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BYU 6, Utah State 3: Cougar defense dominates, offense finding footing

BYU's defense continues to amaze, while the offense is still trying to put the pieces together.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The BYU Cougars are giving me ulcers. And it's kind of fun, in a weird way.

Sure, it is hard to see the offense struggle. But, Taysom Hill did go 24-36 through the air and led the offense to 380 yards. The offense worked, by and large, actually. Dumb penalties hurt as much as perceived ineffectiveness. But I'll get back to that.

Because this defense, y'all. My goodness. I'll just throw some numbers at you:

  • BYU has held 12 straight opponents to under 300 yards of offense. Last year, 111 of 120 teams averaged over 300 yards of offense.
  • The Cougars held Utah State to 246 yards and 3 points. The Aggies averaged 455 yards and 28 points per game in their first five games. That's -209 and -25, respectively. That's an entire half's worth of yards denied by BYU's defense.
  • On run defense, BYU held USU to 40 yards when the Aggies have averaged 191.
  • BYU's defense has allowed touchdowns to opponents in 2 of 6 games, including the defense giving up just three points in the last three games. The last touchdown BYU's defense allowed was on a 39-yard field, which was over 13 quarters ago.

It's hard to remember watching a defense that has so many players consistently combining discipline with individual playmaking. Kyle Van Noy, Ziggy Ansah, Spencer Hadley, Brandon Ogletree, Jordan Johnson, Preston Hadley ... they all impress.

The only weakness is getting beat on deep routes, but Chuckie Keeton couldn't deliver tonight (though some credit should go to Ziggy and KVN for helping that to happen. It's hard to be accurate on deep balls when you keep getting pounded into the turf). Sean Mannion and Oregon State have connected on many deep balls this year, so next week will be interesting.

As for the offense, it felt to me that Taysom Hill was making the best out of everything, and his teammates and coaches kept screwing it up. (Cue John L. Smith.) A drive was halted because Matt Hadley, a freshman on BYU's sideline, stepped onto the field and pushed a Utah State player. Seriously. It was like the football gods needed to teach Taysom some lessons or something.

When BYU forced Keeton to fumble on the Utah State nine-yard line, the Cougar offensive line committed a holding penalty on the next play. Then coaches betrayed Hill, too. After getting pegged with a 1st & Goal from the 20, Hill got about 14 yards on three plays. On fourth down, the coaches decide a fake field goal is better than playing regular offense, despite the fact that the offense was working on that possession.

The only time forces didn't converge against Taysom was when he engineered the first-half-closing drive, with much thanks to Cody Hoffman. (And with how good Hoffman is and how much BYU's offense can struggle, how do defenses lose him?)

So, we watched a 6-3 win. It was ugly. But it's much better than losing.

On we go to vanquish the foe ...