Ten questions answered

I submitted ten random questions I had heading into Thursday’s matchup against Washington State. Each question was answered during the course of the game with the provided answers below

1. Will they really rotate the centers?

No, was the answer to this one. Blair Tushaus went the entire way at the center position with Houston Reynolds logging a lot of time playing at right guard.

2. Will Justin Sorensen kick?
Sorensen elected not to kick and was replaced by Riley Stephenson who made three of four field goal attempts.

3. How good is Jordan Johnson?

It’s safe to say that Jordan Johnson exceeded most expectations. He provided a physical and athletic presence at field corner and all but ended the game with his interception early in the third quarter.

Marquess Wilson was a non-factor, as was most of the WSU offense, and Johnson gets a lot of credit for this.

4. How will Mendenhall choose to defend WSU?

Mendenhall used unbalanced lines and some creative blitz packages to keep WSU off-guard and it worked. It’s hard to poke holes in the overall defensive effort Thurs. night.

Surprisingly Mendenhall did not employ his nickel package as much as anticipated. This was in part due to Craig Bills going down early with a slight concussion, but BYU went with its base 3-4 alignment for most of the game.

5. What will BYU’s offense look like?

It was largely the same offense fans have been used to with some big wrinkles. There were a lot of quarterback-keeper calls and some options, but it wasn’t a radical departure of the standard BYU offense as a whole.

The biggest wrinkle included Taysom Hill taking the reps inside WSU’s 10 yardline. Hill proved very effective, completing his first-ever collegiate pass for a touchdown.

6. How will Ross Apo and Kaneakua Friel perform?

Ross Apo had a pedestrian outing — providing a few receptions out in the flat, but nothing game-breaking. Friel, had a breakthrough performance with six catches and two touchdowns.

Friel was BYU’s leading receiver which is a great start for tight end production throughout the season. WSU did not account for Friel with its defensive scheming, but other teams will likely do so going forward, providing for tighter coverages on Friel, but opening up opportunities for other receivers.

7. In what capacity will coaches utilize their freshmen?

Jamaal Williams was used late and showed well. On the defensive end, it was Bronson Kaufusi seeing quite a few reps along with Remington Peck along the defensive line. Manoa Pikula saw some quality work late at the Buck linebacker position. Ryker Mathews saw every rep at left tackle.

8. Who will be playing on the line?

BYU rotated its defensive linemen frequently throughout the game. Russell Tialavea was used at both defensive end and at nose with Ezekial Ansah seeing quality time and stepping up big with some nice plays throughout the game. Ansah and Kaufusi were both used frequently during passing situations.

9. How effective will the offensive line be with its run-blocking?

The run-blocking left something to be desired in an otherwise solid offensive performance. The interior run-blocking didn’t provide ample holes for Michael Alisa and others to run through during too many situations and it needs to improve when BYU takes on better defensive fronts — most notably Utah’s in a couple of weeks. The run-blocking is the main concern for this offense coming off of its first game of the year.

10. Will BYU fans actually wear white?

Cougar fans did well showing up in white and were aided by the white pom-poms left on each seat.




  1. Bryce

    For future articles there are no “slight concussions” you either have one or you don’t. If you want to confirm this ask the Athletic Training staff or Team Physicians. Bills will likely be out of the weber state game and might be back for Utah.

  2. Norman Burningham

    Johnson shut down Wilson? Not in the game I watched. Wilson caught one pass for a touchdown and another long one that put the ball in the three yard line. In both cases he beat Jordan to make the catch. The fact that the plays were called back because of a lineman penalty had nothing to do with Johnson getting beat.

    • Brandon Gurney

      Wow, that’s a tough standard you’re applying here. For the duration of the game, Johnson shut down Wilson. I mean, what’s the standard here against one of the best WRs on the west coast? Johnson did an outstanding job on him regardless of how we choose to parse the term “shutting down.” Would you agree with the term “did a great job defending Wilson?” Maybe that would have been a better way to term it.

  3. Richard Beers

    Brandon, I hate to be nit picky, but Riley Stephensen made 3-4 field goal attempts, not 2-3. Sorry, Riley’s a fellow St. Georgian, and we’ve gotta stick up for our own.

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