PROVO -- With a new starting quarterback and new offensive approach the BYU Cougars looked dominant at times, but also shot themselves in the foot several times killing potential scoring drives.
In the end, BYU did enough to slip past San Jose State 29-16. Here's a look at how each position graded out Saturday night:
Quarterbacks: B- Riley Nelson got the nod and took every snap on the offensive side of things. 446 total yards of offense, a balanced attack almost splitting the yards down the middle between passing and rushing is a nice performance. Nelson also tossed for 3 touchdowns in the first half which was as dominant as a QB had been this year for BYU. That being said, there were some bad decisions made on the two interceptions and some inaccuracy stalled drives in the second half. 6 points in the second half got the win but the ball seemed to not be moved with as much confidence in the first half. Nelson finished with 3 TDs and 2 picks and the fumble on the 2 yd line.
Running back/Fullbaks: A- Michael Alisa made his presence known for the first time this season with a break out performance running for 93 yards averaging 6.1/carry and 225 yards overall for the backfield on the ground were the best performances by the RBs all season.
Wide receivers/Tight ends: B The Receivers got open for Riley Nelson and for a second week in a row the Tide Ends caught a score. Richard Wilson had a great game including the Touchdown on a screen play. Mathews and Jacobsen had drops that were potential touchdowns but overall this was a solid performance from the guys with the sticky hands.
Offensive line: A 225 yards on the ground at 5.2 a pop, Riley Nelson was hit very rarely, and the 446 yards of total offense start with these guys for opening running lanes and giving Nelson the time needed to put the ball into the hands of the receivers.
Overall Offense: B+ The best day statistically for BYU on the Offensive side of things but a lot of points were still left on the field with turnovers and stalled drives in the second half that resulted in a lack of points. It didn't feel like they played a full four quarters.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line and front seven as a whole did a good job generating pressure on SJSU QB Matt Faulkner. The defensive linemen continue to show off their surprising athleticism considering their massive size. Romney Fuga chased down Faulkner at one point to stop him on a scramble. The D-line also did a good job for the most part containing the Spartans' ground game. Without Brandon Rutley, SJSU turned to a backup and a converted defensive back for a ground game. Collectively, their longest run was 19 yards.
The linebacking corp continues to stand out. Kyle Van Noy, other than failing inexplicably to start, makes big play after big play. Against San Jose State, he hauled in an interception, and came close on another. Jordan Pendleton recorded his first sack of the season. Uona Kaveinga is living up to his press clippings as a USC transfer, showing good lateral speed and tackling ability.
BYU's secondary did a good job of keeping the San Jose State passing game in front of it. Still, there were plenty of plays made to sustain drives. Otten is a talented tight end for SJSU in the Dennis Pitta mold, but he seemed to exploit coverage gaps more than he should have. He finished with 9 catches for 108 yards. SJSU was 5 of 10 on third down conversions. Coverage could have been better, but give the Spartans credit for a solid job of scouting out the Cougar D and taking advantage with formations and matchups.
Overall Defense: B
By the numbers, the BYU defense performed well enough. 325 total yards and 70 rushing yards from San Jose State equal very acceptable final stats. The Cougar defense did allow 5 of 10 third down conversions. It actually felt like there were more completions on critical downs than that. The secondary allowed drives to perpetuate with a few too many of those. Still, a solid effort forcing turnovers and only allowing one offensive touchdown.
Special Teams: B-
BYU did not punt. The Cougars either scored or turned the ball over. Sorensen connected on the two field goals he lined up. The grade suffers a bit because of some longer returns. BYU special teams had been stellar to this point this year in shutting down kick and punt returns. This simply wasn't BYU's best game when it comes to kickoff coverages.