BYU Football: Grading the Cougars' Win over Georgia Tech
The BYU Cougars hosted Georgia Tech for homecoming, and came away with a 38-20 win. The Cougars were even more dominant than the score would suggest, as Georgia Tech scored a meaningless touchdown against BYU's backups with less than a minute remaining.
The Cougars got big plays from all sorts of players and units on the team, for one of their most complete overall performances of the season.
Let's take a look at each facet of BYU's team and see how they performed against the Yellow Jackets.
Taysom Hill showed that he can be a solid passer, giving the type of performance that Cougar fans were expecting more frequently from him before the season began.
Hill went 19-27 for 244 yards and a touchdown. Furthermore, he avoided the interceptions that have popped up from time to time this season.
While Hill's number may not seem all the impressive, he put together an efficient performance that is exactly what offensive coordinator Robert Anae needs from Hill in his up-tempo, run-heavy system.
Most of Hill's throws were on the mark, with the exception of one underthrow to a wide-open Adam Hine in the flat. Other than that though, Hill's accuracy was far and away the best it's been all season. His 45-yard touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman was a thing of beauty, with nearly perfect placement against tight coverage.
Hill also used his legs as usual, garnering 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also had another touchdown run that was called back on a highly questionable holding call.
Hill, didn't have a monster performance, but his efficiency was exactly what the Cougars needed from him.
The BYU running backs had 117 yards and two touchdowns on a combined 36 carries.
Jamaal Williams was once again the workhorse of the Cougars' offense, carrying 17 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. His 34-yard run late in the game helped up what was otherwise a very pedestrian rushing total for him.
While Williams found the going tough for most of the game, he played a vital role for the offense, keeping the defense honest and opening up the passing game.
Algernon Brown continued his impressive growth, gaining 24 yards and a touchdown on just three carries. His ability to carry the pile is becoming more and more evident, and is sure to earn him an increased role in the offense.
Paul Lasike and Adam Hine didn't do much out of the backfield for the Cougars, but also weren't used much this game. It was surprising to see Lasike have such a small role in the offense, but that could have just been part of Anae's overall game plan for Georgia Tech.
The one area where the running backs disappointed was in catching passes. The offensive game plan got them wide-open several times, but they struggled from collective butterfingers, dropping more passes than they caught.
Not a big game for the running backs overall, but they filled their role well enough.
Collectively, the receivers and tight ends had 17 receptions for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Star receiver Cody Hoffman led the unit, hauling in five passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown grab showcased why he's one of the best in the country, as he made a diving catch on a deep ball while the defensive back engaged in some defensive interference (which BYU of course declined).
J.D. Falslev continued to be the grittiest player on the field, notching 6 receptions and 69 yards on routes that often took him right into the heart of opposing defense. There may not be a tougher receiver in the NCAA than the diminutive Falslev.
With the exception of Hoffman's 45-yard TD grab and a Ross Apo deep route that ended with a pass interference penalty against the Yellow Jackets, the receivers were asked to play a pretty conservative game, which they did well. The number of drops continued to decline as well, a promising sign for a unit full of potential.
The O-line is improving, but they were still the weakest link on the team against Georgia Tech. After putting together a decent first half, they were unable to adjust the Georgia Tech's second-half defensive adjustments and struggled mightily.
The O-line allowed three sacks, for all of which the blame falls squarely on their shoulders. They did better overall allowing Taysom Hill some time in the pocket, but did poorly with blitz pickups, especially in the second half.
As far as the running game goes, the O-line just got outplayed by Georgia Tech's D-line, plain and simple. They struggled to open gaps, and often let defenders into the backfield before Jamaal Williams had a chance to even get going.
While there were frequent signs of improvement, the offensive line still has a ways to go.
The D-line hounded Yellow Jacket QB Vad Lee all game long, making it difficult for him to orchestrate any lengthy rushing plays.
Defensive ends Bronson Kaufusi and Remington Peck were absolutely splendid at setting the edge and taking away most sweeps, pitches and rollouts. The two combined for 13 tackles, two of which were for a loss.
