BYU’s start to the 2022 season may have been delayed — the team’s South Florida opener started two and a half hours later than expected due to lightning in the area — but the Cougars weren’t distracted by that.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s 50-21 win:
Quick start leads to the Cougars’ attack
BYU had its way offensively in the first half, scoring on five of the first six possession, including four touchdowns.
That set the tone for the game, as junior quarterback Jaren Hall looked like a seasoned offensive leader — he completed 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
BYU’s offense really started churning to the ground as the Cougars put in 314 rushing yards—with Chris Brooks (135 yards, one touchdown), Lopini Katoa (55) and Puka Nacua (76) leading the way.
Even when Gunner Romney missed the game and Nacua left with an injury in the first quarter, the Cougars were able to spread the ball in the passing game as 12 different players caught passes.
BYU finished with a total offense of 575 yards, including 337 in the first half.
Defense delivers big first before softening in the second
While the BYU offense was busy posting touchdowns to get the game started, the Cougar defense closed off the attack in South Florida in the first half.
BYU prevented the Bulls from entering Cougar territory on their first six drives, by which time BYU was already leading 38-0. Of those six drives, three were three-and-outs, and linebacker Max Tooley turned an interception into a 33-yard pick six on another.
The Cougars had given up just 89 yards of total offense until late in the first half before a 50-yard pass on a third-down play led to South Florida’s first score just before the break.
The Cougar defense and special teams gave up more big play in the second half, including a kick-off return to start the third, and South Florida got some things going as the game progressed.
However, despite the battle in the second half, the Bulls never got closer than 24 points in the second half. The Cougars also held South Florida to convert just 3 of the 12 third downs.
What will happen to the BYU wide receivers?
The big question for BYU coming out of the win is what the future holds for the Cougar wide receiving group.
Health questions surround their top two wide receivers — Nacua and Romney — so it’s fair to wonder what will happen to the group of ranked opponents Baylor and Oregon on the schedule over the next two weeks.
Kody Epps, Chase Roberts and Brayden Cosper — guys on the two deep — had receptions, while Keanu Hill caught a touchdown and gave the Cougars a look at who’s available outside of Nacua and Romney.
Tight ends Dallin Holker and Isaac Rex have also played some games, so for now there is optimism that the Cougars can thrive with whoever is available.
#takeaways #BYUs #Season #Opening #Win #South #Florida