Zach Wilson’s golden moment stole the show, but his supporting cast members had their moments, too
As expected, BYU wipes out Texas State as Cougars’ QB turns in another impressive performance
PROVO — Zach Wilson turned tutor Saturday night.
As expected, No. 12 BYU dispatched Texas State 52-14 with ease after giving up an opening touchdown, but just before the half on the ESPN broadcast, Wilson displayed his arm strength in spectacular fashion, just for fun.
Perhaps intrigued watching Texas State quarterback Brady McBride sprint out of the pocket and chuck mostly incomplete passes down field or out of bounds during the first half, Wilson tried it and it was a golden moment.
With just under 30 seconds left in the first half, Wilson sprinted to his right, pulled up right before the midfield stripe and outside the right hash marks, took a half step into his throw and flung a dart across his body to the far side of the field at the goal line, where his favorite target and best friend, Dax Milne, was waiting to haul it in for the touchdown.
Wilson just wristed it with a windmill arm motion. Milne was open on the backside route, but the ball got to Milne so fast that Texas State linebacker Hal Vinson, who had responsibility for the backside coverage, could not recover fast enough to even get within a yard of Milne when the ball reached its target.
I don’t care if it was Texas State, the mechanics, the velocity put on that pass, the accuracy and vision to find Milne was big time, a money throw that will be seen by next-level folks and will become file fodder.
ESPN analysts calculated that his pass traveled 63.5 yards in the air to Milne. It looked effortless.
Wilson finished the night with big numbers, 19 of 25 for 287 yards and four touchdowns. His pass completion percentage was .760, and his pass efficiency was a sterling 225.2. That is exactly what one would expect Wilson to do against Texas State.
It was Wilson’s seventh career passing efficiency game of 200 or more and he now has 1,928 yards passing in six games. His 76% completion number on Saturday was a hair below his nation-leading average of 78.7%.
What this night gave BYU is not just a 6-0 record, extending the undefeated makeup on this COVID-19 season, but a chance to move up in the polls after No. 8 Penn State lost to Indiana on the opening day of Big Ten action Saturday.
It also provided Kalani Sitake an opportunity to get some new and familiar faces back on the field, or in different roles.
For the first time since undergoing ACL surgery last fall, Sione Finau got to carry the ball. He was BYU’s leading ball carrier during the 2019 season.
Keanu Hill came off the bench in place of injured Gunner Romney (hamstring) and caught his first career touchdown.
Senior guard Tristen Hoge made his first appearance since the Navy game after contracting the virus and then fighting pneumonia. Hoge had a solid game wearing down the undersized Texas State defensive front.
Tight end Hank Tuipulotu, son of Peter Tuipulotu, made his first career catch after suffering two ACL surgeries two consecutive seasons after returning from a two-year mission.
For the first time this season, in perhaps a protection move of Milne, Hobbs Nyberg took over punt return duties with fine execution. Earlier in the day, Alabama lost one of its best players, receiverJaylen Waddle (broken ankle), returning a punt.
Since the injury to senior star Matt Bushman, the tight end duties have been handled by committee, mainly through Mason Wake, who also plays fullback, and freshman Isaac Rex. On this night, the 6-foot-6 Rex became a Wilson target and he made a pair of impressive touchdown catches, one a nice fade pattern in the end zone, where he was matched up against a 5-9 corner.
But one of the more important plays defensively on the night was the 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi, who ran like a running back through Texas State offensive players trying to tackle him on his way to pay dirt, giving BYU a 49-7 lead early in the third quarter.
This was important because BYU’s linebackers led the team in interceptions and ranked nationally last year in that category, and this was one of the first picks by that unit in six games in 2020.
Yes, it was another blowout. After trailing 7-0 the Cougars scored 49 unanswered points, the most since Navy.
Well, there’s that.