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BYU report card: Special teams gives the only good performance in loss to Mississippi State

BYU's struggles continued as they dropped to 1-6 after a 35-10 loss at Mississippi State. This team looks fundamentally broken at so many levels, and this wasn't even the Cougars' worst performance of the year.

Here's the report card for BYU versus Mississippi State.


We've seen worse from this offense, and that's more of a statement of how bad the Cougars have been than saying things went well.

The rushing game was once again abysmal as they finished with just 29 yards. Ula Tolutau not only coughed up the ball, but he also had only 15 yards on eight carries. That's 1.9 yards per carry.

Tanner Mangum was also all over the map. He had a nice touchdown 27-yard pass to Aleva Hifo and another 43-yard strike also to Hifo. But at the end of the day he had only 145 yards passing and threw a lame-duck pick when BYU was on 4th down when the Cougars at least had some momentum.

Even though BYU's schedule gets considerably easier over the rest of the season, it's hard to see this offense that is so fundamentally broken run the table to get to a bowl game. The Cougars avoid an F, but only because we know that this offense is capable of much worse than what we saw on Saturday.

Grade: D-


Dayan Ghanwoloku had a great day with two picks and 105 yards on interception returns. And that's about all that was good about the defense.

The Cougar defense has been good for much of the year, but this game they seemed defeated. They couldn't stop the run (286 yards, three TDs) or the pass (240 yards, two TDs). The defense that put together some big-time stops earlier in the season was almost completely absent on Saturday. The pass rush was also notably missing as BYU had zero sacks on the day.

Ghanwoloku's two picks is the only reason the defense gets a passing grade.

Grade: D-

Special teams

It's not everyday that your kicker gets to force a fumble, but that's what Andrew Mikkelsen did late in the third quarter. That was certainly the play of the game for special teams. Rhett Almond set a new career high with a 38-yard field goal to put BYU on the board.

The return game wasn't good, as Shelton had -2 yards on punt returns and the Cougars averaged just 13.7 yards per return, but Mississippi State had -8 yards on punt returns and just one kickoff return for 25 yards. Jonny Linehan had a decent but not stellar day, and Corey Edwards made his first punt of his career. Between them they averaged 40.7 yards per punt, but Linehan did have four punts downed inside the 20.

Forcing the turnover certainly elevates the grade here. Still plenty of work to be done, particularly in the return game, but not a bad game.

Grade: B


While Ty Detmer has thrown the pro-style set out the window to fix the horrible mess that is the 2017 BYU offense, nothing is working. Having Austin Kafentzis try to run the wildcat failed miserably as every player on the opposite team knows that he's going to run with and not pass the ball. We've not seen any progress from this offense, and this is a large reason why BYU is 1-6.

As for the defense, yes its hard to keep playing hard when the offense is so down, but the defense was soft on Saturday. While Kalani Sitake has been quick to call out the offense, it's time to call out the defense as well.

It was unlikely that BYU was going to get the win, but it at least needed some momentum to carry it through the rest of 2017. That didn't happen. If anything, BYU continued its backward slide and will have a ton of work to get ready for Eastern Carolina.

Grade: D-


In just about any other season in recent history, BYU probably would have gotten Fs on every category except special teams. However, Cougar fans have watched worse games than this in 2017. Perhaps this gives better insight into what a failing grade really is.

Regardless, the Cougars will now have to fight through the back half of the season and try to get to a bowl game. If they play like they did against Mississippi State, however, there's no chance.

Grade: D-

Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.