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Making the Grade: Cougars crush Bengals

BYU did what it needed to do Saturday, send seniors out with one last home win.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Offense B

While the passing game had its struggles, the offense as a whole had a terrific game thanks to the running backs and offensive line (9.2 ypc).  The offense dominated the line of scrimmage and was able to light up the score board.  The offense did not control the ball for much of the game, only 24 minutes compared to Idaho State's 35, however this showed off the offense’s style.  Go Fast, Go Hard!  The offense was however below 50% third down conversion against Idaho State (6-13) and 4-6 in the blue zone.

Much will need to improve upon before the Cougars head to South Bend, specifically the passing game.  This offense will need to be able to throw and run the ball effectively, if Notre Dame forces them to be one dimensional, BYU will lose again in South Bend.

Quarterback C-

Saturday was not the passing day that most had hoped for (including Hill).  While the snowy, wet, and cold first half weather conditions were not ideal, Saturday proved that Hill has got some serious preparation left before the team heads to South Bend this week.  While he only attempted 19 passes (11 of which were complete, 58%) Hill did throw several questionable passes 3 of which were picked off by Idaho States defense.  Hill did have two touchdown passes, one to senior tight end Richard Wilson and the other a terrific 36 yard pass to Skyler Ridley (also a senior).  Hill did have some success running the ball 6 times for 62 yards.

Cougar fans are hoping that Hill will play in South Bend like he did against Houston and Boise State, not like he did against Idaho State.  To do that he will have to not force throws (especially in bad weather) and hit his receivers in stride since many of his passes on Saturday were behind his receivers.  Taysom Hill is an athlete and a competitor, expect him to look at his mistakes from Saturday’s film and come out against Notre Dame ready to prove himself on a national stage.

Running Backs  A

The run game had a lot of success against the Bengals defense on Saturday. Yes it was against a lesser opponent but the running backs really showed off their depth.  BYU rushed for 421 yards on the day, which is just 44 yards off the schools record for rushing yards in a game (465 yards, 1958 vs. Montana).  7 different running backs carried the ball, led by Adam Hine (141 yds, 10 carries, 1 TD) Jamaal Williams (131 yards, 13 carries, 3 TD) Algie Brown (61 yards, 8 carries, 1 TD).  Both Hine and Williams had explosive runs of 64 and 70 yards respectively.  The running backs did what it had to, run over Idaho State.

This unit will have to be explosive again come Saturday as Notre Dame will be no push over, especially against BYU’s run game.  Don’t expect BYU running backs to make as many big plays as they did against Idaho State, however they will need to have the same depth they did Saturday if they hope to win in South Bend.

Receivers  B-

Hard to really judge receivers when there were only 23 passes thrown all game.  Ridley was the headliner of the group as he had 4 catches for 86 yards and an amazing Hoffman style diving touchdown catch.  The rest of the output from the receivers with the amount of passes they had to work with was sub-par.

There were several receivers out Saturday: Falslev, Mathews, Friel, Mahina, and Apo.  If BYU hopes to have a chance in South Bend receivers will need to be able to make plays when the ball is thrown their way.  Receivers need to be able to put pressure on the Fighting Irish’s secondary to help take pressure off Hill and BYU’s running backs in the run game.

Offensive Line B+

This unit did what it was supposed to vs. the Bengals, pound them into the ground.  This offensive line's effort led to one of BYU’s most productive rushing games ever (421 total yards).  The O-Line did a good job responding after struggling against Wisconsin.  Yes Wisconsin is light-years beyond the opponent that Idaho State was, however the offensive line needed to build their confidence up before going back into the Midwest to play against another smash mouth defense.  Notice any false starts?  Safe to say there were not many.  There was only one sack on the day for 5 yards.

This unit has much to prove after struggling against good defensive lines such as Utah’s and Wisconsin’s.  Saturday’s game against the Fighting Irish will prove an important benchmark for where this offensive line is as they will face a formidable foe.

Defense  A-

BYU’s defense put together a solid outing on Saturday by continually stifling Idaho State's offense after they had got the ball on 3 BYU turnovers.  BYU’s defense forced an interception which was returned for a TD and held Idaho State to just 287 yards total offense.  However the Defense did struggle against Idaho State in the blue zone as they let up 3 scores on all of Idaho States attempts (1 TD, 2 FG’s).  The defense also allowed the Bengal’s Daniel McSurdy to rush for 114 yards on just 14 carries (including a 69 yarder).

Defensive Line  A

The Defensive Line was lead by a Bronson Kafusi interception for a TD in the 2nd quarter of the game.  Also Remington Peck, Logan Taele, and Michael Doman had all of the defenses sacks on the day.  Eathyn Manumaleuna also added a tackle for a loss.  The only fault one could find in this unit would be the aforementioned 114 yards the Bengals McSurdy gained on Saturday.

Notre Dame will have a strong, athletic offensive line.  The D-Line will need to wreak just as much havoc on Saturday against the Fighting Irish in order to put pressure on the quarterback.

Linebackers  B+

BYU’s linebackers had a decent day on Saturday.  Uani' Unga, Kyle Van Noy, and Sae Tautu all contributed with tackles for loss.  Van Noy also recovered a fumble.

This unit will need to be tough against the run in South Bend and be able to make plays behind the Fighting Irish’s line of scrimmage.

Secondary  B+

This unit did a good job of holding Idaho State’s passing attack to only 128 yards on the day.  Mike Hague, Kai Nacua, Michael Davis, and Craig Bills were the defense’s four top tacklers on Saturday.  The secondary also accounted for 2.5 tackles for a loss.  Most importantly the secondary kept everything in front of them as the Bengals longest completed pass on the day was 16 yards.

If the secondary is able to keep Notre Dame’s receivers in front of them and not get beat on big plays the defense will stand a great chance against the Fighting Irish’s offense on Saturday.  Key to the secondary’s game plan on Saturday should include forcing at least one turnover.

Special Teams  A

Adam Hine had a solid day as he had 2 returns for 72 yards including a 40 yarder.  Cody Hoffman returned several punts alongside Ridley for 49 yards total.  Sorensen was good on his only FG attempt and Arellano did a terrific job punting (47.8 yard average, 67 yard long).  The special teams played great as they consistently gave BYU great field position.

Special teams are usually an important key to winning in big games, Saturday will be no different.  The special teams will need to be consistent in providing the team with good field position and Sorensen will need to be perfect on his PAT’s.  A runback from Hiné wouldn’t hurt either.