Seven times in Saturday's 41-17 win at Georgia Tech the BYU football offense started a drive within 60 yards of the Yellow Jacket goal line.
All seven of those drives resulted in points.
Coincidence? Absolutely not.
"We weren’t working with long fields," said BYU senior quarterback Riley Nelson after the game. "We were working with short fields and I think defense and special teams allowed us to win this game. We fully expected a dogfight and it was, but we had short fields too many times and they had long fields. We consider ourselves fortunate to have this game turn out the way it did."
Much of the credit for the Cougar edge in field position goes to the BYU kickoff team and specifically junior returner JD Falslev.
"I thought altogether we played really well," he said. "On special teams, we did a good job getting field position, which is key. Georgia Tech’s offense is a high-powered offense and they hold the ball a long time, so we had to take any opportunity we could get to get the field position going our way."
The Cougars averaged 37 yards per return, a dramatic improvement over the 22.7-yard season average.
Coming into the week, BYU special teams coordinator Nick Howell talked to head coach Bronco Mendenhall about adjustments that might be made to improve their performance in that aspect of the game.
"We had struggled with decision-making and not bringing the ball out past the 25-yard line," Mendenhall explained. "Credit Coach Howell, who came to me and said, 'who do you think?' And I said let's try JD and (David) Foote. Those are two reliable players, Foote as the off-returner and JD as the ball carrier."
Falslev, who has been returning punts all year, said he found out about his new responsibility early in the week.
"I’m excited because any time I have an opportunity to help our team out, I’m going to do everything I can to do so," he explained. "In the end, guys just did their assignments. We understand that if we just do our assignments, we will be just fine. That was our focus all week in practice. Our goal is the 25-yard line and I think we exceeded that by a couple of yards, so we had fun."
The adjustment didn't take long to pay dividends. The Cougars won the coin toss and elected to receive, giving Falslev a chance to make something happen on the game's first play.
The junior took full advantage, hitting the hole hard and taking the ball out to the BYU 45-yard line, giving the Cougars excellent field position.
Nelson was only too happy to take advantage, driving the offense to the end zone in 12 plays. That early touchdown set the tone in a game in which BYU never trailed.
Falslev later added kickoff returns of 43 yards and 42 yards, while senior running back David Foote — who is primarily used as the lead blocker on the return team — gained 19 yards on his only return of the game.
"They just took the ball north and south," Mendenhall said. "It was a really good decision that changed field position two or three or four times."
Even with the success, however, Falslev said he would've enjoyed being able to get past the last defender and reach the end zone at least once.
"I was hoping but they did a good job of recovering and they have some fast guys on that team," he said. “But I was hoping to get one.”
While the junior might not have had the season many thought he would at the slot position (20 catches for 141 yards), he has been solid all year in returning punts (8.9 yard average).
Saturday, he also helped out the running game with three carries for 32 yards.
"We tried to just pound the ball on offense and I think we did that today," Falslev explained. "The offensive line did a great job of sticking on their blocks long enough allow whoever was running the ball to get down the field."
Most importantly, he has been tremendously dependable in ball securitym especially on punts. He catches the ball cleanly or gets out of the way, safe decisions in which he gets what he can and doesn't turn the ball over.
Falslev has yet to have a fumble this year and had no trouble in the contest against the Yellow Jackets.
"Our defense did a great job of getting them off the field, so when we had opportunities we had to take advantage of them," he said. "And we did. We took care of the ball, all but one play. We know if we are plus-1 in the turnover battle, we are very, very hard to beat."
Falslev said he was looking forward to the upcoming bye week to recover a little bit and to regroup, but he also can’t wait for the next game because he knows there are only so many of those to play in.
The (young) scoring machine: BYU freshman running back Jamaal Williams became the first Cougar to score four touchdowns in a single game since receiver Luke Ashworth accomplished the feat against Colorado State in 2010.
He now has eight rushing TDs on the season, the most on the team and No. 3 in the country among freshmen running backs.
Hoffman still streaking: BYU junior wide receiver Cody Hoffman has now caught at least one pass in 28 straight games and in 34 of the 35 games he has played in as a Cougar.
With seven receptions for 69 yards against the Yellow Jackets, he now has 159 receptions for his career. That moves him past Curtis Brown and into the No. 9 spot on the all-time list at BYU.
Just one more: By adding a blocked punt against Georgia Tech to his tally, Cougar junior Kyle Van Noy now has recorded something in every defensive statistical category except one.
He just needs to recover a fumble to complete the full card, a feat he accomplished in 2011 as well.
Van Noy might've added a defensive touchdown against the Yellow Jackets when an errant pass came his way in the final minutes. Instead, he jumped too early and never got a chance at returning it all the way as it fell incomplete.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.