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BYU football: Five keys to BYU's win over Idaho

By James Rayburn

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 12 2011 10:56 p.m. MST

BYU football team run onto the field prior to the game with Idaho during NCAA football in Provo Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — Few realistically expected the Idaho Vandals, who came into LaVell Edwards Stadium with only two wins in nine tries, to give the BYU Cougars much of a game Saturday night. But it wasn’t necessarily a given that the Cougars would roll past Idaho as easy as they did.

Here are five key reasons the Cougars blew the Vandals away 42-7.

No stopping Cody

Cody Hoffman made a statement early that he was going to play a significant role when he returned the opening kickoff 38 yards. It only got better from there for the 6-foot-4 sophomore wide receiver.

He put the Cougars on top with a great 32-yard TD reception over the middle on BYU’s second drive. He set up BYU’s second score with another impressive catch and run for a 29-yard gain. He capped off a great first half with a tightrope-walking 21-yard TD catch right before the break to send the Cougars into halftime leading 28-0.

Hoffman was simply too much for Idaho’s shorter defensive backs to handle. The Cougars took advantage of Hoffman’s height advantage, and Hoffman showed that he isn’t just tall and fast, he also has great hands. When BYU needed a big play, Hoffman was the one the Cougars turned to finish off drives.

Hoffman had six catches for 114 yards and two TDs in the first half alone, and wasn’t really needed in the second half with the damage already done.

Heaps is a pretty good backup QB

When a starting quarterback leaves the field and heads to the locker room with the assistance of a trainer, that’s normally a pretty big hit to any team’s offense. Before heading to the hospital for chest X-rays, starter Riley Nelson looked sharp in guiding the Cougars to a 7-0 lead.

But with sophomore Jake Heaps, after surrendering his starting gig to Nelson four games ago, anxious and ready to get another shot to lead the Cougars, BYU didn’t seem to miss a beat. Heaps obviously wanted to prove that he can lead the Cougars as well and be the quarterback he’s shown promise to be.

Heaps, who will very likely regain his starting job depending on the significance of Nelson’s rib injury, looked more confident and more comfortable than he did prior to being replaced by Nelson late in the Utah State game back on Sept. 30. He played with poise and made good decisions. He threw the ball accurately, other than when he overthrew Zed Mendenhall and was picked off in the third quarter. He also showed confidence in throwing the ball down field, something he didn’t do in BYU’s first five games. Minutes after being intercepted, Heaps responded with a pinpoint pass over the middle to Ross Apo for an 18-yard score.

Heaps, in leading the Cougars to three first-half TDs after Nelson departed, finished the opening half 11 of 15 for 143 yards and one TD. The Cougars scored 35 points with Heaps at QB, more than BYU has scored in any other game this season with Heaps taking snaps. With a six-touchdown cushion, Heaps did not play the final 18 minutes. He finished 15 of 20 for 185 yards and two TDS and one pick.

Dominating first half

The Cougars owned this game early. Even though their first two drives resulted in only one score, the Cougars found little resistance in moving the football from the get-go. The Vandals, on the other hand, were treading in place right out of the gate and never did find traction.

The 28-0 halftime score was a good indicator that Idaho was no match for BYU, but the rest of the first-half statistics really show how dominant the Cougars were. At one point the Cougars had 15 first downs to two for Idaho, and both of the Vandals’ first two first downs came via BYU penalties. Idaho didn’t gain a first down with an offensive gain until there were only five minutes left in the half.

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