Three things the first half of BYU’s football season taught us

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BYU’s win over Georgia Tech on October 12 marked the halfway point of the 2013 season for the Cougars. While there is still a lot of uncertainty going into the final six regular season games, a lot of things have been made abundantly clear.

1. Slowly, but surely, the offense is getting better.

Taysom Hill gets the snap during the victory over Utah State. Photo by Ari Davis.
Taysom Hill gets the snap during the victory over Utah State. (Photo by Ari Davis)

After the newly installed ‘go fast, go hard’ offense struggled in a week-one loss at Virginia, many wondered if it would ever be able to be effective at BYU. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae had warned of an adjustment period, but patience has never been a strong point for Cougar fans.

“You really know what you got, probably midseason,” Anae said following a scrimmage in fall camp. “So to jump to early conclusions is way, way premature. Right about midyear, toward the latter half of the year, I hope we can hit the nail on the head with who we are.”

After opening the season 1-2, the Cougars have won three straight games, and the offense looks like it’s headed in the right direction. Quarterback Taysom Hill has shown increased pass efficiency and is starting to become the dual threat BYU coaches and fans believed he could be.

“I just feel like everybody’s starting to get more comfortable with the motive,” Hill said on Monday, “and the game is starting to slow down for me and for the guys around me. Receivers are getting set; they know what routes they have on each play, and it has shown on Saturday nights.”

2. Depth is not an issue for the Cougars.

Robertson Daniel (4) and Alani Fua (5) bring down a Georgia Tech player. Photo by Sarah Hill.
Robertson Daniel (4) and Alani Fua (5) bring down a Georgia Tech player. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Injuries were a serious concern for BYU’s defense in the off season. The Cougars lost their three top cornerbacks during camp and were left scrambling to find replacements.

Coaches turned to senior Skye Povey and junior Robertson Daniel to fill the vacated cornerback spots. Both have looked good this far into the season and have done a respectable job replacing their injured teammates. Freshman Dallin Levitt and senior Mike Hague have also seen playing time.

BYU was also forced to replace starter Spencer Hadley for three games after he was suspended for an honor code violation. Backup Tyler Beck filled the role nicely until Hadley was able to return.

Even with all the replacements, the Cougar defense is still considered one of the best in the country.

3. Special teams have been a surprise bright spot.

JD Falslev catches a punt during the game against Georgia Tech. Photo by Sarah Hill.
JD Falslev catches a punt during the game against Georgia Tech. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

BYU’s special teams have been playing surprisingly well this season and have earned praise from fans and coaches alike. Unlike other teams around the nation, the Cougars field a special teams squad that consists of the best players on the team.

“The emphasis has been not being able to be a starter on offense or on defense without being a starter on special teams,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “We’ve held true to that, so we have better players playing and trying hard. I think that and the more emphasis by coaches (have) led to the improvements.”

While not being expected to contribute in such a substantial way, sophomore Adam Hine and senior Daniel Sorensen have stood out for their ability to make consistent plays on special teams.

“It’s just another part of the game where we can help both the offense and the defense with field position,” Sorensen said. “Coaches do a great job of emphasizing that special teams isn’t anything less than offense or defense — that your role is just important.”

While there are plenty of bright spots for the Cougars this season, there is always room for improvement. BYU looks to see that improvement as it plays Houston on Saturday.

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