BYU report card: Cougar defense is as strong as usual, but offense falters against Virginia

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31 2013 9:09 p.m. MDT

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Robert Anae's go-fast, go-hard offensive system was a flop — at least for the majority of the game. After a promising first drive the offense sputtered before gaining some life late in the fourth quarter.

Most of the problems were directly related to porous offensive line play. Offensive line coach Garett Tujague had to make due with a largely inexperienced, rag-tag bunch to start fall camp, and his unit was completely underwhelmed until finding some rhythm in the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers were able to get to quarterback Taysom Hill consistently with a four-man pass rush while standing up the majority of run attempts up the middle. To their credit, the offensive line made some late strides, and it can't be a coincidence that it did once Manaaki Vaitai saw reps at left guard.

As for Hill, he struggled mightily with his accuracy. He finished the game 13 of 40 for just 175 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was never much of a factor running the ball either, rushing it just 11 times for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Even when he was on with his throw, critical drops were made by receivers, including running back Jamaal Williams. His drop led to a crucial interception by Virginia late. Brett Thompson also had a big drop near the end of the game. Yes, the throw to Thompson was a bit behind him, but it was still a catch he needed to make.

Cody Hoffman wasn't able to play, and the offense suffered as a result. Receivers were never able to make enough plays necessary to salvage substandard play from the offensive line and quarterback.

Overall, BYU accounted for 361 yards of total offense, but couldn't sustain many drives while putting the defense in bad situations throughout.

Grade: D
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blue & white
Boise, ID

what were the coaches thinking? we have the lead, 5 yards to go about 3 minutes left so lets try a pass. Hill hasn't completed many but maybe we will get lucky. what is the worst thing that can happen? if we run the ball it will take time off the clock or VA uses their last time out. still we kick it. this is frustrating. come on make sensible calls. its like the 2 point conversion try against Boise State last year. well we can hope it will get better.

Apollo Beach, FL

I agree with the commentary. A pass play certainly made no sense after the struggles we had all game long with the pass. Why was Taysom high or low on 90% of his throws. With as well as the defense had done run it. Give your defense the win and move on. Frustrating game to watch our offense falter again. Not a play calling fault, I think for the most part he mixed things up. I think they need to practice in bad weather the field made some difficulties for our speedy QB. Oh I miss the days of high caliber offenses.

Danite Boy

Why did the coaches stick with the "go fast" approach when the offense seemed in disarray much of the game and the weather conditions were difficult? Better to settle down the troops so they can execute plays.

San Diego, CA

Trying to look for something positive . . . . Looking forward to basketball season.


Disappointed? If that's your present emotion think of what the players are experiencing. I felt let down but the coaches, players, fans and families undoubtedly feel this a lot deeper. So close and yet so far. Let's jell and move forward like we know what we're doing. First game jitters, behind you now. Second game upcoming, let's mesh and heal and go out onto the field and smash and roll over Texas. Can't give up on such a talented group of men. Go Cougs!!!

LaVerkin, Utah

Anae's new (or old) offense was indeed OFFENSIVE. In fact, it plain stunk.

Hey, blue and white from Boise, I think that you might agree with me that Anae can point to an offense in Boise that stinks worse than his offense. Boise State's offense was also indeed OFFENSIVE. In fact it reaked.

West Jordan, Utah

Great QB play central to success on the field. Taysom is a sophomore with limited experience as a freshman last year. We'll see if he gets better. As a Ute fan, I have questions about Wilson being the guy to lead the Utes moving forward but he impressed me week one.

You see with Chuckie Keeton what he does for USU. Utah and BYU have more horses than USU but Keeton leads the Aggies.

Utah in my opinion hasn't dropped off in talent in recent years but they haven't had good QB play the last 4 years. That and the PAC 12 schedule has been rough on Utah. Look at Eastern Washington's upset win yesterday and the QB lit up the scoreboard.

BYU has O line concerns and a depleted secondary. Maybe Anae and Bronco solve these issues with coaching. But Taysom may not have the special ingredients to make BYU elite nonetheless.

Utah went 8-5 the first year in the PAC 12 (2011) by running Jon White IV over 30 carries a game. Utah went 0-4 to start the conference that year but won 4 out of 5 down the stretch. he was hurt last year.

