Punting game gaffes cost Cougars dearly


The BYU football team mounted a frantic comeback effort Friday but failed to overcome a mistake-filled day on special teams against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium, falling 38-28. BYU has now fallen to TCU in four straight seasons.

Spotting them seven

The Horned Frogs’ first scoring drive was the second time this season that after three or less plays from scrimmage, the Cougars found themselves trailing. Utah State scored on its first offensive snap, and the Cougars surrendered a fumble to Utah on their first drive that went for a Ute touchdown.

[media-credit id=74 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
BYU kicker Riley Stephenson (99) tries to kick the ball after missing the snap as TCU's Josh Boyce (82) and Jonathan Anderson (41) close in during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Cowboys Stadium Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in Arlington, Texas.
Only stat that matters

The Cougars led the Horned Frogs in passing yards, rushing yards, time of possession and third down efficiency — yet still lost. The Horned Frogs did hold the turnover advantage, forcing three and committing none.

“The way we played is not displayed on the scoreboard,” senior safety Travis Uale said.

Best and worst of Nelson

Junior quarterback Riley Nelson threw a touchdown pass in the first quarter but also accounted for three turnovers in the game. Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Nelson has thrown 10 touchdowns but has also accounted for seven turnovers during the same span.

Punting the game away

The Cougars were forced to punt four times, and each one ended in disaster. Two punt snaps were fumbled, leading to TCU touchdowns. Another punt was partially blocked and yet another had a lengthy return — each giving the Horned Frogs a short field. In other special teams mishaps, the Cougars failed to convert a faked field goal and missed on a field goal attempt near the end of the first half.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged the punting game was the Cougars’ Achilles heel.

“I hate to say any one particular part of the game changed the outcome, but it certainly controlled field position, which controlled scoring,” Mendenhall said.

Punt return for touchdown

In the only special teams bright spot, J.D. Falslev was the first Cougar to return a punt for a touchdown since teammate McKay Jacobson did it in a victory against Wyoming in 2006. The punt return drought lasted a total of 63 games. Falslev also caught five passes for 35 yards in the game.

Competition level?

Teams BYU has beaten have combined for a 15-26 record this season. UCF has the best record of those teams at 4-4. The Cougars’ only three losses have come from teams with a combined 15-10 record.

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