TAMPA — Looking for something to lift your spirits a little bit after another disappointing loss for the BYU football team?
Maybe this fact will be a small ray of hope for the future for the Cougars:
Of the 439 yards the BYU offense racked up during Saturday’s 27-23 defeat at South Florida, 407 of them (92.7%) were contributed by freshmen or sophomores.
Maybe that can be viewed as a good sign of things to come.
It started with the two freshmen quarterbacks who took the snaps for the Cougars, as Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney contributed 221 passing yards and 86 rushing yards.
Hall finished the game going 15-of-23 through the air for 148 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also had 83 total rushing yards on 16 carries (including five sacks) with another touchdown.
“He did some good things,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “There were some sacks and I think he held onto the ball too long a few times but when you have a guy who can run like that, he creates a lot of plays. He created some big-time plays and I thought he ran the ball really well when we gave him that opportunity. I thought he made good decisions.”
After Hall took a hard hit and was dealing with concussion symptoms, Romney came in for the final two drives of the game.
“I thought he showed great poise,” Sitake said. “He has a lot of confidence in his ability and we’ve seen him do a lot of things in the year he’s been here. I thought he came in and looked like he didn’t miss much of a beat with Jaren being out.”
In addition to that duo, the Cougars also got some solid running from sophomore running back Lopini Katoa (73 yards on 11 carries) and freshman running back Sione Finau (27 yards on seven carries).
“I was impressed with the offensive line,” Katoa said. “I felt like they opened up a lot of seams. I felt like today there were some big-time seams compared to the past, so I was impressed with their play.”
Defensively, freshman linebacker Payton Wilgar led the Cougars with eight tackles and sophomore linebacker Chaz Ah You got his first interception.
The bottom line for the entire team, however, is that it has to find a way to come out on top on the scoreboard.
“Obviously we are still coming up short,” Katoa said. “There is a lot to build off of, I feel like.
Hitting the century mark
With his fourth reception in the game, BYU junior Matt Bushman now has 100 career receptions.
He is the 35th Cougar to reach 100 receptions and eighth tight end.
Jake Oldroyd made a 51-yarder, his second field goal of 50-plus yards this season (54 yards). Oldroyd finished 3-for-4 in the game, making kicks from 22 yards and 28 yards but missing a kick from 39 yards.
BYU had not had a field goal of more than 50 yard since 2006 but now has two this season.
BYU lost the coin toss, so the Cougars are now 3-5 on coin tosses this year. USF deferred and the Cougars got the ball first. BYU got a field goal on its first possession ... BYU captains for Saturday’s game were Kyle Griffitts (Jr. TE), Jaren Hall (Fr. QB), Sawyer Powell (Sr. DB) and Hayden Livingston (Fr. DB) ... Carrying the BYU alumni flags for the game were Kalin Hall (RB, 1992-93), Bobby Griffitts (DB 1987, 92-93) and Justin Su’a (Baseball 2001, 04-06) ... The U.S. flag was carried by Morgan Pyper (So. DB) while Khyiris Tonga (Jr. DL) carried the pink cancer awareness flag and Kyle Griffitts (Jr. TE) carried the state of Florida flag ... announced attendance at the game was 35,375, although there appeared to be fewer people than that in the stands ... game-time weather was sunny and 86 degrees with light winds.