CFN Take: BYU Blasts Savannah State
Posted Nov 22, 2014

2014 BYU Cougars ... Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall

BYU Cougars

2014 Schedule
Record: 7-4

Aug. 29 at UConn W 35-10
Sep. 6 at Texas W 41-7
Sep. 11 Houston W 33-25
Sep. 20 Virginia W 41-33
Oct. 3 Utah State L 35-20
Oct. 9 at UCF L 31-24 OT
Oct. 18 Nevada L 42-35
Oct. 25 at Boise State L 55-30
Nov. 1 at Middle Tenn W 27-7
Nov. 15 UNLV W 42-23
Nov. 22 Savannah State W 64-0
Nov. 29 at California
Nov. 22 at BYU 64, Savannah State 0
And You Care Because … BYU blew out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and a 51-0 first half lead as Christian Stewart ran for two scores and threw for four scores, finding Mitch Mathews for touchdown passes from 71 and 15 yards away. The Cougars came up with a blocked punt for a score and Nate Carter ran for a touchdown before they turned it off in the second half. Savannah State managed 63 yards of total offense.
What Else? BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 12-of-17 passes for 196 yards and four scores, and ran five times for 44 yards and two touchdowns
- Savannah State QB Leon Prunty completed 10-of-25 passes for 40 yards and a pick
- BYU RB Nate Carter ran 20 times for 116 yards and a score
- First downs: BYU 27 – Savannah State 6
Game Rating: F

Nov. 15 at BYU 42, UNLV 23
And You Care Because … Christian Stewart threw three touchdown passes and Paul Lasike ran for two scores as BYU pulled away late in the first half and cruised from there. Lasike ran for a four-yard touchdown and took a pass 26 yards for a score, and Devin Mahina caught a 15-yard touchdown pass as the offense clicked after a slow start. UNLV got two three Jonathan Leiva field goals and a 68-yard Shaquille Murray-Lawrence scoring dash, but the defense couldn’t come up with a stop in the second half.
What Else? BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 18-of-32 passes for 325 yards and three scores, and ran six times for 38 yards
- UNLV RB Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran 20 times for 143 yards and a score
- UNLV QBs Jared Lebowitz and Blake Decker combined to completed 20-of-45 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Total yards: BYU 592 – UNLV 403
Game Rating: C

Nov. 1 BYU 27, at Middle Tennessee 7
And You Care Because … BYU let the defense do the work, stuffing the Middle Tennessee offense outside of one long second quarter scoring drive, finishing with a 22-yard Devin Clarke touchdown catch. BYU scored 17 unanswered points with Christian Stewart throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leslie and putting the game away on a one-yard scoring run in the fourth.
What Else? Total yards: BYU 444 – Middle Tennessee 228
- BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 28-of-45 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for five yards and a score
- Middle Tennessee QB Austin Grammer completed 16-of-32 passes for 119 yards and a score with two picks
- BYU RB Jamaal Williams ran 16 times for 49 yards
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 24 at Boise State 55, BYU 30
And You Care Because … Grant Hedrick and the Boise State offense were unstoppable. Hedrick found four different receivers for touchdowns, ran for a 12-yarder, and Jay Ajayi ran for two scores in the rout. A 78-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Sperbeck put the Broncos up 20-0 in the second quarter, and Shane Williams-Rhodes answered a 17-yard touchdown run by BYU’s Jamaal Williams with a 49-yard score. To complete a wild few minutes, BYU answered right back with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Colby Pearson, only to be hit with two more Boise State touchdowns late in the half as the Broncos went into the locker room up 41-16. It wasn’t all easy for Hedrick, throwing a pick six to Fred Warner early in the third, but Boise State was never threatened.
What Else? Boise State QB Grant Hedrick completed 24-of-31 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns with an interception, and ran eight times for 29 yards and a touchdown
- BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 23-of-38 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he ran for a score
- Boise RB Jay Ajayi ran 26 times for 118 yards and two score, and caught two passes for 26 yards
- Total yards: Boise State 637 – BYU 322
Game Rating: C

