Offensive coordinator Robert Anae fashioned Jake Heaps with the kid gloves, which may not have been a bad idea considering the complex 3-3-5 system he was seeing for the first time. The offensive playcalling was about as conservative as one will see at BYU, but hey, it worked; Heaps was never put into a position where he could either win or lose the football game.
Heaps came out very strong and would have connected on his first nine passes had it not been for three dropped passes. Following his interception after an Aztec defensive back made a great play in leaving his outside coverage to pick it off, Anae went extremely conservative and Heaps executed what he had to efficiently.
The use of Matt Marshall as the sort of changeup they envisioned for Riley Nelson was a good idea, as it usually saw good production.
Running Backs: A
J.J. Di Luigi had a very strong outing, rebounding from his subpar game a week ago. Bryan Kariya showed extremely well, although he proved to be much more effective out of the I-formation than from the shotgun.
Joshua Quezada got into the mix and contributed some nice runs. The two players who contributed very well that shouldn't go unnoticed were Zed Mendenhall and Mike Hague, who both provided some punishing lead blocks throughout the ball game.
Wide Receivers: C
They weren't a factor for the most part, although the offensive playcalling dictated as much. It was surprising that they weren't a big part of Anae's offensive game plan, which called for a lot of runs and quick-hitters.
Tight Ends: B-
Austin Holt and Mike Muehlmann were the standouts here, as both contributed for some very good seal blocks on runs during critical situations. Muehlmann made perhaps the biggest catch of the game, helping convert a fake field goal that very well could have changed the course of the season.
Marcus Mathews showed well on a couple of receptions, but made a huge error in not securing the football as the team was nearing the end zone. He ended up fumbling the football and subsequently kept the Aztecs in the game.
Offensive Line: A-
This group simply had an outstanding and dominating outing. They imposed their will early and often on the Aztec defensive front, and were the main reason why BYU enjoyed such a huge advantage in time of possession.
The pass-blocking was adequate, although there were still too many illegal procedure penalties, which will have to be cleaned up. Overall, this is the type of performance fans should expect from such an experienced and talented group, and it should continue going forward.
Defensive Line: A-
Jordan Richardson was the unsung hero on defense, as he saw the majority of reps at nose tackle and fared extremely well. Matt Putnam showed well at his end position, with Vic So'oto again providing some very solid play. They were able to make the Aztec running attack a non-factor, which wasn't an easy task to be certain.
This was far and away their best collective performance of the season. Brandon Ogletree was the player of the game in contributing an early interception and a key hit on a critical third-down play late in the game that forced an incompletion. Shane Hunter saw almost every rep at the other inside position and was very solid.
Kyle Van Noy seemed born again at the Sam position, where he contributed some very good play in limiting the Aztecs on the edges. Jadon Wagner has finally emerged with a significant role in starting at the Will position, and has thrived with his opportunity.
Andrew Rich played as we've come to expect, with some very good play in run support and on the edges. Travis Uale played solid, while Jray Galea'i saw a lot of time for the first time in his career while playing as a nickelback.
As has become the norm, Brian Logan was solid in accounting for some good tackling and coverage throughout the game. Brandon Bradley got beat a few times, but saw much improvement in run support. Corby Eason was used in spots and was solid in coverage.
Special Teams: B-
The kick coverage was good, as were the punt and kick returns for the most part. Riley Stephenson had a game that he'd do well to forget about.
You can criticize Robert Anae for being too conservative, but you can't argue with the results. He showed forth a very conservative game plan that chewed up a ton of clock, which in turn kept the defense fresh and motivated.
The defense seemed born again, especially at the inside linebacker position. It was far and away the best collective performance of the year for the defense, as the coaching changes that took place seemed to be for the best.