BYU vs. GT: Things I Liked and Didn't Like

I didn't like the first half. It was ugly. I liked the second half where BYU outscored Georgia Tech 17-0 and dominated play.

I didn't like the play selection during the first half. It wasn't until the final drive of the first half that resulted in a nine-minute drive that BYU even attempted their first run attempt on first down. That led to BYU's longest drive to that point. Coincidence?

I liked how the game turned around in the second half. By my count, BYU's run average when they ran it on first down was 6.9 yards, most of which came by way of five yard gains. Making five yards on first down opens up the playbook considerably and allows the offense more flexibility while keeping the defense on its heels.

Making four or more yards on first down produce long drives and keeps the offense on the field as BYU proved during the latter half of the game. I predicted BYU would have a better-than-average run game before the season and I hold to that after observing the game last night. Running the football on first down is something I hope to see often the rest of the season.

I didn't like the lack of pressure on true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball throughout the game. BYU's only two sacks early in the first quarter and late in the fourth quarter. Ball had too much time on most passing plays.

I did like Georgia Tech's offensive line. I recognize this was one of the better offensive lines in the ACC and might be the best offensive line BYU faces all season, along with USC's front line. I also liked how BYU's defense contained Ball. After Ball rambled for 30 or so yards during the initial drive by Georgia Tech, the defense successfully stopped him from running wild most of the game. Good containment by the BYU defensive front possibly lessened pressure on Ball directly – a good trade-off in my opinion.

I liked how BYU's defensive front performed. Again, Georgia Tech's opening run looked ominous as they ran for eight yards right up BYU's gut. However, that proved to be the most successful run they had up the middle the rest of the game. BYU's rotating starters of Daniel Marquardt, Ifo Pili and Manaia Brown were equal to the task against a very good Georgia Tech offensive line.

I liked what I saw of Manaia Brown in limited reps. He won't show much on the stat sheet, but he showed quickness off the snap of the ball, coupled with the strength to bull rush and break through double teams. Considering this was Brown's first game in more than two years – plus the fact he rarely practiced during the spring and the fall because of his shoulder injury – bodes extremely well for an already strong defensive interior.

I liked the performance of BYU's offensive line. They gave Berry ample time on most passing plays and were able to push the line on running plays. Brandon Stephens played extremely well leading and pulling on sweep and off-tackle runs. Jake Kuresa held his own on most plays. Scott Jackson was as solid as ever and Eddie Keele showed well.

I didn't like the holding penalties. BYU killed itself on most drives and these have to be sorted out before they play a team they won't dominate as they did last night along the line of scrimmage.

I liked Ofa Mohetau playing a couple of series. He showed well for the most part, but was confused in regards to his assignments on several passing plays. This is to be expected and this game will be a valuable experience to perhaps BYU's single most talented offensive lineman.

I loved Daniel Coats. He was outstanding. Coats showed every opposing coach they will have to account and game plan for him. If they leave linebackers to cover Coats, they will get burned. Having the opposition account for Coats will severely hamper what they can do on defense with the safeties.

Coats proved he is a major talent and the NFL looks to be a sure bet in his future, barring injury. My only criticism of Coats was in the open field after a pass was completed to another teammate in which Coats would just quit and not seek anyone to hit. Other than that, Coats was flawless.

I liked how Matt Berry performed. Berry was very efficient in the pocket, made good reads and stood in there while taking some massive hits. I can't recall any happy feet. Berry looked poised and like the leader so many fans are crying out for.

I don't like Berry's tendency to hold the ball longer than is warranted. This was our biggest criticism of Berry last season and looks to be something that Berry still needs work on this season if to a lesser degree. Overall, we were very pleased with Berry's performance.

I didn't like the series John Beck played, though it wasn't entirely Beck's fault. The option play was blown up before he could even gather what was happening. Kuresa was burned up the middle for one of the few times for a sack on Beck, who should have easily stepped up in the pocket buying some more time. The interception Beck threw was just a poor read on his part, plain and simple.

Beck will be a very talented quarterback for BYU in the future, but he needs more time in the system. It will be interesting to see what head football coach Gary Crowton plans for Beck next week against USC.

I loved Reynaldo Brathwaite. Wow. He is a lot of fun to watch. He's very slippery and can cut it up and burn to the outside. He'll prove extremely effective throughout the season and will get fans out of their seats.

I liked Taufui Vakapuna. He validated his hype. Vakapuna was effective against Georgia Tech and I look for him to be even more so in the future. I would like to see Vakapuna used as a fullback to lead block for Brathwaite or Tahi a bit more.

I didn't like the ACC officiating crew's interpretation of pass interference. The call on Bryant Atkinson late in the fourth quarter was questionable at best. The call against Chris Hale was ridiculous. The collective calls against Jon Burbidge were just plain obscene in my estimation.

I liked the play of Aaron Francisco. He proved to be very effective from his Cougarback position and intimidated all, but closed up the middle downfield. He caused two turnovers and was the intimidator on defense that we all anticipated. Francisco will have a huge season.

I also liked the play of Jon Burbidge. Burbidge was very good in coverage on run support and was BYU's defensive MVP against Georgia Tech in my estimation, with Francisco running a close second.

I liked the long, ball-control drives BYU was able to put together practically every time they got the ball during the final three quarters. No, these drives aren't exciting for the most part, but they're extremely effective. Especially when southern teams used to high humidity come to town such as Georgia Tech. The ball-control drives allowed BYU's offense to be on the field almost twice as long as Georgia Tech won the game for BYU.

I didn't like BYU's inability to produce points after the first nine-minute drive in the second quarter. If BYU is going to play dink-and-duck offense and control the ball, then scoring points at the end of those drives is crucial.

I liked David Nixon. He wasn't in long, but was very effective when he was. I believe Nixon will contribute significantly throughout the season and look for him to slowly gain more playing time as the season continues.

I liked the fact Bronco Mendenhall's defense didn't give up any touchdowns. BYU's defense was very stingy when Georgia Tech neared the red zone and caused multiple turnovers. Mendenhall was relatively conservative with his play calling, probably because he was feeling out the defense. He will likely increase his defensive repertoire in scheming as he learns the strengths and weaknesses of his personnel.

I didn't like that Georgia Tech was able to move the ball across midfield with relative ease before turnovers ended the drives.

I liked the fact the defense gave up only two plays over 30 yards. Again, what Mendenhall showed was relatively conservative to what he usually unleashed at New Mexico. Maybe he's saving it for USC. Look for the defense to show drastic improvement over the next three games. The exciting thing about the impending improvement is that the defense had a very good outing against Georgia Tech. It will only get better from here.

I hate the fact BYU is likely to go the rest of the season without the services of Brandon Heaney. Heaney is a very good cover guy and an emotional leader. He will be missed tremendously.

I like that Heaney has a great back up in Chad Barney. Barney received criticism last season for getting burned deep a couple of times. I think it was largely unwarranted. Barney is great covering underneath routes and can hold his own, for the most part. He's very physical and can hold his own one-on-one. Losing Heaney is a blow to the defense, but Barney will make sure the defense doesn't miss much of a beat.

I wasn't overjoyed by BYU's performance, but felt it was promising. If you cut out the missed block on the punt and reduce the penalties by half, BYU wins the game against Georgia Tech by four touchdowns. The Cougars owned the line of scrimmage throughout the game and dominated play. The mistakes will be reduced and I am holding firm to my 9-3 season prediction.

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