Oct. 18 Nevada 42, at BYU 35
And You Care Because … BYU appeared to be in control for most of the game, with Christian Stewart finding Mitch Mathews for two touchdowns and Paul Lasike scored twice on the way to a 28-13 lead in the first half. It was all Nevada in the second half with Cody Fajardo running for two scores and finding Richy Turner for an 18-yard touchdown on the way to 22 straight points. BYU couldn’t stop making mistakes, turning it over three times and not getting back into the end zone until a Stewart eight-yard touchdown pass to Keanu Nelson with just over two minutes to play to pull the Cougars within seven, but that was it, fumbling away the final drive after getting down to the Wolf Pack 39.
What Else? Turnovers; BYU 3 – Nevada 0
- BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 39-of-63 passes for 408 yards and four scores, and ran 16 times for 47 yards
- BYU WR Mitch Mathews caught 16 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns
- Nevada QB Cody Fajardo completed 26-of-40 passes for 285 yards and a score, and ran eight times for 47 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 9 at UCF 31, BYU 24
And You Care Because … William Stanback ran for a four-yard score in overtime to give UCF the lead, and BYU couldn’t answer with its fourth down throw into the end zone misfiring. In a game of runs, UCF got up 10-0 in the first helped by a five-yard run from Justin Holman, and then it was all BYU with 24 straight points on three Christian Stewart touchdown passes, with two to Devin Mahina from 15 and 14 yards out,, and a 32-yard Trevor Samson field goal. UCF rallied back with a second Stanback touchdown run and a 37-yard Josh Reese scoring grab, but after tying it, the Knights couldn’t win in regulation with Shawn Moffitt missing a 46-yard field goal and getting his 50-yarder blocked with four seconds to play.
What Else? BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 22-of-37 passes for 153 yards and three scores with a pick, and ran 13 times for 52 yards
- UCF LB Terrance Plummer made 17 tackles with a sack, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble
- UCF QB Justin Holman completed 30-of-51 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions
- Turnovers: UCF 4 – BYU 2
Game Rating: B

Oct. 3 Utah State 35, at BYU 20
And You Care Because … BYU star QB Taysom Hill suffered a broken leg in the first half and the team’s dreams of crashing the College Football Playoff party came to a stop as Utah State scored 21 straight points in the final 4:40 of the first half thanks to Darell Garretson, who ran for a five-yard score and found Devonte Robinson for a 22-yard score and, in the final minute, hit Hunter Sharp for a 72-yard touchdown. Down 14, the Cougars couldn’t rally in the second half mustering just two Trevor Samson field goals. The Aggies put it away late in the third on a one-yard Nick Vigil run.
What Else? Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 19-of-25 passes for 321 yards and three scores, and ran for a touchdown.
- Before getting hurt, BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 8-of-11 passes for 99 yards and a score, and ran seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown. Christian Stewart completed 10-of-29 passes for 172 yards and three interceptions. BYU RB Jamaal Williams ran 17 times for 99 yards
- Utah State WR Hunter Sharp caught five passes for 173 yards and a score, Devonte Robinson caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns
- Penalties: Utah State 12 for 105 yards – BYU 9 for 60 yards
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 20 BYU 41, Virginia 33
And You Care Because … BYU remained unbeaten, but not without getting all it could handle from Virginia. The Cougars and the Cavaliers went toe-to-toe for most of the game, but BYU never relinquished a lead it grabbed on a Taysom Hill touchdown run early in the third quarter. Every time the Cavs drew within a score, the Cougars had an answer, capped by a 99-yard Adam Hine kickoff return to finally put the game out of reach with 7:50 left in the fourth.
What Else? No, it wasn’t prolific, but Hill continued to make his Heisman case by accounting for 259 yards and three touchdowns. And he did it against a Virginia D that’s been shutting people down all season.
- Oddly enough, Virginia lost the game, but dominated the offensive statistics. The Cavaliers outgained the Cougars, 519-332, dominated time of possession and scored 27 points on five red-zone trips.
- Considering how poorly the defense played, BYU was fortunate to have won this game. Hine’s special teams heroics and the continued leadership of Hill helped keep the dream of a perfect season alive.
- Can Virginia build off this offensive effort? The usually feeble Cavalier attack was potent, balanced and consistent. And the Cavs did it all at a tough road venue and against a physical defensive unit.
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 11 at BYU 33, Houston 25
And You Care Because … BYU built up a 23-0 first quarter lead but had to push in the second half after Houston rallied. Jamaal Williams ran for an 11-yard score and Taysom Hill ran for a five-yard touchdown and found Mitch Mathews for a short score to put the Cougars up early, but Houston roared back late in the first half with 15 points in the final few minutes helped by two John O’Korn touchdown passes. BYU took the momentum back on Williams’ second scoring run, but once again, the D had to on as O’Korn and Greenberry hooked up for their second touchdown connection of the game. The Cougars were able to hang on.
What Else? If BYU could look lousy and still come up with a big win, it did it. With 11 penalties, three turnovers, and a slew of silly mistakes, the Cougars did their best to keep the other Cougars alive.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill was terrific, completing 21-of-34 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two picks. His real worth was on the ground, running 26 times for 160 yards and a score, while Jamaal Williams ran 28 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 30-of-52 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Houston ran 13 times for ten yards.
- Houston got outplayed and couldn’t stop the BYU ground game, but it kept fighting. O’Korn did his best, but there were too many stalled drives and BYU was able to control the clock when it had to.

