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What went wrong with Cougars defense? ‘It comes down to fundamentals’

BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill also adds, ‘It’s me doing a better job getting our players in a better position to make plays’

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TCU wide receiver Dylan Wright (16) works for extra yards after making a catch against BYU Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas.

LM Otero, Associated Press

BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill is a technician at teaching technique, and his defense, after allowing 584 yards of offense and 44 points at TCU, is back in the lab.

“It comes down to fundamentals and executing schemes the way we need to,” the defensive coordinator said. “It’s me doing a better job getting our players in a better position to make plays.”

BYU/Texas Tech TV

Cougars on the air

Texas Tech (2-2, 3-4)
at BYU (1-2, 4-2)
Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

It’s also on the players to do a better job at doing their job. Attention to detail, including positioning, tackling and communicating, will be the talking-and-doing points for BYU (4-2, 1-2) leading up to kickoff against Texas Tech (3-4, 2-2) on Saturday night (5 p.m. MDT, FS1).

“Technique is a big one,” said walk-on safety Ethan Slade about Hill’s points of emphasis. “We had the right coverages a lot of the times, but we were a little bit off on our technique, and that opened a window for some plays that shouldn’t have been there.”

The Horned Frogs exposed BYU’s flaws and oversights and converted on 12 of 19 third downs.

“Most of it started with alignment and technique,” Hill said. “If we just play our techniques right, I think we are out of a lot of those drives. We’ve got to get better on third down.”

Like TCU, Texas Tech will play without its season starter at quarterback and could possibly be without backup Behren Morton, who left last week’s game against Kansas State with a shoulder injury. If he can’t go, freshman Jake Strong will make his first start.

BYU has seen this movie before. TCU backup quarterback Josh Hoover threw for 439 yards and four touchdowns during his freshman debut.

“It doesn’t matter who shows up to play quarterback, you better be ready to play great and execute what we do. That’s the key,” Hill said. “It’s going to come down to how we execute, how we run our coverages and the pressure we get on the quarterback. Either one of those guys is capable. It doesn’t matter who it is, we have to be ready to play.”

Hill will get injured cornerback Kamden Garrett back in the lineup Saturday but is still waiting on last year’s 12-game starter at safety, Talan Alfrey, to make his season debut.

“We are hoping for Texas,” Hill said. “The other (safeties) have done a really good job of picking up the rifle and stepping up and doing a good job.”


BYU Cougars football defensive coordinator Jay Hill talks to journalists after practice at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.