Game grades: BYU vs. Utah

Game grades: BYU vs. Utah

After dismantling the Longhorns of Texas and with an extra week to prepare, the Cougar offense unraveled for a fourth year in a row in a 20-13 loss to Utah at home. If there was a year for BYU to redeem the past years' losses, it was this year. However, that was not to be the case.

Offense

This game was lost in the trenches, and because of the game plan and the quarterback position. While the switching around of the offensive line just prior to Texas made Coach Anae look like a genius, the offense once again sputtered as Taysom Hill couldn't get the passing game rolling.

Quarterback: C

While the passing yards were up considerably from the last game, it was plain to see how Utah was going to defend the legs of Taysom Hill: stack the box and force him to make a play with his arm. Utah played man coverage, brought down a safety to spy the run and used a heavy-blitz front seven to make Hill uncomfortable in the pocket. The result was Hill going 18 of 48 (37.5 percent), giving him a 78.8 quarterback rating. The key areas that needed to be sharp were not, and those were the passing effectiveness along with the passing game plan of BYU. Both facets contributed to the poor quarterback play, and they have to improve if the offense is to move forward. No adjustments were made to get Hill in rhythm with his receivers, and it showed towards the end of the game when it was needed most. Hill's throws are not always on target and the timing of the throws are off, making catching the ball even more difficult by the receivers.

Running backs: C

The poor result of the running back play comes primarily through play calling and offensive line execution. Time and time again the backs were asked to rush straight ahead into the blitz of Utah linebackers, who were stacking the box as the Utah defensive ends crashed down on the edges. The offensive line wasn't nasty and rarely got a push in the middle or created seams or cutback lanes in the zone run. In 27 carries, the backs averaged just 3.1 yards a carry. The biggest disappointment in the run game came by way of the game plan. Trying to do the exact same run up the middle with the exact same poor results was very disappointing, and could fall upon the play calling and lack of adjustment given the lack of play by the offensive line.

Wide receivers: B-

Still far too many dropped balls by the receivers for a BYU offense. However, Cody Hoffman was the bright spot among receivers, catching eight passes for 108 yards. Mitch Mathews had three catches for 54 yards. However, in order for BYU to beat the game plan that Utah put in place, the passing game needed to be spot on, and it wasn't.

Tight ends: C

The tight ends have become nonexistent in the BYU offense. Other than Brett Thompson, who has had the most opportunities from the y-receiver position, the tight end position is not a factor in the Cougar offense. Devin Mahina had one pass thrown his way, which resulted in an incompletion, and Kaneakua Friel's responsibilities have been relegated to blocking.

Offensive line: D

If there is ever going to be good quarterback development or an allowance for playmaking, the offensive line has to do its job. Against Texas it did, but against Utah it didn't and there was no Star Lotulelei going up against undersized offensive linemen to blame. With Utah stacking the box, this game was lost in the trenches given the fact the game plan was to challenge that tactic. BYU rushed the ball against that stacked box and it didn't work, forcing BYU in a lot of third-and-long situations where Utah could then dictate the series. With far less talent on the field than Texas, Utah was able to record five sacks to Texas's none. This game was lost in the trenches.

Defense

The defense played well enough to win this game, but unlike BYU's offense, Utah's offense did a very good job of exposing defensive weaknesses.

Defensive line: B-

The defensive line played good gap-sound defense, but wasn't able to help the linebackers make plays as they had done in the past. The star on BYU's defensive line was Remington Peck, who recorded seven tackles (four solo) and one sack. The defensive front wasn't able to make Wilson uncomfortable in the pocket by getting a push in the passing plays.

Linebackers: B

The linebackers didn't have quite the success against Utah as they did against Texas. The two top tacklers on the defense were Kyle Van Noy and Tyler Beck. For the most part the linebackers played a solid game, but could have fared better over the middle in pass coverage. There were a few linebacker breakdowns that led to large rushing gains by Utah running back James Poole. The lack of coverage on Utah's tight ends hurt at key moments during the game.

Secondary: B

Travis Wilson's pass efficiency was 152.95 after completing 24 of 35 passes. What Hill couldn't do, Wilson could, and that was complete the short, intermediate and long passes to his receivers on the mark and on time. For the most part the secondary – which has had its trouble due to injuries – played fairly well, but gave up a few plays that went for long gains. Utah's offense is designed to vertical, and for the most part BYU's secondary relegated it to a quick-hit and short pitch-and-catch game.

Special teams: B+

There was one missed field goal early, but overall the special teams played well. The kickoff and punt return coverage was good, and if not for a controversial holding call, the special teams would have scored a touchdown. J.D. Falslev fought like a pit bull in punt returns to give the offense good field position a few times.

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