Making the Grade: Cougars take down Wolf Pack

After a sluggish first half BYU comes away with the win due to a punishing run game that rolled up most of it's 394 yards in the second half.

Offense  B

BYU’s offense struggled through a rough first half on Saturday.  Coaches made the necessary adjustments to the offense and the Cougars came out with a much better second half and a punishing rushing attack.  Still the Cougars were 6-13 on 3rd down efficiency (that will need to be improved upon before the bowl game).  While BYU’s passing attack was not much of an impact, the offense did not turn the ball over and went 2-2 in blue zone scoring.

The offense has to fine tune things before the bowl game.  The O-Line will need to work on cutting down the penalties and Hill will have to be much more of threat with his arm for BYU to come out of San Francisco with a win on December 27th.

Quarterback  B+

Saturday was a tale of two Taysom’s.  In the first half he was well, highly ineffective.  The offense was not able to put any points on the field and just came out flat.  In the second half however Hill was fairly efficient as a runner and to some small degree as a passer as well.  Hill’s impact on the game through the air was minimal, however it was consistent.  Hill was responsible for 98 yards on 14/18 passing (78 %) and 2 TD’s.  While he did not provide much of an offensive threat with his arm he did not commit any turnovers and he threw two TD’s.  Not so much fun to watch your QB throw for less than 100 yds but maybe better than seeing him throw a costly turnover which costs BYU the game.  Hill’s impact was felt in the run game as he simply could not be stopped by the Wolfpack.  He ended the day with 26 carries (in case you are wondering that is a lot for a QB) for 154 yards (5.9 ypc) and a 1 TD.  With over 1200 yards on the season Hill is simply a great running QB.

BYU will face a much better opponent in their bowl game.  Hill will have to be able to make plays with both his arm and his legs.  Hill will need to be able to make more plays with his arm that extend the opposing defense down field as they play more and more off to respect the pass.  The bowl game is Hill’s opportunity to create a lot of buzz and optimism going into next season, nothing will boost that higher than a win in San Francisco.

Running Backs  A

Jswaggdaddy (aka Jamaal Williams) was a monster in the second half!  Williams rushed for 188 of his 219 total yards on the day in the second half alone!  Williams would finish the day with 15 carries for a whopping 14.6 ypc average, including a long 66 yard jaunt soon after the 3rd quarter started.  Williams flashed speed and power today as he was able to do a lot on an average amount of touches.  Also Mr. jswaggdaddy showed that he has the burst to beat the secondary if he gets a good hole to run through.  3 other RB’s carried the ball 4 times for a total of 21 yards.

The lone suggestion I have for Williams would be to bring it one more time this season to San Francisco.  This offense is at its best when Williams breaks the century mark.  As for the rest of the Cougar backfield, they will need to be able to spell Williams as he is sure to get more than 15 touches versus a PAC-12 team.

Wide Receivers  C+

BYU receivers and Tight Ends were responsible for two very important plays on Saturday.  First, Kaneakua Friel caught a 10 yard pass from Hill for a TD to tie the game at 14 with 6:07 to go in the 3rd quarter.  Second, JD Falslev caught a 3 yard bullet for a TD at the start of the 4th quarter.  Other than those two plays BYU receivers made a very minimal impact in Saturday’s game as they accounted for only 11 catches for 74 yards.

It may have been that the run game was so good in the second half that there was not much need to pass, but for the Cougars to have a shot at winning their bowl game the receivers will have to make an impact and provide a downfield threat to keep their bowl opponents secondary in check.

Offensive Line  B

The O-Line had its fair share of miscues Saturday.  Missed blocking assignments led to 2 sacks.  Also the offensive line had a problem with penalties on Saturday as they looked a bit rusty after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  However you don’t just run for nearly 400 total yards as an offense without the offensive line opening up holes and wearing down the defensive front 7.  Coaches made the necessary adjustments at half time to play to the offensive lines strengths against Nevada.

