Game grades: BYU vs. Hawaii

The Cougar offense came out fast and put points on the board on the first drive and never looked back. With a new quarterback at the helm and a shakeup on the offensive line, the Cougars moved the ball in a more traditional fashion on the ground with much cleaner offensive line play. The defense held, meanwhile, held the opposing offense scoreless for the second game in a row, and BYU won 47-0.

With 425 rushing yards and an average of 7.3 yard per carry, BYU's offense resembled Wisconsin or Nebraska more than a BYU offense. It doesn't matter, though, as Cougar fans will take the win any way they can get it.

Quarterback: B+

It's not often that the BYU rushing attack outperforms the passing attack, but with true freshman quarterback Taysom Hill getting the starting nod, an emphasis on the ground game was expected. Hill might have only completed 14 passes out of 24 attempts for 144 yards, but the grade Hill received isn't necessarily based on his yards through the air. Hill commanded the offense well and made mostly good decisions with the ball – despite one interception – in his first college start. He gashed the Warrior defense with his legs and showed good poise at times when staying in the pocket, hitting seven different receivers. Hill's starting performance was one of the better for a true freshman in a long time.

Wide receivers: B-

Ross Apo finally found the end zone. However, the receivers are still developing chemistry with a new quarterback, so they weren't featured a great deal. There were a few catchable balls that a normally dependable Cody Hoffman usually comes down with but didn't in this particular game.

Tight ends: C+

This was the second game in a row where there wasn't a lot of action from the tight end position. Kaneakua Friel dropped a pass that could have been caught, but Devin Mahina was able to find the end zone on a 12-yard pass.

Running backs: A+

The Cougar offense suffered a big blow with the loss of junior running back Michael Alisa, who went out in the first quarter with a broken arm. Alisa had been the workhorse of the offense on the ground, but because of his injury, ball-carrying duties were given to true freshman Jamaal Williams. Williams carried the ball 15 times for 156 total yards, one of the more outstanding performances by a BYU running back – let alone a 17-year-old – in a long time. The Cougar running backs, without the 165 yards Hill gained on the ground, racked up a gaudy 248 total rushing yards. Five different backs got a chance to carry the ball, including Paul Lasike, who averaged 4 yards per carry. Overall this was the most dominant ground-game display by the Cougar backs in recent memory.

Offensive line: B+

The offensive line started off slow, but as the game wore on it became stronger and stronger as a unit. It was a gamble to start Braden Hansen at center, as he received very few reps at the center position over fall camp, but he came in and performed very well. Meanwhile, new left guard Famika Anae and right guard Manaaki Vaitai played very physical up front, pushing 300-pound Hawaiian defensive linemen off the ball. There was less confusion and better targeting and communication up front, which led to fewer mistakes. The physicality of the offensive line was visible early. Eventually a more seasoned interior line wore down Hawaii's defensive front with downfield blocking, pull-blocking and overall more aggressive play in the trenches. It was the best performance by the offensive line so far this season. The new lineup made a world of difference in this game.


BYU's defense did what USC couldn't, and that was keep Norm Chow's offense out of the end zone by holding the Warriors to fewer rushing and passing yards than the Trojans. For the second consecutive game, the Cougar defense didn't allow any points. BYU held Hawaii to only 41 yards on the ground and only 108 through the air.

Defensive line: A

The Cougar defensive line continued to dominate in the trenches by holding lanes, plugging gaps and providing pressure in the pocket. Even with the loss of Eathyn Manumaleuna, the Cougar defense didn't miss a beat, with Ezekiel Ansah coming in and having another monster game from the defensive tackle position by mkaing five tackles and nearly scoring a touchdown. The defensive line, with the help of the inside linebackers, held Hawaii's ground game to its lowest yardage total of the season so far. The Cougar front was dominant all game long.

Linebackers: A

Once again the Cougar linebackers turned in another dominating performance, from the outside to the inside. The linebackers played very well against the Hawaiian run game, holding them to only 38 yards of total rushing in the first half. Kyle Van Noy beat Hawaii's Blake Muir and Sai Kapua for two sacks on the game. Outside linebackers Spencer Hadley and Alani Fua also had very strong games rushing the quarterback and disrupting the Hawaii offense.

Defensive backs: A

Preston Hadley had a very good game against Hawaii x-receiver Trevor Davis. Davis only caught two passes for nine yards, and Jordan Johnson turned in another strong performance at the field side in man coverage. Hadley also turned in a solid performance in run support, finishing as the team's second-leading tackler with six tackles. Hadley also recorded a sack on a well-timed blitz call by Coach Mendenhall.

Special teams: B-

For the first time in a long time, the field goal unit missed two extra points in one game (one was blocked). Two missed PATs bring the grade down a bit, but the kick coverage by the special teams was solid, as was the punting performance by Riley Stephenson. It was a good all-around performance by the special teams unit, which wasn't fooled on another fake punt attempt, stopping the play and giving BYU's offense the ball back on the 47-yard line.

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