Provo • Record-setting receiver Cody Hoffman has been a part of dozens of memorable plays during his phenomenal career at BYU, but one of the senior’s favorites happened Saturday during the Cougars’ expected 59-13 romp over Idaho State and did not involve himself.
Fellow pass-catcher Richard Wilson, a senior whose career has been derailed by one injury after another, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Taysom Hill, part of an explosive second quarter when BYU was turning the mismatch into a rout.
“I would rather have had him score a touchdown than me,” said Hoffman, BYU’s all-time touchdown receptions leader. “He deserves it.”
There were plenty of scrapbook-type moments like that for the Cougars (7-3) on Senior Day, as they sent 22 seniors who were playing in their final home games at LaVell Edwards Stadium out on a positive note, staying true to the script.
Cold, wintry weather conditions and an opponent from the Big Sky Conference with a 3-8 record kept the crowd down to an announced 58,645, and only a couple thousand were in the stands when senior blankets were handed out at the end.
But the Cougars pronounced it a rousing success.
“The game was clearly out of hand by the middle of the second quarter, and we tried to manage it the best way possible with as much class and respect for our opponent as we could, and also let our younger players play,” said coach Bronco Mendenhall. “I think we accomplished that, while maintaining some health of our starters and some of our key backups going into our next two games and before our bowl game.”
Of course, up next for BYU is a return trip to South Bend, Ind., to test Notre Dame, which was idle Saturday while the Cougars were barely breaking a sweat in pummeling the Bengals.
In the first half, when Mendenhall played his regulars until the last possession of the second quarter, the Cougars rolled out to a 49-3 lead and racked up 437 yards while holding ISU to 88.
BYU’s substitutes played the entire second half, and Idaho State never quit, but the place was a relative ghost town at the end.
The only troubling development for BYU was that quarterback Taysom Hill again struggled to throw a wet football. Hill was intercepted three times, including once when he appeared to be trying to throw the ball away after a snap sailed over his head.
“I was just trying to do too much,” Hill said. “I know I need to get better. I felt like the execution offensively was pretty good. But I made some mistakes that I need to clean up before Notre Dame.”
Still, there were times when the sophomore from Pocatello, Idaho, played brilliantly, especially when he hit Skyler Ridley in stride for a 36-yard touchdown pass. He finished 11 of 19 for 153 yards and two touchdowns and also ran six times for 62 yards, although none of those running plays was by design.
“We have built a lot of confidence, and he’s built a lot of confidence, and so maybe he was just thinking that we are slightly better in some situations than we are,” Mendenhall said of Hill’s turnovers. “It is a nice reminder for ball security, so I think we can use it as a positive.”
Sophomore Ammon Olsen, junior Christian Stewart and freshman Billy Green also took snaps, with Stewart and Green burning redshirt years, but senior Jason Munns did not.
Mendenhall said that before the game Munns told quarterbacks coach Jason Beck to let the younger guys play and get experience. So Munns will probably go his entire senior year without taking a snap, and his entire BYU career without taking a meaningful snap in a game that was not out of hand.
“That’s just who he is,” Mendenhall said. “He’s a remarkable young man and leader.”
Along with Wilson and Ridley (four catches, 86 yards), other stars of the game were defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who returned an interception 12 yards for a touchdown, and running backs Adam Hine (141 yards, 1 TD) and Jamaal Williams (131 yards, 3 TDs).
O In Short • As expected, BYU rolls past overmatched Idaho State 59-13 on Senior Day in Provo, tuning up for Saturday’s trip to Notre Dame.
Key Moment • BYU had 437 yards of offense in the first half when its starters were on the field and held ISU to 88.
Key Stat • The Bengals intercept Taysom Hill three times in the first half to keep the score from getting totally out of hand.