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BYU report card: Cougars sloppy in win over Portland State

BYU beat Portland State 20-6 on a hot day in Provo, but that win was anything but pretty.

The offense was sluggish and struggled to get out of its own way for much of the game. The defense was good for the most part, but it also struggled to get off the field as the Vikings picked up some critical fourth-down conversions. BYU will have to play better than this against the gauntlet ahead.

Here's BYU's grades in its win over Portland State:

Offense

The word that best describes BYU's offense in this game is sloppy. The veteran offensive line made rookie mistakes, including costly penalties that took points off the board. The run blocking up front looked questionable as well. There were times where the receivers struggled to get open against Portland State's corners, which does not bode well for future games.

That isn't to say that there weren't some bright spots. Squally Canada and Kavika Fonua had some big runs and finished with a combined 157 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Matt Bushman showed what he can do with some nice grabs. Tanner Mangum had a decent day with 194 yards and a touchdown, but he also had some bad passes along the way. At the very least, BYU didn't turn the ball over.

While they did enough to beat an FCS team, the Cougars have a lot of work to do before facing LSU next week.

Grade: C-

Defense

BYU's defense did what it needed to do for the most part. It held the Vikings to just 220 yards of total offense. The Cougars also finished with a forced turnover as Zayne Anderson made a pick and returned it 27 yards. Fred Warner had 10 tackles, while Sione Takitaki was brilliant in his return to the field with three tackles for loss and two sacks.

However, there were times where the defense struggled to get off the field, especially on Portland State's scoring drive. The Vikings converted on fourth down twice on that drive.

It wasn't a bad day on defense, but we've certainly seen better things from this group.

Grade: B

Special teams

Special teams was trending to be the top part of BYU's game up until Rhett Almond missed a 33-yard field goal after a timeout negated a good attempt. BYU's coaching staff called the timeout as there were apparently only 10 players on the field. Special teams did a good job on kickoff and punt coverage as it held the Vikings to just 12.7 yards per kickoff return and 1.0 yard per punt return. Johnny Linehan had a busier day than Cougar fans would have liked, but he had a good day with 42.6 yards per punt and two downed inside the 20. Mo Langi appeared to have an effect on Portland State missing its only extra point. The return game wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

Grade: B-

Coaching

On the one hand, you can't fault the coaching staff for wanting to play some things close to the vest with LSU looming next week. You also can't fault them for wanting to give as many players as possible some playing time in the first game against a lower-division opponent, which naturally leads to some uneven play.

On the other hand, you can fault them when the team plays flat and sloppy. BYU's play-calling on both sides of the ball was questionable at times as well. Cougar fans can hope that this was a case of working out the kinks and that the coaching staff will have the team ready for the Tigers.

Grade: C+

Overall

This game felt like a preseason game. BYU was far from its sharpest on all sides of the ball, but some playmakers stepped up. The Cougars have plenty of things to learn and improve as they prepare for LSU, and they better do so in a hurry. BYU got the win and avoided any injuries, but it can't feel terribly satisfied in the way it played Saturday.

Grade: C