Q&A with The Daily Universe
Sports Co-Editor at BYU Scott Hansen gives an inside look at BYU
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 23:10
Utah Statesman sports editor Curtis Lundstrom interviewed Scott Hansen, sports co-editor of BYU’s The Daily Universe on Wednesday for an insider’s look at Friday’s BYU vs. Utah State football game.
Utah Statesman: BYU has been more one-dimensional this season, churning a lot of yards out on the ground and struggling a bit through the air. What do the Cougars need to do offensively against a highly-ranked Aggie defense to come away with a win?
Daily Universe: When you have the type of grind-it-out rushing offense, you have to let it be your bread and butter, so I don't expect to see the Cougars turn away from it. However, the Aggie defense obviously knows of this and will attempt to take away the BYU strength, so the Cougars will need to be efficient enough through the air to force the Utah State defense to cover the receivers and open up the read option a bit more, like they did against Middle Tennessee. The return of Jamaal Williams and Cody Hoffman won't hurt either.
US: Defensively the Cougars have been pretty strong this year, as has been the case for the past couple of seasons. What do Kyle Van Noy and the rest of the defense need to do to replicate last season’s performance against Chuckie Keeton and the USU offense?
DU: Keeton is a special player who has shown he can be as efficient as they come through the air, as well as the ability to tuck it and run. He seems to get better each time he steps on the field, especially with his decision making. The BYU defense is definitely strong, and has specialized in taking away the opponent's run game in the last few years, and I fully expect the same focus in this game, forcing the Aggies to be one-dimensional. I don't think we're going to see another 6-3 final score, as I think both offenses are going move the ball a lot better, but they'll have to earn every yard.
US: There's been some inconsistency on the field so far this season for the Cougars, and a number of off-the-field distractions. All things considered, what is the mood like on campus this week surrounding the football program and the way it has performed through four games?
DU: The fans are unsure of what they have on the field this year. A 2-2 record bears witness to that, as well as a puzzling loss to Virginia to open the year. But a thorough trouncing of No. 15 Texas seemed to restore faith in the team until they were beaten by the team we have in common — Utah. I think the fans have complete faith in Taysom Hill's ability to run the offense, as well as his potential to develop into a complete quarterback, and the fans know the Cougars will be in every game until the end, thanks to their stifling defense, but they're still looking for that one extra player besides Hill to make a big play.
US: Some would argue that this season is one of the toughest schedules the Cougars have ever faced. All opponents this season considered, where would you rank USU on the list of BYU opponents in terms of toughest teams to face?
DU: When you consider the blue-bloods of college football on this year's schedule — Texas, Wisconsin, Notre Dame — it becomes easy for an outsider to overlook teams from non-BCS conferences. But as a BYU fan, you never overlook an in-state rivalry game like Utah or Utah State. Also, while the win over Texas was huge and the meat of the schedule is still waiting in the distance, these other games could be even more important. Utah State is a dangerous team, and I would rank them just below those other three games, on the same level of toughness as Utah.
5. The Wagon Wheel rivalry has been a lot more competitive the past couple seasons. Combined with the Holy War being postponed for a couple of seasons, do players and/or students feel like the Wagon Wheel rivalry is slowly supplanting the Holy War as the perennial state rivalry?
I absolutely think so, but it hasn't been that slow of a process. As soon as Utah State won in 2010, the rivalry jumped to the forefront of lots of Cougar fans' minds. I think this will continue to be a hotly-contested game, similar in style to the BYU-Utah game where the outcome is usually decided on the final possession. It will never replace the BYU-Utah rivalry, but it gives the Cougar fans a different, but just as important, rivalry game to be prepared for. It's nice to have several different rivalries a year.