BYU's defense held Boise State's offense to zero points. If there is a bright spot in this program, it's the defensive play. Whoever would have thought that BYU would become a defensive powerhouse while the offense continues to struggle?
In the end, unfortunately, Coach Mendenhall made a big blunder by not rewarding his defense when he decided not to put the game on his defensive players' shoulders by kicking the extra point and sending it into overtime.
What can you say? The game plan early on was the right one by moving Nelson around to play to his strengths. This should have been the game plan for Utah. Nelson might have been the right quarterback at that time last year, but he clearly is not a long-term answer. It was déjà vu all over again, as Nelson getting pulled was reminiscent of the same thing happening to Jake Heaps last year.
The play of Taysom Hill raises this grade from a D-. Nelson was the cause of four turnovers, but the offensive line should be given partial credit for one. Coach Doman made the right adjustments by creating a moving pocket with Nelson rolling out to play to his strengths. He seemed rather slow (he could still be suffering from his back injury, more than likely) in his run options and indecisive in his passing.
When Nelson was pulled, the head-scratcher here was why wasn't James Lark the second quarterback option, especially if the quarterback was going to be more of a pocket passer? Lark ran with the second-string offense all of fall camp instead of Hill. It might have been the better option to lead with Lark and allow Hill to continue to run the packages he was given offensively. Still, it was a gutsy job by Hill to get BYU back in the game with a 95-yard touchdown drive.
Running backs: B
Michael Alisa played a tough game, once again. Much like it would be great to see what Cody Hoffman could do with a quarterback like John Beck or Max Hall at the helm, it would be great to see what Alisa could do with a decent offensive line. Alisa was the offensive workhorse that gave the offense a fighting chance in this game.
Wide receivers: B
The wide receivers played a solid game with the limited opportunities they were given. The offense went to a run-based offense and the passing game was very limited, especially with a true freshman quarterback being given the reins. This grade could have been higher with a more experienced quarterback at the helm in James Lark.
Tight end: B
If there was a game that was set up for them to have a good showing, it was this one. However, the tight ends weren't used as much, as the run game with Alisa and Hill became the primary focus. The blocking on the outside by the tight ends was decent and Richard Wilson made a nice, clutch catch downfield. Kaneakua Friel would have been more involved in the downfield passing game but was missed on several occasions.
Offensive line: D+
The offensive line has become the offense's Achilles' heel, and when you have a quarterback that struggles to stretch defenses, their flaws become even more glaring. There were multiple missed blocks by the interior of the line, and poor blocking technique up front with players missing the shed-blocking assignments. On one of Nelson's interceptions, his pass fell short due to the pocket being dented, leaving him unable to step into the throw. The failed two-point conversion was blown up at the right guard position due to poor play.
The defense played out of this world and is the best defense to see the field dressed in BYU blue possibly ever. Every level of the defense beat every level of Boise State's vaunted offense, and it wasn't even close. For as good as a defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall is – and he should be given credit for the play of the defense – he showed to be a poor game manager by his last offensive decision to go for two points.
Defensive line: A
BYU's defensive line played outstanding, denting the pocket, pressuring the quarterback and providing blitz lanes. It all starts with the nose guard, and Romney Fuga deserves a lot of credit for his unheralded play. From the first-team unit to the backups that came in, the line played very discipline, physical and dominant. They even held Boise State scoreless from the 2-yard line with a goal-line stand.
The linebackers once again showed why they are the best group to have ever played together at BYU. Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley, Ezekiel Ansah, Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree all had an exceptional game against an offense that is one of the more prolific in the nation. Even backup Uani Unga made a key read and play on running back D.J. Harper for a loss of yards. It was an exceptional job by the BYU Cougar linebackers.
Defensive backs: B+
Jordan Johnson played a great game on the field side while Preston Hadley struggled a little. Hadley's issues might not be all his fault, as Joe Sampson make quite a few coverage mistakes from his safety spot in the man-zone defense. Sampson's play was inconsistent during the game, and when you add a personal foul on top of poor play, that only makes it worse. Both Sampson and Daniel Sorensen didn't play up to full expectations, but were decent.
Special teams: A-
There were some coverage breakdowns, but overall the coverage was decent and the special teams had a very solid game. What raised the grade to an A- came on one play.
The discipline of the special teams to not be fooled and make a play on a Boise State punt fake was outstanding. Ezekiel Ansah tossed his man aside and made a play on the fake punt that gave BYU's offense a chance to score early. Congrats to Ansah for an outstanding game both on special teams and on defense.