU will face a stiff test this week against an undefeated Houston team on the road. Houston has easily dispatched most of its opponents, scoring at least 22 points in each of its five victories and averaging nearly 40 points per game. Will BYU continue its three game win streak on the road? Or will Houston’s high-powered offense be enough to keep the Texas-based Cougars undefeated? Here’s a position-by-position look at this week’s matchup and which team will have the edge heading into Saturday’s game:
Taysom Hill continues to come into his own as a passer and has gradually improved with every game this season. The sophomore racked up 244 yards on 19-of-27 attempts and threw one touchdown while adding a rushing touchdown and 65 yards on the ground. After struggling through the first four games of the season, Hill is 36-of-57 for four touchdowns, 522 yards and only one interception in the last two games. The coaches have also reigned in his rushing attempts, hoping to strike a more balanced offensive philosophy. Hill is stil hovering around a 47 percent completion rate and has only a seven to five touchdown to interception rate, but there are signs of progress.
Houston freshman phenomenon John O’Korn has been dominant so far, passing for 11 touchdowns to only one interception, averaging 226 yards per game and throwing multiple touchdowns in three of five games. However, those statistics need to be put in perspective as Houston has played Temple, Rice, Southern, Memphis and UTSA. However, BYU can’t afford to take him lightly, even in a match up where BYU will have superior athletes on defense.
Jamaal Williams looks fine after his concussion injury a few weeks ago, rumbling for 86 yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech. Williams continues to shoulder the load for the Cougars offense, leading the way with nearly 109 yards per game and 543 yards total. Algernon Brown seems to be the coache’s favorite as a the guy who takes over when Williams needs a breather and has 136 yards and a touchdown this season.
Completing Houston’s young backfield along with O’Korn, sophomore Ryan Jackson has been the workhorse back for the Cougars so far this season. Jackson has 391 yards and four touchdowns this season. However, Jackson struggled mightily last week against Memphis for only seven yards and zero touchdowns, a disturbing pattern as his yards per carry and yards per game have fallen off every week since the season opener against Southern. Sophomore Kenneth Farrow is Jackson’s back up and has 216 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
Cody Hoffman finally came alive against Georgia Tech, a welcome sight for a BYU team that is still struggling to find a go-to receiver. Hoffman had 99 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, his best performance since the rivalry game against Utah. Hoffman is still considered the most talented receiver on the team, but after a huge performance against Utah State, Mitch Mathews leads the team with three touchdowns and is second to Hoffman in receiving yards. As Hill continues to improve as a passer, the receivers have benefitted, a good sign for the rest of the season.
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