By Jacob Kendall
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch the BYU Hawaii game again. Heading into the game I was concerned about the play at o-line, the quarterbacks, kickers, and the running game.
BYU came into the season touting their slimmed down, faster offensive line. After the first four games the offensive line was a disappointment. Friday night when they trotted out the starters there were three changes to the interior offensive line.
Starters vs Hawaii
LT: Ryker Mathews
LG: Famika Anae (Replacing Braden Hansen)
C: Braden Hansen (Replacing Blair Tushaus)
RG: Manaaki Vaitai (Replacing Brock Stringham)
RT: Braden Brown
With the new starters the Cougars were able to gain 396 rushing yards, but they also allowed 4 sacks. Overall, the added size and strength to the line should be more reminiscent of a typical BYU offensive line. This unit did very well against Hawaii, and I look for continued improvement the rest of the year. I do not expect BYU to top 300-400 rushing yards very often, but I do expect the team to be more effective with the run from this point forward.
BYU entered the game with a string of 68 consecutive pats made. They missed two against Hawaii, and then replaced Riley Stephenson with Justin Sorensen. Lets just hope that another game dos not come down to a field goal. That has not worked out well so far.
Taysom Hill’s major contributions came on the ground. He converted a 3rd and 18 with his legs. And he ran away from defenders on his 68 yard touchdown run. His speed give BYU big play abilities that they have been missing. His running ability reminds me of Denard Robinson. His challenge will be to become an effective passer. He is 18 of 35 for 190 yards 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, with a quarterback efficiency rating of 119.6. He looks like he has a knack for the position. I get the feeling watching him that he can and will be very good. But I need him to show it to me on the field before I crown him the next great BYU quarterback.
Say what you will about Riley Nelson, but he is 8-4 as a starter (6-1 last year). He had a top 20 Quarterback rating in 2011 of 152.9. This year against Boise State it became obvious that he cannot be BYU’s starter while playing that way, whether for health reasons or not. Hill became the first freshman to win his first start since Ty Detmer. He has a long way to go as a passer but he has more upside than Riley, and the future could be bright for him.
BYU’s running game was on fire on Friday! Freshman running back Jamal Williams looks like a star, as Danny Holmgren wrote. His performance reminded me of a freshman named Curtis Brown who ran for over 200 yards vs Utah State in 2002. Although his size and speed may be more like former Cougar Ronney Jenkins. Either way his speed and field awareness are well beyond his years. And the tandem of Hill and WIlliams should take the running game to the next level throughout the season.
This game is just one of twelve on the schedule. But it may well be the one where BYU solved its o-line, quarterback, and running game issues. As for the kicking game, well lets just say we will keep crossing our fingers.