The analytical quandary that was BYU’s 2020 defense (247sports.com)
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.