BYU-USF grades: Offense shines, defense comes up lacking
BYU football beat writer Jared Lloyd gives his grades for the Cougar position units and coaches for Saturday’s game against South Florida at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo:
Baylor Romney replaced the injured Jaren Hall and was the epitome of poise and confidence, making big throws down the field and avoiding costly mistakes. He did miss two potential TD passes on a late drive in the second half but other than that he made just about every throw, finishing 20-of-25 for 305 yards with three TDs.
Tyler Allgeier had few opportunities because BYU ran fewer total plays (15 carries, 81 yards, two TDs) and willed his way into the end zone on a pair of fourth-and-goal opportunities. Lopini Katoa also had a big 25-yard run in limited action.
Wide receivers/tight ends
Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua both hauled in deep passes, with Romney, Masen Wake and Neil Pau’u catching touchdown passes. This group made nice plays when they were there as well as blocking well downfield when the play got to the second level.
The Cougars were solid up front as BYU gained 138 yards on the ground and Baylor Romney wasn’t sacked. The Cougars only had one punt and one missed field goal, which meant it was efficient as it scored TDs on five of seven drives (the game ended on the eighth possession).
The banged up Cougar defensive front certainly wasn’t at its best in the second half, although it played decently in the early going. BYU wasn’t able to get USF quarterback Timmy McClain out of rhythm and the Bulls rushed for 181 yards.
The Cougars certainly missed Keenan Pili but this was a group that was supposed to have enough depth and experience to overcome that. Ben Bywater and Pepe Tanuvasa lead the team in tackles but there were way too many missed assignments and poor decisions by a group that has played as much as this group has.
The Cougars weren’t bad at the back end of the defense as they didn’t give up any long touchdowns — but they also didn’t make many enough plays. USF was able to convert some third-and-long plays as well as making some key passes when the pocket collapsed.
BYU gave up a long kickoff return and had a field goal blocked, both of which were key moments for the Bulls as they tried to rally. The return game wasn’t great and Ryan Rehkow only punted once, blasting one to the back of the end zone. This unit expects to play at a higher level.
The Cougar coaches will take a lot of heat for the second-half defensive struggles but the reality is that the injuries (missing at least five starters plus having others get hurt during the contest) limited some of their options. BYU’s offense was really good but didn’t get enough chances to put the game away. The Cougars can’t let teams run that efficiently and kill the clock like USF did.