Game day grades: BYU vs. Texas

After losing to the Cavaliers of Virginia last week – a team BYU should have beaten – the Cougars welcomed the No. 15 Longhorns into Provo with a hurricane-like reception. Darkened skies gathered and rain fell with torrential force, delaying the game for two hours. It would foreshadow things to come, as the Cougars unleashed a 40-21 apocalyptic dismantling of a very talented Texas Longhorn team.


Last week the Longhorns destroyed New Mexico State with a 715-yard performance – including 359 rushing yards – which set a new school record. A week later, Texas became the recipient of a nearly duplicate performance from BYU's offense, which put up 679 yards.

Quarterback: A-

Hill's grade would have been higher if he had put together a more complete game, but it's hard to lower it from an A- into the B range given how extraordinary his rushing game was against the level of talent it was done against. Hill rushed for 259 yards, the second-best rushing performance by a college quarterback in the past 10 years, second only to Vince Young's 267-yard performance in 2005. In the process, Hill led BYU to its most important victory in four years. Hill's ground game came close to beating a BYU single-game rushing mark set by Eldon Fortie (272 rushing yards) in 1962. Hill scored with his legs on 68-, 20- and 26-yard runs. With his 68-yard parting of the Texas defense, Hill matched the record he set last season against Hawaii for the longest rush ever by a BYU quarterback .

Hill could easily be given a B+ for his overall performance, completing only 9 of 27 passes for a meager 129 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. That's not very good by BYU passing standards. However, his incredible rushing performance against a Texas defense loaded with four- and five-star talent more than made up for his lack of passing performance. When Hill can put together a more complete passing game to complement his legs, he'll be one of the more prolific players to ever hold the title of BYU quarterback.

Running backs: A

Jamaal Williams also did a little record setting, albeit on a personal level. His 182-yard rushing performance against the Longhorn defense was a career-high for the sophomore. Williams both powered his way through the defensive line and sliced his way between the Longhorn linebackers to the tune of 6.1 yards per carry. Given the level of talent that Texas fields, this was the most impressive outing for a BYU running back in recent memory.

Wide receivers: B-

The game against Texas saw the return of Cody Hoffman, and it made a world of difference. BYU's passing game wasn't up to historical standards, but with the ground game working so well, it didn't matter. BYU's receivers only racked up 110 receiving yards, most of which came on two plays to Cody Hoffman for a combined 63 yards. While Hill needs to learn to put more touch on his throws, and could even add a smidgen of accuracy to the recipe, the receivers are still dropping catchable passes downfield. The receivers need to step up their game and become a greater part of the offense, as defenses will begin to key in on Hill's running. If the chemistry between Hill and the receivers can complement his ability to run, BYU's offense will be unstoppable.

Tight ends: C

The tight ends didn't play much of a factor other than blocking. In the passing game, the only tight end that contributed was Brett Thompson, who caught one pass for 16 yards but dropped another that should have been caught.

Offensive line: A-

After a horrible performance against Virginia, Coach Anae and Coach Tujague put in one of the most incredible coaching performances of any staff in recent memory. They switched up personnel and used multiple players at various positions. What was even more remarkable about this is they did so against Texas. Normally this is a recipe for disaster, as players need time to develop chemistry to form a formidable and cohesive front five. Given that the Cougars were playing against such a talented front four, the results were quite astounding. The BYU offensive line opened up holes for the running backs to rack up 297 rushing yards. Add in Hill's rushing total, and the Cougars amassed a whopping 550 rushing yards and set a new BYU record.

Edward Fusi saw action, along with Brayden Kearsly. DeOndre Wesley saw action at both tackle positions and Manaaki Vaitai started the game at left guard. It was a mix-and-match performance by Coach Tujague that resulted in zero sacks and only three quarterback hurries. The offensive line played physical and finished the game without losing that physicality in what was one of the better offensive line performances in more than two decades. The area the line still needs a lot of work on is pass protection, which kept the grade from being even higher.


Once again the defense proved why it's one of the best in the country. The Texas offense is chockfull of talent and experience, but that didn't matter, as BYU's defense recorded four sacks, eight tackles for a loss, eight pass breakups, five quarterback hurries. The Cougars held the cream of the Big 12 to 132 net rushing yards.

Defensive line: A-

The loss of Ziggy Ansah didn't seem to matter much, as Bronson Kaufusi, Eathyn Manumaleuna and Remington Peck gave the talented Texas offensive line all it could handle. Those three Cougars combined for 10 tackles (six solo), three of which were for a loss. Out of those three, Peck recorded the only sack, which was more than the entire Texas defense. The Cougar front three played very well, holding gaps, stunting for blitzing linebackers, playing the run well and even applying pressure when needed. When Marques Johnson entered the game, it allowed BYU to go into a more formidable front-three or front-four goal line formation that stifled the Texas ground game in short-yardage situations. It was a very solid performance by the Cougar defensive line.

Linebackers: A

Coach Tidwell and Coach Poppinga tapped the depth chart and rotated quite a few linebackers in throughout the game. After getting hurt against Virginia, Uani Unga returned to the field and his presence was immediately felt. Manoa Pikula and Jherremya Leuta-Doyere saw action on the outside and played very well, but the stars of the game were Alani Fua and Kyle Van Noy. Both were virtually unstoppable on the edges in the pass rush. Texas quarterback David Ash was hit so many times by Van Noy that the offense went max-protection to his side of the field. When that didn't work, Ash's body language pretty much signaled he had given up. He left the game in the fourth quarter after getting hurt and was replaced by Chase McCoy, who didn't fare any better. Fua racked up two sacks, while Van Noy recorded one. Texas received a heavy dose of the strength of BYU's defense: the linebackers.

Secondary: B-

BYU's secondary struggled against the talented Texas receiving corps, particularly when going up against Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley. Texas threw for 313 against BYU's secondary, and that is something that will not sit well with Coach Mendenhall. Davis had eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while Shipley had eight catches for 105 yards. BYU cornerback Skye PoVey finished with a team-high and career-high nine tackles, just one ahead of Van Noy. It would be incredible to see what this secondary could do with a healthy Jordan Johnson playing the field cornerback position, allowing Rob Daniel to play boundary corner. Still, against one of the most talented receiving corps BYU will face this season, they got the job done.

Special teams: A

There were no major mistakes on special teams to swing the momentum in Texas's favor, and the kicking game was outstanding. Justin Sorensen went four-for-four on field goal attempts, and kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone most of the night. Overall it was a very good night for Sorensen, who added 16 points to the scoreboard.

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