The offensive line has been a rollercoaster ride all season; this unit has had outstanding performances like Texas and Boise State and poor ones like those against Utah, Wisconsin, and Virginia.  BYU will most likely face a formidable foe in their bowl game that has both a big and athletic defensive front seven.  This unit will need to clean up the miscues so that they consistently open up holes for Williams and Hill to run through and work on their pass protection so that Hill can really go to work with his arm.

Defense  B-

While the defense did have some big plays on Saturday it was plagued by its inability to get consistently get Nevada off of the field and numerous penalties.  Nevada was awarded 7 first downs on defensive penalties alone.  This has to be sharpened up before the Cougars face off against stiffer competition on December 27th.

Defensive Line  A

The D-Line had a much better outing on Saturday as Nevada was held to 104 yards rushing for with a 2.2 average.  The defensive line plugged gaps and let the linebackers make plays against the run.  Bronson Kafusi had a great day against the Wolfpack especially when he recorded 2 sacks in a row; he finished the day with 6 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss.  Big #99 Marques Johnson had his best game of the year as he finished with the game with 7 tackles and 2 tackles for a loss.  Michael Doman also contributed a tackle for a loss.  Also sophomore Logan Taele had an important blocked field goal in the first quarter.  A couple of offsides did however hurt the defense.

The D-Line provided one of its better performances Saturday as they consistently plugged their gaps and made plays behind the line of scrimmage.  This unit will need to repeat this performance in the bowl game, when the D-Line plays well it sets up the rest of the defense to make big plays.

Linebackers  B

BYU linebackers played a big role in stifling the Nevada run game and forcing their offense to be one dimensional.   Uani ‘Unga continues to be a powerhouse in the middle as he finished the game with 11 tackles total.  Kyle Van Noy also had a tackle for a loss and what should’ve been two if it weren’t for a bogus penalty.  Manoa Pikula had a big 12 yard tackle for a loss and has solidified his role as ‘Unga’s heir apparent to the "Mike" Linebacker position.

While the linebackers provided a decent performance on Saturday, they were not at their best.  For BYU to be able to put the hurt on a PAC-12 team the linebackers will need to be able to make plays from sideline to sideline, in both the run and passing game, making plays behind the line of scrimmage and roughing up the opposing QB.

Secondary B-

Cody Fajardo had a decent outing against the secondary on Saturday.  He threw for 259 yards, 1 TD and 1 Interception.  The secondary simply could not cover Brandon Wimberly as he caught 10 passes for 117 yards.  While the secondary never got beat deep they did consistently give up first downs through the air.  Also the secondary was responsible for several holding and pass interference calls.  On the Brightside things could’ve been worse, Fajardo could’ve thrown for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s but the secondary did have a short memory.  Michael Davis even though he was picked on quite a bit, continues to get better.  He finished the day with 6 tackles.  Rob Daniel provided the best play for the secondary as he picked off a Fajardo pass in the endzone to record his first INT of the season.  Mike Hague and Craig Bills finished the day with 9 and 7 tackles respectively.

This unit is resilient; it’s got a lot of work to do and not many bodies to do it with but it has the ability to make a positive impact on the outcome of the game.  The next 26 days will be big for a secondary that has been plagued by injuries this season.  The secondary is sure to be tested against a Pac-12 passing attack.  If the secondary can get at least one turnover I like BYU’s chances in the bowl game.

Special Teams  B-

Arellano continues to punt fairly consistent and Justin Sorensen was perfect on extra points, however that’s about as far as the positive impact that special teams had on Saturday’s game.  Hoffman fumbled a PR that gave Nevada the ball back in the first half and JD Falslev wasn’t able to do much with his lone return of the game.  There wasn’t much going for KR’s either as neither Hine nor Lasike could break a return for longer than 22 yards.

As we’ve seen in other games this season, the special teams has the ability to make a huge impact in games for the Cougars.  The special teams has a lot of control over field position and that’s something that this unit will need to work on going into the bowl game.  Often times bowl games come down to field goals, Sorensen best be ready for a game winning field goal situation.

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