PROVO — BYU laid another egg at LaVell Edwards Stadium while Utah State showed its high-scoring outputs against prior opponents weren't flukes on Friday. The result was a 45-20 win by the visiting team, which left BYU fans quiet and perhaps even a bit confused, with the Aggie fans as jubilant as ever after their team scored a second-straight blowout win over the Cougars.
Grades are in for both teams regarding their performances, with the Aggies predictably scoring high marks and the Cougars low, for a second week in a row.
Utah State: The Aggie offense didn't exactly chew up yards in the first half, but found a dominating stride in the third quarter, mounting two 10-play touchdown drives that both covered just over 80 yards. Those two scoring drives all but buried the Cougars, with the run game suddenly coming alive.
Darwin Thompson was particularly effective squeezing through the Cougar front for 110 yards on 17 carries. Gerold Bright added 62 yards on 14 carries as the Aggies managed 223 yards rushing as a team.
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love was efficient throughout, and although he only threw for 165 yards, he managed four touchdown strikes on an 18-28 effort.
BYU: The Cougar rushing attack, which had proved so effective through the first four games of the season, came to a screeching halt on Friday. You know things are bad on the ground when the team's leading rusher is backup quarterback Zach Wilson, whose 25 yards rushing came on just one offensive possession to wrap up the game.
Overall the Cougars netted just 39 yards rushing as a team, and although starting running back Squally Canada was hampered with injury, the overall ground game left a lot to be desired.
BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum did manage 270 yards passing but had to throw it 46 times to reach that mark. Turnovers again proved a killer for the Cougar offense, with an interception and two fumbles proving very costly.
Utah State: The Aggies were opportunistic causing turnovers and won in the trenches to limit the Cougar ground game considerably. Big plays came primarily from the linebackers which quickly moved the game to the Aggies' favor while forcing BYU's offensive attack to become one-dimensional.
The Aggies did allow a few long passes and were flagged for several holding and pass interference penalties, but that's about the only criticism you could lay on a defense that scored big plays and held the Cougar offense throughout.
BYU: The Cougars lost the war in the trenches, which proved a surprise to some. The BYU front seven made some changes, with Sione Takitaki taking almost exclusive reps at middle linebacker in place of Butch Pau'u and Matt Hadley playing the majority of snaps at outside linebacker. Zayne Anderson returned to action to play the outside position opposite Hadley
None of the changes seemed to work, however.
Tackling was a huge issue, as Cougar defenders proved ineffective wrapping up Utah State's elusive running backs, particularly in the second half. Little to no pressure was applied to Utah State quarterback Jordan Love throughout, with the Cougars opting to pass rush with no more than four defenders for a second game in a row.
The best unit for the Cougars was the secondary, which did a decent job limiting passes downfield, but it was far too little to suplement a shockingly poor performance from the front seven.
Utah State: Special teams play wasn't a big factor for either side, although Aggie kicker Dominik Eberle connected on his lone field goal attempt from 47 yards out.
BYU: Cougar kicker Skyler Southam missed on his 43-yard attempt at the end of the first half, just when BYU appeared to capture some good momentum. A rather embarrassing play came when the punt return unit only managed to field nine players, although Utah State didn't burn the Cougars for the oversight.
Utah State: The Aggies came out well-prepared and out-executed the Cougars in almost every facet throughout the game. Particularly notable was the third quarter play, which all but buried the Cougars, with coaches making good halftime adjustments to ensure the home team gained no momentum throughout.
Capturing two blowout wins in a row over BYU should pay good dividends for recruiting around the state while providing positive vibes for upcoming Mountain West Conference play.
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BYU: The Cougars weren't completely punchless in Friday's loss, but getting blown out by Utah State at home, after getting blown out a year earlier on the road, is a spot few believed the program could ever get.
Big mistakes made proved devastating with the Cougars proving once again to not be a team good enough to overcome such costly mistakes. Bad tackling, unimaginative defensive scheming and an offensive line that can't provide a consistent running attack all conspired for another low point, of which there's been several, over the past two seasons.