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Cougar Kudos: BYU vs. Boise State

23 September 2012 Brett Richins 28 Comments

Hill accounted for 114 yards vs. BSU. (BYU photo)

BYU will try to push the reset button beginning with Monday’s practice following a tough 7-6 loss at Boise State.

The Cougars fell to 0-3 all-time against the Broncos despite not giving up an offensive point to Chris Petersen’s team. They also fell to 2-2 on the season after two losses in the span of five days to teams that they probably would have defeated with even mediocre performances by their offense.

Despite the disappointing loss, a number of Cougars had outstanding performances. One could recognize the performance of the entire defensive unit, but a couple of BYU defenders really stood out.

Here is a look at some of the players that deserve kudos for their performances on Thursday.

DE Ezekiel Ansah (6-6, 270 Sr.)

Ziggy had his coming out party in front of a national audience on the blue turf of Boise State. The senior from Accra, Ghana showed why BYU coaches have been calling Ezekiel a big time talent that will play in the NFL.

His performance, which included eight tackles (six solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass break-up may have made him a wad of cash Thursday. His most impressive moment came when he blew up a would-be blocker and stopped the Broncos’ J.C. Percy short of a first down on a fake punt. The play gave BYU the ball on the BSU 22-yard line.

For a guy who didn’t even know how to put his pads on when he walked on to the team in 2010, Ansah appears to be understanding how to play the game and has really begun live up to the hype. With the season-ending ACL injury to defensive end Eathyn Manumaleuna, Ziggy will be relied upon even more in Bronco Mendenhall’s defense.

LB Brandon Ogletree (5-11, 228 Sr.)

Buck linebacker Brandon Ogletree also had eight tackles on the night, four of those solo. He also tied Ansah with 2.5 tackles for loss. In the three games this season, the senior from McKinny, Texas leads the team with 35 total tackles, and has an additional four tackles for losses. He’s well on his way to being BYU’s leading tackler for the second season in a row.

Ogletree’s motor-always-on style of play is part of the reason that BYU held the Broncos to just 261 yards and no offensive points. Ogletree and the defense have not allowed an opponent to gain 300 yards of total offense since surrendering 365 yards at Oregon State on October 15th of last year.

Brandon is the emotional leader of that defense and is a key cog in a unit that ranks 7th in the country in total defense, 9th in rushing defense, 9th in sacks, 13th in scoring defense and 21st in passing defense.

QB Taysom Hill (6-2, 218 Fr.)

Hill accounted for 114 of BYU’s 200 yards of total offense on Thursday, and accomplished that in a quarter-and-a-half of action in relief of starter Riley Nelson. He engineered a 95-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter by utilizing both his arm and his legs, and scored the night’s only offensive points by either team on a 4-yard touchdown run with under four minutes left in the game.

His 21-yard strike to tight end Richard Wilson to start the drive, along with a personal foul penalty on BSU, changed the momentum for a BYU offense that struggled throughout the night under Nelson’s direction. Taysom completed just 4 of 10 passes for 42 yards, but did not commit a turnover on a night that the Cougars coughed it up five times.

Hill rushed for team-leading 72 yards on 12 carries, and his 17-yard run in the fourth quarter was the longest run of the game for BYU — and the second-longest play from scrimmage following his completion to Wilson. His play against Boise State, along with Nelson’s struggles in the last two games, has created a quarterback controversy in Provo.

P/PK Riley Stephenson (6-0, 205 Sr.)

Stephenson continued his outstanding punting in Boise.

He averaged 47 yards per punt against the Broncos and pinned them inside the 20-yard line on four of his six punts. For most of the night he was BYU’s best weapon and was able to dramatically change field position on his first two punts, which traveled 57 and 56 yards respectively. He was able to force the Broncos into a number of long-field situations throughout the evening.

Riley is currently fifth in the nation in punting, averaging 47.3 yards per boot. He also has the Cougars in the top 20 in net punting despite the punt coverage team giving up 113 yards in returns so far this season, which is 12th worst among FBS teams.

After a career plagued with inconsistency, he has become one of the Cougars most reliable performers this year.

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  • Rob H. said:

    There were a lot of things that should be lauded in Boise State. Cougar fandom is reeling from the sting from two games that were very much in contention. However, I would rather that than be blown out like we were at FSU. FWIW.

