BYU football: 3 things we learned from Cougars vs Toledo

Sep 30, 2016; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (7) throws the ball from his end zone during the second quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2016; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (7) throws the ball from his end zone during the second quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports /

The BYU football team escaped with a 55-53 win over Toledo on Friday night in Provo. Here are three things we learned from a historic night in Provo.

Butch Pau’u was sorely missed

The BYU defense is a talented one, and no one thought going into the season that 5-foot-10 sophomore Butch Pau’u would be an important piece of it.

Well, we were wrong.

Pau’u was easily the central cog of the BYU defense, racking up 50 tackles and six tackles for a loss through four games.

And his absence showed on Friday night for BYU football.

Pau’u is an aggressive and sure tackler, and BYU needed someone to bring down Kareem Hunt. Hunt had five carries of 10+ yards in the first half.

Hunt even did damage when he didn’t touch the ball. The Cougars bit on a play-action pass, leading to a 79-yard touchdown pass from Logan Woodside to Jon’Vea Johnson.

Things certainly don’t get easier next week as the Cougars travel to Michigan State.

The extent of Pau’u’s injury isn’t known yet, but he was walking around before the game with a knee/ACL brace on. If he’s not able to return next week, the Cougars may struggle to deal with Sparty. Michigan State has a big, physical offensive line and a rushing attack anchored by LJ Scott.

MACtion is crazy and Toledo is legit

Sure, BYU football has been in some shootouts before, but this was bonkers.

It was like when you fire up NCAA 14 and play with a friend. One drive it’s a three-and-out, the next it’s an 80-yard touchdown bomb.

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The first quarter felt a lot like the crazy Western Athletic Conference days for BYU football. The teams settled down in the second quarter, but then picked things right back up in the second half. It was a lot of fun to have some MACtion in Provo.

I said in my preview to not overlook Toledo. We saw why on Friday. The Rockets have a legit offense and super-talented running back in Hunt.

Really, Toledo has a legit offense. By this point we all know the BYU defense is talented. Even missing some players, it’s still a strong unit. And Toledo had no trouble gashing them for most of the game.

The Rockets are going to win a lot of games this year.

The BYU passing game is an utter mess

There are a lot of problems with the Cougars’ passing attack right now. Firstly, Taysom Hill is bad passer. I’m done with all the excuses, let’s call a spade a spade. He’s a bad passer. He struggles to find a rhythm, he’s slow making reads, he’s inaccurate and he’s unbelievably streaky.

At the half against the Rockets Hill completed 3-11 passes for 97 yards. One of those was a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jonah Trinnaman. Take that away and Hill was 2-10 for 22 yards.

Okay, we all on the same page now? Good.

Now the other stuff.

The offensive line really struggles to sustain blocks, all the way around. Some get beat with bull rushes, other times its speed. Regardless of who lines up across from them, they just can’t create a pocket with any consistency.

On top of that, the receivers can’t get open against man coverage. Even against below average athletes they can’t separate. I don’t know how much of that is on the receivers vs Ben Cahoon, but regardless, 70 percent of the time they can’t get open.

When they do get open, Hill can’t get them the ball.

At this point, this offense is so one dimensional that it’s borderline painful to watch.

And you certainly can’t blame Jamaal Williams and the running game. Williams put together one of the best games of his career.

The worst part is that the offense playing this poorly all but guarantees losses for the next three weeks.

The BYU football team travels to East Lansing to take on Michigan State next Saturday.

Bonus: Jamaal Williams is BYU’s best player

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports /

Okay, this is a bonus fourth thing we learned. But it’s also kind of cheating, because for the most part, we knew this.

The BYU football team has plenty of talent. But its best is Jamaal Williams.

And it’s not close.

Williams set BYU’s nearly 55-year old single game rushing record, gashing Toledo for 286 yards. He also tied a school record with five touchdowns.

He’s further solidified himself as one of the greatest BYU running backs of all time. In a few short weeks he’ll break Harvey Unga‘s all-time rushing record and next season he’ll be playing on Sundays.

BYU fans should enjoy the time they have left with the J-Swag Daddy.