Three keys: TCU-BYU

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

PROVO, Utah -- The rain has come and gone here at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but the gusting wind appears to be staying.

If the weather continues to be poor, that will benefit TCU, which has played more than half of its games in poor weather this season and come away victorious.

Here are my keys to tonight’s pivotal Mountain West matchup:


1.Get out early: Last year, BYU found itself in a big hole early, which caused the Cougars to throw the ball a lot. It wasn’t able to get into a good offensive rhythm and TCU was able to get a lot of pressure in the backfield. If BYU can get out to an early lead, it can get into its offensive gameplan and perhaps even force TCU out of its comfort zone and where quarterback Andy Dalton will have to pass downfield.

2.Establish the run: TCU has one of the nation’s best rushing defenses, so it will be important that BYU shows early that it feels like it can run the ball with confidence. BYU running back Harvey Unga has been tremendous this season and the Cougars will need him to have another good game to keep the offense balanced.

3.Limit the turnovers: Max Hall has 10 interceptions this season, but he’s been flawless in the past two games. The Cougars will rely on him not to be rattled by the pressure of TCU and make smart throws. Hall needs to get some confidence early to have an effective game.


1.Get to the quarterback: Disrupting the backfield is TCU’s thing, but it will be important to get early pressure on BYU quarterback Max Hall and give him flashbacks of last season. Jerry Hughes had four sacks against a good BYU offensive line a year ago and might have even more success against a piecemeal line that has been banged up all year.

2.Use Jeremy Kerley: One of the biggest keys to success a year ago was using receiver Jeremy Kerley in the Wild Frog formation. BYU has shown already this year that it struggles with a running quarterback and with Kerley and Dalton having the ability to run will create another weapon for the Frogs.

3.Don’t lose Dennis Pitta: If TCU can’t get to the quarterback, Hall is going to be looking for his security blanket in tight end Dennis Pitta for a big game. Pitta is the best tight end in the country and could create havoc for the Frogs if they allow him to run wild in the secondary.