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BYU’s game against San Jose State turned out different than BYU faithful expected, with the Cougars losing 20-14 Saturday night.
While many BYU fans are blaming their team's loss on quarterback Riley Nelson, the reality is both the Cougars offense and defense struggled and share the blame.
The defense allowed three touchdowns in the first quarter and a half before finally coming alive and keeping the Spartans scoreless after 13:23 remained in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the offense started quickly and scored on its opening drive but struggled the rest of the night.
Toward the end of the fourth quarter, it seemed like BYU could potentially have a magical comeback and win the game. Running back David Foote scored a touchdown for the Cougars with 2:36 remaining in the game to pull the Cougars within six points.
Following the touchdown, Cody Hoffman recovered an onside kick and BYU was moving the ball down the field for what looked like a game-winning drive.
However, as was the story with this game, BYU was almost in the red zone when Nelson fumbled the ball, ending any hopes BYU had of winning.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall thought the recovery of the onside kick was great and was going to set up the Cougars victory.
“I was really excited,” Mendenhall said. It was a nice onside kick. We executed it real well and had two-and-a-half minutes still to go with a timeout, and it couldn’t have been set up any better.”
Riley Nelson struggled throughout with one interception and three fumbles. Nelson was also visibly hurt throughout and many questioned if he would return multiple times.
Mendenhall is known for his constant support for Nelson, and after this game, his support was as strong as ever.
“He took a hard shot and is very resilient,” Mendenhall said. “We had James Lark ready because Riley was hurting. We weren’t sure how and if he was going to be able to continue and he just kept recovering and recovering. He gave us a chance to win the game.”
While most of the offensive players were not stellar during this game, Hoffman is one that needs recognition.
Besides the recovery of the onside kick, Hoffman had many receptions that helped moved the offense down the field and keep BYU’s dream alive.
Hoffman finished the night was a career-high 13 receptions for 155 yards. Those numbers moved him to No. 9 in career receiving yards and sixth in career all-purpose yards at BYU.
BYU’s defense did not perform as well as expected, specifically during the first quarter. When SJSU raced out to a three-touchdown lead, it looked like BYU could be headed to a blowout loss.
Mendenhall acknowledged that San Jose State came ready to play from the beginning of the game and BYU was not executing well.
“We just were not concentrating very well on our assignments,” Mendenhall said. “They had some nice concentration plays that forced our players to really concentrate from the beginning of the play to the end of the play. They had three big plays to start the game and then we decided to play and concentrate. Give San Jose State credit for the way they started the game.”
Mendenhall also believes that the defense did not play the entire game and the team needs to play all four quarters well to win.
“I think they (the defense) played a good three quarters of football,” Mendenhall said. “San Jose has a good offense and can put a lot of points on the board. They dug us into a hole and we couldn’t get out.”
BYU now needs to bounce back from this loss quickly and start preparing for another road trip, this time to New Mexico State.
Ashley Anderson is a senior at BYU majoring in public relations with the hope of one day having a career in sports public relations.