Whether it was Nelson’s decision making or offensive coordinator Brandon Doman’s play calling, or a combination of both, opening the offense up just a bit seemed to inject energy into BYU’s players, and was clearly appreciated by the fans.
No San Jose State run game:
It might have been the loss of star running back Brandon Rutley, or the early 20-point deficit, but the Spartans never could establish any offensive consistency because they couldn’t establish the run.
In 12 first-half runs, San Jose State gained a total of 13 yards. It was obvious the Spartans were doubting their ability to gain yards on the ground. This allowed BYU to do something that the Spartans could not do: focus on stopping one aspect of the San Jose State offense.
Knowing the ball was likely going to be thrown, the Cougars were able to take some chances and also back off a bit so as not to give up a big play.
With Jordan Pendleton about ready to deliver a hard hit, Spartans QB Matt Faulkner let fly an ill-advised pass in the first half, which Van Noy picked off. It was one of the game’s biggest plays as was BYU’s interception late in the game.
Knowing the Spartans were basically harmless on the ground made these two interceptions easier to make.
Confidence and energy:
Those intangible elements of confidence and energy, which first popped up in the fourth quarter of last week’s stunning comeback win over Utah State when Nelson first replaced sophomore Jake Heaps as BYU’s quarterback, clearly carried over to Saturday’s contest.
The Cougars never seemed worried that San Jose State was going to catch them. They showed great confidence in their ability to move the football, and great confidence in their ability to keep the Spartans out of the end zone.
Quite simply, there was never any sense that the Cougars were in trouble, even after each of Nelson’s three turnovers. They always seemed poised to do whatever was necessary to take back control of the game every time the Spartans seemed poised to get rolling.
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