Game day grades: BYU vs. Georgia Tech

The Cougars faced a very solid Yellow Jacket defense that was ranked 20th in the nation, but that didn't stop the Cougar offense from having a very productive outing. Taysom Hill continues to improve and become a more well rounded quarterback and field general. In a game of two halves, the Cougars did enough on both sides of the ball to come away with a solid 38-20 victory.


The Cougar offense totaled 433 yards, 357 of which came in the first half.

Quarterback: A-

Taysom Hill is improving game by game, most notably in the one area that's the hardest to develop within an offense, and that's the passing game. Hill could have received an A if his second-half performance matched his first-half performance. In the first half, Hill picked apart a very good Yellow Jacket defense with a combination of throws and rushes. There were times when Hill looked unstoppable both throwing the ball and running when needed to make a play and keep the drive alive. He didn't throw an incompletion until late in the second quarter, and at halftime he had completed 16 of 20 passes for 226 yards. On the day, he completed 19 of 27 passes for 244 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and turned in a very solid performance through the air. On the ground he added 65 yards and a touchdown to become more of a diverse offensive threat. The future is looking brighter and brighter for BYU's young quarterback.

Running backs: B

It was good to see Jamaal Williams back in full swing within the offense after limited playing time last week against Utah State. With 17 carries and 86 yards, he accounted for a majority of the production from the running back position. There were some miscues, but overall the backs had a solid performance. In mop-up duties Algernon Brown ran hard and added another Cougar score, while Adam Hine has yet to really get into the offensive mix. With Hine's speed as a kick returner, it's a mystery as to why the sophomore back hasn't been able to carve and weave his way through a defense much like a special teams unit. The Cougar backs blocked better this game in pass protection but still need to become bigger receiving threats out of the backfield to become more rounded as an offensive threat.

Wide receivers: A-

Cody Hoffman inches closer and closer to becoming BYU's all-time leading receiver. He hauled in five receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown on a Willie Mays over-the-head-basket-catch that will surely make highlight reels. He is now one reception and two touchdowns away from becoming BYU's all-time leading receiver in those categories. J.D. Falslev had a very productive game from the slot receiver position, adding 69 yards on six catches.

Tight ends: B-

Finally, there was a glimpse of a traditional pass-catching tight end. Devin Mahina hauled in two passes for 17 yards to keep a drive alive. Friel did an adequate job of blocking from his attached position on the line, and Brett Thompson added another catch for 14 yards.

Offensive line: B-

Hill and Williams made the offensive line look better than it really was. During what seemed to be a very productive effort in the first half, when the Yellow Jackets elected to play conservative defense, the line looked good pass-blocking for the most part. In the third quarter the offensive line took a hit when it struggled to open up holes for the backs and ultimately gave up three sacks on passing downs. Far too many times, Yellow Jacket defenders beat their man one-on-one. The offensive line is improving, but it's not quite where it needs to be just yet.


The Cougar defense played hard and made plays when needed, but there were some breakdowns in discipline that allowed the Yellow Jackets to gain more yards than what Coach Mendenhall expects from his unit. With the help of Alani Fua, and two consecutive forced turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Cougar defense stepped it up and helped the team secure the victory.

Defensive line: B

The defensive line had its ups and downs this game. It all starts with the nose guard, and this wasn't Eathyn Manumaleuna's best overall performance from the middle of the defense. Marques Johnson saw more reps in the middle, allowing for changes up front. Bronson Kaufusi and Remington Peck turned in a solid performance on the edges while holding a two-gap to allow linebackers to flow relatively well, but it wasn't quite as good as last season's performance against the Yellow Jacket offense. In passing downs the defensive line often lost containment, allowing quarterback Vad Lee to make plays with his legs to extend multiple drives.

Linebackers: A-

With Georgia Tech driving in the fourth quarter and the Cougars holding on to a 24-13 lead gained in the first half, Alani Fua singlehandedly changed the nature of the game. Dropping back into coverage while reading Lee's eyes, Fua intercepted a pass in Kyle Van Noy-like fashion and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. Van Noy added two more sacks to his career total but could have had four and a few more tackles for a loss to go with the three he recorded for a loss of 20 yards. Meanwhile, this game saw the return of Spencer Hadley, who added a sack of his own from the outside linebacker position rather than from the middle. Uani Unga and Austen Jorgensen combined for 21 tackles from the middle, most of which came from plugging holes against the dive play up the middle.

Secondary: B+

The secondary got away with a few plays that could have changed the outcome of the game. Safety Craig Bills went out early with a concussion and was replaced with Blake Morgan who, while turning in a solid tackling performance with 11, was the beneficiary of a lack of Yellow Jacket execution in the passing game. Far too many times did the Georgia Tech receivers get behind the last line of Cougar defense only to have the pass not be on target. Still, Morgan battled and provided great run support along with Robertson Daniel, who made a key play by hitting David Sims and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Spencer Hadley. Overall it was a solid performance against both the pass and the run against a Yellow Jacket offense that threw the ball more than in the past.

Special teams: B

It was an overall solid day for the Cougar special teams, led by the leg of Justin Sorensen in kickoffs and the impressive kick return efforts of Adam Hine. Hine had three returns for a total of 85 yards, with his longest being 39 yards. There were no turnovers or coverage issues, but it wasn't a perfect night for the special teams unit. Sorensen did miss a 52-yard field goal, but it's hard to fault him due to the long and difficult distance. Also, Scott Arellano had a partially blocked punt, but this could be blamed more on a bad snap that disrupted the timing more than anything. His longest was a 57-yard boot, but he only averaged a little more than 38 yards per punt.

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