  • Walt Hanssen said:


    Good article; just one comment: hopefully they pressed the reset button on Saturday because since they played on Thursday, Friday would be like a Sunday and Saturday would be like a Monday and so on until they play on Friday. They do not have a day to waste in setting the reset button and getting back to practice.

    ALL POINTS BULLETIN: this is a new bit of info on Riley and it comes from one of my best friends whose sister-in-law (his brother’s wife) is a good friend of Riley’s cousin who told her that he has been playing on a broken back since the Weber State. If that is true, then he was able to pull the wool over Coach Doman and Coach Mendenhall’s eyes and continue to play despite that. Even Bronco said the only way he would come out of the game is if you drug him out. Bronco also said that he want’s Riley to be able to look him in the eyes and tell him that he is alright. Well, that tells me that up to this point Riley hsan’t looked Coach in the eyes and has kept this to himself. If that is the case, then it has been incredibly selfish of him to do this because it ended up costing us two games and we might have been undefeated at this point had he sat and let Lark or Hill play. Very courageous to play with a broken back or tweaked/strained back for that matter but also dumb and selfish. If this is correct, and we already know that he wasn’t himself in either of these last two games, then he was thinking only about himself and it has affect the entire team and its season.

  • FL Cosmo said:

    All due respect, I am loving that source, Walt. Reminds me of the Darth Vader spoof on Space Balls: “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.”

    Look, Riley is the QB, the senior, the team captain. If he thinks he can play, he’s gonna play. Still plenty of blame to go around without him. BYU’s offensive woes are much, much larger than Riley.

  • KentuckyCougar said:

    Thank you for mentioning Ziggy’s play. The whole night I was telling my wife he was making himself a lot of money and his family the richest (or one of) in Ghana… I love our defense. I hope our offense can show up and utilize the *weapons we have waiting to be unleashed

    (*see Hoffman, Cody & Apo, Ross +others)

  • El Jefe said:

    There has got to be something wrong physically with Riley. But I agree there is a bigger problem than Riley. Our offensive line is losing the battle in the trenches and that will pretty much affect every aspect of the offense.

  • Martin said:

    FL Cosmo,

    I agree that BYU’s offensive woes are much bigger than Riley Nelson. I believe 80% of their woes can be pinned on poor offensive line performance. The FIRST step in getting BYU’s offense back to its old self is to can Weber and get a new O-line coach who can get this unit back on track. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen until the end of the season, if at all. Still, Nelson has looked HORRIBLE the last two games, not just statistically, but his demeanor as well. He is not himself and if it is because he is injured then I hope he has the maturity to tell the coaches and let Lark of Hill fill in for him. If he insists on playing injured when he is not 100% then that is selfish and only hurts his teammates, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, who want to win games but have to sit back and watch Nelson throw games away.


    Do you think Manu will be granted a medical red shirt and be back next season? As bad as it must be for Manu, it may end up being a blessing in disguise if Ansah gets more reps, and Manu is able to come back next season and shore up an otherwise depleted D-line.

  • Sore back Cougar said:

    Riley is obviously hurt! I like Riley when he is healthy, because I think he plays with a lot of determination despite his lack of talent to throw the ball downfield. I think we need to bench him for the Hawaii game for sure to make sure that he can get healthy, because we need him for the rest of the season. I don’t want to put my faith in a true freshman, and ruin another potential star like we did with Jake Heaps.
    I think if Riley had a broken back he would barely be walking, and the coaches would definitely know if he was injured. The first thing that coaches should do when Riley says he has a hurt back is get some X-rays. That will tell you if it’s broken or not right away. I think he probably has a pulled ligament or a herniated disc in his back. For a young guy like that all he needs is some rest and he should be back to normal after a couple of weeks.

  • NWACougar said:

    I was surprised at how little we heard about Van Noy on Friday, was Boise just making sure the plays were as far from him as possible? I do know he was making some great plays but it seemed a lot less than previous games. Was he just not assigned to do what he usually does or was Boise just good enough to neutralize him?

  • Ronald Uharrriet said:

    Hawaii got blown away by Navada this weekend.
    Nevada played a spirited game. They looked very good.
    I hope that we can look as good vs Hawaii as Nevada did.

    I still have hope for us vs. San Jose State, New Mexico State and Idaho.

    I’m not sure vs. Utah State. I fear that we have fallen to
    #3 in the state of Utah behind Utah and if not better coached,
    Utah State as well.

