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BYU football report card: Special teams comes up big as Cougars rout UMass

BYU overcame a slow start to rout overmatched UMass 51-9. While all three sides of the ball looked a bit off in the first half, forced turnovers on special teams and on defense blew this game wide open in the third quarter.

Here's BYU's grades in its win over the Minutemen.


Offense


The offense sputtered to start this game, but BYU's rushing attack proved too much for the UMass defense. KJ Hall had 101 yards rushing with a touchdown, and the running back turned to linebacker and back to running back had 56 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Taysom Hill also showed off his legs with 81 yards and a touchdown.

All told, BYU had 247 yard rushing, and that was without Jamaal Williams or Squally Canada. Yes, this was against UMass, but that's impressive nonetheless.

Tanner Mangum came in late in the game and only had four passes on the day, but one of them was for a touchdown to Garrett Juergens.

It wasn't always pretty, but the offense was effective.

Grade: A


Defense


BYU added two more interceptions to the growing pile of picks this season. Francis Bernard took an interception 39 yard to the house, while Isaiah Armstrong picked up his first pick of his young career.

Yes, the defense did start off a bit sluggish as it gave up a 70-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Ford to Bernard Davis. However, the Cougars got things cleaned up in the second half and didn't allow another point after there was 12:58 to go in the second quarter.

If you take the long touchdown off the board, the BYU defense held UMass to just 258 yards of total offense, including a measly 40 yards rushing, and just three points.

Grade: A


Special teams


The first half wasn't great for special teams as it gave up some big returns, including a 51-yard kickoff return for Isaiah Rogers.

It made up for that and more in the second half.

Morgan Unga blocked a UMass punt that the BYU offense turned into a field goal. On the very next kickoff, Eric Takenaka both forced and recovered a fumble that the Cougars turned into a touchdown. Special teams play was huge in turning a close game into a blowout. As if that wasn't enough, Hiva Lee recovered a muffed kickoff late in the fourth quarter that BYU turned into yet another field goal.

As far as kickers go, Johnny Linehan pinned UMass inside the 20 with each of his punts and Rhett Almond was 3-for-3 on field goals.

Despite a slow start, BYU's special teams was huge in turning a close game into a blowout. That earns an A in my book.

Grade: A


Coaching


I don't know what Kalani Sitake said to his players at halftime, but BYU was a different team after it ran back onto the field to start the third quarter. The Cougars scored just 14 points and gave up nine in the first half and scored 37 points and gave up nothing in the second.

The BYU coaching staff made the adjustments needed at the half to put this game away in the third quarter. While it would have been nice to have BYU playing that way all game long, the end result is what matters.

Grade: A


Overall


While BYU had a slow start, it more than made up for it with a strong second half. The Cougars were favored by 28 points and ended up winning by 42. Overall a great effort for BYU with just one game left in the regular season.

Grade: A

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