Game Day Grades: Poinsettia Bowl Edition

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The Cougars struggled to find consistency against a good-but-not-great defense. BYU totaled 296 yards, including 244 yards passing. On a positive note, the Cougars were 10 of 19 on third down and that helped to sustain some drives and give the defense some extended rests. Three turnovers is too many, though the 5 Aztec turnovers lessened the impact.


James Lark was 23 of 42 for 244 yards and 2 INTs. Riley Nelson played a series and was 0 of 2 with an INT. Lark played adequately for the Cougars to win.


Jamaal Williams wasn't helped much by his offensive line. He finished with 15 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown. The 14 yard scoring run was, however, a flash of brilliance. Williams also had 2 catches for 27 yards. David Foote had 3 carries for 8 yards and 2 catches for 17 yards.


This was one of the weakest BYU offensive lines in memory. Whether it was personnel or coaching or both - whatever way this unit requires the most improvement in 2013. San Diego State routinely pressured Lark, and Williams averaging just 2.1 yards per carry is a travesty.


It's a fantasy grade to give BYU an A+, but the defense arguably deserved it. After giving up a few too many yards in the first half, the Cougar "D" put down the clamps in the second. Bronco Mendenhall - more than any other year at BYU - has been outstanding at making second half adjustments on defense. For the game, the Aztecs only managed 263 yards and 2 of 15 third downs. The Cougar defense forced 5 turnovers.


There were some gaping holes for Adam Muema in the first half, but the line stiffened considerably in the second half. Ezekiel Ansah was a terror as always, and he registered a sack. Bronson Kaufusi also recorded a sack.


Kyle Van Noy had the kind of game-changing effort that has rarely been seen at BYU, or in college football in general. He had a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the endzone for a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown, a sack and he even recorded a blocked punt. His future remains uncertain, but Van Noy certainly bolstered his draft stock and that would be a fitting end to an outstanding BYU career. Alani Fua notched an interception in the fourth quarter.


The secondary gave up a few big plays, but generally played well. The safeties were ferocious and hard-hitting. While outperformed most of the season by the front seven, this was a well-above-average BYU secondary and it helped the defense become what it was.


This may have been the best overall special teams effort of the season. You could take issue with the missed extra point, but Riley Stephenson's three punts downed at the one were collectively an amazing triumph. Add in Kyle Van Noy's blocked punt and solid returns from JD Falslev, and this was an outstanding overall effort.

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Andrew Adams


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