BYU take care of business with a 24-16 win over Arizona in the season opener. BYU could have been on its way to a blow out after opening up a 21-3 lead, but Arizona’s offense was able to move the ball and seized some second half momentum to make it a game.
BYU will have a lot of things they need to clean up prior to Utah, but there were bright spots players and coaches can build on. Below are the top performers from BYU’s win over the Wildcats.
Neil Pau’u, WR — 8 Receptions, 126 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 9 Passing Yards
With both Nacua brothers out at WR and Gunner Romney going down early, Pau’u was by far Jaren Hall’s favorite target of the night and hauled in 126 of Hall’s 198 passing yards. Neil missed a catch on the first drive when he slipped, which forced a BYU punt, but he was dynamic after that and was Hall’s safety blanket. His 67-yard TD catch in the first half helped break the game open and showed that he isn’t just a possession receiver. Many BYU fans kind of forgot about Pau’u in the WR room after the addition of the Nacua brothers, but Saturday’s effort showed that he may be on his way to being BYU’s #1 wideout.
Tyler Allgeier, RB —17 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD, 7 Receiving Yards
Allgeier picked up right where he left off last season, breaking tackles and showing speed to get around the edge. Allgeier doesn’t need to necessarily need to be the bell cow with Lopini Katoa also in the backfield (who got 9 carries), but BYU may need to run Allgeier 20+ versus Utah. Allgeier looks like a future NFL running back and will be a focal point of the offense the whole season as long as he stays healthy.
James Empey, Center
Arizona’s new defensive coordinator is known as “doctor blitz”, but the Wildcats defense only picked up one sack and didn’t get it until the fourth quarter. Empey is a big part of that, as the veteran center is in charge of calling out pass protections for the offensive line. Empey is one of the nation’s top centers and is a huge asset for an offense breaking in a new QB.
Jaren Hall, QB — 18/28, 198 yards, 2 TDs, 36 rushing yards, 9 receiving yards
Hall started the game 1/6 but he settled down and finished the first half with 148 passing yards. He only threw for 50 yards in the second half, but he made some really nice throws and showed command of the BYU offense. Hall only had 4 rush attempts — the fifth one was a sack — so it will interesting if BYU runs him a bit more next week to try to open up the Utah defense some. Regardless, it’s nice to know that Hall doesn’t need to rely on his legs to be successful. His 39-yard run, however, reminded us that defenses will always need to account for his legs when planning for him.
Keenan Pili, LB — 17 tackles, 1 sack
Pili led all players with 17 tackles and was around the ball all night. BYU’s linebackers are considered the defense’s strongest unit, and Pili anchored that group throughout the night. BYU brought a bit more pressure and it resulted with a sack from Pili. Pili will be one of BYU’s most valuable players throughout the season.
Chaz Ah You — 9 Tackles, 1 PBU
BYU’s defense had trouble making open field tackles, but Ah You was one of the few players that came up with key open field tackles when needed. Ah You looked like a playmaker on the back end of the defense, coming up with timely stops when the defense needed them. Many of BYU’s guys blended in on defense, but Ah You truly stood out as a game changer and anchor for the defense.
Ryan Rehkow, Punter — 5 Punts, 240 yards, 48-Yard Average
No one really likes to see the punter, but Rehkow showed a huge leg and flipped field position a handful of times. His 59-yard punt late in the game pinned Arizona inside the 20, which he did three times on the night. BYU’s defense can give up yards, but having a weapon like Rehkow will help BYU win the field position battle more times than not this year.