BYU football beat writer Jared Lloyd evaluates the performance of every position group and the coaches from Saturday’s BYU-USU game at Maverik Stadium:
Jaren Hall was excellent in the first half as he scored twice and guided the offense to put 21 points on the board. After Hall got hurt, Baylor Romney came in and put another 21 points on the board. They were impressive showings for both freshmen.
Lopini Katoa and Sione Finau had the bulk of the work with Katoa tallying 171 total yards (129 receiving, 42 rushing) with one touchdown. Finau had 15 carries for 72 yards as the Cougar ground attack was solid all game.
The Cougars generally gave the quarterbacks time to throw and the running backs lanes to run through. BYU tallied 639 total yards and scored 42 points, and a lot of the credit for that goes to the big boys in the trenches.
The Cougars spread the ball around with eight different players getting receptions. Talon Shumway and Aleva Hifo both made big plays, while Micah Simon even got a completion on a double-reverse pass. The blocking downfield was especially key to the BYU win.
The Cougars generally only rushed three linemen and that gave the Utah State offense a lot of time until BYU wore the Aggies down late in the game. USU gained a lot of yards but the Cougars did force some key mistakes, with JJ Nwigwe forcing a big early fumble.
The linebackers came up with two more crucial interceptions, both in the first half and both setting up BYU touchdowns. The Cougars were better against the run, only giving up 124 yards, but part of that was because Utah State went to the air more (only 32 carries).
The stats would say the BYU secondary was bad as the Aggies passed for 384 yards -- but the Cougars came up with timely defensive plays in their mostly drop-8 coverage scheme. There were some costly mistakes but BYU still kept Utah State from scoring enough to stay close.
The Cougar special teams had some fairly short kickoffs and Aleva Hifo uncharacteristically muffed a couple of Aggie punts, one of which became a turnover. But BYU's cover teams did well and the other aspects were solid.
Kalani Sitake and his staff had the team prepared, especially on offense. BYU had by far it's most successful performance with a balanced attack as the run and the pass worked well. The defensive scheme was somewhat suspect with the amount of ground surrendered but it's hard to argue with the results.