As the bowl season continues, we get to watch two teams that have really been under the radar all season. BYU features a defense that ranks in the top ten in both yards allowed (3) and points allowed (5). The Cougar defense is fundamentally sound and doesn’t have much flash but does carry plenty of substance led by Ezekiel Ansah.
The Aztecs are riding a seven game winning streak which features a 21-19 win over #19 Boise State who beat the Cougars 7-6 earlier in the season. The Aztec defense is led by fast rising SR DB Leon McFadden.
Notes by Eric Galko and Chad Dinkins
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU – #47, 6’5, 270
Ansah is as raw as you will see since he only started football in 2010. Ansah has great speed off the edge out of a two-point stance and three-point stance. Ansah has demonstrated the ability to get off blocks by opposing offensive lineman with ease. Ansah’s athleticism enables him to chase down ball carriers and quarterbacks from the backside with great closing speed. Ansah has shown that his IQ is increasing by knocking down 8 passes as well as 13 TFL’s.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU – #3, 6'2, 220 (JR)
The active and versatile linebacker, Van Noy is more of a defensive lineman than linebacker for BYU a majority of the time. He shows great patience and body control, showing the ability to sink his hips as a speed rusher and his smoothness laterally. He has great lower body strength to explode initially as a rusher, and has very active hands to separate with a bunch well. On top of that, he flashes short area coverage ability, and his hips allow him to turn and break smoothly. If a guy like Shea McClellin can be a 1st rounder, Van Noy should be viewed more highly at the next level, if and when he declares.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State – #88, 6'6, 255
The athletic tight end that can do a bit of everything, Escobar works in-line as well as being moved around the formation. He has great size and the frame to bulk up further if the team hopes to keep him in line and further develop his already adequate blocking ability. The athletic seam catcher as of now, he could be the difference in a game where the pass rush will be hot on quarterback Ryan Katz.
Leon McFadden, DB, San Diego State – #2, 5’10, 185
McFadden has lived up to the hype of being the MWC Defensive Player of the Year with his ball hawking and big play ability. McFadden is an athletic corner that is very good in coverage with 3 INT’s and two which have been returned for touchdowns. He is a physical corner that has the ability to press wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and ability to run with them once they are released.
Uona Kaveinga, BYU, OLB – #4, 5’11”, 230
The former USC transfer lacks ideal bulk and size to play a strong side linebacker spot at the next level, as he struggles to shed blocks on the interior and when he flows to the ball. But he dips well in coverage, is a smooth athlete to his drops, and shows great vision and timing in his breaks on the ball and in pursuit in the run game. He may not be an ideal draft pick at linebacker for teams, he'll likely being a special teams contributor and possibly a nickel linebacker in the future.
Braden Hansen, OG, BYU – #76, 6’6, 305
Hansen is an athletic guard that played center this season for the Cougars. Hansen has light feet. Hansen plays well with his hands and once engaged is ability to control inside the pads to turn the defender. Hansen demonstrates a high level of football intelligence.
Others to Watch:
Alec Johnson, San Diego State, C, #71, 6’3”, 300
Brandon Ogletree, BYU, ILB, #44, 5’11”, 225
Riley Nielson, BYU, QB, #13, 6’, 200