Sept. 6 BYU 41, at Texas 7
And You Care Because … BYU blasted Texas for the second year in a row, but it took a little while. The Cougars were only up 6-0 at halftime on two Trevor Samson field goals, but they went on to score the first 34 points with three touchdown runs from Taysom Hill and the first of two scoring runs from Adam Hine. Texas finally got on the board late in the third on a 13-yard John Harris touchdown catch, but it was far too late.
What Else? BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 18-of-27 passes for 181 yards and a pick, and ran 24 times for 99 yards and three scores. Jamaal Williams added 89 yards on 19 carries.
- BYU ran for 248 yards to 82, holding the ball for over 34 minutes.
- Texas DL Malcom Brown dominated the BYU offensive front making 11 tackles with three sacks, five tackles for loss with a forced fumble. Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond each made 11 stops with two tackles for loss, but too many plays were made down the field.
- Texas came up with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss, while BYU made three sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Game Rating: C+

Aug. 29 BYU 35, at Connecticut 10
And You Care Because … BYU cranked up 513 yards of total offense, getting up early on a seven-yard Taysom Hill touchdown run and two scoring passes to get up 21-0, and coasted from there. UConn turned the ball over on its first play from scrimmage, and failed to get into the game until it was way too late, managing a one-yard Joshua Marriner touchdown run and a 35-yard Bobby Puyol field goal.
What Else? BYU appears to be more than ready for Texas. If the Longhorns want to get physical, even with revenge on their minds, the Cougars looked against UConn like they could probably handle it. Meanwhile, the Huskies needed the opener to come against Stony Brook – they were shaky on both sides of the ball.
- BYU didn’t have star RB Jamaal Williams or top WR Devon Blackmon due to suspension, but it didn’t matter. Taysom Hill took the game over early completing 28-of-36 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns, and carrying the ground game with 97 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries – it was almost too easy. The O line dominated in the first half.
- The UConn defense settled down in the second half, but the offense couldn’t take advantage. The two quarterback system combined for 284 passing yards, but no rhythm, and there was no ground game whatsoever. There was no room to run – the longest dash was just eight yards.
- BYU committed 15 penalties for 150 yards and UConn got tagged for eight flags for 90 yards.
Game Rating: C-

2014 Preview 

BYU continues to be in a really strange spot – but Provo is apparently nice in the spring (rim shot).

