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BYU football year in review: The stats and leaders behind a 9-4 season (+photos)

The Cougars held on for a three-point win over the Wyoming Cowboys in the Poinsettia Bowl to improve to 9-4 in their first season under Kalani Sitake.

In a season of close wins and heartbreaking losses, the Cougars left us on the edge of our seats from game one until the final two minutes of game 13.


Season recap

The Cougars got out of the gate in fine fashion as Jake Oldroyd's 33-yard field goal with four seconds left lifted them to an 18-16 win over the Arizona Wildcats.

Video: Freshman Jake Oldroyd hits the 33-yard game-winning field goal for @BYUfootball vs. Arizona pic.twitter.com/AxExB1L17T

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) September 4, 2016

The Utah Utes got the last laugh as they stuffed an attempted two-point conversion to knock off the Cougars 20-19 in Salt Lake City.

Josh Rosen threw for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the UCLA Bruins outlasted the Cougars 17-14 to spoil the home opener.

An interception from Maurice Fleming at the West Virginia 2-yard line with 69 seconds remaining allowed the Mountaineers to hold on for a 35-32 win as the Cougars dropped to 1-3 on the year.

BYU bounced back after three straight losses when Rhett Almond connected on a 19-yard field goal as the Cougars escaped with a 55-53 win over the Toledo Rockets. While it was the kick that sealed the win, it was the play of Jamaal Williams that carried the Cougs as he finished with a school-record 286 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

Video: Jamaal Williams' 5 touchdown runs accounted for 127 of his record-breaking 286 rushing yards vs. Toledo @jswaggdaddy @BYUfootball pic.twitter.com/yXAjocX54j

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 1, 2016

The Cougars got to .500 on the season after an impressive second-half performance in a 31-14 win over Michigan State.

Senior quarterback Taysom Hill had one of his best showings of the season and the Cougars got some fortuitous bounces as they were able to beat Mississippi State 28-21 in double overtime. Hill totaled four touchdowns, including three through the air as Tanner Balderree scored the game-winning touchdown to improve to 4-3.

Here's the game-winning TD pass to @BYUfootball's Tanner Balderree in Cougars' 28-21 win over @HailStateFB. First career TD for Balderree pic.twitter.com/TvOopLOS1s

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

The Cougars couldn't capitalize on five Bronco turnovers as they fell 28-27 to Boise State. While BYU had two chances to win in the final seconds (a field goal and a Hail Mary), the game will always be remembered for BYU's fake punt on a fourth-and-19 from deep in its own end zone make it one of the strangest calls of the season.

BYU regained its footing on the road at Cincinnati where an impressive defense carried the Cougars to a 20-3 win over the Bearcats.

The Cougars returned to Provo for the first of three homes games to close out the regular season as they beat the Southern Utah Thunderbirds to become bowl eligible for the 12th straight season.

BYU got some huge rushing days from KJ Hall and Harvey Langi as the Cougars improved to 7-4 on the year with a 51-9 win over the Massachusetts Minutemen. Hall finished with 101 yards and a touchdown while Langi totaled 56 yards and two scores as the Cougars outrushed the Minutemen 247-40.

The regular season came to an end in a bittersweet 28-10 win over the Utah State Aggies. While the Cougars got their fourth win in a row, Hill saw his season and career end with another injury against the Aggies.

Like so many times before, Kai Nacua came up big when they Cougars needed him most with an interception in the final two minutes to give BYU its 24-21 bowl win over Wyoming. Williams also had a huge hand in the outcome with 210 rushing yards and a touchdown.

VIDEO: Kai Nacua (@KaiNacua_23) does what he does, makes the game-winning interception for @BYUfootball in his final game as a Cougar pic.twitter.com/FWzbjQTZmY

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) December 22, 2016


Season leaders

Taysom Hill completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,323 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 600 yards and eight scores on the ground.

Jamaal Williams was the leading rusher with 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns on 234 carries.

Nick Kurtz led all receivers with 49 receptions for 541 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Colby Pearson added 38 catches for 384 yards and four scores.

Nick Kurtz (@TheKurtzWay) with the 31-yard TD catch on 4th and 17 for @BYUfootball vs. @SUUFB pic.twitter.com/gWYzahoGw4

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) November 12, 2016

Fred Warner led the BYU defense with 86 tackles while adding 10.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Sae Tautu led the team with 11 tackles for loss and six sacks while chipping in with 49 tackles.

.@BYUfootball's Sae Tautu, shown here making a key 4th Q sack, with a monster game Friday: 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL vs. @HailStateFB pic.twitter.com/9bWMuFFtpt

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016

Kai Nacua led the way with six interceptions while totaling 48 tackles.


Three stars

3. Harvey Langi

Langi's versatility made him special for the Cougars. He played numerous positions, including linebacker, on the defensive line and running back. On defense, he finished with 57 tackles, including five for loss and two sacks. He added 79 rushing yards and two touchdowns while playing running back.

.@BYUfootball's Harvey Langi (@LANGI21) came up big at RB for Cougars, moving over from defense vs. UMass. 14 carries, 56 yards, 2 TDs pic.twitter.com/9jVZMiQxxc

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) November 20, 2016

2. Fred Warner

Warner was near the top of just about every defensive category for the Cougars. He led the team in tackles, while tying for first in forced fumbles and defensive touchdowns. He also finished second in tackles for loss, second in pass breakups and tied for second in interceptions.

Video: @fred_warner pick-6 in the second quarter gave @BYUfootball life after falling behind 14-0 in eventual 28-27 loss to @BroncoSportsFB pic.twitter.com/q1BSSlT9VI

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 21, 2016

1. Jamaal Williams

While he missed plenty of time with injuries, Williams carried the offense with 1,455 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. Along the way he became the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,901 yards.

VIDEO: Jamaal Williams (@jswaggdaddy) scores his final TD for @BYUfootball, this 36-yarder to put the Cougars up 24-7 on Wyoming pic.twitter.com/yuQt73EChG

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) December 22, 2016


Analyzing the stats

The Cougars passed for 197.9 yards per game while rushing for 200.9 yards for a total of 398.8 yards of offense. The 398.8 yards per game is the lowest total per game since 2010.

The 197.9 yards passing is the lowest since 1975 when they passed for 177.6 yards a game.

The 200.9 rushing yards a game was the most since 2013 when the Cougars averaged 254.5 yards a game on the ground.

The 1,375 yards rushing from Williams is the most in a single season for BYU since Luke Staley ran for 1,596 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2001.

The nine wins under Kalani Stake was the second most by a first-year coach in school history behind only Gary Crowton who won 12 games his first year at the helm. LaVell Edwards won seven games in his first season.

The defense forced 31 turnovers (21 interceptions and 10 fumbles). That was the most turnovers BYU forced since 2001 when the Cougars had 34 regular-season turnovers on the way to a 12-win season.

The defense was tough against the run, allowing just 112.8 per game and 14 touchdowns. Six of the 13 opponents didn't reach the century mark on the ground.

The 112.8 yards rushing given up by the Cougars was their best performance against the run since 2012 when they gave up just 86.9 yards a game while allowing only five rushing touchdowns.