PROVO — BYU took care of business in its final 2011 home game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday night.
After a somewhat sluggish quarter and a half by the offense, BYU clicked into high gear, and when that happened, the Cougars brushed aside New Mexico State.
Sophomore QB Jake Heaps, starting in place of the injured Riley Nelson, looked really good after an inauspicious start, BYU’s defense did what it usually does, and the end product was a clinical 42-7 win.
Here’s how BYU graded:
OFFENSE: Any BYU fan who saw Heaps’ final touchdown pass had to be encouraged with the play of the sophomore QB. Early on Saturday, Heaps looked very much like the guy who had struggled mightily earlier this season — his passes were bullets, his reads were minimal and he looked completely uncomfortable.
However, Heaps played better and better as Saturday’s contest wore on, and his final contribution — a 27-yard TD to JD Falslev — was a thing of beauty. On that play, Heaps stood in the pocket until it began to collapse. He then ducked forward, kept his eyes downfield and threw a nice pass to Falslev, who scooted easily into the endzone.
Heaps finished 21 of 36 for 238 yards and four TDs and one INT. Ross Apo caught five passes for 66 yards and two TDs, and senior JJ Di Luigi rushed the ball 12 times for 75 yards. GRADE: B+.
DEFENSE: BYU’s defense gave up a touchdown on a short field after a Heaps’ INT in the first half, but otherwise, the Cougars were really tough on that side of the ball. Kyle Van Noy was his usual playmaking self on Saturday — he had six tackles, two tackles-for-loss and three QB hurries — and he had a whole lot of help around him. Senior linebacker Jadon Wagner forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in his final home game, defensive back Joe Sampson was all over the field and others stepped up and made plays and others shined. GRADE: A-.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Saturday’s game produced a largely ho-hum performance by BYU’s special teams. Kicker Justin Sorensen missed a 37-yard field goal — worryingly his third consecutive miss — but otherwise BYU’s special teams were OK. They didn’t do anything spectacular, but they didn’t make many mistakes. GRADE: B.
COACHING: Senior journeyman Matt Edwards — the grandson of the man BYU’s football stadium is named after — played more than he normally would have after Austin Holt went down with what BYU feared to be an ACL tear. But it was nonetheless a nice touch for coaches to call a play with him on the field to score his first career touchdown in his last game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It was also a nice touch for coaches to let Matt Marshall — a key scout team player and a huge part of BYU’s program — to run the wildcat for a touchdown in what was also his final home game. GRADE: A-.
OVERALL: BYU’s defense was solid from start to finish, and once the offense got going near the end of the first half, the Cougars rolled to victory. Obviously, it’s not the glamour victory in November BYU fans have witnessed in some seasons past, but don’t blame that on the coaches or players. GRADE: A-.