That first half didn't quite cause me to be concerned. Concerned just seems like the wrong word. "Relatively cautious" might be more accurate. Really I think after Bryan Kariya's second touchdown, just before halftime, I was able to almost completely relax. Of course, the second half made me feel much better.
Not sure what it was - probably a combination of the emotional carryover from last weekend, mixed with travel and the hesitant return of Harvey Unga to the offense - but it led to some minor miscues on both sides of the ball by the Cougars and consequently Tulane was able to hang in there for awhile.
Speaking of Unga (3 carries for 17 yards and 1 reception). I felt that the amount of reps he received was approriate even before his hamstring "flare-up." Hopefully it wasn't serious because he seriously needs to get healthy. That shot of him grimacing on the sideline made me a little perturbed. That late block he made wasn't too smart either but oh well. At least in general the team improved dramatically in the penalties department.
The other injury I'm most concerned about is Braden Hansen. Dude was in severe pain and his leg was bent back in a terrifying way. BYU cannot afford to lose another O-lineman, especially one that has proved as versatile as Hansen. The injury to Scott Johnson, could be extreme as well - watching him on the bench reminded me of this. In all seriousness, Johnson also suffered a concussion less than a month ago so he'd better be careful. He might not even play for a few weeks. In other concussion-related news, it was good to see Matt Bauman return to action and record three tackles.
I felt that the defensive player of the game was a toss-up between Terrance Hooks and Grant Nelson. Obviously Jordan Pendleton, Brian Logan, Shawn Doman, Shiloah Te'o, Craig Bills and others made key plays as well. Hooks led the team with four unassisted tackles and also forced the fumble with a viscious hit that led to Pendleton's touchdown. Nelson had two sacks early in the game that set the tone for the defense as a whole moving forward. Generally, the defense was wonderful for a second consecutive Saturday.
On the offensive side of the ball several players were sensational as well. The offensive line was dominant. Terance Brown inparticular blew me away. I commented in the game thread that his block on a DB (during the screen leading to Kariya's TD) was like a Killer Whale playing with some helpless penguin. Hall played well (170.49 passer rating) minus the interception. Jacobson, Pitta, Chambers and Ashworth all had some great contributions. Kariya was fantastic with 2 TD's and averaging over five yards a carry. It was good to see QB Riley Nelson get some playing time as well.
But I thought the best was J.J. DiLuigi: 12 carries for 79 yards (5.9/carry), 2 receptions and 2 second half TD's to match Kariya. Easily his best game at BYU thus far. On one play I distinctly remember him breaking safety Alex Lauricella's (#17) ankles so badly that it was laughable. DiLuigi looked like he had had done him with a Deron Williams crossover.
Overall, an impressive game for the Cougars. Forget about the tentative start, injuries to Hansen, Johnson (and Unga), and Hall's interception, and the game was perfect. Okay, so maybe that's a lot to forget. BYU better not be so tentative next week against the Seminoles. However, I think finally playing at home will get them energized next Saturday. Hopefully the injuries aren't too serious and all three players return ASAP. If BYU is going to compete for a BCS bowl they'll need all three. As for Hall's interception? I think his efficiency will improve at Edwards Stadium as well.
Now, let's get ready for Florida State. Go Cougars!!