Football games are decided by the players in the trenches - and in Saturday's 38-28 win at Oregon State, BYU managed to control that area on both sides of the ball.
While the Cougar offense was rolling up 282 yards rushing behind the dominant, bruising efforts of the line, the BYU defense - impacted by injuries as it was - was locking down the Beavers and holding them to just 59 yards on the ground.
"I feel like every game, even the ones where we struggled or lost, we knew where we could be," said sophomore offensive lineman Houston Reynolds. "It was frustrating that we weren't there. These last several games, I feel it's starting to come together and to click."
That performance highlighted the type of physicality that the Cougars would love to see in every game. When BYU has the ball, no one enjoys that approach more than the big guys up front.
"As an offensive lineman, all of us take pride in the run," Reynolds said. "I want to run it, I want to be physical, I want to fire off the ball and be aggressive. I think that's the type of offense any offensive lineman wants to have. We want to dominate up front and I feel like we've done a better job at that."
Reynolds said it hasn't hurt to have a quarterback like junior Riley Nelson, whose toughness and determination has rubbed off on the offense.
"Every quarterback has their own strengths and one of his is the fact that he can keep plays alive," the sophomore explained. "Even if you miss a block or things get a little messed up, you know he's back their fighting and there's a chance he's making something happen on the other side of the field. You fight a little harder and a little longer because it might be your block that gets the first down when he turns and decides to run."
Against Oregon State, that effort was very evident and the result was a lot of yards for the Cougars. Now BYU will look to maintain that high level of success.
"I feel like I personally and the offensive line as a whole performed extremely well," Reynolds said. "I felt like we reached our potential for last week. Our job now is to continue to progress."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars faced a different challenge. Although the defensive line is deep, losing a pair of starters to injury during the game had to be concerning.
Fortunately for BYU, senior Matt Putnam was ready to step in and excel.
"I saw (Hebron Fangupo) go down and I thought 'here we go,'" Putnam said. "I knew I was going to probably get the rest of the game. I'm not in the greatest shape right now, but I think I did fairly well. It was fun to go out and play."
During his time on the field, he made some big plays for the Cougars. His 6-foot-6 frame to knock down multiple passes, including one that went right to teammate Brandon Ogletree for an interception. He also earned praise from head coach Bronco Mendenhall for winning the race to a fumble.
"He got that on sheer effort," Mendenhall said. "He just wanted it more. He raced past other players and dove on it."
When asked how the "out-of-shape-guy" won that scramble, Putnam just laughed and attributed it to luck, mostly.
Putnam believes Fangupo and nose guard Romney Fuga will be ready to go but against a passing offense like the one Idaho State will bring to Provo on Saturday, he knows his pass-blocking ability might be an advantage for his team.
"God gave me a lot of height to stick my arms up there and bat things down," Putnam said. "I think that's why I'm out there. It's fun to see that I can help the team in another way than just making tackles."
Honors for offense and defense: BYU garned two of the Independent Player of the Week awards Monday morning for its performance in the 38-28 Cougar win at Oregon State.
BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson was honored as the Offensive Player of the Week, while junior linebacker Brandon Ogletree earned the award for defense.
Nelson did it all for the Cougars as he completed 17 of 27 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns, while adding a team-high 87 rushing yards on 12 carries in leading BYU to a fourth consecutive win.
On the other side of the ball, Ogletree was a turnover machine. He forced turnovers on each of the Beavers' first three possessions of the third quarter, intercepting a pass and causing two fumbles. BYU's leading tackler on the season, Ogletree added one and a half tackles for loss, part of his six-stop effort in Corvallis.
The other winner of an award this week was Navy kicker Jon Teague, who has honored as the Special Teams Player of the Week.
Enjoying the moment: Reynolds said that his family does a lot of working to get ready for games with his dad, Cougar coach Lance Reynolds, and his older brother Matt, the most decorated offensive lineman for BYU, also playing big roles for the team.
He said that this past weekend at Oregon State, however, the patriarch of the family told his sons to take a moment to enjoy what they had.
"It was a different experience this time because he came and grabbed Matt and I before the game and said how cool is it that we get to get together as a family and come up here to play together and on the sidelines together," Reynolds recalled.
Injury update: The Cougars lost another player for the season as BYU sophomore tight end Richard Wilson went down with an ACL injury, according to Mendenhall.
They also lost junior Ezekial "Ziggy" Ansah with a Grade 3 MCL sprain, which Mendenhall classified as more significant.
The Cougar coach stated the Fangupo and Fuga would be day-to-day decisions, while Uona Kaveinga and Jordan Pendleton would be ready to go for the game against the Bengals on Saturday.
Due to the amount of injured Cougars, however, Mendenhall did say he and the coaching staff would consider changing practice or limiting contact to allow his players to heal.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.