    After watching the UCLA game vs Oregon State at UCLA, I now
    fear that our home coming game vs. Oregon State may be another
    disaster to our season.

    Forget about Ga. Tec. Forget about ND. We have blown it.
    We have some of the best athletes ever at BYU and the coaching has’been

    The only games we can win are those vs teams ranked worse than 62, ‘
    We win the games on the botton half of 124 teams and lose the games on
    the top half of 124 and we keep talking about wanting another National Champoinship.
    We keep talking about wanting a BCS Bowl. It isn’t going to happen until we change direction
    and leadership.

    I am grateful that we do not have to play Washington State again. I am sure we would not be happy with the results.

    Where much is given, much is expected. We have been give a group of our best atheletes ever including a 5 star QB and four others with4 stars each that the QB brought to us. We just are not developing their talent, What happened to our Offense as a whole. What happened to our OF line. What happened to the team, How can we have some a great defense and have all other areas of the team fall apart. What is wrong with this picture. I love my cougars and they deserve better.

  • SoCal Cougar Fan said:

    There is a lot of blame to go around on the offense, but if Riley was hurt as bad as he was, it is a true shame that he was so selfish as to not recognize what playing like that meant to the team. It is also a shame that the coaches let him continue to play like that. If they knew he was injured, once they saw him struggling, they should have made a change instead of waiting for Riley to take himself out. They are the coaches and should be telling the players what to do, not the opposite.

    Our season was still very much alive during the Boise State game if we had won. Now we just have to right the ship, develop some players and get a winning attitude back.

    Hawaii should be a good opportunity to see if we can’t make some major changes in offensive philosophy. Let’s hope we take advantage before heading to ND adn G Tech.

  • Walt Hanssen said:

    Our defense is ranked 7th in total yards given up & 13th in scoring defense.

    As for Riley & his back, the fact is that his back was hurt in the Weber game and it doesn’t really matter if it is broken, strained, tweaked, etc., the fact is that he was hurt enough that he couldn’t run or pass. If it is totally on the offensive line then how did Hill go the length of the field and score? We also have Alisa fumbling on the one yard line (he’s supposed to be our best back. I’m for Riley starting if he is healthy but not if he isn’t.

    The season is far from over, we can still get back to 11-2 & a bowl victory & possible top 25 ranking.

  • JT said:

    I agree that no game this season is unwinnable. The defense will keep us in every game. It is simply up to the offense to right the ship by protecting the ball and gaining positive yardage each down.

  • CougarFan said:

    Glad to see you gave props to Ansah. What a game he had. With the first sack of a Boise QB this year, tackling the runner on the fake punt, and getting a stop on the goal line stand he was the player of the game for BYU. Sorry Hill, Ogletree, and Stephenson, but Ansah made the biggest positive difference for BYU in this game.

    Having said that, look at where Ansah is from – Ghana. The number of church members there is large and growing. Currently, there are more church members in Ghana than in Michigan, Maryland, Panama, Costa Rica, or Ontario. Combine Ghana and Nigeria, and you have more members than Colorado, Australia, Japan or the combination of two states that border Utah in New Mexico+Wyoming. Throw in South Africa as well and you have more members than in Canada, the UK, Ecuador or the combination of New Zeland and Samoa. Finally, include all the members in Africa, and you have more members than in any state but Arizona, Idaho, California, and Utah.

    We can get more athletes like Ansah if we take the needs of the African saints seriously, and build a BYU-Africa campus. In addition to be the right thing spiritually and temporally, it would help us tap into an untapped talent pool.

  • Bryan Taylor said:

    Until Bronco is let go, fired, or resigns after 2013 nothing will change with the status of the BYU football program…lose to all the good teams and win games against sub par competition to try to become bowl eligible.

  • Bryan Taylor said:

    I don’t know why anyone would expect anything less. That is the pattern of BYU football under Broncos leadership.

  • Ronald Uharrriet said:

    I really like and appreciate the great job that Brono Mendenhal is doing as a Defensive Cordinator.
    I loved the job that Norm Chow did during his best years as an Offensive Coordinator, and I loved the great Job that Lavel Edwards did as a head coach.

    Most have forgotten what a fantastic job Gary Crowton did before the Honor Code Violation of a few players well into the night in one of the players home. Gary was blamed for allowing that to happen, almost as though he helped plan it which is a wierd untrue thought, however his failures came after the fact when all of his energy and time and thoughts were defending himself with little time, little thought and little energy left to coach.

