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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Saturday morning quarterback: 3 stars and stats from BYU's win over UConn

By Jay Yeomans, For the Deseret News

Published: Sat, Aug. 30 11:50 a.m. MDT

BYU vs UConn Game Highlights and Stats

 BYU quarterback Taysom Hill looks to make a pass during the first half of a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
 BYU linebacker Manoa Pikula (22) gives high fives to fans after a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. BYU won 35-10.
 Connecticut Huskies running back Max DeLorenzo (44) gets tackled by BYU defensive back Craig Bills (20) and BYU defensive back Dallin Leavitt (2), right, during a football game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.

Even though the Cougars went into their first game of the season at far less than 100 percent they were able to overcome some sloppy play and a ridiculous amount of penalties to outlast the Connecticut Huskies, 35-10, Friday night.

Along the way, BYU proved to have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball, even without the likes of Jamaal Williams, Jordan Johnson, Devon Blackmon, Nick Kurtz and Robertson Daniel. The absence of such important players left plenty of opportunities for lesser-known guys to step up, and that's exactly what happened for the Cougars.

Scoring recap

The Cougars got on the board on the opening drive of the season even though it was delayed by penalties. It took 5:04 off the clock, but quarterback Taysom Hill capped off 15-play, 75-yard drive with a 7-yard scamper into the end zone for the Cougars' first touchdown on the season.

One of the biggest plays on the drive came deep in UConn territory when Hill found Mitch Mathews on a perfect back-shoulder throw for 11 yards on third-and-eight to keep the drive alive.

After Bronson Kaufusi recovered a fumble on the first play of the night for the Huskies' offense, Hill and Mathews were at it again. It took just one play for the Cougars to take a 14-0 lead after Hill hit Mathews in stride for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

BYU extended its lead behind a pair of big plays from Algernon Brown midway through the second quarter to give the Cougars a 21-point lead.

After Mitchell Jeurgens took a Justin Wain kick 24 yards to the Huskies 46, Brown went to work. He took a pass 25 yards down to just outside of the blue zone and then followed it up with a 14 yard rush down to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, the Cougars were back on the board when Hill connected with Adam Hine for a 7-yard score.

A fumble by Mathews led to the Huskies' first score of the game only minutes later when running back Joshua Marriner took the ball in from 1-yard out after a six-play, 52-yard drive.

BYU had a quick answer to regain the 21-point lead heading into halftime. This time, it was wide receiver Terenn Houk who made the big plays. On the five-play, 69-yard drive, Houk made a pair of receptions, including a 35-yard catch-and-run to ended with him tight-roping the sideline and diving into the end zone for the fourth score of the half.

The second half wasn't nearly as explosive for either offense. Only 10 points got put on the board for both teams. UConn cut the BYU lead to 28-10 when Bobby Puyol hit a 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. The Cougars answered two possessions later when Hill scored his second touchdown on the ground when he found the end zone from 26 yards out to cap off a 90-yard drive.

Three stars

3. Michael Davis, defensive back

Davis stepped into the starting lineup with the losses of Johnson and Daniel and showed exactly why he was moved back to the defensive side of the ball in fall camp. Davis used his quickness to make big plays on the outside most of the night. Along the way, he led the team with seven solo tackles.

2. Bronson Kaufusi, linebacker

Kaufusi had a smooth transition from defensive end to linebacker (at least for one night) against the Huskies. He recorded a pair of sacks and also recovered a fumble for a BYU defense that only gave up just 10 points.

1. Taysom Hill, quarterback

There was no question who earned the first star in the first contest for the Cougars. One of the biggest questions facing the Cougars was whether Hill could improve his accuracy in the passing game, and against the Huskies he did just that. He completed 28-of-36 passes (77.8 percent) for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He was also dominated with his legs with 97 yards and two scores on 12 carries.

Analyzing the stats

While Hill has had two games with more passing yards than Friday, his 77.8 completion percentage tied for the highest of his BYU career. His five touchdowns were also a career-best.

Four of the five BYU scoring drives took a combined 4:32 of game time, including drives of :06, 1:21, 1:30 and 1:35. Thanks to effectiveness of the BYU offense, UConn owned the time of possession by more than seven minutes.

Even though the Cougars rushed for more than 200 yards, it was the first time since a November 2013 loss to Wisconsin that a BYU player didn't register at least 100 yards on the ground.

Although Connecticut has fielded a team since 1979, the matchup against the Huskies was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

The win over the Huskies gives BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall a 7-3 record in opening games during his 10 years at the helm for BYU.

Next week

The Cougars will face a much tougher test when they travel to Austin, Texas, to take on Charlie Strong and his Longhorns. The Texas roster has been depleted by suspensions and dismissals, but they still have as much talent as any team the Cougars will face in 2014.

The Longhorns will also have a huge chip on their shoulder after BYU did a number on them in their 2013 matchup when the Cougars put up a school-record 550 yards rushing in a 40-21 victory.

Strong is in his first season with Texas after he replaced Mack Brown in the offseason. It will be his second game for the Longhorns, who face North Texas in their first contest.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

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1. idablu
Idaho Falls, ID,
Aug. 30, 2014

I didn't think Davis' play was 3-star material. Most of UCONN's yardage in the air was against him, and UCONN's star receiver pretty much had his way against Davis. The other corner on the other hand, Preator, played a great game and is deserving of high marks.

2. Captain L
Provo, UT,
Aug. 30, 2014

I agree, loved how Preator played, I'll be glad when Robertson is back on the field. A lot of things to correct and fix but it was nice to get the win. The biggest factor to me was how Hill played and that was a very positive thing, hope he keeps improving, if he does this should be a great year.

3. Lambo
Clearfield, UT,
Aug. 31, 2014

@idablu

I feel bad for Davis. Receiver then DB then receiver the back to DB. Given how much they have switched him around he played admirably. He was all over the place-definitely making a Herculean effort

4. nhatch82
Eagle Mountain, UT,
Sept. 1, 2014

I would like to see Johnson and Praetor at corner and move Robertson Daniel back to safety like he started the year. and bring povey off the bench. that seems like our best option. also what happened to trammell? i would have thought he would have gotten some snaps at cb instead of povey when they took out davis or praetor.

5. daver
Provo, 00,
Sept. 3, 2014

Our QB and O-Line still have a lot to prove against a really tough defense and blitz package.