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Defense Shines, Offense Slogs as BYU Beats Sam Houston in Season Opener

Sam Houston v Brigham Young Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

BYU’s offense put up a lackluster performance, but the defense owned the day as BYU opened the Big 12 era with a 14-0 win over newly minted FBS team Sam Houston.

After scoring a TD on its opening drive, BYU’s offense didn’t score again until early in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, BYU’s new-look defense under Jay Hill was up to the task and wasn’t threatened by the Bearkats the entire night.

Cornerback Jakob Robinson had two interceptions, including one in the endzone after an ill-fated fake punt by BYU gifted SHSU starting position in the redzone, and BYU held SHSU to 185 total yards. The Bearkats may be a terrible team, but it was a welcome breath of fresh year after BYU had one of the worst defenses in the country. BYU mixed pressures, alignments, and coverages to keep the opposition out of scoring position.

Kedon Slovis had an uninspiring 145 passing yards on 20/33 passing, but did have two rushing TDs on the ground. The story of the night for the offense and the glimmer of hope was true freshman running back LJ Martin. The El Paso native came into the game in the third quarter and had 91 rushing yards on 16 attempts. Martin showed great vision, footwork, and burst that could give this offense something to build on.

Kody Epps dressed but sat out with an undisclosed injury and Keanu Hill was limited as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a similar role next week versus SUU, but BYU will need both of those guys back healthy asap if they want to give this passing game some juice.

BYU next welcomes SUU, who is coming off a narrow 24-21 loss to Arizona State. The game kicks off at 1:00 MT on ESPN+.