The Cougars went down to Oxford and came from behind to beat the Rebels of Ole Miss by one point. My call was 35-13 in favor of BYU, and while the final score was 14-13, I did at least predict the winner, and the score of the loser. So what went right and what went wrong down south? Let’s revisit my keys to the game:
Enter the Doman O. The offense has taken a lot of heat for not producing points. After reviewing the game, the offense looked out of sync, made mental mistakes, and lacked energy. That’s not to say it was all bad. The Cougars were able to move the ball quite well, and the halftime adjustments made by Doman had great impact. According to @CougarStats, BYU had 102 yards on 36 plays in the first half, but in the second half they were able to gain 214 yards on 33 plays. I am happy to see that halftime adjustments were made, and that they were effective. That’s a far cry from what would have happened with an Anae-led offense. Oh yeah, and the Cougars came from behind to win. The biggest come-from-behind victory in Bronco’s tenure.
Jake Heaps and the Receivers. Jake Heaps had a mediocre first half, going 11/22 for 74 yards, but again, the second half adjustments were favorable to the BYU quarterback – he came out and threw 13/16 for 151 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. It is worthwhile to note that many of the broken plays were the result of poor snaps or missed blocking assignments. So, even though Heaps will take most of the heat (as QB’s do- though they also get the accolades when the team does well…) it is important to remember that his supporting cast has much to do with his success. Ross Apo was the Cougars’ leading receiver, with four catches for 46 yards and one touchdown, with a long of 25 yards.
The Rush Attack. DiLuigi and Kariya led the Cougar rushing attack with 56 and 35 yards apiece. The team was only able to gain 91 yards on the ground, which made this one of the few BYU victories in recent memory that BYU did not rush for at least 100 yards. Quezada left the game with a migraine after the second quarter, so he would have had a greater impact had he been able to stay in.
Special Teams. Special teams were up and down. McKay Jacobson and Mike Hague combined for an average 26 yards on kick returns. Justin Sorensen missed his only field goal attempt, and Riley Stephenson punted five times, with the kicks ranging from 11 to 53 yards. On the other side, BYU held Ole Miss kick returner Jeff Scott to a 13.5 average, though he was able to return a punt for 44 yards.
Bronco D. The defense won this game. They were energetic, excited, and rarely looked surprised by Ole Miss. The players were flying around the field like heat-seeking torpedoes towards whichever unfortunate Ole Miss player happened to be carrying the ball at the time. Each of Ole Miss’ top three RBs were taken off the field with an injury at some point. Last year, Ole Miss had the nation’s 18th best rushing attack, averaging 207 rushing yards per game, but they were only able to manage 64 yards on the ground, despite having the nation’s biggest offensive line. Uona Kaveinga and Preston Hadley combined to cause a fumble, which was recovered by Daniel Sorenson. This was a huge play, as it off-set the short punt by Stephenson. And of course, there was the game-winning play by Kyle Van Noy. Ole Miss was looking at a 3rd and 27, on their own 21 yard line. Van Noy released from the edge and reached Ole Miss QB Zack Stoudt, stripped the ball, and scooped it up as he tumbled into the endzone for a Cougar touchdown. The ensuing extra point put BYU ahead at 14-13. Not only did Bronco’s defense hold Ole Miss to just two field goals, they also scored a touchdown.
What we know about Ole Miss
If you were listening the the ESPN commentary, you know that Ole Miss is from the SEC. Over and over and over throughout the game, all we heard was SEC size, SEC speed, SEC…crap. You don’t win games because of a patch on your jersey. Ole miss had an opportunity to win this game, but they were dominated by the “less talented, non-SEC team” of BYU. Ole Miss has a nice, easy game against Southern Illinois next week, but that’s followed by a jump into their SEC schedule, which will not favor the Rebels, who went 1-7 in conference play last year.
What we know about BYU
The Defense is solid. I do not believe any team will rush for 100 yards against BYU this year. The Offense has some kinks to work out, but the unit has the correct scheme and the talent to be successful. Special teams have got to become more consistent – especially in the short to mid range field goals. If Sorenson can’t kick them, we need to find someone who can. BYU heads down to Austin next week, where they will face-off against the Longhorns of Texas; the second of four brutal weeks to start the season, with Utah and UCF to follow.