PROVO — BYU's offense was humming for the most part, but the defense gave up an unusual amount of yards and points in Saturday's 42-24 loss to Oregon State.
Here is how BYU graded against the Beavers:
Offense: The Cougar offense came out humming and sustained good gains thoughout most of the game. Riley Nelson and Co. set the tone early — driving the ball 75 yards for a touchdown on their first possession. The offense ended the first half with 190 yards on 47 plays.
Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman called a good game — incorporating a shovel pass that was effective throughout. The option was run multiple times to the long side instead of the short side and saw good results as well.
BYU had too many stalled drives to match Oregon State's production in the second half, however. Riley Nelson had one of his better outings — finishing with 28-of-51 passing for 305 yards and a touchdown, but a late pick-six ultimately did Nelson and the offense in. In Nelson's defense, the pick-six wasn't entirely his fault as Ross Apo had a flare pass bounce off his shoulder pad. Then again, if Nelson throws that pass on target and not at Apo's feet, we're not talking about it. Nelson had three picks in the game.
The running game was not productive throughout the game and rendered the offense one-dimensional. Nelson took a lot of hits as a result, which couldn't be good for his ailing back. The tight ends, particularly Kaneakua Friel, hurt the offense with numerous dropped passes. Grade: B
Defense: The defense was hit in the mouth early by the Beavers, who accounted for 171 yards and 14 points after just one quarter. From there the defense made adjustments and held the Beavers to just 32 yards and no points in the second quarter. Applying better pressure on OSU quarterback Cody Vaz was key for the defense.
OSU came out smoking in the third quarter, however, beating the BYU defense primarily with long passes. Overall the third quarter saw BYU yield 156 yards of total offense with the Beavers taking a 28-21 lead just as the fourth quarter got underway.
Some more lapses in coverage and consecutive pass interference penalties ultimately did the defense in. Overall it was a shockingly poor performance for a BYU defense that had been completely dominant before Saturday's game. Overall, it gave up 450 yards of total offense and 35 points. Grade: D
Special Teams: The special teams didn't play a huge role in the outcome. The returns and coverages were adequate for the most part as was punter Riley Stephenson's overall effort.
Justin Sorensen did connect on a 35-yard field goal late, which is a very positive sign for a kicking game that had been struggling. Grade: B
Overall: Oregon State proved to be the best opponent BYU has faced so far this season and played like a Top 10 team should. BYU was able to hang with it until the very end, however, and does deserve credit for that feat.
The outcome was a surprising one considering how inept BYU's offense was coming in. The defense, which had been dominant, looked completely overmatched by an offense that had to make due with its backup quarterback.
It was a game BYU was expected to win, but after matching Oregon State's production through most of the contest, the Cougars got ran over at the end. The final minutes are what count in games like these and the team overall got a failing grade for how it closed. Grade: C-