Against lesser competition, Riley Nelson not only thrived but dominated. Against a very good team in TCU, Nelson was able to sustain drives, but his many mistakes led to more TCU points than he and the offense were able to orchestrate for BYU. If BYU is to beat teams the likes of TCU, they have to score more touchdowns offensively.
Running backs: B-
Establishing a good run game was needed in order to keep the TCU pass rush at bay. BYU was able to gain 221 rushing yards (not including yards lost via fumbled snaps on special teams and whatnot), and most of that came by way of Nelson, who racked up 84 rushing yards. J.J. Di Luigi, who didn't start the game, was second on the team with 69.
Wide receivers: B+
Cody Hoffman again had another standout performance and Ross Apo also got in to the mix by catching a deep ball in what was more aggressive, go-get-them style of play from the receivers downfield. The Cougar receivers made the most of their limited opportunities and combined for 144 yards on 10 receptions.
Tight ends: C
It was a relative quiet night for the tight ends, as most of the passes were thrown to the receivers. Not much to evaluate here, other than Austin Holt was solid as a blocker in the run game. Mathews led all receptions from the tight end position with one catch.
Offensive line: C
The TCU defensive line pushed around and beat the Cougar front, making it difficult to establish the passing by pressuring Nelson and in the run game by controlling the gaps. TCU was able to sack Nelson four times, while making seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a combined loss of 22 yards. Time and time again the Horned Frog defensive line gave the offensive line fits, causing Nelson to improvise with his legs and go away from the set play. In a game where BYU needed the o-line to be dominant up front, it just wasn't there.
Offensive MVP goes to: Cody Hoffman
Once again Cody Hoffman receives the offensive MVP. His 67 yards on four catches seemed to come at the right time, swinging the momentum back in BYU's favor.
Defensive line: B-
The Cougar defensive line for the most part held their gaps, allowing the linebackers to flow to the play, limiting a talented Horned Frog rushing attack to 157 yards on 39 plays. More pressure from the defensive line during passing downs would have raised the grade.
This was a tough game to defend given the quality of talent and experience TCU fielded at both the running back and receiver positions. The play of Jordan Pendleton and Kyle Van Noy raised the grade of the linebacker grades, but there were still too many assignment issues from the overall group that allowed TCU to reach pay dirt on several occasions.
TCU spread out the Cougar defense and then forced them to cover the run. With that being the case, Daniel Sorensen was the second leading tackler on the defense. In pass coverage Uale struggled a bit and miss tackles lowered the overall position grade.
Given the talent level of TCU's receiving corps, the Cougar secondary turned in a good game, limiting TCU's offense to just 147 passing yards in comparison to BYU's 215. Against some of the better receivers BYU has faced all season long, the cornerbacks were physical with active hands in decent pass coverage overall. Corby Eason played exceptionally well both in pass coverage and in run support.
Defensive MVP goes to: Corby Eason
And why not? Sure, he didn't have an eye-popping game but Eason played tough in the run game, made play after play in the passing game and helped hold senior Antoine Hicks to just one catch for one yard. It's about time to give the defensive MVP to a secondary player, and Eason is the one to receive it for his quiet play.
Special teams: D+
While the return game with Hoffman and J.D. Falslev kept the Cougar special teams out of the bottom cellar, it was the inability of the punting unit to be an asset which continually placing BYU's defense against the odds. Continued poor field position gave the TCU's offense a shorter field to work with, which limited BYU's chances of making a come back.