BYU turns over turnover battle

Every week there’s something for a football team to improve. For quite some time, the Brigham Young Cougars have needed to improve the turnover margin in big games. Against Boise State they did just that.

Coming into Friday’s game against Boise State, BYU had forced 11 turnovers while commiting 14 turnovers (-3)--a stat that not many 5-2 teams could have. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall was stressing the need to force turnovers if this defense would live up to its reputation.

The coaching must’ve paid off as the Cougars forced 3 fumbles, and intercepted a pass all the while not turning over the ball once against the Broncos.

The irony of the situation is that Boise State boasted a solid running attack and versatile receivers while back-up quarterback Grant Hedricks was set to make his first career start. Being Hedricks first start, it’s understandable that he may throw a pick or two, but fortunately for him he only threw one. At the end of the third quarter, Hedricks was pressured by oncoming rushers and just tossed one a bit too far down the middle leaving an uncontested Skye Povey to easily take it for himself.

Hedricks may not have played a spectacular game, but he was much better at handling the ball than his seasoned rushers and receivers.

The first fumble came on a screen pass to Shane Williams who, at first, shook off a tackle from Craig Bills, but didn’t see Bills coming the second time who blindsided Williams to force the fumble. It was Bills' first game after being injured, so he was hungry for some hitting. Perhaps we can’t blame Williams for dropping that one.

The next fumble came on a slant pass to WR Geraldo Boldewijn. He was immediately closed in on by Uani Unga who pounded the football to the ground allowing Kyle Van Noy to jump on it. Despite Van Noy being the All-American of the defense, Unga continues to demonstrate he deserves his captain status.

The last and final fumble to put Boise State out of their misery came from their heralded running back Jay Ajayi. It was a run like any other with Ajayi simply going up the middle for what would have been a first down, if not for linebacker Tyler Beck. Beck put his hand in the right spot to strip the ball right out from Ajayi. Defensive lineman Remington Peck fell on the ball for his second recovery of the game.

These Bronco turnovers gave BYU a 4-0 edge in turnover margin. Having three of them happen back-to-back-to-back in the second half was too demoralizing for Boise State to make any comeback.

For Cougar fans, it was pure bliss. Having been on the opposite side of the turnover fest for far too many times, including a miserable 7-6 loss to Boise State last year, it felt great to have a nationally respected and recognized program collapse like this right before their eyes.

This is now Boise State’s worst season since 2007 where they finished 10-3. This also became the first time the Broncos have lost to a Utah team.

As for BYU, the Cougars are in full swing. They are able to go into any game expecting to win. They have two weeks to prepare for Wisconsin who will be ranked, provided they beat Iowa this week.

If the Cougars remain on the positive side of the turnover margin it will be hard for any team to beat them.

By Tanner Spear

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