BYU scored a touchdown with three seconds remaining in the first half and rode its defense throughout the second half to secure a 6-3 victory over USU Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Here is how BYU and USU graded:
BYU: In just his second collegiate start, freshman Taysom Hill (24-of-36, 235 yards; 19 carries, 80 yards) worked wonders in the air and on the ground. Much of his numbers, however, came in the first half, when he gained 198 of his 315 total yards. With eight receptions for 114 yards, Cody Hoffman proved difficult to stop. Like Hill, most of his damage came in the first half, when he nabbed seven balls. Jamaal Wiliams (17 carries, 71 yards), in his second career start, was largely a non-factor — until BYU needed to achieve just a couple of first downs to clinch the win. Williams' pair of 11-yard runs with less than two minutes left assured Cougar fans could leave LaVell Edwards Stadium happy. The Cougar offense didn't score nearly as many points as their total yards reflected they might. GRADE: C
Utah State: Chuckie Keeton, a 19-year-old facing the Cougars on the road for the second time, certainly was not as efficient against the fifth-ranked total defense in the country as he was last week against UNLV — or all season. His respectiable effort (22-of-38, 202 yards; 10 carries, 37 yards) was not enough to put points on the board. USU offensive coordinator Matt Wells did not call on senior running back Kerwynn Williams (14 carries, 28 yards; five receptions) as often in the second half after the senior had nine carries for just 24 yards after intermission. It created a one-dimensional USU offense that just didn't work. Williams was just one week removed from a self-described career evening against UNLV, when he gained 260 total yards. GRADE: C-
BYU: Not much fault can be dished towards a group that holds their opponent to just three points, 243 total yards and 4-of-14 on third down. Keeton remained limited as BYU mixed up a variety of packages that didn't allow a USU deep ball all game. Only USU's Matt Austin (seven receptions, 72 yards) and Williams were able to do some damage to the Cougar defense though the air, but never anything over the top. GRADE: A-
Utah State: The Aggies were fortunate the Cougars didn't score more since BYU gained 380 total yards and converted 9-of-20 third downs. They were effective at stymying a few Cougar drives in USU territory. Freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell provided his teammates a fantastic offensive opportunity when he intercepted Hill, with a return to the USU 47-yard line. But Josh Thompson's resulting 37-yard field goal attempt went awry — like a similar-length kick at Wisconsin last month. GRADE: B+
BYU: Like Bronco Mendenhall said, fixes need to be made to this aspect of BYU's team. Riley Stephenson missed an extra-point attempt. Justin Sorensen missed a 34-yard field goal attempt. The Cougars were also stopped on a fake field-goal attempt early in the third quarter when Logan native J.D. Falslev slipped trying to make a play. Riley Stephenson's 49-yard punting average raises this grade from a D- to the final verdict. GRADE: D+
Utah State: The Aggies didn't blunder quite as much as their opponent, but it wasn't great here, either. The lowlight was Thompson's missed field goal after Keeton and Co. had put together a sustainable drive. Tyler Bennett averaged less than 40 yards in his four punts. The kick-return game was non-consequential. GRADE: D
BYU: The Cougars ought to be motivated by their performance. While they didn't place many points on the board, their offense flowed behind a freshman quarterback. It executed in the final minutes to milk the clock. Their stalwart defense was effective against a good offense. And yes, they caught a break or two. GRADE: B-
Utah State: The USU defense gave the offense plenty of opportunities, but a slow ground game and lack of big plays were never able to break the BYU defense. Aggie fans must be pulling their hair out over Josh Thompson. The performance still shouldn't deter observers from believing the Aggies will be in the mix for the WAC title at season's end. GRADE: C+
Rhett Wilkinson attends Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. He has previously interned for the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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