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BYU report card: Cougars give worst overall performance of the season yet

BYU suffered its third-straight defeat, 40-6, at the hands of a Power 5 team, and this one was the worst overall performance of the three.

True, LSU crushed the offense and didn’t allow the offense past the 50, but at least the defense made some big stops in the red zone and forced some turnovers. The Cougars were at least in the game for a short while against Utah.

After BYU tied the game at 3-3 early in the game, Wisconsin utterly destroyed the Cougars at every level of the game. The Badgers deserve all the credit in the world for playing a nearly flawless game, but BYU was also the worst its been in 2017.

Here’s BYU’s grades in its loss against Wisconsin.

Offense

The offense can at least be reassured that it wasn't the only or even the primary reason BYU lost this game. Doesn't mean it was any good.

Beau Hoge did about as well as you could expect when your first start is against a Top 10 team. If you take away his one 50-yard completion to Micah Simon, he would have finished the day with just 61 yards. He also threw two interceptions and gave up a safety as he ran away from some Wisconsin defenders.

The running game seemed to catch Wisconsin off guard early in the game as Ula Tolutau had some good carries on BYU's first field goal drive. But it didn't take long for the Badgers to make adjustments. The Cougars finished with just 81 rushing yards.

This wasn't as soul-crushing an effort as BYU's performance against LSU. Still, gaining just 192 yards of total offense and 50 of those coming on a single play can't be considered a passing effort even against an elite defense like Wisconsin.

Grade: F

Defense

This was by far the worst game for the defense this season, albeit against a rock-solid Wisconsin offense. Apart from a goal-line stop at the beginning of the game, Wisconsin moved the ball at will. Jonathan Taylor had 128 yards on just 18 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

Worse, Alex Horibrook just picked the secondary apart as he completed 18 of 19 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. While Corban Kaufusi picked up BYU's first sack since Portland State, BYU simply wasn't able to disrupt the Wisconsin offense in any way.

Even against a top-tier team like Wisconsin, a passing grade implies that BYU did at least something well in the game. Giving up 40 points and almost 500 yards while not forcing a turnover or really threatening the Badgers in any way, there is no other word to describe this kind of performance other than failure.

Grade: F

Special teams

The players of the game in this one just might be punter Jonny Linehan and kicker Rhett Almond. Linehan had another solid day with a 42.8 yards per punt average, and Almond made both of his field goal attempts and scored all six points for the Cougars.

Other than that, BYU's special teams wasn't that good either. The Cougars gave up a 42-yard kick return and nobody really made any big plays. They'll get an OK grade, but that's mainly because they weren't on the field that much.

Grade: C-

Coaching

How much is BYU’s woes really due to bad coaching and how much is due to the fact that it is simply outmatched by the likes of LSU, Utah and now Wisconsin?

That is the question, and it’s not an easy one to answer.

You could see that Ty Detmer and the offensive coaches tried to make some adjustments with Mangum out and Hoge in. They worked for one drive before everything fell apart again. There’s still plenty of room for doubt in Detmer’s scheme and ability as an offensive coordinator, but it also may be that putting together the offense is just going to take longer than BYU fans would like. Time will tell.

The defense also seemed to take a big step backward in this game, and that’s Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki’s domain. Wisconsin took advantage of BYU’s soft coverage in a bend-don’t-break defense until the defense broke.

Just as BYU was dominated on the field by a better team, Wisconsin’s coaching staff simply outcoached Sitake and BYU’s coaches. The Badgers made adjustments early and the Cougars simply broke down.

Grade: F

Overall

While there were a few glimmers of good play here and there, Wisconsin did pretty much what it wanted whenever and however it wanted. Yes, the Badgers are No. 10 in the country for a reason. They are extremely good and will be a contender in the Big Ten no doubt.

Simply put, BYU gave up 40 points and 491 yards while scoring only six points and gaining 142 yards if you take away one play. It also lost the turnover battle 2-0 and gave up a safety. Worse, this happened at home and not at Camp Randall Stadium or a neutral site. That isn’t good enough for a passing grade even against a Top 10 team.

Grade: F