SAN FRANCISCO — BYU came out flat and ended completely flat in a 31-16 loss to Washington Friday night at the Fight Hunger Bowl. The Cougars did almost all their good work in the second quarter, but that wasn't nearly enough against the solid, and more consistent, Huskies.
Grades are in for every position group regarding Friday's performance:
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Quarterback Taysom Hill was BYU's offense throughout the majority of the game. Despite porous offensive line play and no semblance of a consistent running attack, Hill diced up the Husky defense for 288 yards passing and 143 yards rushing. But those yards resulted in just one touchdown and 16 points.
Running back Jamaal Williams remarkably had few touches, and BYU's running attack struggled mightily to find any rhythm or consistency. Williams finished with just 12 rushes for a paltry 30 yards.
Dropped balls and errant throws during critical situations did the offense in, along with spotty offensive line production. Red zone production was also lacking — particularly in the second quarter when the team had to end two long drives with field goals instead of touchdowns.
Overall, the team produced 473 yards of offense, but had just 16 points — including a scoreless second half — to show for it.
The defense played solid throughout much of the game, but yielded two long scoring drives to start out each half. Both possessions were critical. Ultimately, Washington gained just 316 yards, but was consistently given a short field to work with due to lackluster BYU special teams execution.
The front seven allowed Washington 198 yards rushing on a 4.5-yards-per-carry average and two touchdowns to star running back Bishop Sankey.
The pass defense only gave up 118 yards, but wasn't tested much at all due to short fields and Washington playing with the lead throughout.
Kicker Justin Sorensen connected on 3 of 4 attempts and the kick and punt return units fared well, but that was it for an atypically atrocious BYU special teams effort.
The kick coverage was just plain bad, and as mentioned, accounted for much of the responsibility for Washington's three touchdowns. Punter Scott Arellano's night included an 8-yard punt and a dropped snap in one of his worst outings as a Cougar.
It's unusual for BYU special teams to enjoy a significant disadvantage, but it could accurately be argued that special teams was the major difference in the game's final outcome.
The Cougars again looked unprepared and unmotivated at the start, which helped contribute to Washington gaining an early advantage. The team settled down and one gutsy decision by coach Bronco Mendenhall lended some life late in the first quarter.
Backed up on its own 21-yard line, BYU ran an unusual fake punt in a fourth-and-2 situation that completely swung the momentum back to the Cougars' favor. It was an untypical decision by Mendenhall, but paid off.
Unfortunately, that momentum couldn't be maintained and the team appeared to lack proper adjustments during the second half — particularly on offense.
Washington was judged by many to be the top bowl opponent BYU has faced in recent years and that bore out Friday night. The Huskies proved better and more consistent on both sides of the ball and came away with the win.
BYU's offense again lacked execution during critical situations, and that was the difference, along with poor kick coverage on three separate occasions.