The BYU Cougars ultimately moved to 4-0 in 2021 on Saturday night, but their victory over a not good USF Bulls team was very much a mixed bag.
Here’s how the Cougars graded out in their win.
In somewhat of a course reversal from its previous three games, BYU was excellent offensively on Saturday, even as (or maybe because?) the Cougars turned to backup quarterback Baylor Romney to fill in for an injured Jaren Hall.
Romney was terrific, going 20 of 25 for 305 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and he tacked on 14 rushing yards on four carries. Sure, the USF defense didn’t offer a whole lot of resistance, but he was successful on deep balls as BYU had a bunch of big plays.
Elsewhere on offense, the line was very good, both in protecting Romney and opening up holes for running backs. Tyler Allgeier averaged 5.7 yards on 15 carries, and Lopini Katoa averaged 10 on just four carries.
As for the receiving corps, part of what made Romney good was that group getting in position to make plays. He and his brother Gunner had a great connection, Puka Nacua was excellent and Neil Pau’u was solid.
Really the only problem for the BYU offense was that it didn’t have the ball enough, but that wasn’t their fault.
Early Saturday, it looked like the Cougar defense was going to have a great outing, as the Bulls went basically nowhere on their first two drives.
BYU started to bend late in the first quarter, allowing drives of 13 and 12 plays, but the Cougars didn’t totally break, as USF came away with just a pair of field goals by halftime.
In the third quarter, however, the Bulls opened with another 13-play drive that took more than half of the 15 minutes off the clock, and it resulted in a touchdown.
After BYU responded with a score, USF shot right back with a 6-play touchdown drive, and then following the Cougars’ really only bad offensive possession of the night, the Bulls went on a whopping 19-play touchdown drive that took 9:05 off the clock and made the score 35-27 with 5:41 to play.
In the second half, the BYU defensive drives either consisted of giving up chunk or big plays on early downs or losing on third and fourth down. After getting to USF quarterback Timmy McClain early, he became very effective at using his feet to make plays as the Cougars struggled to hang on.
There weren’t a ton of notable special teams moments, but one bad one for the Cougars wound up looming relatively large.
Early in the fourth quarter, Justen Smith (filling in for Jake Oldroyd) had a 22-yard field goal attempt blocked that would have put BYU up by 18. USF responded with its 19-play touchdown drive to cut the deficit to eight inside of six minutes to play, officially making the Cougars sweat a bit.
After the Bulls touchdown, they decided to try an onside kick. It wasn’t a very good attempt, and BYU recovered it.
Other than that, a highlight was a 42-yard punt return from Hobbs Nyberg, Ryan Rehkow had one punt and Caleb Christensen had one kickoff return for 17 yards.