Cougar Kudos: BYU vs. Boise State
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.