Thursday, April 24, 2014

BYU football report card: Cougar special teams, red zone execution prove lackluster in loss to Washington (5 items)

By , Deseret News

Dec. 28, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — BYU came out flat and ended completely flat in a 31-16 loss to Washington Friday night at the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Cougars did almost all their good work in the second quarter, but that wasn't nearly enough against the solid, and more consistent, Huskies.

Grades are in for every position group regarding Friday's performance:

Email: Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

1 of 5. Offense

Quarterback Taysom Hill was BYU's offense throughout the majority of the game. Despite porous offensive line play and no semblance of a consistent running attack, Hill diced up the Husky defense for 288 yards passing and 143 yards rushing. But those yards resulted in just one touchdown and 16 points.

Running back Jamaal Williams remarkably had few touches, and BYU's running attack struggled mightily to find any rhythm or consistency. Williams finished with just 12 rushes for a paltry 30 yards.

Dropped balls and errant throws during critical situations did the offense in, along with spotty offensive line production. Red zone production was also lacking — particularly in the second quarter when the team had to end two long drives with field goals instead of touchdowns.

Overall, the team produced 473 yards of offense, but had just 16 points — including a scoreless second half — to show for it.

Grade: C+

2 of 5. Defense

The defense played solid throughout much of the game, but yielded two long scoring drives to start out each half. Both possessions were critical. Ultimately, Washington gained just 316 yards, but was consistently given a short field to work with due to lackluster BYU special teams execution.

The front seven allowed Washington 198 yards rushing on a 4.5-yards-per-carry average and two touchdowns to star running back Bishop Sankey.

The pass defense only gave up 118 yards, but wasn't tested much at all due to short fields and Washington playing with the lead throughout.

Grade: B-

3 of 5. Special teams

Kicker Justin Sorensen connected on 3 of 4 attempts and the kick and punt return units fared well, but that was it for an atypically atrocious BYU special teams effort.

The kick coverage was just plain bad, and as mentioned, accounted for much of the responsibility for Washington's three touchdowns. Punter Scott Arellano's night included an 8-yard punt and a dropped snap in one of his worst outings as a Cougar.

It's unusual for BYU special teams to enjoy a significant disadvantage, but it could accurately be argued that special teams was the major difference in the game's final outcome.

Grade: D

4 of 5. Coaching

The Cougars again looked unprepared and unmotivated at the start, which helped contribute to Washington gaining an early advantage. The team settled down and one gutsy decision by coach Bronco Mendenhall lended some life late in the first quarter.

Backed up on its own 21-yard line, BYU ran an unusual fake punt in a fourth-and-2 situation that completely swung the momentum back to the Cougars' favor. It was an untypical decision by Mendenhall, but paid off.

Unfortunately, that momentum couldn't be maintained and the team appeared to lack proper adjustments during the second half — particularly on offense.

Grade: B-

5 of 5. Overall

Washington was judged by many to be the top bowl opponent BYU has faced in recent years and that bore out Friday night. The Huskies proved better and more consistent on both sides of the ball and came away with the win.

BYU's offense again lacked execution during critical situations, and that was the difference, along with poor kick coverage on three separate occasions.

Grade: C
1. Ed Grady
Idaho Falls, ID,
Dec. 28, 2013

B- for coaching? Are you kidding me? Mendenhall has become a Teflon coach - nothing sticks to him.

2. SCUte
Rock Hill, SC,
Dec. 28, 2013

Really, B- for coaching? When you only use 6 of the allowed 15 practices you get an F. If not for this game, for the young kids on the squad that can get extra reps and practice in preparation for next year. To not even use half of the allowed practices you are either ignorant of the opportunity for development or you really don't care. Keep Mendenhall! Go Utes! Too bad we can't keep the automatic W for the next two seasons.

3. sdcoug
Dec. 28, 2013

Just 6 of 15 allowed? I guess football is 5th to Bronco. Maybe he didn't want to watch the O-Line in practice, I wouldn't.

4. rabbit2
Delta, UT,
Dec. 28, 2013

I agree Ed. B- is very generous especially when you look at the 2nd half when coaches make adjustments and we get out scored 10-0. The defense was ok but could not get Washington off the field in several 3rd and long situations. Isn't that broncos department? Well I do think the cougs played hard and taysom hill is a warrior! Once again I am confused at the offensive plan? Lots of planned runs for the QB and only 12 for our RB. No screens or short passes to the RB and whatever happened to TE university? Do we even have a TE? Hoffman and van noy will be missed but I think both will make lots of money at the next level. Well I can't help it. I still love the cougars and will always root for them.

5. Horrible Stumper
Hyrum, UT,
Dec. 28, 2013

This is an Aggie fan that rooted for the Cougars to win this game. I don't see the Cougars week in and week out, but from what I have seen I felt that the Cougars were athletically the equal of Washington. I think Taysom is the real deal. After watching the Poinsettia Bowl I felt like Taysom is equal to or better than Jordan Lynch, who finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting. But no matter how good of an athlete you are you have to be put in a position to perform to the best of your ability. BYU football players did not perform to the best of their ability, and unfortunately that is coaching. Coach Mendenhall did not put them in a position to win. I believe he is a great person, but if BYU is going to become the top 10 team they say they want to be, they need Bronco to step up his game.....or replace him. Decent season, but not where the rest of the state is use to seeing the Cougars. BYU should be able to compete against any PAC 10+2 team.