The 2014 BYU football season started off on a good note as the Cougars went across the country to beat the UConn Huskies 35-10 at Rentschler Field.
Although the score looked good and the offense clicked for the most part, there are some improvements BYU really needs to make. Penalties abounded including multiple late hits and multiple holds. It seemed that the only thing that could stop the offense were the penalties, which totaled 15 for 150 yards.
The game started out very well for the Cougars as Taysom Hill took the offense 15 plays for 75 yards for a rushing touchdown. Hill looked composed on the first drive, completing all his passes except one throw away, and sliding instead of taking hits. Hill also had a beautiful back shoulder throw to Mitch Mathews for a big first down.
On UConn's first offensive play, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere put his helmet on the ball and forced a fumble that was recovered by Bronson Kaufusi. On the very next play, Hill hooked up with Matthews for a 26 yard touchdown pass.
After a short kick and some big plays given up by the defense, the Huskies finally threatened in the red zone. Kaufusi and Graham Rowley combined to bring some pressure and force a high throw by QB Casey Cochran, which was intercepted by Craig Bills.
The scoring picked up again a couple drives later when Hill connected with Adam Hine for a 7 yard touchdown pass on the first drive of the second quarter.
On the next BYU possesion, Matthews fumbled for the first BYU turnover of the season. UConn took advantage of two big penalties, specifically a pass interference call on Craig Bills on 3rd and goal, with a touchdown run by Josh Marriner to cut the lead to 21-7.
The Cougars responded by Hill leading a 5 play, 69 yard touchdown drive. The drive started with a good kick return by Adam Hine. Hill then connected with Terenn Houk, then Colby Pearson, and then BYU posted two positive running plays -- the big one being a 12 yard pitch from Hill to Paul Lasike. The Cougars finished the drive when after scrambling, Hill connected with Houk again for a 35 yard touchdown. Houk had to tip toe down the sideline and dive for the pylon to complete the score.
The third quarter was a stalemate with both teams driving but not coming up with any scores.
The fourth quarter was exciting, but eventually became much ado about nothing. UConn was able to move the ball at will with both of their drives ending with the defense holding inside the 10 yard line. After the first defensive stand, Hill led a 6 play, 90 yard drive capped off by Taysom running it in himself.
Overall, the offense was able to move the ball efficiently. Hill was 28-of-36 for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 11 carries for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense collected 513 yards and scored 35 points. The defense played well and clamped down when needed, giving up only 10 points on 355 yards.
The biggest problem was the penalties, a whopping 150 yards worth of them. This included big plays on offense being called back and drives being kept alive by ill-timed penalties. Alani Fua's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was one, and Dallin Leavitt put a late hit on the quarterback on a pass that BYU intercepted. Those were two of the biggest penalties the Cougars committed.
BYU next plays at Texas on Saturday, September 5th at 5:30 pm MDT.
If the Cougars can clean up the penalties, they will be able to compete in the big games, especially going to Texas next week.