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BYU Football vs USF Takeaways

10 Takeaways from BYU's dominant win over USF
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That was worth the wait wasn’t it? BYU came out as if they too had experienced the longest offseason of their lives and dominated USF from start to finish. We can all agree, that was a joyous spectacle of BYU football, but let's dive deeper into what we saw that determined the outcome of the game.

1. Puka Nacua: Certified baller

Playing a total of 8 snaps and accounting for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns is such a ridiculous flex that I don’t even know how to quantify it. He was by far the best athlete on the field for either team, and BYU will need him healthy for the offense to reach its full potential. The good news is that his ankle sprain appears to be mild, and he is expected back for Baylor.

2. The offense is as advertised

Aaron Roderick called an absolute masterclass. His confidence in this game can be summarized by the diversity of his play selection. BYU scored touchdowns on 4 of their first 5 drives. Their first 2 scoring drives included 8 runs and 3 passes. Their next two featured 11 passes and 3 runs. Going for it on 4th and 3 from his own end was big “We’re better than you, and we know it" energy and BYU fans love to see it.

He knows what he has, and he conducted the offense accordingly. It is a talented offense. It is a dangerous offense. And if healthy, it may be an all-time great offense at BYU.


3. Jaren Hall looked really, REALLY good

Let me clarify, Jaren has always looked really good at BYU, but for some reason, he just looked different on Saturday. He completed 25 passes to 12 different receivers. He posted a 100+ NFL passer rating at virtually every depth of throw, including going 7 of 10 on throws that went 10 yards or more down the field. He was 12 of 15 against the blitz for 117 yards and 0 interceptions. All which is really REALLY impressive.

Most will say his best throw was the 45 yard dime that was ultimately dropped (we still love you Keanu). However, his deep out throw from the opposite hash to Kody Epps was the type of throw that made Zach Wilson $35 million in the NFL.

4. Kick return coverage was suspect

Let’s slow down the hype for a second and talk about something we all know was rough. Kick return coverage. We could argue that 14 of USF’s 21 points were a direct result of poor tackling and lane discipline on kick offs. The decision to continue to kick short and force a return was obviously questionable, but it is one based on sound analytics. That said, if BYU can’t get to their spots when they need to be, they are better off handing the ball to their opponent on the 25 yard-line.

5. QB Pressure, or lack thereof

Much has been said about BYU’s inability to get pressure on opposing QBs, and this game didn’t do much to squash that narrative. USF QB Gerry Bohanon was hurried only 3 times on 32 dropbacks. That is a little concerning.

6. The front seven looks solid

On the other hand, BYUs rush defense looked formidable throughout the game. USF was held to just 107 yards rushing on 27 carries. The linebacking corps looked particularly impressive, led by Max Tooley who posted 4 solo tackles and a pick-six.

BYU vs USF Chris Brooks

7. Chris Brooks deserves an apology

One of the prevailing narratives among BYU fans is that Chris Brooks was underwhelming, but that narrative is unfounded. He got off to an admittedly slow start, getting stuffed on his first 3 runs. However, following the second drive of the game he had 10 carries, 134 yards (123 of which came AFTER contact), and a TD. If that is underwhelming, then Chris Brooks is going to set rushing records at BYU.

8. The defense has certainly improved

For some reason, the mood around BYU fandom is that the defense did not look all that great, which is confusing because they contributed about 20% of BYUs points. While there were some obvious miscues in the secondary that led to big plays, the defense looked much better than what we saw to close out last season.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is how BYU did on third and fourth downs against USF this year vs last year. Last year, USF converted 6/15 third downs and 4/5 fourth downs. This year, BYU held USF to 3/12 on third downs and 2/5 on fourth downs. That is the difference between letting USF hang around and beating them by four touchdowns.

9. Lopini Katoa was the spark

He didn't fill up the stat sheet, but Lopini deserves a shoutout here. BYU's interior run game was stagnant on the second drive before he came in with back-to-back 10-yard runs that got things moving again. He finished with 10 carries for 55 yards. 

10. BYU is better than I thought

I predicted this game would be close and ugly. Most of that fear was related to BYU struggling to close out games against inferior opponents the previous season. BYU’s largest margin of victory against an FBS opponent was 17 points (Virginia and Georgia Southern), and the outcome of both of those games was still very much in question in the fourth quarter. That was not so on Saturday.

BYU came out of a two hour weather delay and posted 38 points in 28 minutes of game time. BYU scored 38 points only twice in 2021. It's hard to read too much into week one, but admit it, the message sent in this game felt a lot like BYU vs Navy in 2020, didn’t it?