If you are a BYU fan, you are breathing a sigh of relief right now. You are thanking your defense for saving this game. The score is not a result of an amazing offense. The offense did OK. While the defense once again played very well.
Despite five turnovers, four by the offense and one on a punt return, the defense held Middle Tenn. St. to 10 points. That is the story of the game. Any defense that can hold a team to 10 points, in spite of five takeaways by the other team, is a defense worthy of praise.
Why is 37 points not an amazing offensive performance by the Cougars? Well, because the offense didn’t account for 37 points. Two scores were not by the offense.
- The defense dominated the Blue Raiders and that domination included scoring two points on a safety.
- At the end of the third quarter, JD Falslev returned a punt for 71 yards for a touchdown.
So subtract nine points from the score and the offense accounted for only 28 of the Cougar’s 37 points. But wait! BYU’s first drive started inside at the Middle Tenn. St. five yard line thanks to a huge return by Adam Hine on the kickoff. Even with the ball at the five yard line, BYU’s offense went backwards. They looked like they were going to blow another red zone appearance, a failure which cost them a win last week against the Utes. Credit Adam Hine and the kickoff team for getting the Cougs to the 5 and credit luck or poor defense by the Blue Raiders that BYU’s offense managed to score on a 3rd and goal from the 12 yard line.
So that means the Cougar offense, on their own, scored a barely acceptable 21 points. Taysom Hill ran all over the field again, racking up 153 yards and a touchdown. Had Middle Tenn. St. had a little better defense against the run, and capitalized on turnovers, BYU would have lost by one score again, as they did to Virginia and Utah. But Middle Tenn. St. was outclassed in all areas by BYU.
Notice that BYU only through the ball 19 times, completing 14 of them. The passes were easy completions because the Blue Raiders couldn’t stop the run and passes were so rare, the Blue Raiders never knew when to expect them. A suspension for breaking a team rule by Hoffman, BYU’s best receiver, might have been part of the reason for so few passes.
The offensive issues are not gone yet. The five turnovers prove that. The lack of a passing touchdown also hints at this. Expect BYU’s offense to continue to struggle next week against a stronger Utah State defense.
Football matters in Utah.