BYU’s players had chances against TCU — lots and lots of chances — but they couldn’t make the plays they needed to beat the Horned Frogs.
Big mistakes allowed TCU to jump out to a 35-10 lead early in the second half before the Frogs ultimately prevailed, 38-28, over the Cougars on Friday at Cowboys Stadium.
BYU’s special teams were generally horrible, BYU’s offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities and it all added up to a fourth consecutive loss to TCU.
Here’s how BYU graded:
OFFENSE: BYU quarterback Riley Nelson made lots of big plays against the Horned Frogs — unfortunately, some of them were big plays for TCU. In particular, Nelson threw an interception in the end zone after BYU had driven all the way down the field and was getting ready to take the lead in the first half. Later, after BYU had pulled within 15 points, was driving deep into TCU territory and had all the momentum in the world, Nelson made a horrible play — throwing a backwards pass that was recovered by TCU — that essentially ended BYU’s hopes of a comeback. On the flipside, BYU did generally move the ball well on the ground, and the Cougars put themselves in position to make plays before ultimately failing to make them. GRADE: C.
DEFENSE: All in all, BYU’s defense was pretty good. Poor, poor special teams play and turnovers put the defense in some bad positions, but aside from a handful of poor plays, the Cougars otherwise performed admirably on this side of the field. In particular, BYU’s secondary enjoyed one of its best outings of the season against a solid passing attack. GRADE: B+.
SPECIAL TEAMS: What a horrible evening for BYU’s special teams. The Cougars’ special teams did make one really great play — a punt return for a touchdown by JD Falslev — but they also made a whole bunch of awful plays, especially when it came time to try and punt. Junior punter Riley Stephenson was in the middle of all it. He had two dropped snaps — the first one was clearly not his fault, while the second one clearly was — and on the occasion when he did get a punt off, it was horrible and essentially set up a TCU score. GRADE: D-.
COACHING: On the field, BYU’s coaches do some smart things from time to time. But they also do a lot of dumb things. The end of the first half was a perfect example. With time running out, the Cougars unexpectedly moved the ball far enough for a chance at a long field goal. Out of timeouts, BYU’s coaches didn’t have the kicking unit ready, and that unit then didn't have enough time to set up for the kick. Those sorts of things happened far too often against TCU and one of the best coaches in the country, Gary Patterson. Bronco Mendenhall and Company are clearly not great in-game coaches like Patterson. GRADE: C-.
OVERALL: BYU’s second-half comeback perhaps makes this loss all the more difficult to swallow because it showed the Cougars were right there with TCU. They were right there. Unfortunately, the special teams made a whole bunch off horrible plays to put BYU in a hole, Nelson made bad plays himself, and the Cougars came up short. GRADE: C-.