The game against Wisconsin provided a good measuring stick for BYU's program. There were some good things that occurred, but the contest also showed that the Cougars still have some work to do.
BYU's offense lives and dies by the quarterback, and when the quarterback doesn't get rolling, the offense often stalls. After having a very good game two weeks ago against Boise State, Taysom Hill struggled to find any rhythm in the passing game against the Badgers. Hill only completed 19 of 41 passes for two touchdowns and an interception. While 66 rushing yards on 17 carries isn't all that bad, it still wasn't the same old Taysom Hill out on the field. The offense looked a bit flat, and in the end only managed 370 total yards.
Wide receivers: B+
Cody Hoffman again led all receivers, hauling in seven passes for 113 total yards, setting a new BYU career receiving record. Hoffman also tied Austin Collie's record of 17 100-yard receiving games. But, that was about it for the receivers as far as any real impact in the game. Ross Apo, Mitch Mathews, and Skyler Ridley only caught one pass each on the night as the offense struggled to find any continuity in the passing game.
Tight ends: B-
The tight ends caught five combined passes throughout the game. Kaneakua Friel led all tight ends with three receptions, making tough catches in traffic to help keep BYU's offense on the field. Devin Mahina caught a pass but it looked as though he got a little banged up in the process. Overall it was a solid night for the tight ends.
Running backs: B
The ground game struggled at times but also had success at times. Led by the legs of Jamaal Williams, who rushed 14 times for 76 yards, BYU's running backs combined for 110 yards on 22 carries.
Offensive line: C-
Against the Badger front, the Cougar offensive line struggled to protect Hill in the pocket and when he rolled out of it. The offensive line gave up four sacks and allowed the Badger defense to put pressure on Hill. The line struggled at times to open up holes for the running backs and allowed the defense to record seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage on top of the four sacks.
The Cougar defense performed fairly well despite the tough challenge of stopping running backs James White and Melvin Gordon, who were running behind a big offensive line. BYU's defense struggled at times but did enough to provide the team an opportunity to win the game. In the end the Badgers' ground game and ball control was just too much to overcome.
Defensive line: C+
The Cougar defensive line struggled to control the trenches up front. Much of that is due to the size and talent of the Badger offensive line, which average about 320 pounds across the board. The bright spot up front was Eathyn Manumaleuna, who recorded six tackles on the night. The defensive line struggled with gap control at times and couldn't provide much pressure, or create blitzing lanes, during passing downs.
While Kyle Van Noy gets most of the praise, the star of the linebackers on Saturday was Uani Unga, who recorded 15 total tackles and was the most physical linebacker on the team. Alani Fua and Van Noy also performed well, but the linebackers did struggle at times, getting washed up at times by the Badger offensive line in the ground game. The outside linebackers could have been a little tighter in coverage against Wisconsin's tight ends and running backs. Fua was able to record the defense's only sack on the night.
The Cougar secondary held Badger quarterback Joel Stave to only 196 passing yards on 32 attempts, but Stave did throw for a touchdown. In a game in which Wisconsin's offense was fairly balanced between passing and throwing, the secondary did rather well. Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis recorded eight catches for 67 yards to lead all Badger receivers, but the Cougar secondary didn't allow a single receiver to catch a touchdown.
Special teams: B
The special teams performed well as a whole against the Badgers. However, there was one special teams play that was anything but special. Instead of kicking a field goal from the 30, BYU elected to try and pin the Badger offense deep, probably in large part because of the swirling wind. The ball went into the end zone, nullifying any advantage sought. Adam Hine had a very good performance in the kick return game, totaling 103 yards on five returns. Justin Sorensen was perfect on the night in the kicking game.