Kyle Van Noy added to his big play resume with a few dandies against Idaho State on Saturday.
The sophomore linebacker from Reno, Nev., created his fair share of excitement, blocking and recovering a punt on the Bengals’ first drive, recording two sacks and three tackles for a loss and even stirring up a little bit of controversy during the Cougars’ 56-3 win.
On Idaho State’s first punt — of which there would be several — of the game, Van Noy found his way past would-be blockers and smothered Bengal punter David Harrington’s punt. Van Noy also recovered the ball and likely would have returned it for a touchdown if he hadn’t slipped while picking up the ball.
“I wish I would’ve scored the touchdown but I slipped, making me look un-athletic,” Van Noy joked.
The sequence ended well for the Cougars as the offense scored on the next play on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ross Apo.
Early in the second quarter, Van Noy again created intrigue on an Idaho State punt, albeit for different reasons. On the return team again, Van Noy laid a brutal hit on Harrington, who was left injured on the turf, incurring the wrath of Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer, who appeared to be arguing for an ejection. The hit was penalized for coming after the whistle.
Van Noy said he wasn’t aware the play had ended, nor that the player he leveled turned out to be the punter. He apologized to Kramer after the game.
“I didn’t want to come off as a dirty player or make our team look bad,” Van Noy said.
Despite the controversy, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall lauded Van Noy’s performance Saturday.
“[Van Noy] is a student of the game and he loves it. He’s very intuitive out there,” Mendenhall said. “He’s always where he’s supposed to be and sometimes it’s outside of his assignment because he knows where the ball is going to be. As long as he keeps making plays, we’re fine.”
Van Noy was asked whether he’d be willing to take the occasional penalty if it meant he could keep his aggressive style.
“We’re taught to be basically animals by coach Mendenhall,” Van Noy responded. “We’re always going to be aggressive, no matter what. That’s just how we’re taught to play here at BYU.”
Apparently, the teaching method is paying off.
Van Noy has piled up sacks, tackles for a loss, interceptions, forced fumbles and essentially most statistical categories on defense. Saturday was the third straight game in which he forced a turnover, after recording interceptions against San Jose State and Oregon State.
“What game hasn’t he contributed to? The guy makes a lot of football plays,” Mendenhall said.