West Jordan, Utah

BYU tried the White IV approach yesterday when Jamaal Williams had over 30 carries. It would have worked but BYU lost a game they should have won because of a few costly plays against Virginia. That's football. BYU had those negative plays last year against Utah, Boise State, and Notre Dame that with an anemic offense cost them wins. BYU's defense kept them in those games and Van Noy beat SDSU by himself to a degree. You just can't win that way consistently unless you are the 2000 Ravens Super Bowl team.

BYU losing to Virginia was like Utah losing to Colorado in 2011. There's NO WAY BYU loses to the Idaho's of the world but with power conference teams, those teams even if bottom feeders in their conferences still can bite you because they have athletes across the board.

The emphasis of some BYU fans about having a better overall record than Utah the last two years is overblown when half the Cougar schedule was against patsies. This year the schedule is different (difficult) but Virginia was a game you should win. Their are a handful of losses left but you still have four patsies for bowl eligibility.

Idaho Falls, ID

Way too generous with the coaches grade. These men get paid and didn't have the offense ready to play and the play calling would fail in pop warner. Anae and co get a big fat F.

Wellsville, UT

Taysom would be more effective if he had time to stand in the pocket and make passes instead of being flushed out and on the run most of the time. I hope they can do something about the offensive line play or its going to be a long season. I think they will be a much better team from here on out and have a great year.

Go Cougars!!!!!!!!!!!

Aberdeen, SD

I don't really have a problem with the pass on 3rd and 6 late in the fourth quarter. Complete that pass and the game is essentially over. Yes the defense might have stopped them again if we had played conservative, run it and punted, but I've seen conservative play backfire many a time when a team has a small lead toward the end of the game.

Right now I'd say the offensive line is the biggest issue. Williams got 148 yards with poor offensive line play. Think what he would do with an improved offensive line. Anae's new offense, the quarterback, everything would have looked a lot better with better offensive line play.

Taysom does need to learn how to put a little air under some of his throws. He has a great arm but a little more accuracy and touch would help out his receivers a lot. Faslev was wide open 20 yards down field on one of our last plays and the ball was fired way over his head.

Stockton, CA

Agree w/Mortoon. The new offense looks like last year, with shockingly bad blocking and passing. There's no way this group can be considered ready to take on the likes of Texas. Every one of our o-linemen looked slower and weaker than every one of UVa's defensive front seven. Something's real wrong with this group, and they'd better fix it before a nightmare game turns into a nightmare season.

Hey Baby
Franklin, IN

Maybe!! UVA's offense was no test to gauge a defense.

We can revisit the BYU defense in 3 weeks...



We had too much pre-season hype around here and we believed it. The trouble was that UV was better than we thought and we were not as good as we thought. We start out too much in the Utah Valley bubble, though yes we've won some first games before. But this year, the new offense was too highly touted and the personnel too glorified. They're only men after all and have to overcome human error and game gaffes to make this a season we can live with. But our reporters have to overwrite to get attention and readers. Losing this game makes a winning season harder of course. We hope the Band of Brothers can rise to the occasion and work out the kinks enough to justify their hard work and sacrifices on the field. New coaches and new players and new schemes make for a tough challenge- hang in there Cougs! We're still behind you as long as you coach and play smart as well as hard!

Bountiful, UT

That was a disappointing game. Rumors during the off-season of Taysom's problems with accuracy, that coaches tried to quash, appear now to be well founded. Yes, there were some drops (Brett Thompson had a drop that killed a drive as well as the ones mentioned in the article) but Hill only completed 13 out of 40 passes. There were also some really good catches of poorly thrown balls, like the catch by Mitch Mathews.

Once again the OL looked ineffective (until very late). Our QB play was bad (their QB looked better) and special teams gave up a blocked punt that led to a TD and wasn't very good returning punts/kicks or covering punts. We just didn't look ready to play.

If this ends up being a game that helps work out some kinks then I'll be disappointed with the loss but okay with that. However, because of the inconsistency we saw the past 3 yrs, I'm hopeful but not confident that this is something we move forward from.

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