It’s acting like a big-time, big shot, Notre Dame-like independent, and for good reason, but soon it’ll have to make a big decision about how it wants to position itself in the new college football world order.

The move away from the Mountain West has generally worked out fine from a business and scheduling standpoint. There’s no problem getting TV exposure, and the brand name is as strong and solid as ever, but now the program has to come up with a big next move.

With the Big Five conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, with Notre Dame being brought along for the ride – making the power move further and further away from the pack, and with BYU not associated with anyone in the football world, where is the fit?

Athletic director Tom Holmoe has been among the most progressive and forward-thinking minds when it comes to how to navigate the ever-changing landscape, but from a sheer interest standpoint for the BYU fans, a lot of eggs are being put into the College Football Playoff basket.

Something will end up getting worked out so BYU will be able to be a part of the big bowl games if it’s ranked high enough, but as is, the season is basically over – go 11-1 or else it’s off to the Miami Beach Bowl against some middle-of-the-pack team from the American Athletic Conference.

It’s not like bowl games are the be-all-end-all in terms of prestige, but without a conference title to play for, two losses and that carrot at the end of the stick doesn’t seem so appetizing. BYU might not be a superpower of superpowers, but if things break the right way this is a strong enough program with a good enough coaching staff to have everything break the right away some season. But if not, and if a spot in the playoff isn’t going to happen, it would be nice if the regular season wasn’t just a bunch of exhibitions on the way to Miami.

But that’s the bed that BYU has made for itself. It wants the freedom – and the money – from being an independent, and again, it’s working out, but at the same time, being a part of the Mountain West, for example, might be enough to push the conference up into Big Five Plus One territory. Of course, trying to get into the Big 12 would work out even better from a football interest standpoint, but it might not make the most business sense, and that’s the dilemma Holmoe will have to deal with going forward.

On the plus side, using the Big Five model and demands as a template, BYU could use the new rules to its advantage by deciding to really and truly pay players with a bigger “cost-of-attendance” check. It can utilize and manipulate the system to potentially get any Mountain West-caliber prospect it wants, and it might be able to turn itself into a rogue state that does everything, technically, by the book, only better.

But for this season, it’s going to be a grind to do anything better than get a trip to Miami, which isn’t actually that bad.

The defense might lose Kyle Van Noy and some key parts to the puzzle, but the secondary should be terrific and the front four, as always, is very deep and very big. Meanwhile, the offense welcomes back the dangerous backfield duo of QB Taysom Hill and RB Jamaal Williams to work behind a veteran line that gets back four starters.

The schedule is a bear, but it’s interesting and entertaining. The season has to be both, as well, and even if it isn’t, Miami isn’t a bad place to close out a campaign.

What to watch for on offense: Can the passing game be more dangerous despite the loss of Cody Hoffman? The running game controlled the offense, even though it was a relatively balanced attack, but the passing attack has to be more efficient and more dangerous. One problem: Taysom Hill needs people to throw to. Three of the top four receivers are gone, with the loss of Hoffman the biggest hit. Mitch Mathews is promising and Terenn Houk and Nick Kurtz are rising prospects, but they’ll have to be big-play producers when defenses load up to stop Hill from taking off. The offseason has been focused on Hill being more accurate and more effective throwing the ball, but when push comes to shove, the good line will do the pushing and shoving and the attack will stick with what works.

What to watch for on defense: The line has to come together and be a plus. The secondary loses Daniel Sorensen, but it’s fantastic with three returning starters led by safety Craig Bills and corner Robertson Daniel to lock down the D. Combining with the linebacking corps, the back eight should be terrific and active – now the line has to do its job. There’s size, and there’s depth, but are there any frontline stars? Marques Johnson and Travis Tuiloma are 300-pounders for the nose, and they’re both built for the position, but they have to be rocks against the run after being hit-or-miss throughout last year. Remington Peck is an okay pass rusher, but he’s hardly a terror, and Graham Rowley is more like a tackle than a true end. No matter what the formation, the front three has to hold its own.

