PROVO — BYU's defensive secondary may have got torched at the end of the 62-41 win over Air Force, the second-highest scoring game in the NCAA this year, but there was plenty of blame to go around and Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall isn't letting his special teams off the hook for its role in the slide.
A blocked punt AFA returned for a touchdown and fumbled kickoff return that resulted in an immediate Falcon score — were key in a momentum change and 27-point AFA fourth quarter, Mendenhall said.
"There was an alignment problem (secondary) on one of those touchdown passes and another alignment problem on another. That will need to be addressed and I won't back off that point."
Another point, Mendenhall didn't break down to reporters Monday. But he could.
Mendenhall didn't mention an interference call on corner Kayle Buchannan that proved crucial in another Falcon fourth quarter score. It may have been on of the more bizarre calls by MWC officials this season.
"I purposely didn't bring that up," said the coach. "But it played a part."
Said Mendenhall: "There was a series of events, when you see that many points generated on the board in that time, the part that I'm addressing, that hasn't been pointed out, is special teams. The momentum generated by blocking the punt for a touchdown and fumble on the return, in those circumstances, was very disturbing to me."
Mendenhall said BYU's secondary needs to make plays with the ball in the air, but special teams breakdowns proved critical in AFA's scoring. "When I broke down the film, that was the most disturbing part of what led to all that scoring at the end of the game, was our special teams. That contributed to a very high level to the end of the game. I expect our defense to make stops and that should have been 62-28 or 62-21 but Air Force beat us in every category in special teams play," he said.
Mendenhall said safety Quinn Gooch played the best game a safety has played all year and Corby Hodgekiss wasn't far behind. He also praised reserve safety David Tafuna for his tackling.
Offensively, Mendenhall said he found the game film entertaining and fun to watch and called Saturday's win over AFA the most dominating performance by a Cougar offense he'd seen since coming to Provo.
"I think we're generating momentum and optimism. I think the day-to-day expectations behind the scenes has generated a hunger for success and now once it's coming, there is a feel around the program that hasn't been there for a long time.
"We're gaining speed, not losing speed as the season goes on."
Injuries? "None to report on, we came out of that game unscathed," Mendenhall said.
WYOMING KICKOFF: The MWC announced on Monday the BYU-Wyoming game, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12 in Laramie, Wyo., will begin at 4 p.m.
The game will be televised live by SportsWest. Additonal broadcast plans will be released as information becomes available.
RECORD SCOREBOARD: The 103 combined points in BYU's 62-41 win over Air Forcde was the highest scoring MWC game in history, surpassing the 101 points by TCU (51) and BYU (50) in overtime earlier this season. The game was the second-highest scoring game in the NCAA this season behind Ball State's 60-57 win over Western Michigan.
CATHERS GALORE: BYU tight end Jonny Harline ranks second in the nation among tight ends and No. 40 amongst receivers in the NCAA. Harline has 626 yards receiving. Only Garrett Mills of Tulsa has more yards with 774. The MWC has six wide receivers ranked in the top 50 for total yardage, including four in the top 20 and three in the top 15. New Mexico's Hank Baskett leads the pack at No. 3 with 928 yards, followed by Wyoming's Jovon Bouknight in 10th with 843 yards. CSU's David Anderson is 14th with 821, SDSU's Jeff Webb is 17th with 791.
ON PACE: With 746 yards on the season, averaging 93.2 yards per game, Curtis Brown is on pace to run for over 1,025 yards this season. Should Brown eclipse the 1,000 yard mark, it would be the first time since the 2001 season a BYU running back had ran for 1,000 yards in a season. Brown is on pace to record the sixth highest single-season rushing total in BYU history.
BECK NUMBERS: Junior quarterback John Beck has passed for 2,602 yards this season, averaging 325.2 yards per game. Beck is on pace to pass for over 3,577 yards in 2005. While that total would not eclipse the single-season top-10, it would give Beck over 7,000 career passing yards and would rank ninth on BYU's all-time passing list with one year remaining.
MOST YARDS SINCE: With 383 passing yards and 300 rushing yards, BYU accumulated 683 yards of total offense against the Falcons. The combined total surpasses the 614 the Cougars had against TCU earlier this season and is the most yards BYU has amassed since November 1, 2001, when the Cougars had 694 in a 56-34 win over Colorado State. In that game, BYU had 410 rushing yards and 284 passing yards. The 300 rushing yards was the most for the Cougar since the 2001 Colorado State game.
Cougars on the air
BYU (4-4, 3-2) at UNLV (2-6, 1-4)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 14
Radio: KSL 1160 AM. 102.7 FM