Part of throwback or retro theme for Saturday’s football contest between Washington and BYU was honoring the legends of BYU’s gridiron past.
1990 Heisman winner Ty Detmer, Outland Trophy winners Jason Buck (1986) and Mohammed Elewonibi (1989) and All-American Derwin Gray (1992) carried out the alumni flags and were involved in a lot of the pregame festivities leading up to the contest.
Detmer was happy to be there with two former teammates (Elewonibi and Gray) as well as Buck, without the pressure of playing or coaching.
“It’s fun (being here). It’s way different than coaching where you have the pregame jitters, now you can relax and have fun with it and share some memories with these guys,” Detmer said, as he pointed to Buck, Elewonibi, and Gray.
Detmer said he does miss some aspects of being more involved with the BYU program as he was the Cougar offensive coordinator for two seasons (2016-17).
“That’s the hard part, you miss those relationships and being apart of it every day,” he said. “But I still have relationships with some of them, follow them and root for them and all those things.”
Detmer is currently living in the Phoenix area and not knowing what comes next doesn’t seem to deter his positive attitude. Undoubtedly, his knowledge of the game helped him stay in the NFL 14 seasons and led to that college coaching opportunity at BYU.
For Buck, the honor of carrying out the alumni flag took him back on a journey to a past game he played against the storied Husky program. Buck was a two-time All-American as well and played seven seasons in the NFL as a defensive lineman including winning a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins.
“This brings back a flood of memories. It seems like yesterday playing the Washington Huskies right here,” said Buck, a game where he and the rest of his Cougar teammates dominated defeating Washington 31-3. Buck noted that BYU was coming off its national championship season and the controversy that came with it including the thought by some that Washington deserved the national title after winning the Orange Bowl. So the Cougar win in that game was a statement win for the program.
Buck has spent a lot of time in Utah County coaching his two boys that played at Lone Peak but now has relocated to Chicago to be near his grandson.
Elewonibi currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and two children where he’s a drug and alcohol counselor. It was the first time Elewonibi has been back to attend a BYU game in over 20 years.
“I’m here to show my teenage kids that I’m more than a grumpy old man,” Elewonibi joked. “It’s just nice to be here and a lot of fun.”
Elewonibi played offensive line on four different NFL teams and then played in Canada to complete his professional career.
Gray lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where he’s a minister, author and motivational speaker. He’s a pastor at the Transformational Church.
Gray played five years with the Indianapolis Colts but his last year in the league was with the Carolina Panthers who were just in their third season of existence.
“It’s great to be back. BYU is where I met my wife of 28 years, a lot of great memories,” related Gray.
But even with honoring four returning BYU legends, the throwback aspects of the game including the uniforms of the Cougar football players, cheerleaders, Cougarettes and Cosmo, along with the painting of the field in retro-themed form, there wasn’t enough magic to help BYU win its game against a more talented and disciplined team in Washington. Unlike Buck’s team in 1985, the 2019 version was about the exact opposite and the Huskies dominated the Cougars winning 45-19.
- Team flags were carried by Gunner and Baylor Romney and game captains were Talon Shumway, Emmanuel Esukpa, Khyiris Tonga, and Lorenzo Fauatea.
- Jake Oldroyd kicked the longest field goal since 2000, and second longest overall, in Cougar history (tied with three others) when he split the uprights from 54 yards in the second quarter. Owen Pochman owns the all-time Cougar record at 56 yards.
- Besides Oldroyd’s 54-yard field goal, Lopina Katoa’s 48-yard kickoff return excited the Cougar faithful in regards to special teams play.
- BYU’s bright spots on offense included Matt Bushman and Aleva Hifo. Both had six catches for 89 and 87 yards respectively. Also adding to the Cougar attack was Esukpa, who had nine carries for 51 yards and a 5.4 per rush average. He also scored his first career touchdown for BYU in the second stanza. Sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson also had a career high in completions with 26. Wilson was 26-for-42 for 277 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
- Defensively, Cougar linebacker Payton Wilgar registered six solo and four unassisted tackles, while Max Hooley secured an interception and returned it 33 yards to set up a Cougar touchdown on the last play of the third quarter.
- Official attendance for the game was 62,177 and was a white-out game for the fans. Washington came with a strong visiting contingent and filled up the far west part of the north end zone section from top to bottom.
- Game time temperature at kickoff was 61 degrees and partly cloudy with a slight cross-wind blowing west to east. But with slightly warmer temperatures inside the stadium itself, the temperature for players and fans alike was ideal.
- BYU won the toss and chose to defer. Washington received the opening kickoff and marched north to south to score to take a lead it would never relinquish.
- It was the first road game of the year for Washington but because BYU wore white jerseys the Huskies were able to sport their home purple jersey with gold pants for their fourth straight game. Both schools have played three of their first four games at home and both teams are 1-0 on the road. Washington is actually 0-1 in Pac-12 play and will host USC, the team BYU defeated last week, in Seattle this upcoming Saturday.
- BYU opponents have scored first in all four Cougar games this year. Going into the rest of its schedule BYU needs to overcome its first quarter woes as so far in their first four games, the Cougars have been outscored 38-16.
- Turnovers are killing BYU. So far this season BYU has given up three defensive scores to its opponents including two interceptions returns by Utah and a 69-yard fumble return by Washington’s Brandon Wellington which gave the Huskies a 21-3 second quarter lead.
- Washington’s Chris Petersen is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history and reached a new milestone with the victory against BYU Saturday. Petersen earned his 50th win at Washington. His record is 50-22 at Washington and 142-34 overall. Petersen improved his record to 3-1 against BYU.
- BYU gave up a special teams touchdown for the first time in 2019. In Petersen’s tenure, Washington is well known for its punt return prowess and Aaron Fuller added to that lore with a 88-yard return to the house to put Washington ahead 38-12 and end all hopes for any Cougar comeback.
- Washington’s ground game chewed up the Cougars. The Huskies used a dual threat of Sean McGrew and Richard Newton. McGrew had 110 yards on 18 carries while Newton rushed 16 times for 83 yards.
- Jacob Eason was stellar at quarterback for the Huskies as he was 24-for-28 for 290 yards and three touchdowns to go along with one interception. Seven different Husky receivers caught balls from Eason among them Fuller, who hauled in eight receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown.
- BYU’s early-season schedule generally proved to be as tough as advertised. The overall record of BYU’s first four opponents is 10-5, though Tennessee dropped to 1-3 and were blown out by Florida 34-3 to open up SEC play for the Vols. But the stiff tests for the Cougs aren’t necessarily over. BYU has tough foes ahead, as going into Saturday’s play, Boise State and San Diego State were undefeated and Utah State had one loss, that by just three points on the road at undefeated Wake Forest.
- BYU’s next home game is nearly a month away. With road tilts at Toledo and South Florida ahead, and a bye between those contests, BYU’s next home game won’t be until Oct. 19 against Boise State. And it will actually be BYU’s only home contest in the month of October.