It wasn't the dominating, overpowering performance that some BYU fans would have liked, but it was effective nonetheless. The Cougars rolled past Weber State 45-13 here today in front of 60,314 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Nobody was seriously injured, meaning the Cougars should be at full-strength next week for the Utah game. Receiver Ross Apo (hamstring tweak) didn't play, but BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said in his postgame address that the ailment doesn't appear serious. Apo warmed up, which shows he might have been able to play if really needed.
There's also Riley Nelson's back spasms, which caused him to miss the second half (that, and a 21-0 halftime lead), but Mendenhall and Nelson both said that is fairly ordinary for Nelson's back to tighten during game and nothing to be concerned about.
If there was one concern for the Cougars, it was that their offensive line struggled, especially in the first half, to establish a running attack. Still, the Cougars finished with 225 rushing yards and rushed for four touchdowns. Three of those rushing touchdowns came from quarterbacks, two for Taysom Hill and one for James Lark.
Weber State had 254 yards, and a good chunk of those came in the fourth quarter against BYU's subs. The 'Cats had 167 yards entering the fourth quarter.
The Cougars have held eight straight opponents to under 300 totals yards.
I will post the video later, but for now here's most of what Mendenhall had to say in his postgame address:
I thought our team handled the game really maturely, handled the week, I guess, maturely, and just kind of continued workmanlike, and that's how they played the game.
Pretty nice balance, offensively, between running and [passing] .We started a little bit slow in the first quarter, but kind of picked up as the game went on.
Had a chance to see a lot of different players play, which I was encouraged about, three quarterbacks, some running backs, a bunch of different defensive players. So, about what you would expect, probably, from the game, from start to finish, I think. So that's a starting point."
On game management and going with James Lark:
"Just, Riley's back was a little bit tight, he had back spasms. I thought we would be moving the ball comfortably, and with a long season still ahead, and Riley's spasms were enough that it just made sense to put in our next quarterback."
On whether they dialed it back defensively:
"We did. And just played a lot of base defense, and let different players play, and so yeah."
On whether Riley has battled back spasms:
"Off and on. Off and on."
On the play of the offensive line:
"I was hoping at halftime, I think I made the comment, that we would run the ball more effectively and seemingly easier than what we did. It seemed like we were having to work pretty hard to run the football. I think it opened up in the second half some. But I still think we can improve there."
On James Lark's improvement and whether his success was expected:
"James has battled for a long time, and he has waited for his opportunity. I think he was poised and came in and was pretty methodical about how he moved the team. So, it was fun to see him get an opportunity, and fun to see Taysom get an opportunity as well."
On Cody Hoffman's return:
"It was nice to have another big target out there, an experienced target. And a player that is proven and experienced. So yeah, there were some critical plays that Cody made in there, and just an awareness the defense has to have.
I thought Weber State tried hard and covered him well, and so it was nice to have him back."
On whether they are in Utah week mode yet:
"Yeah, I think so. Just once the kind of score gets to where the game is in hand, you start to think about areas of improvement and after watching this game, you think about areas that can be improved and things like that.
But there is nothing different, practice-wise, that we will be doing."
On how beneficial it was tto empty the bench:
"It's just good for morale. These guys work really hard and to get in the game and play football, besides just being a scout team player, that's helpful."
On what he learned about his team today:
"I think they are a little bit more mature than what I thought. I thought it would be a unique test, just going through the whole week, and how they would handle it. I thought it was methodical and workmanlike and they worked hard. I think that part reflected maturity."
On what BYU's defense needs to do:
"Just continued improvement. As the game went on, I thought we were sloppier in our tackling. But it is also the situations that I kind of put them in as well. So I kinda dialed it back a bit and allowed them just to try to make plays.
But I thought our depth could have tackled a bit better. I think that's what I took from today."
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