MADISON, Wis. — Squally Canada and Aleva Hifo gashed No. 6 Wisconsin’s defense in a timely and effective manner in BYU’s remarkable 24-21 upset Saturday.
It was a case of BYU playing smash-mouth at a place that practically invented it.
Canada had two touchdowns, gained 118 yards and averaged almost 11 yards per carry. That is twice what Badger star running back Jonathan Taylor averaged in Camp Randall Stadium, his home turf.
Hifo, excelling with the jet sweep, gained 45 yards on 5 carries, his longest a 19 yarder, but he had runs of 12 and 5 and caught a short pass for a run of 18 which kept Wisconsin’s defense guessing.
“It was a great game plan Jeff Grimes had coming in,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “The jet sweeps kept their defense honest and made them have to cover us wide. It made their defense have to cover everybody.″
Indeed, worrying about Hifo, enabled BYU to spring Canada loose for huge chunk runs of 44 and 46 yards, which completely deflated Wisconsin. That jet sweep also set up a Hifo 31-yard touchdown pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau, which stunned the Badgers.
This plan, based on creating creases in Wisconsin’s defense, worked brilliantly, according to Sitake.
“Our linemen did a great job of creating opportunities for those guys,” he said.
“It was our line, but also our receivers blocking downfield that enabled me to make those runs,” said Canada. “They made it easy for me.”
BYU defeated Wisconsin by passing for just 89 yards (other than the trick play). BYU turned into a power-run team on Saturday.
This is a team not capable of that a year ago.
“The difference,” explained Sitake, “is that these players are a year older and they are bigger. They have worked hard, and our strength and conditioning and nutrition coaches deserve a lot of credit to get them bigger and stronger.
“But the credit should go to the players. They worked very hard in the summer in player-directed workouts on their own, and that is where all of this came from, what you saw is their hard work paying off, and I give them all the credit in the world.”
From his perch on the sidelines, Sitake got to see BYU play some power ball in the trenches. Without breaking down film, he said, it was obvious that his players rose to the challenge after losing to Cal because of how physical they played down after down.
“I’ve learned to live in the moment and enjoy the present,” said senior quarterback Tanner Mangum. “I’m not going to take for granted this day, this moment. I’m taking it one play and one game at a time.”
Sitake’s passion on Saturday was in full bloom on the sidelines.
“It was fun, just so much fun to see the players playing so hard for each other and trusting one another. They learned to have fun out there and win, that means a lot to me.”3 comments on this story
Wisconsin outgained BYU 394 to 311 yards and out-rushed BYU 204 to 191. The difference was BYU’s chunk yardage ended up in points, especially Skyler Southam's 42-yard field goal that ended one of BYU’s drives. Wisconsin was 0-1 in field goals. That, ultimately, proved the difference in the upset.
Sitake credited unsung safety Gavin Fowler for taking a bad snap, positioning it for Southam, and enabling a good kick on the game-winning field goal with 9:58 left in the game.
“That might seem like a little thing, but it was a crucial play on the part of Fowler, and it ended up being a huge play on his part,” said Sitake.