BYU finally broke its seven-game losing streak on Saturday as it took down 1-8 San Jose State on Saturday 41-20. And for the first time this season, it looked like this team finally made some good progress that lasted throughout the game.
Granted, San Jose State is near the bottom in just about every statistical category this season. However, BYU fans have learned to appreciate getting even these kind of wins when they've been so hard to come by in 2017.
Here's BYU's report card for its win over the Spartans.
Compared to the rest of the season, the offense gets an A+ after gaining 598 yards and scoring 41 points. It looked like the type of BYU offense fans have come to expect over the years. That said, BYU's offense wasn't exactly flawless on the day, and San Jose State is awful at defense.
Tanner Mangum had some big plays, including two touchdown passes to Micah Simon and a third to Matt Bushman. He had three complete passes for more than 40 yards to Simon, Jonah Trinnaman and Aleva Hifo. There were other times where he didn't look quite so sharp. His one interception is more on Simon as the ball hit him in the hands.
KJ Hall had a great day before he had to leave the game with an injury. He finished with 112 yards rushing and 44 more receiving, including a 75-yard touchdown run. Squally Canada even had a touchdown run after struggling for much of the year.
That isn't to say that there weren't signs of BYU's struggles, including some dropped passes and penalties. And San Jose State is one of the absolute worst teams on defense in just about every statical category. Still, BYU made some great progress this week.
Given how much the offense has struggled this season, BYU couldn't have asked for much better even against a bad offense. Plenty to still clean up, but a definite step forward.
For the first time in what feels like forever, BYU finally got some pressure in the backfield. Sione Takitaki, Khyiris Tonga and Morgan Unga all got sacks against the Spartans. Michael Shelton got a pick and Zayne Anderson forced a fumble recovered by Austin Lee and Langi Tuifua. Granted, San Jose State is the worst team in the nation at holding onto the ball, but it's good to see the defense pick up some turnovers.
The defense gave up some touchdowns after the game was already in hand. It was a good day, but like the offense, there's still plenty to clean up.
Brayden El-Bakri had the play of the year on special teams with a huge hit on San Jose State's Rashead Johnson that forced a fumble and recovered it himself. And it's a special day when special teams gets two turnovers, and Zayne Andersen recovered a muffed punt.
Rhett Almond continues to struggle as he missed a 33-yard field goal, although he hit a 36-yard attempt later in the game. Jonny Linehan had a good day.
The missed field goal keeps special teams from an A, but otherwise a good day for the special teams.
Kalani Sitake promised that BYU would be aggressive in this game, and the Cougars were for the most part. It's difficult to turn around a team with a long losing streak even against a bad team like San Jose State, particularly after a soul-crushing loss against East Carolina last week.
BYU still has plenty of work to do, but for the first time this season Ty Detmer's offense looked good. Again, this was against perhaps the worst team in the FBS, but for the first time this season there was palpable progress.
We now know that there's a team that's much worse than BYU even during this horrid season for the Cougars. San Jose State is a really bad team, so we do have to take BYU's accomplishments on Saturday with a grain of salt. That said, BYU make significant progress on offense and made big plays on all three sides of the game. Even against a bad opponent, those kind of things should not be taken for granted, which is something Cougar fans had to learn the hard way last week.
It wasn't always pretty and was even sloppy at times, but BYU earned the win. They didn't earn an A, but the win is what matters anyway.