Normally, I have a ton of witty writing at the start of these things. I regale you with interesting story or anecdote that brings you to bales of laughter. Or hay of laughter. Or something. I don't know. All I know is I just had WAY too much to do anything more than C+P what the BYU bro sent over. His name is Jake Welch and he writes for VanquishTheFoe.
Many thanks to the great people over at VanquishTheFoe for their continued awesomeness. Here is the Q+A.
1. BYU has suffered several injuries over the past few weeks. At which positions (besides QB) have these injuries had the biggest impact?
I'd say that the injury to Craig Bills was probably the most substantial. If you watch any of BYU's first four games you will see #20 flying all over the field, just straight up murdering fools. He's been sidelined with a concussion and the defense misses his intimidating presence.
2. How is the BYU offense better under Christian Stewart? How is it worse?
The offense under Christian Stewart is much more vertical through the passing game. While Stewart is a capable runner, he would rather attack a defense through the air with the intermediate to deep routes. Taysom had a tendency to take off running (which usually led to good things) or check down to the easy short routes than take a shot downfield.
While the offense might be a little more pass happy, it's not nearly as consistent. Against UCF and MTSU it took a little too long for the offense to get going. The Cougars like to go fast so if the offense isn't moving the ball, they will leave the field after 3 plays with only 47 seconds having run off the clock.
3. BYU has a great run defense but surrenders over 250 passing yards per game (albeit with a solid 6.3 yards per attempt). Is this because opponents give up on running the ball and instead focus on passing?
I think it's a combination of a few things, with the main factor being that the BYU defense is built to stop the run. They will play with seven guys in the box that are committed to gap integrity. They will attack the line of scrimmage with their linebackers but play their corners about 7 yards off the ball, giving opponents plenty of room to throw.
4. BYU gave up 42 points and 55 points in back-to-back losses to Nevada and Boise State. What went wrong? How can Cal replicate Nevada's and Boise State's performances?
Both of those contests went well for BSU and Nevada because they attacked BYU's safeties and forced them to make plays in the open field. BYU's defense is built on not giving up big plays and keeping everything in front of them. They will concede the 5-10 yard passing plays as longs as they don't give up the 50+ yard plays. You'll see that Boise State would take these short to intermediate routes but they spread the field in a way that created 1-on-1 situations with a linebacker or safety. Cal should have the scheme and athletes to replicate such situations.
5. Name one player on offense whom Cal fans should keep an eye out for.
Cal fans that also follow their rugby team (a squad that has lost to BYU in the Rugby national championship game three years in a row) should be familiar with running back Paul Lasike. The big fella from New Zealand converted to American football a couple years back and he has really started to blossom this season. His offensive production aside, Cal fans should be cautious of his ability to hurt people. In the last five games he's sent four players to the sideline after delivering a crushing hit. And he's on offense. Think about that for a second.
6. Name one player on defense whom Cal fans should keep an eye out for.
Bronson Kafusi had a rough start to the season but he has come on strong the last few games for the Cougars. He made the transition in the offseason from the defensive line to outside linebacker. The move has been rather difficult for the senior linebacker but he's looked a lot more comfortable in the last two weeks as he's collected four sacks in the last four games.
7. BYU has struggled since losing QB Taysom Hill, only beating non-Power Five teams and an FCS school. What is your prediction for the game? How do you think it would be different if Hill were playing?
I have a feeling that BYU will keep in close but Cal's offensive firepower will be too much for the BYU defense in the second half. Christian Stewart will be able to move the ball but it would be enough to match Jared Goff. I'll call this one 35-24 Cal.
8. How's our old friend Tom Holmoe doing at BYU?
Tom is doing better than ever. While he didn't exactly make a great football coach, he has worked wonders for BYU as the athletic director. He's been able to navigate BYU through the rough waters of independence with some stellar scheduling (BYU faces Nebraska, Michigan, Missouri and UCLA next season) and the dude goes HARD when it comes to his Halloween costumes.
9. Whom do you want to punch in the face?
The last time I was in the Bay Area I got a speeding ticket for going 10 MPH over the posted limit, which is ridiculous considering the state of California has an unwritten mandate that everyone is expected to drive at least 85 MPH at all times. I'm not usually an angry person but I want to give that California Highway patrolman a piece of my mind and my fist.