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PROVO -- Special teams was the difference-maker for BYU in its 24-17 win over UCF Friday. It wasn't just the 93 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cody Hoffman - though that will be a play Cougar fans will never forget.
Here are our grades for BYU's performance:
Bronco Mendenhall repeatedly mentioned how much more accurate that Jake Heaps was this week. No way. The accuracy was worse than it was last week against Utah. Overthrowing, underthrowing, putting way too much mustard on his throws where touch was necessary and looking very uncomfortable in the pocket. The glaring misses were over throws to a wide-open JJ Diluiggi on his way to the end zone and a huge miss to McKay Jacobsen who was behind the defense. Final numbers put him at 47% passing (not accurate) for 133 yards, no touchdowns and a pick.
A giant sigh of relief for Brandon Doman who's offensive line and running backs were on the same page. "Execution at a higher level" as Coach Mendenhall would say especially compared to last week. 2 rushing touchdowns (their first of the season), picking up more blocks (still not perfect in that arena), and putting the Cougs in shorter yardage situations on third down.
Some drops, mostly this grade is a product of the lack of getting the ball thrown to them accurately. After a couple of weeks where they were the only production for the Cougs offensively, no touchdowns for the wide receiving core (Hoffman did score on special teams).
Offensive Line: B
One sack on the evening against the Cougars and it wasn't the offensive line's fault. Cutting down a lot on those false start and holding penalties that killed them last week, overall well done by the hogs in the trenches.
Overall Offense: C-
Looking at the stats, the turnovers and special teams play made the offense look really good. The (C-) grade might even be generous after a meager 133 passing and 127 on the ground for a total of 260. While its below mediocre, its amazing how so few turnovers can do for the team's overall performance.
Defensive Line: B
It was a mixed bag for the defensive line against the UCF offensive line. Some plays, the line appeared to get blown off the ball. Others, the DL stacked things up well, and limited gains. It seemed UCF ran better than the 81 yards the Knights accrued.
Kyle Van Noy came up huge in the end - as he always does. The sack on Jeffrey Godfrey late essentially killed UCF's final chance at a score. It was curious why he split time as much as he did with Jadon Wagner. Van Noy is a game changer on the BYU defense. Kaveinga also made some key tackles.
UCF was able to make some huge plays downfield on the BYU secondary. BYU's soft play on the edges also allowed the Knights a lot of easy first downs. That said, UCF's receivers looked very fast and very talented. Play-to-play, it was a respectable showing from the Cougars. Corby Eason was victimized several times. Joe Sampson came up huge with some big hits, a sack and an INT. He is making the case to be an every down player.
Overall Defense: B
BYU gave up 399 yards and multiple long, blown passing plays downfield. There were also a few too many missed tackles in quarters 1 through 3. However, grades picked up significantly in the 4th Quarter. UCF had three drive opportunities late in the game, and the Knights were turned away each time. Plays that will stand out are the Kyle Van Noy tip that led to the late Joe Sampson interception and the KVN sack that essentially sealed the victory by running a lot of time of the clock with less than a minute to go. Van Noy did nothing to counter the belief he will be a future All-American. Joe Sampson is making a strong argument to be on the field every down. He made some vicious hits, including a sack on Jeff Godfrey early - BYU's first sack of the season.
Special Team: A+
Special Teams was the difference-maker for BYU. It won the game. It wasn't just the 93 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cody Hoffman - though that will be a play Cougar fans will never forget. It was the first kick return for a touchdown in close to 13 years for BYU. The punt game was also outstanding. Riley Stephenson's kicks a couple times soared deep beyond where the UCF returner had positioned himself. Stephenson also showed touch with a punt in the 4th Quarter that left UCF at its 13. Kickoff coverages were also solid for BYU. Justin Sorensen had several touchbacks, and he added a 37 yd FG.