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BOISE, Idaho --
A "B" grade may seem generous considering the significant offensive troubles, but it feels about right averaging the offensive performance with one of the best BYU defensive performances all-time considering the circumstances and environment. This game will be remembered by fans for a defense that never quit, that turned Boise State away on all of its 4th down attempts, and that made a goal line stand for the ages. It will also be remembered for Bronco Mendenhall's ill-fated choice to go for two after the late touchdown from Taysom Hill. After the game, Mendenhall said he would have made the same choice again "in a heartbeat."
While a grade in the D-range could easily be argued here because of the 5 turnovers and lack of production, it didn't seem to be a fair reflection of the performance of the individual units. For the game, BYU managed just 200 total yards, 61 passing yards and was just 2 of 12 on 3rd down. The Cougar offense outscored the Bronco offense, which was held scoreless on the smurf turf for the first time since the 1990s.
Riley Nelson was personally responsible for 4 turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble) and was replaced by Taysom Hill. Nelson finished 4 of 9 for 19 yards. Hill was jittery in his first reps trying to rally the team, but later showed a lot of poise under pressure as he led BYU on its 95-yard scoring drive. He completed 4 of 10 passes for 42 yards. He rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries and had the Cougars only score, a 4 yard touchdown run.
RUNNING BACKS: C+
Once again, the production of the running backs was hampered by an underperforming - though apparently improving - offensive line. The Mike Alisa fumble is a ding on the grade, and Alisa only managed 47 yards on 17 carries (2.8 ypc). Jamaal Williams had a single carry for 6 yards.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B-
It's hard to give the receivers a worse grade than this. The quarterbacks simply couldn't get the ball to them enough to rate them better or more poorly. Cody Hoffman finished with 3 catches for 28 yards. Richard Wilson had 1 catch for 21 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
The offensive line is still performing below its ability, but it did appear to make strides from the Utah game. False start penalties were still present, though not in as large of numbers. BYU still has to do better than 3.6 yards per carry.
It's not that this will go down in history as the best Boise State offense of all-time. It's the whole picture. Hostile, record crowd at Bronco Stadium. A Boise State offense that hadn't been shut out at home since the 1990s. The Cougars held a team that had gone for 590+ yards the week before to 261. Joe Southwick only passed for 145 yards on 25 attempts. Boise State was 0 for 5 on 4th down attempts.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Boise State rushed for more than 100 yards (116), but the defensive line was stout when it mattered. The goal line stand which started at the BYU 1 yard line and ended in no points for the Broncos was one of the better goal line stands in school history. Ezekiel Ansah was a beast among boys, and is quickly showing this year why he has significant NFL potential.
Once again, the unit played stellar. Kyle Van Noy, Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree and Spencer Hadley all had their moments. This is probably BYU's best linebacking corp ever. Of course, that is better evaluated at the end of the season. The linebackers have played great as a unit and they are the heart of the defense. The depth is impressive as well, with Alani Fua and Uani' Unga among the backups who would be starters on many other teams.
Boise State's receiving corp, though inexperienced, is top-flight in terms of talent. Matt Miller recorded 7 catches for 75 yards, but the secondary - like the other position groups - came up huge when needed. The secondary this year is allowing Mendenhall to take more chances with his impressive front seven.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Riley Stephenson had 6 punts for a 47.0 yard average. 4 punts landed inside the 20. The tackling was solid in punt coverage. Some of the Boise State kick returns were a bit long. The placekicker never had a chance.