That's just what happens. We sped it up and made some big plays. —BYU QB Taysom Hill
PROVO — BYU's offense recorded several prolonged drives and held the ball for nearly 35 minutes in its 6-3 victory over Utah State on Friday night.
But the Cougars' lone touchdown of the game came on a possession that lasted just 25 seconds at the end of the first half. BYU got the ball at its own 39-yard line with just 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter, and marched 61 yards in four plays, capped by a 3-yard TD pass from quarterback Taysom Hill to JD Falslev.
It was not only BYU's fastest scoring drive of the season, but it also turned out to be the difference in the game as the dominant Cougar defense held the Aggies to a field goal.
"We knew our defense was going to come up big and we'd have less than a minute to score," said wide receiver Cody Hoffman, who caught three passes for 58 yards on that drive. "We work on that kind of situation every day in practice. Taysom had faith in me and we were able to make some big plays and score a touchdown."
The Cougars' hurry-up offense on that possession helped, Hoffman said.
"I feel like (the Aggies) didn't expect us to go to hurry up and try to score. I think they thought we were going to take a knee and go into halftime. It caught them off-guard and came out big for us."
Hill didn't have any explanations when asked to explain why the Cougars were so efficient and successful on that drive when they couldn't score the rest of the game.
"I don't know. That's football right there. We got a few breaks," he said. "We got Cody on the outside and he made a great catch. Then we came back to him over the middle and he made a great run. That's just what happens. We sped it up and made some big plays."
Hoffman said he's building rapport with Hill.
"I have a lot of faith in Taysom," Hoffman said. "I know he's still young but we've been able to connect on other levels … He has more confidence. As an offense, we have more confidence in him. He's building trust in us just by the way he's been playing lately."
HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER: Freshman defensive back Matt Hadley was whistled for a personal foul for mixing it up with a USU player while standing on the sidelines late in Friday's game.
His older brother, linebacker Spencer Hadley, talked to Matt about the penalty.
"What I said was, 'I would have done the same thing,' " Spencer Hadley said. "The kid's punching his throat. I didn't think it deserved a flag. He just pushed him, he didn't knock him over. He didn't punch him or anything. There's plenty of pushing that goes on during the game. I would have done the same thing. He just beat me to it."
KICKING GAME WOES: The Cougars have missed three PATs in their last two games and had a field goal attempt blocked against Utah State. BYU also botched a fake field goal attempt on Friday.
It's a major concern for Mendenhall.
"I'm going to have to take a hard look at it. I don't have ready solutions right now," he said. "As one of my core philosophies, players play as they're prepared to play. We didn't protect very well in the kicking game, and we didn't kick very well. I'm talking specifically about PATs and field goals. Up to this point in the season, Riley (Stephenson has) done an awesome job punting the ball. I'm just chalking this up to maybe an off night. I'm not concerned at all about (punting). But the PAT and field goal, we have a lot of work to do. not only in protecting it, but also establishing where we can kick effectively from and who kicks it … I've got to look at everything."
ANAE OUT: BYU announced just prior to the Utah State game that sophomore left guard Famika Anae's career is likely over due to a combination of injuries.
"I wouldn't say disheartening, but more just tragic," Mendenhall said of the situation. "He's fought so hard for so long, and rather than this coming out of nowhere, this is something that's been going for a long, long time. And it's finally just reached the point where the pain is so severe. The doctors and I met with him, and it's just not in his best interest to go anymore."