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Unexpected weapon comes up big for BYU in blowout victory over Louisiana Tech

After allowing just 24 points in three games, the Cougar defense is complementing an explosive offense in a redesigned COVID-19 season with emerging stars like Tyler Batty

BYU defensive lineman Tyler Batty (92) looks down after sacking Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke Anthony in the second quarter of the Cougars’ game against the Bulldogs at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Batty had two sacks in the 45-14 BYU win.
Jaren Wilkey/BYU photo

PROVO — It took almost a half of football for BYU to obliterate Louisiana Tech with the exact recipe used in blowouts of Navy and Troy: A precision, well-balanced offense backed by a tough, stingy, bully defense.

Yes, defense.

No. 22 BYU beat Louisiana Tech 45-14 Friday night. It wasn’t that close.

Nine months after upsetting Miami 14-0 in the Independence Bowl, Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz watched BYU dismantle his high-scoring, well-coached Bulldog offense in an empty stadium far from home in a game nobody predicted this summer would ever be played.

Yes, BYU’s offense, led by Zach Wilson, put on a clinic, but an emerging story in this young season is how consistent BYU’s defense has played.

After this one, it’s a tool you can bank on.

And this makes the addition of Boise State and San Diego State to BYU’s schedule even more intriguing.

Louisiana Tech came in 2-0, averaging nearly 50 points a game. It’s a program with six straight bowl wins, and the Bulldogs will be bowling again this year. But on this night, a 66-yard screen pass touchdown was about it.

BYU nose tackle Khyiris Tonga led a Cougar three-man pass rush against La Tech’s five blockers, rolling past blockers like a bowling ball.

But the change-up speed rush by 6-foot-5, 265-pound freshman Tyler Batty may have stolen BYU’s defensive show.

A guy who graduated from Payson High three years ago, Batty sat out last year before enrolling for the winter semester after returning from a two-year church mission to Spain in July 2019. Batty didn’t enroll at BYU until just when BYU was licking its wounds after losing to Hawaii in a bowl game. He waited even longer when BYU pulled the plug on spring practice last March because of COVID-19.

But in appearances so far this season, he’s been the perfect change-up for defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.

BYU hit La Tech with Tonga, Bracken El-Bakri and Zac Dawe — three sumo wrestler types that tip scales northward of 300. They push, they move masses and require double-team blocking. And they kept hurrying La Tech quarterback Anthony Luke, knocking him around.

But Batty came at Holtz’s offense with outside rush speed and in the closing minutes of the first half, he wrecked the Bulldog offense.

It was La Tech’s big moment to try and create momentum, make a statement, get back in the game down 21-7. If Holtz gets it to 21-14, his players have something to be proud of, to work for in the second half.

But this is where Tuiaki threw Batty in. BYU still rushed just three, but that three, led by Batty’s speed, blew it all up.

In three plays, Batty had two sacks and a QB hurry. He used myriad techniques, swimming, brushing, darting and sprinting past right tackle Anthony Lewis.

BYU fans haven’t seen that kind of speed and moves out of a defensive end not named Kaufusi since Jan Jorgensen.

Lewis had no chance. Batty kept penetrating and getting to Anthony, forcing the Bulldogs to punt. Just 37 seconds later, BYU scored with Wilson’s laser perfect TD throw to Gunner Romney to take a 28-7 lead.

For all intents and purposes, that was the game and it was seconds before halftime.

What’s evident is BYU’s offense and defense are feeding off one another in crowdless, sterile atmospheres.

This is the third straight game where Kalani Sitake’s team won the same way, and it’s deja vu all over again.

This time, aside from Wilson’s gaudy numbers and near-perfect performance, it was the Cougar defense that impressed because it is physical, stout and dependable against a known explosive offense.

On that 66-yard scoring play, BYU defenders broke down because of poor tackling, over-running the play and allowing Smoke Harris to embarrass them. One of those players grasping at air after getting out of position was safety Troy Warner, but he made up for it with an interception shortly after.

BYU has outscored opponents 148 to 24 in three games.

Take note of the 24.

There’s are no track meets going on. These have been blowouts with starters benched in the third quarter.