The team will be far better if … the kicking game doesn’t stink. The punting should be fine with the return of the solid Scott Arellano, who averaged 41 yards per boot, but the placekicking is a concern after losing Justin Sorensen, who nailed 21-of-26 field goal attempts. Sophomore Moose Bingham and senior Trevor Samson are battling it out for the gig, and neither one has a cannon to hit from deep. Only two games were decided by three points or fewer last season, but the Cougars are going to need an option to hit from 45 yards on a regular basis – there can’t be empty trips against the better teams. Meanwhile, the kickoff coverage team has to be far stronger after allowing over 25 yards per pop with two scores.

The schedule: There isn’t any one game BYU can’t win, but there are enough mid-level, difficult battles to make it a pesky slate with a slew of dangerous landmines. It’s not that bad overall, but the road games will make it dangerous with trips to Texas, Boise State, UCF and California four of the biggest dates to deal with. After starting out at UConn and Texas, the Cougars have just the trip to Orlando against UCF between September 11th and late October, and there’s time off to rest up before dealing with Nevada and Boise State. No. the Cougars aren’t in the Mountain West, but they get their fix with Utah State and UNLV to go along with the Wolf Pack and Broncos. Would 11-1 with this schedule be enough to get into College Football Playoff? Yeah, probably.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Taysom Hill. RB Jamaal Williams is best player No. 1A, but it’s Hill who’ll be the make-or-break player for the season. He’ll get his rushing yards, and he’ll have a few big passing days, but he has to be accurate and consistent on the road and he has to be ready to take a beating. It’s BYU, so there will always be a passing game, and Hill will occasionally throw 40+ times a game, but the offense really hums when he’s taking off making big plays. Of the 19 touchdown passes he threw, two came late in the loss at Wisconsin, and just two were thrown in the other four losses. Even with a revamped receiving corps, he should be in better command of the attack and should do even more.

Best defensive player: Senior S Craig Bills. With Kyle Van Noy and Uani Unga gone from the linebacking corps, and do-it-all defensive back Daniel Sorensen done, the defense needs new leaders, and they’re going to come from the secondary with Bills and corner Robertson Daniel two senior keys to the season. Shaky at times, the secondary needs more stops, and these two have to be the main reason for a big improvement. Bills is a strong tackler with good range and playmaking ability when the ball is in the air, and as long as he stays healthy, he should be one of the team’s top three tacklers.

Key player to a successful season: Junior WR Mitch Mathews. Cody Hoffman, Skyler Ridley and JD Falsev were the top three receivers last year, but they’re all gone and Taysom Hill needs reliable targets to work with. Kurt Henderson, Nick Kurtz and Terenn Houk are all tall, big, promising receivers, but the 6-6, 206-pound Mathews has to grow into a No. 1 main man after catching 23 passes for 397 yards and four scores before getting lost for the year with a shoulder injury.

The season will be a success if … the Cougars beat Texas and are part of the national discussion for College Football Playoff. 12-0 gets BYU in, 11-1 makes it interesting, 10-2 means Miami Bowl. The Cougars have the running game to get by Connecticut, and if they can beat Texas for a second year in a row, all of a sudden things get interesting with four of the next five games at home potentially beef up the record. If BYU loses two games before Boise State on October 25th, national relevance will be out the window.

Key game: Sept. 6 vs. Texas. It was one of the biggest shockers of the season – BYU ripped apart Texas for 550 rushing yards and four scores in a 40-21 win. New team, new coaching staff, new venue with the game being played in Austin, but BYU needs similar results if it’s looking for a truly special season. The Cougars could still be in College Football Playoff discussion by going 11-1 with a loss to Texas, but it might be a tough sell.

2013 Fun Stats:
- - Penalties: BYU 102 for 863 yards – Opponents 70 for 530 yards
- Time of Possession: Opponents 32:13 – BYU 27:47
- Fourth Down Conversions: BYU 11-of-21 (52%) – Opponents 8-of-23 (35%)

2014 BYU Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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