    Even with all of that, the day he got fired was the same day and during the game, when we defeated Notre Dame in front of a crowd of nearly 66,000 fans which I believe was our largest attendance in the Lavel Edwards Stadium. Gary’s next job was Offensive Coordinator for Oregon Universitey where he earned the title, “The most outstanding assistant coach in the Nation. Next he was grabbed by defending national champions LSU to be their offensive coordinator.

    My point is, when a coach is not stretched too thinly, he does a much better job. This in not to say that Bronco is not a good Head Coach. It is to say that he is even a better Defensive Coordinator than he is a good head coach. I think that we can all see that he is stretched too thin in trying to 1. promote the Church, 2. Be a Defensive Coordinator and 3. Be a head coach.

    I believe that if his duties were restricted to being a Defensive Coordinator, BYU Cougars and fans would truly be blessed which couldput our Cougars in the top 5 in the Nation, defensively speaking.

    I would like to see Andy Reed come in and take over the head coaching job. I would like to see Ty Detmer be drafted to take over the QB coaxhing Job. We need a new line coach. I am extremely happy with our receivers coach, Ben Cahoon. It would be great if we could get Steve Young to come in and be our Offensive Coordinator. I think our running back coach could and will improve.

    You have to have a dream before you can have a dream come true.

  • GAfan said:

    The offense needs creativity! I watched a little of Clemson at FSU. They threw it out to the left for a halfback throw. Don’t you think we could do that with Kuresa? Don’t you think it would be cool to have Ziggy run the ball. He would be hard to bring down and has great speed. It would get the players excited, especially if successful.

  • AF Coug said:

    Ronald Uharriet,

    Your last saying is very similar to something commonly said in Vegas, “You gotta bet big to win big”. As a disclaimer, the house always wins.

    These guys are great at what they accomplished in their careers and it was great that they spent part of that time at BYU. But really? I’m pretty sure you just started naming the top five names from the BYU promotions dept and determined that they would be the best in the whole world at being HC, QB, OC, DC etc to coach at the Y. Field success to coaching success doesn’t always translate. eg. Doman was a great QB he’s still not there as an OC. Just because they have a name doesn’t mean they are great coach or that their talents translate to the college football level.

    Andy Reid is a solid NFL coach, but how is he as a recruiter? It’s easier to recruit when you just have to write a check.

    Ty was amazing and all indications from when he was a perpetual NFL back up are that he was a great coach, but that’s purely conjecture based on name recognition. Besides, he’s not giving up family stability and the Hill country to be on the third tier of a college coaching staff. That’s too much work for a guy who’s set.

    Everybody is frustrated and that is coming out in a funny way. Gordon Monson can eat my “dog excrement”. I suppose the old adage that a coach loses 10% of his popularity every year is true. Deservedly or not.

    Bandwagoning is not cool. Bronco till I die baby.

  • KentuckyCougar said:


    Haha! Sure, Ziggy would be freaky to have running at you, but I bet he’d fumble the ball more than 50% of the time. ;)

    I love his play on the defensive end and think players should be afraid to have him headed their way… along with the rest of our defense.

    I’d also like to see us mix it up on the offensive end — but mostly just to do things more than running it up the middle for little or no gain, and those super annoying quick throws to the sideline for little or no gain. We need to utilize our receivers DOWN FIELD!

    That is all.

  • Brett Richins (author) said:


    As far as Eathyn getting a medical redshirt, those are rarely granted to RM’s unfortunately.

  • FL Cosmo said:

    I am with AF coug on supporting Mendenhall. He has shown himself to be a great head coach through the Beck and Max Hall years. Success on the field, and no major honor code embarrassments, as under Crowton. I would say Bronco has done a better job than any other BYU coach this far into his career.

    This whole Riley/Heaps/Doman debacle that has plaqued us for nearly three years now can easily be a blip on the radar in the long term, as long as Mendenhall can get his staff right. We’ve got great athletes, and the University/Church have continued heavy investment in the program. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get our boys to play at the same level of BSU, Utah, and TCU.

  • Ronald Uharrriet said:

    Air Force Coug,

    I quote you: “Gordon Monson can eat my “dog excrement”.

    You just lost a lot of creditability with me.

