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Making the Grade: BYU vs Houston

BYU and Houston traded blows throughout Saturdays game and BYU came out the last Cougars standing, now 2-0 vs Texas teams this season.

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Offense B-

The offense had significant struggles on Saturday as the Offensive Line allowed 10 tackles for a loss, which included 8 sacks.  Numerous problems with false starts on the offensive line and the Offense had a interception returned for a touchdown and a safety which gave Houston 9 points.  However the Offense is able to scrap out a B- grade because of their ability to keep the team in the ball game on a night when the defense struggled.  The offense made just enough plays.  Look for the offense to play with a chip on their shoulders Friday night starting with the Offensive Line.

Also suggestion to Anae, stop running the RB option rugby style play.  BYU has ran it several times while in the red zone this season including Saturday on an important 2 point conversion after BYU's final touchdwon.  It does not work. It is always dropped for a loss.  Want to convert a two point conversion in that situation?  Put the ball in Hill's hands and let him make the play, either through the air or with his feet.  He is your play maker.

Quarterback B+

Hill had quite the day on Saturday.  There were some good and bad aspects to Hill's play.  Let's start with the bad, Hill threw 3 interceptions.  These proved to be costly turnovers as first Hill threw a pick six that really gave Houston a lot of momentum.  Next Hill forced a pass to the endzone which resulted in a Houston pick, and missed opportunity for BYU.  Those two interceptions alone accounted for huge momentum swings and a obviously took a touchdown off the board for BYU and added one for Houston.  The other pass was under thrown (because Hill was yet again running for his life) to a wide open Mitch Mathews, had the ball been on the money, would've gone for six.

Now to the good.  Hill finished the night with a passer rating of 161.9, that's monumental improvement from where he was at the start of the season.  He was 29/44 for a 66% completion rate while throwing 4 touchdowns and passing for 417 yards.  Hill's throws are more on the money, he is hitting his receivers in stride and giving them a chance to get the ball.  Hill also ran the ball 34 times for 128 with a 3.8 yard per carry average.  Obviously the coaching staff doesn't want him running that much as Hill himself stated after that he felt as if he played two games.  That's simply too much.  However he was able to do it.  Hill consistently got first downs with his legs and helped extend drives.  Hill's performance also made him the first BYU quarterback to pass for 400  yards and run for another 100 in one game.  Most importantly Hill did something we have yet to see him do.  Play from behind and come away with the win.  Hill's two passes to Ridley during the final drive were nothing short of heroic.  Although he had several picks, Hill gave BYU continued to keep BYU's offense in the game.  .

Next week Hill will have to cut down on the turnovers as BYU will face yet again a very athletic secondary.  During the Boise State game look for Hill to minimize turnovers as the Cougars will be 1) playing at home 2) Hill will have had a week to review film and fix mistakes.  In my opinion Hill has a big game Friday night in Provo, maybe not passing for over 400 yds and running for another 100 but he will have an efficient game that will control the tempo and momentum.

Running Backs B-

Williams looked as if he would've rushed for more than 100 yards in Saturdays game had he not left early with a hip pointer, however before he left the game he ran for 83 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.  Hiné had his best performance running the ball for 12 carries and 55 yards.  Brown and Lasike both struggled to get anything going.  The running backs for the most part were not effective once Williams left the game.  Other running backs need to step up and carry the load.

The running game as always will be important vs Boise State this Friday.  If Williams can go, great this offense is much more potent with him.  If not Hiné, Brown, and Lasike better be ready to rumble.  A solid run game can go a long way to wear down a defense and take the life out of the opponent.  Don't leave it up to Hill, running backs need to play a big role in this weeks game vs. the Broncos.

Receivers A-

The receivers this week showed continued improvement as Hill was able to hit 7 different receivers.  Hoffman had a monster game with 7 catches for 156 yards including a highlight reel worthy touchdown in the 4th quarter in which a Houston DB was draped all over him.  That touchdown would give BYU the lead.  Ridley had his biggest game of the season with 7 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.  Mitch Mathews added 4 catches for 68 yards, Apo 4 catches for 41 yards (including 2 touchdowns, nice to see him step it up!), Falslev 5 catches for 37 yards and Friel with his first catch of the season for 24 yards and Lasike had a reception as well.  What stood out most about the receivers was their big play ability in this game, time and time again receivers came down with big catches that kept BYU in this one.  Most notably were Hoffman's TD catch in the 4th quarter and Ridley's touchdown catch to put BYU in the lead with a little over a minute left.

