I'm a season ticket holder at BYU. Grew up in Los Angeles, though, and I still think that 14 year run of Top 5 finishes under Bobby B is one of the all-time greatest sports runs ever. Anway, here's some of my thoughts on the game Saturday (I'll be sitting 16 rows up and can't wait!).
1. BYU has won 10 games three years in a row, and last year expectations were high, especially after destroying UCLA 59-0 early in the season. However, a young defense eventually broke down later in the season and got worked in two losses at TCU and Utah (both teams had amazing teams last year). BYU brought back most of that defense and upgraded the secondary with a number of solid JC transfers and you're seeing the results of a new experienced and quicker defense in the first two games thus far. BYU can be attacked with deep routes and a mobile, running quarterback (which I think Ponder is and that is my one worry going into this game).
2. You stop Max Hall by getting pressure on him. Ever since the TCU game last year, he has been extremely senstive to pressure. He was a mental mess in the Utah game last year. However, one thing to worry about is the fact that as the Oklahoma game went on, he seemed to get more and more stable mentally. I don't know if he turned the corner and will be settled in for the rest of the season, but FSU must get pressure on Hall to compete.
3. A lot of big teams come into Provo thinking it's going to be a backwoods small stadium and the "home" advantage will be minimal. BYU hasn't lost a home game in 3 years, and LaVell Edwards Stadium can get really loud. It sells out every game at about 65,000 fans, which is small by some standards, but the way the stadium is constructed, it gets really, really loud. I've been in the Rose Bowl to a packed house, and I honestly think an excited croud in LES is louder. The altitude can be a killer, too, especially for teams coming from sea level. FSU will need to rotate guys in and out or it will catch up with them in the second half.
4. BYU's receivers and tight ends aren't really that fast. McKay Jacobsen has some wheels, but nobody else is BCS-fast. I don't know why more teams with speed in the secondary and linebackers don't crowd our line and bump the receivers. Our entire offense is timing and crisp routes. If FSU will play physical with the receivers at the line, then they can disrupt the entire offense.
5. BYU is very, very physical. FSU will have to respond to this. Our linebackers and safeties enjoy hitting, and they are good at it. A lot of teams outside the conference aren't ready for this, thinking BYU is a bunch of soft white kids fresh off missions. They're really physical.
6. FSU's secondary looked confused in the Miami game. I immediately emailed a friend and said, "We're going to eat that secondary alive." I didn't see their second game, but that will need to be fixed. I honestly think they should just man-up and bump the BYU receivers. If they drop into zone, they're going to get run all over the field again by an offensive scheme much more advanced than Miami's was in that first game.
7. This ties back to #1. Ponder needs to work with his feet and scramble. BYU defenses have traditionally gotten frustrated (and beaten) by scrambling quaterbacks. Ponder is the key for me. If he's sharp and scrambles at timely moments in the game, he'll draw the linebackers down and give us fits. We don't have recovery speed on defense. We have to play positionally sound, and those scrambling QBs tend to disrupt our schemes and expose our lack of speed.
Anyway, this should be fun. I can't wait to have Bobby B on the sidelines! What a legend! If FSU comes ready to play a legit Top 10 team, then this could be a great, great game going either way. If they come in thinking they'll intimidate a lowly MWC foe, then they're in for a long, long evening and a possible beatdown (a la UCLA last year).