    I like people until they prove to me that they have a closed mind and are not open to change, because in their own little simple minds, they are always right, and therefore there is no need to be open and capable of change. Sir: We can all have a difference of opinion without being insulted.

    having said that, I did not take any names off of a list. I have been a Cougar fan going back to 1953 when I first started at BYU. In those days, the High School team that I play on could have beaten the Cougars. We were the Souther League Champs of Los Angeles County, which was by far the toughest league in the county.

    From that time on, and all throught the Glory Years, I watched the Jim Mac Manns, I watched the Steve Youns and I watched the Ty Detmers as they played the games as I was in the stadium for most of those games and all of those bowl games, yes, even including the one we lost in Hawaii just as Ty Detmer was awarded the Heisman Trophy. No indeed, I do not need to take names off of any list, Perhaps you do,

  • Jim Tills said:

    Frankly, I don’t know if Riley was playing hurt or not; for me, he was just not playing well, period! I almost screamed at the TV when he came back out and was starting the second half against BSU. I wanted Taysom Hill in the game to start the second half. When the pick-6 was thrown, I felt that the coaching staff would send in Hill at that juncture, but no, out trotted Riley once again, and once again, he threw an interception. At that point, I lost hope for a win in the game because I knew the coaching staff wasn’t allowing the team to utilize all the talent they have. My wife left off watching and has sworn off BYU football.

    They finally put Hill in and after throwing a few initial passes too low to complete some passes, he got the team moving for a 95 yard score with 4 minutes to go in the game. Then, the coaches blew it again with the 2-point conversion try with no time-outs left…. He never got a chance to see if he could drive the team for another score. What a bummer!

    The new rivalry with Boise State will be good and this game was a good start to it.

  • Martin said:


    “those are rarely granted to RM’s unfortunately”

    Nelson and Fuga were both granted one, post mission. I hope that there is hope for Manu. I would hate to think we have seen the last of the hero of the 2007 Vegas Bowl.

  • Walt Hanssen said:

    Fellow DSOB Fans-

    I have recovered from the awful hangover I had after these past two games, am determined never to get drunk again (from an overdose of BYU football) and am here to tell you that life is good, there is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not another train coming), I am healthy, live in this great land of the free and home of the brave, am happily married and have nine beautiful children (from two marriages) and I am thankful to be a Cougar fan and have this great site.

    Thanks Brett & all my fellow readers and posters.


  • Brett Richins (author) said:

    Upon further review… medical RS are rarely granted to RM’s that have already taken a redshirt season. The two players you mentioned had not taken a regular redshirt and neither has Eathyn, so perhaps it may be granted. The Cougars could really use him in 2013, so there could be a silver lining to his season-ending injury.

  • AF Coug said:

    Ronald Uharriet,

    You lost me at “AF Coug,”

    The Gordon Monson quote you so vociferiously disagreed to was a very subtle but poignant reference to an article that Mr. Monson published that day hating on Coach Mendenhall–Similar if not all but identical to your remarks hating the entire coaching staff. If you had not been thinking in just your little box, ‘sitting’ in the West stands, you might have understood that reference. Though admittedly your mind is so wide open it must have just run right through there.

    You’re not the only one who’s watched a hell of a lot of games. The glory years were great, but they were inflated. Go Michigan. We haven’t changed all that much on the program level as to our great successess and our terrible failures. Sucks to be blown out to FSU following a win over OU? How about winning the Heisman and then getting throat stomped by Hawaii? We are in a great time in Cougar football and 80% of the people writing on this board don’t recognize that if we lose 2 games…by 4 total points…to two very good teams–the sky is falling, throw out the baby with the bath water, fire ‘em all…any body have any more good cliches?

    Criticism is not offense. You made a point and I made a counter point. To which you responded I was an awful human being for not blindingly following the post loss rage of the great third string waterboy on the california souther blah blah Region IV league of Eastern Central California in 1900-who gives a crap? I suppose that does give you tremendous respectability. I should have recognized that. My apologies.

    Indeed Ronald, we all can have a difference of opinion without being offended. Unless it’s intended.

  • Ronald Uharrriet said:

    Air Force Coug,
    ” I quote you again : “Gordon Monson can eat my “dog excrement”.

    You just lost a lot of creditability with me.

    Sir: To get on with a new subject, I will retract. You have not lost all crediability with me.
    New subject. I still enjoy reading most of your post when you are more open to differences of opinion.

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