At the break, BYU had outgained Idaho 298 yards to 63, had 19 first downs to Idaho’s four and had run 40 offensive plays to 24 for the Vandals. Idaho punted four times in the first half, BYU made good use of all five of its first-half drives.
Winning the battle in the trenches
So often you’ll hear a coach talk about the importance of winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. In this game the Cougars didn’t just win it, they ruled up front on both sides of the football. The Vandals, frankly, were outmatched in the battle of big guys.
The reason BYU amassed 243 rushing yards wasn’t entirely because of the fine footwork from Michael Alisa, JJ Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya, the holes up front were huge. Idaho’s defenders were pushed back play after play. The Vandals’ linebackers and d-backs were called on to make tackle after tackle — too many to ever give Idaho any chance of being in this game.
The reason Heaps had his best game of the season was largely because of the time he had to throw. Give Heaps time to have a good look down field, and his arm will do the rest. Without a big game from the guys up front, the Cougars don’t score 42 points and gain 505 yards.
A huge statistic in the game was Idaho’s first- and second-down effectiveness. The Vandals never did gain a first down on a first- or second-down play. Idaho averaged less than three yards on first-down plays.
Shutting down the sky
Give partial credit to pressure from BYU’s defensive front, but the Cougars pass defense has never looked better. At halftime Idaho had minus three yards passing. And when you’re behind two touchdowns early and the hole is getting deeper, you’re only chance of catching up is to throw the football. The Vandals just couldn’t. The Cougars wouldn’t let them.
Through three quarters it was looking like Idaho might finish the game with negative passing yards. And it wasn’t as if the Vandals didn’t want to pass. They attempted 15 passes through three quarters, but completed only seven of those and averaged less than a yard per completion. Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis was continually pressured and his receivers were consistently smothered.
When BYU gives up only 50 yards through the air, and most of that coming with second- and third-stringers on the field, and has two interceptions to add, it’s not going to lose with those numbers very often.
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