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BYU report card: Defense, special teams can't overcome incomplete offense

BYU dropped its seventh game in a row against Utah at home 19-13, and this game wasn't as close as the score might suggest. While the defense held its own for the most part and put together some fantastic stops in the red zone, the offense put the defense in bad positions yet again and ultimately lost the game.

Here are BYU's grades in their loss to Utah.


Unlike last week against LSU, we saw glimpses of what this offense could be. Unfortunately, those glimpses were mired with a whole bunch of frustrating ineptitude against a solid Utah defense.

Ula Tolutau averaged 5.0 yards a carry and was crucial in BYU's first touchdown drive, but he only touched the ball five times. It was the most life we've seen from the running game over the past two weeks, and it wasn't anywhere near enough. Matt Bushman has shown himself to be Tanner Mangum's top target, and Talon Shumway had some nice grabs. However, the wide receivers literally dropped the ball when BYU had a chance at the end of the game.

Speaking of Mangum, he was all over the map. He threw three picks and averaged a meager 4.4 yards per completion. That's not going to get the job done without a reliable running game.

It's clear that the pro-style offense Ty Detmer has in mind is not working the way BYU fans would hope. The Cougars are still playing like its the preseason. While the Cougars avoid an F, this offense feels more incomplete than anything else.

Grade: I


If you take away Utah's 10 points off turnovers, the Cougars held the Utes to just nine points. While they gave up 430 yards, the defense made some great plays to keep Utah from scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Both Troy and Fred Warner came up with big turnovers that kept BYU in this game.

However, it wasn't quite a perfect performance. BYU struggled to put pressure on Tyler Huntley has he passed for 300 yards and ran for 89 more. Still, the defense did their part in keeping the Cougars in the game. The offense simply let them down.

Grade: B+

Special teams

BYU has got to find a reliable kicking unit as Rhett Almond missed a 28-yard attempt. Utah won this game in large part because it has a reliable kicker. It's hard to watch the kicking game struggle so much.

A lot of the rest of the special teams actually went pretty well. Jonah Trinnaman had a nice 45-yard kickoff return. Jonny Linehan had a good day with an average of 44.0 yards per punt. Plus, BYU only allowed 11.0 yards average on kickoff returns and 4.7 yards average on punt returns. There was the odd choice to kick the ball out of bounds at the end of the game that does take the final grade down a bit. It wasn't the worst day BYU's special teams has had this season, but a field goal kick needs to become a top priority.

Grade: B-


After three weeks, it's clear that Detmer's pro-style offensive plan is just not working. It doesn't seem like the Cougars have the pieces to run this offense right now, particularly as the running game goes. It seemed like Detmer and the coaching staff changed things up a bit late in the game as Mangum shifted to the shotgun instead of being under center, but it was too little too late. While BYU's offense may come around before the end of the season, the Cougars' key games will have already passed.

It's clear that Iliasa Tuiaki had the defense fired up and ready for this game despite the beating they took against LSU. But Kalani Sitake has got to get the offense going or it's going to be a long season.

Grade: C-


BYU did just enough to make this game interesting, but Utah never in real danger in this game. While the defense stood firm, the offense is a broken mess. And BYU's load doesn't get any lighter with Wisconsin coming to town next week.

Grade: C-