There were some good, some bad and some downright ugly performances for BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Offensively, it was a tale of two halves as the Cougars seemed to virtually have its way against a very good Huskie defense in the 1st half, moving the ball at will. The second half proved to be more difficult as the adjustments by the Huskies on defense slowed the Cougar offense to a grinding halt. Defensively, BYU had their moments of brilliance but they couldn’t keep the Huskies out of the endzone. Special Teams play was abysmal for BYU against Washington, allowing the Huskies to change the field time after time and pressing the Cougars defense to defend with their backs against a wall.
Taysom Hill is a playmaker with his legs when it comes to extending plays and giving the offense a second chance, as evidenced by his stats in the Fight Hunger Bowl, but his decision making in the passing game was his undoing. Hill struggled when it came to going through his progressions and avoiding taking sacks. Hill did finish the game 25/50 for 293 yards passing. His passing acumen needs improvement and some help may come with an upgrade in talent and health at the wide receiver position in 2014. Hill struggled with the read option game as well, pulling the ball too much, resulting in his 31 carries for 133 yards. The running backs were seemingly invisible as a result of Hill’s struggles. Ultimately Hill totaled 426 yard on offense, which is an impressive number, but it didn’t translate into points. Hill’s first full season as BYU’s starting quarterback was a successful one and it can be expected the offense will continue to improve as he continues to work on fine tuning his game. The future is bright for Taysom Hill.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends: B-
Cody Hoffman broke another school record once held by Austin Collie. Hoffman had 12 receptions for 167 yards making his final game in a BYU uniform his 18th 100-yard receiving game of his career. Hoffman also holds the all-purpose yards record (5,015) once held by former BYU running back Curtis Brown. Outside of Hoffman’s heroics there were more than a few dropped passes by the receivers which stalled quite a few BYU drives. BYU’s receiver corps was made up of primarily former walk-on players, outside of Hoffman, with JD Falslev, Kurt Henderson, and Skyler Ridley lining up against Pac-12 defensive back talent. BYU still managed to gain nearly 300 yards through the air. It was good to see the return of a healthy Brett Thompson back in the fold at the hybrid slot/tight end position. Thompson caught three passes on the day for a new career high.
Running Backs: C
Not a lot of production from BYU’s running backs in this game. Jamaal Williams carried the ball only 12 times, in comparison to Taysom Hill’s 31 carries, for a total of 31 yards. Paul Lasike and Adam Hine each had 1 carry, for nine and five yards respectively. The pass-protection from the running backs was much better in this game but there appears to still be some room for improvement with some missed blocks and an egregious holding call on Paul Lasike.
Offensive Line: B
There was real improvement up front in the pass protection department. It wasn’t perfect, but there was much better overall pass protection despite Taysom Hill holding onto the ball longer than he probably should have at times. The line did have some mishaps but they built a pocket often enough for Taysom, allowing him to step up and deliver the ball downfield. Michael Yeck had a tough night protecting Hill’s blindside against Washington defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha. Terrance Alletto led the charge in the interior and even recorded a pancake block against Washington’s defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who is projected to be an NFL draft pick.
Defensive Line: C+
The defensive line struggled against the powerful Huskie offensive line. They weren’t as stout as they needed to be up front but there were some positives. Marques Johnson played a good game but Eathyn Manumaleuna and Bronson Kaufusi were quiet, outside of Kaufusi’s head-butt on Washington quarterback Keith Price. The inability of the defensive front to stonewall the Huskies didn’t allow the linebackers to flow and make plays. They were caught up in the wash too often, resulting in Craig Bills being BYU’s leading tackler on the night.
Going into the game BYU needed Uani ‘Unga, the nation’s second leading tackler, and Kyle Van Noy to have big games defensively if they wanted to win. Both recorded a combined 14 tackles which is usually the type of production Unga has just by himself. It was decent game for the linebackers but nothing spectacular. The Huskies were able to gash the Cougars for 190 rushing yards, sustaining drives and getting scores in the redzone.
Overall, the Cougar secondary did well in both the run and pass game against Washington. Craig Bills was the team’s leading tackler and former walk-on Skye PoVey did very well in pass protection against the talented Huskie wide receivers. Robertson Daniel recorded an interception but unfortunately the offense wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnover. The Cougar secondary wasn’t perfect but it held Keith Price to only 123 total passing yards and one touchdown. BYU fans can expect the BYU Cougar secondary to be improved in 2014 with the anticipated return of Jordan Johnson and Trenton Trammell from knee injuries.
Special Teams: F
Special teams were anything but special for BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl. The only positive was Justin Sorensen connecting on 3 of his 4 field goal attempts. Scott Arellano had one of his worst games of the season punting the ball. The kickoff coverage team gave up a touchdown and good field position on a consistent basis. Even when the Cougars kicked away from Washington’s kick returners it didn’t matter. BYU allowed Washington to rack up 168 yards on kick returns total. It’s hard to say if the poor performance of the special teams was the difference in the outcome, given the fact the Cougars had their chances in the blue zone, but it surely contributed to the defeat.