ATLANTA — BYU had been struggling this season in the kickoff return department.
Special teams coach Nick Howell approached coach Bronco Mendenhall this week and suggested a personnel change. Mendenhall suggested trying JD Falslev and David Foote.
"Those are two reliable players, Foote as the off-returner and JD as the ball-carrier," Mendenhall said.
It proved to be a great move for BYU in its 41-17 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday.
Falslev promptly returned the opening kickoff 44 yards to help set up the Cougars' first touchdown. He also had kickoff returns of 42 and 43 yards, respectively, that led to 10 more points. Falslev finished with a total of 129 yards on kickoff returns.
"On special teams, we did a good job on getting field position, which we know is key," Falslev said. "Georgia Tech's offense is a high-powered offense and they hold the ball a long time. We had to take any opportunity we could get to get the field position in our (favor). It takes 11 guys to make a play happen. On special teams, we did that today."
"It was a really good decision that changed field position three or four times," Mendenhall said.
Falslev, who has returned punts all season, enjoyed handling kickoff returns.
"Any time I have an opportunity to help our team out, I'm going to do everything I can to do so," he said. "It was fun. Our goal is the 25-yard line. I think we exceeded that by a couple of yards."
Falslev contributed to the offense as well with three carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 12 yards. He finished with a career-high 182 all-purpose yards.
LOUD AND PROUD: BYU fans made their presence known Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Associate athletic director Duff Tittle said that BYU's ticket office sold 3,500 tickets for Saturday's game and he estimated there were approximately 5,500 Cougar fans in attendance.
"Always good to hear (BYU fans) cheering louder than the home fans," wide receiver Ross Apo tweeted after the game.
IT'S BEEN AWHILE: Jamal Golden's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter was Georgia Tech's first since 1998. It marked the first time BYU had allowed a kick return for a touchdown since 2009 against UNLV.
THE SERIES: BYU now leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech 2-1 after splitting games in 2002 and 2003.
The Cougars host the Yellow Jackets on Oct. 12, 2013 in Provo.
EXTRA POINTS: Senior safety Mike Hague will be sidelined for the remainder of the season and will likely try for a medical hardship in order to play next year. BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman caught seven passes for 69 yards and continued his streak. He has now caught at least one pass in 28 straight games. With 159 career receptions, he passed Curtis Brown for No. 9 in school history. BYU fullback Iona Pritchard had a career-high 13-yard run in the third quarter. James Lark came in for the Cougars' final series and completed one pass for 24 yards.
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