Game day report: BYU 41, UH 20

With quarterback Riley Nelson getting cleared to play, the Cougars finished off the regular season with a win over former rival Hawaii. After a hard-fought first half, the Cougars came out and ripped off 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and never looked back.

Quarterbacks: A-

After not playing in a game for three weeks due to two broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung, Riley Nelson returned to the field and had a career-high in passing yards with 363. The warrior defense did a relatively decent job of containing Nelson on the ground, but the Cougar warrior was able to find receivers Ross Apo and Cody Hoffman for a total of three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Running backs: B

Five different Cougar running backs ran the ball a combined 30 times for 156 yards. Michael Alisa received the bulk of the carries, while senior Bryan Kariya scored the only touchdown from the backfield. Overall it was a productive rushing game for the Cougars, but not their best performance of the season.

Wide receivers: A

Once again Cody Hoffman came to play, and his seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown backs it up. Hoffman, Ross Apo and J.D. Falslev combined to catch 16 passes for a total of 258 yards and three touchdowns.

Tight ends: B

With the tight end position depleted with injuries, Marcus Mathews and Kaneakua Friel stepped up and combined for seven receptions for 97 yards. Mathews was a threat against the Hawaii safeties and averaged 20 yards a catch.

Offensive line: B-

The offensive line struggled to open holes in the run game, but for the most part gave Nelson time to throw for a career-high in yards. The line struggled to pick up the Hawaii blitzes and allowed three sacks on the day. The offensive line eventually wore down the Hawaii front, but the overall performance was just above average.

Offensive MVP goes to: Riley Nelson

The offensive MVP could easily be given to wide receiver Cody Hoffman, but it's hard not to give the award to Nelson thanks to his gutsy return. He was not even expected to play according to an earlier evaluation, but with grit and moxy, he threw for a career-high.

Defensive line: B+

The defensive line bottled up the Hawaii run game for a total of 17 yards, holding the Warrior rushers to an average of just 1.1 yards per carry. The Cougar front placed pressure on the Warrior quarterbacks in the second half.

Linebackers: B

The linebackers were tested primarily in the passing game, given the fact Hawaii only rushed the ball 16 times. Despite that fact, the Cougar linebackers managed to record five tackles for a loss. With the linebackers being the core of the Cougar defense, it would have been nice to see more dominance out on the field, both in pass pressure and physical play.

Safeties: B+

This was a tough game for the Cougar safeties, but Daniel Sorensen was the second-leading tackler on the team. Travis Uale had just an average game despite coming home to Hawaii and playing in front of family and friends. The secondary did stiffen up in the second quarter, and Joe Sampson also recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown.

Cornerbacks: B+

It looked like it was going to be a long game for the BYU cornerbacks after Hawaii basically had their way with them in the first half. However, during the second half the Cougar corners stiffened, holding Hawaii to a total of 25 pass completions out of 47 attempts by the end of the game.

Defensive MVP goes to: Joe Sampson

Sampson continues to emerge at the nickel safety position and was involved in six tackles and one tackle for a loss, but it was his fumble recovery and dash to the end zone that got him the MVP award.

Special teams: B-

The biggest issues with special teams comes from struggling kicker Justin Sorensen, who missed two field goals in the first half, leaving BYU trailing Hawaii at halftime. Sorensen eventually broke his missed-kick streak and went for 2-of-4 on the day. There was also a kickoff that went out of bounds, giving the Warriors the ball on the 40 yard line. The kick off team did a fairly good job of corralling the Hawaiian kick returners.


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