by Rick Istvan | BYU’s Defense led by senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi needs to be a “chink,” in the Knights armor.
“Whiteout” coming to Florida
Florida might not get snow, but a whiteout is coming. On December 22nd at 5 pm, BYU will play UCF at FAU stadium. BYU has only worn the “whiteout,” uniform three times and they are undefeated when wearing them. Some people might think BYU was in the whiteout uniform against Coastal Carolina, but they weren’t. The facemask that is worn with the whiteout uniform is a royal blue facemask. The facemask BYU wore against Coastal Carolina was the “Giff” facemask. The “Giff” is a gray facemask that pays tribute to the Gifford Nielsen era. This was during the late 1970’s of BYU football. Against UCF, BYU will have a royal blue facemask which will make it the official “whiteout,” uniform. The Cougars are hoping the “whiteout,” uniform will help them blanket UCF.
Oh, what a warm Knight
Utah might get four seasons, but Florida doesn’t. On December 22nd the temperature in Boca Raton is estimated to be 73 degrees with humidity. On the same date in Provo Utah, it’s estimated to be 29 degrees with rain/snow mix. BYU is not only going to have to get past the weather, but the Knights offense is hot as well. UCF is No. 2 in total offense, 585.6 yards per game, and No. 8 in scoring offense, 43.0 points per game. The Knights also average 85.7 plays per game, which is the most in the FBS, due to their fast-paced style. Another issue the Cougars face is UCF’s quarterback Dillon Gabriel is a lefty. Playing against a left-handed quarterback is always a challenge to adapt to. Even though BYU is the Cougars, they still need to adapt to the Knights’ “southpaw.”
Can the defense win the bowl game?
Isaiah Kaufusi and the BYU defense have played well all season. The Cougars’ defense is ranked #14 and is in the top 10 in two categories: the fewest yards allowed per game (308.9), and two the fewest points allowed per game (14.6). The Cougars are also #10 in total defense and #3 in scoring defense. BYU’s defense is also 19th in rushing defense with 113.2 yards allowed per game. They are 24th in passing defense as they allow 195.7 yards per game. No matter what conference you’re in, these are pretty impressive stats. UCF has a very fast and high powered offense. It is arguably the best that BYU will face this year. Coastal Carolina gave the Cougars some problems and even though BYU was able to adjust, the Cougars learned football is a game of inches. BYU won’t make the same mistake against the Knights.
UCF’s QB Dillon Gabriel signal calls for an offense that throws for 373 yards per game. According to NCAA.com Gabriel, as an individual, is first in the FBS in this category, and UCF, as a team, is second behind the Florida Gators. However, one of the main reasons Gabriel has gotten to this point has been due to one special receiver. UCF senior receiver Marlon Williams opted won’t be playing against BYU as he has opted out for the rest of the season. Williams who had 71 catches for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will surely be missed. The Knights might be a man down, but they aren’t out. They still have a top receiver in Jaylon Robinson and a pair of top-notch running backs in Greg McRae and Otis Anderson.
BYU needs to give their opponent F.I.T.S
Against Coastal Carolina BYU had a sack, fumble recovery, tackle for a loss, and no interceptions. Against San Diego State the Cougars did a little better. BYU was able to get three tackles for loss, force two fumbles, and recover one. They also had an interception and a sack. This was enough to beat SDSU but it won’t be enough to beat UCF. In order to win against the Knights, BYU needs to have F.I.T.S all day: Fumbles, Interceptions, Tackles for loss, and Sacks. The Knights run 85.7 plays a game, the best way to beat them is to keep their offense off the field. Another issue BYU had against Coastal Carolina and SDSU was a time of possession. The Cougars’ defense needs to give Zach Wilson and the BYU offense as many chances to score as possible. The longer the Heisman hopeful in Wilson has the ball, the less Gabriel and the potent Knights do. BYU has been seeking the recognition they deserve. If the Cougar shoe F.I.T.S for the BYU defense in Boca Raton, they will wear it and gain that recognition they deserve.
What will Boca Bowl bring?
This is typical offense vs defense football. It’s really that simple. UCF is ranked 117th in total defense. In nine games the Knights’ defense has had 721 plays ran against them. With those 721 plays, the Knights have given up 4,263 total yards. UCF’s defense gives up an average of 5.91 yards per play and 473.7 yards per game. The Knights have also allowed 37 touchdowns in nine games as well. BYU is ranked 10th in total offense while UCF is 117th in total defense. UCF is ranked 2nd in total offense while BYU is ranked 10th in total defense. Also, UCF and BYU have both played against the University of Houston. While the scores were pretty similar, the game stats weren’t. Wilson had a much better game against Houston’s defense than Gabriel did, and BYU’s defense played better against Houston than UCF did. Now, this may mean nothing. However, it seems like BYU might have the upper hand. If Wilson and BYU’s offense can put points on the board and the Cougar defense can put a dent in the Knights offensive armor, BYU hands down wins. However, if BYU’s defense doesn’t become a chink in the Knights armor this might be an offensive shootout.
Score Prediction (if BYU’s defense shows up):
BYU 49 UCF 24
Score Prediction (if BYU’s defense doesn’t show up):
BYU 42 UCF 49
Featured image courtesy Jaren Wilkey | BYU Photo