As the BYU football beat writer, I evaluated the performance of every position group and the coaches from Tuesday’s BYU-Hawaii game in the SoFi Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu:
It was another frustrating game for Zach Wilson, who made some great throws and scored two rushing touchdowns -- but also had three costly turnovers (a pick that set up a Hawaii score, a fumble at the goal line and the interception that ended the game). He knows he can be better.
Lopini Katoa and Tyler Allgeier shared the load and made some big runs without making big mistakes. The only glaring issue was the fact that they couldn't make enough plays around the goal line, although to be fair they had limited opportunities.
The Cougars had moments where they played great up front, opening up holes for the run game and giving Zach Wilson plenty of time to throw. Some ineffectiveness also resulted in costly missed opportunities.
The Cougars got solid performances from tight end Matt Bushman, wide receiver Micah Simon, wide receiver Dax Milne and wide receiver Aleva Hifo, although Hifo's failure to secure a pass thrown behind him resulted in an interception. They just didn't make enough scoring plays.
After registering just 12 sacks all season, the Cougar defensive line got five sacks in this game, including one by JJ Nwigwe that gave the BYU offense an opportunity to win the game. Even with the limited number of guys on the line, Hawaii totaled just 2 rushing yards.
The linebackers did fine in run stoppage in this game, filling holes and making tackles. They weren't nearly as effective in pass coverage in the first half, as Hawaii's aerial attack overwhelmed the Cougar defenders. BYU linebackers had a couple of chances to make interceptions but couldn't secure the ball.
It's hard to sugarcoat the fact that the BYU secondary struggled mightily across the board in the first half. Without senior Austin Lee, the coverages weren't effective until the second half, and even then the Cougars couldn't stop Hawaii on its final drive. Troy Warner's dropped interception resulted in the Rainbow Warriors getting a TD.
The Cougar special teams got a few big punt returns by Aleva Hifo, including setting up a touchdown with a 52-yard burst. Jake Oldroyd hit two field goals but missed a third when it appeared the ball went over the upright. The punting and kickoff games were just average.
The playcall on the third-and-2 that could've secured the win for BYU was arguably the worst of the season, since it appeared to have no chance of succeeding from the start. The Cougar defensive staff made some key adjustments that helped BYU rally. No matter what they did to work on it, the struggles in the red zone continued. Still a lot to improve on for the coaches.