The reason the D-line doesn't get a higher grade is that they struggled getting push on runs up the middle, constantly allowing runs of 4-8 yards up the gut. That may have been by design however, as their main job on the day was to prevent major rushing plays around the edges, and they fulfilled that assignment magnificently.
While absolute perfection is an unattainable goal, the BYU linebackers got about as close to it as possible. That may have very well been the best performance by a linebacker corps in all of college football this season.
Overall, the Cougar linebackers registered 33 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, a fumble recovery, an interception and a defensive touchdown. This marks the third game in a row that BYU linebackers have put points on the board.
Uani' Unga and Austen Jorgensen were all over the field for the Cougars, with each of them notching at least 10 tackles (11 for Jorgensen and 10 for Unga). They also had 1.5 tackles for loss between them.
Alani Fua only had two tackles, but had the biggest play of the night. His 51-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter broke open a game that had stagnated at 24-13. That play is what sealed the game for BYU.
Kyle Van Noy continued his dominant form, and further asserted his claim to being the best defensive player in the country. KVN had six tackles, three of which were for loss and two of which were sacks. He also set up BYU's other sack.
That other sack belonged to Spencer Hadley, who had a solid outing in his first game back after a three-game suspension for violating BYU's Honor Code. He had 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a quarterback hurry and recovered a fumble.
BYU's linebackers have been the strength of the team all season, and this game was no exception. The Cougars' linebacker corps has a very good claim to being the best in the country.
The secondary's strength isn't pass coverage, as witnessed by a 49-yard reception that they gave up to Michael Summers in the first half. They also continued to play with quite a large cushion on the line of scrimmage.
What the BYU secondary does excel at, however, is being incredibly physical and hitting, and this game was no exception.
Safety Blake Morgan led the entire team with 11 tackles, nine of which were solo tackles. Cornerback Robertson Daniel had five tackles and forced a fumble.
Daniel Sorensen, the heart and soul of the secondary, had a relatively quiet game (by his standards anyways) but still managed three solo tackles and a pass breakup.
The Cougars' secondary may not be the fastest, but they hit as hard as any secondary in the country. Georgia Tech found that out when they tried to go to the passing game much more frequently than they usually do.
BYU's special teams was a mixed bag against Georgia Tech. Nobody exemplified that better than punter Scott Arellano.
On the one hand, Arellano had a punt downed at the one-yard line, another one that was nearly downed at the one-yard line, and a booming 57-yarder that completely changed field position. On the other hand, he also shanked a punt that gave the Yellow Jackets position near midfield and had another punt that was partially blocked.
Kicker Justin Sorensen had a solid outing, going 1-2 on field goal attempts, with the miss being a 52-yarder that just barely went wide. He also had several kickoffs that went for touchbacks, including one on which he started 15 yards further back than usual due to a penalty on the previous scoring play.
Adam Hine continued to be electric as a kick returner, with a 39-yarder that had a shot at going all the way. However, he was also tripped up by the ankles short of the 20-yard line on one kickoff in which he had a lot of open space in front of him.
The BYU special teams was solid overall, but was somewhat inconsistent.
The Cougars came out with a game plan to stop Georgia Tech's potent triple-option offense, and executed it beautifully. It was clear that BYU was dictating the course of the game from the very beginning.
On offense, the coaching staff came out with their most balanced game plan of the season, and it worked fairly well. With the Yellow Jackets loading up to stop the run, BYU utilized an effective short-range passing game that kept the chains moving.
The one knock on the coaching staff is that they failed to adjust to Georgia Tech's halftime adjustments, and the offense stagnated as a result. They needed to institute schemes better suited to deal with the blitz-heavy packages Georgia Tech rolled out in the second half, but failed to do so.
Overall, this was one of the best coaching performances for BYU this season, but needed better in-game adjustments.
The Cougars got above-average performances from all of their units, but weren't as dominant as they could have been. With the exception of the linebackers, each unit had at least one or two small areas in which they underperformed.
While a similar performance will likely suffice this weekend against Houston, the Cougars need to kick it up a notch overall if they want to be ready for some of their bigger games later this season. The adjustments needed are relatively minor though, as this was one of BYU's most balanced performances overall this season.