The TRUTH about BYU's Defense

The analytical quandary that was BYU’s 2020 defense (
I’m going to break it down using this write up by Jeff Hansen, writer 247 sports
:Argument for Hopper-
"You have heard all of the debates about BYU’s defense this year and there is a strong likelihood that you fall on one of two teams: Team Lay Off Tuiaki or Team Tuiaki Needs To Adjust ASAP. Typically, there is not a whole lot of middle ground among BYU fans when it comes to their evaluation of defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki’s defensive scheme this year. The Cougars kept teams off the scoreboard, but they struggled to get off the field. The Cougars buttoned down and forced stops when they needed to but in certain circumstances, they left the offense with little margin for error.

Now that the season is over, analytic outlets like Football Outsiders, FEI and BCF Toys have finished running their analysis of BYU’s defense this season. The results? Well, they are as torn as BYU fans are. (All stats in this article are from those three outlets and include games between FBS vs. FBS teams only with garbage time eliminated.)

BYU gave up just 1.25 points per drive this year, a mark that was good enough for fifth in the country. That’s exceptional defensive performance that puts BYU in the same realm as teams like Northwestern, Iowa, Cincinnati and Marshall. Those were all teams who had great seasons in 2020. BYU also had a great season and that’s the kind of defensive production that a team has to have in order to win 11 games in a season."

Argument for the rest of us and why CC walked all over us:
BYU’s defense wasn’t always pretty, however, particularly along the defensive line. BYU’s stuff rate (the percentage of run plays that are stopped behind the line of scrimmage) was among the worst in the country at 109th. BYU gave up 2.74 land yards per standard down (the raw, unadjusted line yards allowed per carry that is given up on standard down and distance). That mark was 86th in the country. It wasn’t just the run game that struggled either. BYU’s 4.5% sack percentage on standard downs was 83rd in the country. The defensive line struggled mightily by most metrics this season.

What you might have missed:
It was the back end of BYU’s defense that carried the Cougars throughout the season. The Cougars gave up just 6.3 yards per pass attempt this year, a mark that was 10th best in the country. That is not a statement that most BYU fans are accustomed to hearing, but that was what we saw from BYU this year.

So what does this all mean?
BYU’s Tuiaki is all about stopping big plays from happening but that robs our defense of being stout on the line and pressure on the QB (as Tom L. once said, “our LBers are 5 yards back so they don’t even engage RBs until they are past the line of scrimmage”.) Another way to put it is what this author calls…Death by a million cuts. (UCF vs. CC outcomes)

If BYU were to play Utah, we would lose, even this year because of they way our defense was set up. That is the future of BYU defense.

I think we have all said if we had a couple of more days to have been able to prepare for CC we would have won that game too. As it was, we lost by one yard. We gave up 22 points to a very potent offense as well. That’s it. Held them to 3 touchdowns less than they were accustomed to.

With that said, we are BYU, not Alabama. Our DBs are mostly slower and less talented than Alabama’s and many other teams. We have to protect against the big plays differently. So, we give up some of the running game. It is what it is. We rely on our offense to win games.

I get questioned a lot when I bring up observations on games solely based on game statistics in Basketball. That’s what you are doing here. So, looking at the big picture, we are 11-1 with a top 5 defense. But in this era of football, offenses win the games. We weren’t prepared mentally or physically for that CC game on offense. That’s my take on it.

Pretty much sums it up and what it basically means is time of possession was limited for the offense to put points on the board and specifically stated, they were required to do more with their opportunities on offense. Now translate to the weakened schedule that we were required to play because of COVID and add 5 or 6 P5 teams to the mix, that will traditionally have bigger, and stronger OL’s and better running backs and you begin to see the problem with Tuiaki’s defensive scheme. Given the premise that they try and do the same thing next year, I predict the top numbers we had on defense will take a huge hit and given the fact that we will be breaking in a new qb, the end result will be a big drop from only one loss. That is what I see for next year, unless BYU becomes more unpredictable and variant on the defensive side

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Except for Hopper we all know that the easy schedule is the only thing that allowed our defense to be ranked 5th. Blowing off the below average level of competition and just pointing to the 5th ranked defense is silly and not smart … and argumentative which is exactly what Hoppers goal is.

The article is great. But it also hides the fact that several games this season were taken over by Sitake on the defense and Tui was sent up to the booth. If we allow Tui to sink or swim on his own, BYU wouldn’t be a top defense at all. Next season, barring Covid issues again, we will all see the defense against better competition.

Well that is a pretty good consensus of what most of us see-too bad we have to burn another year to prove it

Ya know, we also lost Chris Wilcox, an NFL DB, exacerbates our pass defense even more. We were finally good on our dbs, which has always been a weakness on defense but having said that, If Tuiaki would be creative on defense and mix things up, we have the personal to be very good but therein lays the rub…he is not creative and good offensive coaches will walk all over BYU and to be honest, they don’t have to be great coaches, they just have to look at film of CC or Utah and they will know how beat BYU

I can’t fault the db’s at all, which I almost have to stutter saying it, because of past experiences. BYU was able to exploit a subpar OL with a 3 man rush with an occasional 4th backer blitz package. It just doesn’t work against a good OL that gives a qb 5 seconds to find an open receiver. Even the best db’s can’t cover that long