The BYU defense established themselves early, controlling the game through the first half, and the offense came up clutch in the 4th quarter leading to true freshman Jake Oldroyd nailing his first career field goal, a 33-yard game winner.
Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon was repeatedly under pressure, hit, and sacked throughout the entire night. That pressure forced 2 interceptions, one coming late in the fourth quarter by Kai Nacua. The Arizona rushing attack wasn’t any more effective, being held to -12 yards on 13 carries in the first half. BYU didn’t allow a drive of more than 30 yards until the 2nd half.
On the other side of the ball, BYU’s tandem rushing attack of Algie Brown and the returning Jamaal Williams wore down the Wildcat defense. Williams was especially able to exploit big holes and bounce off tackles on his way to a big game. He finished with 162 yards on 29 carries.
Taysom’s first full game since 2014 was tame compared to what Cougar fans have been accustomed to. He wasn’t always able to beat defenders around the edge and was more willing to avoid contact and run out of bounds than in games past. He was more comfortable in the pocket and showed off his passing ability. He went 21/29 for 202 yards and 1 TD. He also rushed for 37 yards.
The most glaring weaknesses for the Cougars were on special teams and their inability to sustain drives. BYU took an early lead on a 24-yard field in the 2nd quarter that was nearly blocked and wobbled through the uprights, and later missed an extra point wide left. The missed PAT loomed large as BYU was later forced to go for two and missed. After a late Arizona touchdown, Arizona led 16-15.
Taysom Hill led the team down the field and gave Jake Oldroyd the chance to attempt his first career field goal to win the game.
And then this happened.
Kalani Sitake’s first game showed a willingness to take risks that didn’t happen often under Bronco Mendenhall. BYU was more apt to go for it on fourth-and-short and tried a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter in lieu of the missed extra point. The play calling was also more aggressive across the board and it paid dividends on the last drive of the game as the Cougars went 69 yards in 1:22.
All in all, BYU is 1-0, let’s party.