BYU football notes: Special teams mostly positive for Cougars
Atlanta • Coaches who love to say that special teams play often determines the winner and the loser in college football can point to Saturday afternoon's BYU-Georgia Tech game as Exhibit A.
Special teams play was a mixed bag for the Cougars, but was mostly positive, coach Bronco Mendenhall said after the 41-17 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The positives for BYU (5-4) were Kyle Van Noy's blocked punt in the second quarter that set up the Cougars' third touchdown, and three outstanding kickoff returns by JD Falslev of 44, 42 and 43 yards that gave BYU excellent field position.
Mendenhall and special teams coach Nick Howell decided to give Falslev and running back David Foote the kick-returning duties after Joe Sampson kept bringing the ball out of the end zone against previous opponents when he shouldn't have.
"We had struggled with decision-making and bringing the ball out not past the 25," Mendenhall said. "Credit coach Howell. He came to me and said, 'Who do you think?' And I said let's try JD and David Foote. Those are two reliable players."
The downers on special teams for the Cougars were Justin Sorensen's missed 25-yard field-goal attempt and a breakdown from the kickoff coverage team that allowed GT's Jamal Golden to return a kickoff 97 yards for a TD.
It was Tech's first kick return TD since 1998, a span of 178 games, and it was the first time since 2009 against UNLV (Deante Purvis) that BYU had allowed a kickoff to be returned for a score.
Ansah leads the effort
BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah's sack in the third quarter marked the first sack Georgia Tech had given up since Sept. 29 against Middle Tennessee State.
Ansah led the Cougars with eight tackles, unusual for a defensive end, while Daniel Sorensen and Brandon Ogletree had seven apiece.
Cody Hoffman caught two passes on BYU's first possession and now has caught a pass in 28 straight games. He finished with seven catches for 69 yards. ... Fullback Iona Pritchard carried the BYU flag onto the field, while senior Zed Mendenhall brought out the special teams flag. Former OL Nathan Gibbs (1991-94) ran out the alumni flag. ... The Cougars won the coin toss and elected to receive the football in the first half. ... Temperature at kickoff was 69 degrees. ... The Cougars had a 24-14 halftime lead and have still lost just once in the Mendenhall era when leading by 10 or more points at halftime. They led Texas 13-3 last year before losing, 17-16.