BYU Wins, But Was It Impressive?

As expected, the Brigham Young Cougars (6-2) beat the Idaho State Bengals (2-6) easily, 56-3, and the Cougar reserves saw plenty of action. On paper, the 53 point margin of victory looks impressive. After watching the game live, however, fans were scratching their heads and asking was this win impressive?

Idaho State is not a good team, even among the FCS schools. For BYU, such a lopsided win is par for the course. The Cougars had many good moments during the game, but they also had many bad moments.


1. Blocked Punt—On Idaho State’s first series, BYU forced a punt. Kyle Van Noy blocked the punt. BYU scored on a 15-yard pass from Riley Nelson to Ross Apo on the very next play to make it 7-0.

2. 42-Yard TD—On BYU’s second possession, Michael Alisa had his, and BYU’s, longest run of the season. Alisa ran untouched on his 42-yard scamper to make it a 14-3 game.

3. 90+ Yard Drives—BYU had two scoring drives longer than 90 yards. The first was 99 yards right before halftime to give BYU a 35-3 lead at the break. The Cougars covered that distance in nine plays, highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Apo. Cody Hoffman made three catches on the drive for 43 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown grab.

The second extremely long scoring drive came on BYU’s first possession of the second half. This time the Cougars went 91 yards on six play. Running back J.J. Di Luigi made the big play coming out of the backfield to make a 57-yard grab. It was BYU’s first play of 50 yards or more this season. Hoffman finished this drive off with his second touchdown catch. This one was 19 yards. It was now 42-3 with 10:36 to play in the third quarter.

4. Moving Backwards—Just before that 91-yard scoring drive, the Cougar defense made a huge stop. Idaho State recovered a BYU fumble at the BYU 30-yard line on the second half kickoff. Kyle Van Noy sacked the Idaho State quarterback for an 8-yard loss on first down. Two incomplete passes followed. Idaho State had gone -8 yards on three plays and they were now out of field goal range.

5. Riley Nelson—The left handed quarterback played a superb game. He finished 11 of 17 for 215 yards with 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His pass efficiency rating was 229.2--12th best in BYU history. He added 62 yards rushing and one touchdown on 7 carries.

6. Pass Defense—Idaho State passed the ball 60 times. They completed 34 of those passes, but only gained 231 yards. That is just 6.8 yards allowed per completion, and 3.85 yards allowed per attempts. Three Cougars (Travis Uale, Daniel Sorensen, and Jordan Johnson) intercepted passes. Sorensen returned his 30 yards for a touchdown, which made it a 49-3 game. BYU also totaled 6 sacks, led by Jordan Pendleton and Van Noy with two apiece.


1. Ineffective Runs—Idaho State managed to contain the BYU run game for a large portion of the first half. After Alisa’s early 42-yard touchdown, the Bengals stopped BYU backs for gains of 3 yards or less 20 times. That is 45% of BYU run plays. Alisa was particularly ineffective. If you take out his long touchdown run, he had only 24 yards on his other seven carries (3.4 yards per carry).

2. 4th Down Needed—BYU needed to convert a fourth down on its fourth scoring drive. Against a team as bad as Idaho State, BYU shouldn’t have to use fourth down to score.

3. Second Half Start—BYU looked bad to start the second half. Johnson fumbled the second half kickoff giving the Bengals the ball in scoring position. When BYU got the ball back, Nelson fumbled the ball into the end zone on the first play. Fortunately, he recovered and was able to advance to the 3-yard line, but the result of the play was a 6-yard loss.

4. One TD By Reserves—Jake Heaps played every drive in the second half, except for the first one. With Nelson in a quarterback, BYU scored touchdowns on 6 of 7 drives. The offense only scored on 1 of 4 drives with Heaps at quarterback. As inferior as Idaho State was, and as much starting experience that Heaps has, the second unit should have been more effective.

5. Three Turnovers—Two of those four drives by the reserves ended in turnovers. BYU had three on the day. That is not impressive. Against a FCS team, BYU should be able to play much cleaner football.

6. Nine Penalties—Speaking of clean football, BYU committed nine penalties for 90 yards. Two were off sides by the defense, and two were personal foul penalties. Team discipline should be better than that, especially in a game that isn’t very competitive.

Maybe this is being overly pessimistic. BYU won, and they won big. Of course, expecting perfection is unreasonable, but this game left some things to be desired. Knowing that a big game with TCU is coming up, it would have been nice to see cleaner and crisper play.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Kyle Van Noy blocked punt in first quarter.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Riley Nelson, 11 of 17 (64.7%), 215 yards, 3 TD, 229.2 Efficiency; 7 rush, 62 yards, 1 TD

Things I watched for:

  1. BYU Pass Defense. I was satisfied with the pass defense. Intercepting 5% of the passes is pretty good (3 out of 60). BYU had intercepted 3.7% of all passes in the first seven games. As noted already, Idaho State’s average yards per attempt and completion were very low. BYU was helped by some dropped passes, but there weren’t enough to say the drops accounted more for the low averages than BYU’s quality of play.
  2. BYU Pass Offense. BYU didn’t throw the ball much with the starters in the game. However, it was clear that a conscious effort was made to get Ross Apo involved, as I recommended. The first play of the game was a pass to Apo, which went for a touchdown. He ended the game tied with Cody Hoffman for most receptions and receiving yards (5 rec. 71 yards). The tight ends weren’t very involved. Austin Holt was the only tight end to catch a pass from Nelson (one for 18 yards).
  3. Jake Heaps. Heaps entered the game with plenty of time left, and Doman did allow Heaps to air it out. Heaps threw the ball 10 times, which is more than I can ever remember a back up quarterback throwing in mop up time. While Heaps completed 80% of his passes, it was for only 67 yards.
  4. Resting players. Bronco Mendenhall cleared the benches early. Looking at the play-by-play, I don’t see any starters on defense after the Daniel Sorensen pick-6 with 2:26 in the third quarter. None of the starters on offense were in after Heaps’ first drive, which ended with 6:36 to play in the third quarter. Some regulars (McKay Jacobson, JD Falslev, and Joshua Quezada) were still in the game, but none of the starters.
  5. Unknown Players. Following BYU as closely as I do, there were few names that I didn’t recognize, but a plethora of players who have not played, except maybe special teams, were in the game. The entire second unit offenseive line played. Mike Hague, Dallin Cutler, Aveni Leung-Wai, Alani Fua, David Foote, Ryan Folsom, DeQuan Everett, Jordan Johnson, Robbie Buckner, Chase Pendley, and Seth Probert all made it onto the stat sheet.
NEXT: TCU (at Dallas Cowboys Stadium)
DATE: Friday, October 28, 2011
TIME: 6:00 PM (Mountain Time)

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  1. Dude,
    Super lame post. Wanted to give this blog a chance until i read this negative garbage. 53 point win and you aren't happy? Sorry, won't be coming back here

  2. Sorry you were disappointed. In a game like this, I don't look so much as margin of victory, but how well BYU executes.

    The execution wasn't there. The Cougars didn't look like a team that could beat TCU this Friday.

    I probably wouldn't have such a critical eye if BYU didn't have the recent history of following up lopsided wins with blowout losses.

    I am happy with the win, but keeping the big picture in mind, there were warning signs that BYU has to be better at 4, possibly 5, of the 6 bad moments if they want to beat TCU next week.


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