This offense needs a repeat performance from this unit.  On Saturday they show cased athleticism, speed, good route running, and the big play ability that ultimately wins games.  Look for this unit to have a solid day versus the Boise State secondary.

Offensive Line C-

This unit greatly struggled on Saturday.  Hill was able to escape Hell and lead BYU to a win.  Why do i say Hell?  Because Hill was sacked 8 times and was constantly running for his life, one of which included a safety to a team that has not registered a safety in 21 years.  Hill's total yards rushing would've definitely been higher and he would've been more efficient passing.  BYU's offensive line allowed far too much penetration, especially int he second and third quarters which lead to the Houston defense's 10 tackles for a loss of 69 yards led by linebacker Derrick Mathews who registered 4 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks.  BYU's Offensive Line did not dominate as they should have, they looked unathletic and gassed.  Also BYU had far too many false starts on the offensive line, this could be because of the length of the game (4 hours 7 minutes) but false starts are drive killers and absolutely have to be minimized.  De'Ondre Wesley alone had at least 3 false starts.

Back to the drawing board O-Line.  Look for this unit to come out with a chip on their shoulder after some really sloppy play Saturday.  A good Friday night versus the Broncos would end with very few false starts and a clean Taysom Hill jersey.

Defense C+

Much is to be improved on for the defense during this coming week as they allowed Houston to score 30 points and roll up 483 total yards many of which came on big plays.  However the defense continues to force turnovers.  Most importantly this defense, although it struggled Saturday proved how resilient it is, coming up with big plays when they were needed most.

This unit will need to come out with a lights out attitude versus Boise State if they want to defend their home turf at Lavell Edwards Stadium.

Defensive Line C+

The defensive line didn't make much noise Saturday.  However the Houston Cougars registered only 48 yards on 29 carries for a 1.7 yard per carry average.  Most notable was Houston's ability to pass, O'Korn had far too much time in the pocket to scan the field and find his receivers.  This unit needs to get off the ball quicker and find ways to get to the quarterback more.  The 3-4 defense is designed for the linebackers to make plays but the D-Line needs to fight through blocks and get to the quarterback, either resulting in a rushed throw or a sack.

The D-Line will need to be solid vs. Boise State.  The line sets to the tone for the rest of the defense, if they can control the line it will allow BYU's linebackers to make plays.

Linebackers C+

BYU's linebackers simply didn't get to O'Korn enough.  He was far too comfortable passing and showed why he will become a top passer in the country over the next couple of years.  Linebackers had their chances to make big plays.  Kyle Van Noy had a missed opportunity for a sack on O'Korn where he came too far inside on his blitz and because of this had to arm tackle O'Korn who shedded the tackle and threw to a receiver who took it in for a touchdown.  This is the defenses strongest unit.  They simply have to play better.  The quarterback needs to be roughed up and not allowed to pick apart the secondary like O'Korn did on Saturday.  The bright spots for the linebackers were Spencer Hadley's interception on O'Korns first play of the game and Fua's game winning interception.

Come back with a fury on Friday boys, this defense needs you at your best!

Secondary C

The secondary was flat out shredded on saturday.  O'Korn picked them apart all day.  However this is to some degree to be expected, why?  Because BYU's secondary does not have the athleticism and speed to cover athletic speedy receivers like Houston's when the quarterback has all day to pass.  This unit let up 435 yards through the air and four touchdowns including 3 big plays.  This unit has to know that pressure won't always get to the quarterback and they will be put in many one on one situations where they gotta come up with a big play.  On the bright side Sorensen had a big pick and Robertson Daniel and Mike Hague each registered cornerback sacks.  The sack by Hague was early in the 4th quarter for a loss of 15 yards which forced Houston to kick a field which kicker Richie Leone missed.

This secondary will be tested against Boise State, whose offense seems to usually have success through the air against BYU's secondary (with the exception of last year).  Look for this unit to come back and focus on minimizing big plays by keeping receivers in front of them and taking better angles in pursuit.

Special Teams C

As special as this unit has been their efforts on Saturday was not their best showing.  While Hiné did well in the return game (2 returns 67 yards, including a 47 yard return to start the second half) and Sorensen was 2 for 2 on FG's the special teams seemed to struggle.  First kickoff team allowed a 95 yard return for a touchdown.  Also Falslev let a couple of punts that appeared to be ones that should have been fair caught to bounce within BYU's 10 yard line.

This unit needs to play to their game changing ability that Cougar fans everywhere know they are capable.  In games where field position becomes the main factor of the outcome of the game, special teams is vital.