Smiles returned to the faces of BYU football players tonight, as coach Bronco Mendenhall pointed out in the post game interview room, after an easy 37-10 win over outmanned Middle Tennessee State at LaVell Edwards Stadiium.
Attendance was 58,763. Not a bad crowd for a lesser-known opponent on a chilly Friday night. Most of the empty seats seemed to be in the student sections.
Here's coach Bronco Mendenhall's opening statement:
"It feels good to see our players smile, and see them have success. They have worked really hard the past couple of weeks. I thought especially rebounding after our loss a week ago. I thought they put in a lot of hard work, were resilient.
Some areas of our team that I felt we showed improvement today: I thought we protected for our quarterback better on pass plays. I thought we caught the ball more cleanly.
In general, I think our throwing game took a step forward. Our run game, I also thought was positive. Mixed throughout those positives were the ball security issues toward the end zone, in the blue zone, etc.
And a few uncharacteristic choices and decisions on punt returns, and so those issues in terms of ball security and handling the punts made the game not nearly as clean as I would have hoped. It was great to see a punt return for a touchdown. Those are hard to get.
Coach [Nick] Howell and our guys did a nice job designing that. We had a really nice opening kick return as well, from Adam Hine.
It continues to be a volatile unit. We still have to clean up some penalties on that particular unit, but we are returning it well.
Defensively, I thought they played solid. I was disappointed in the one ball we got out jumped for, early in the game. Other than that it is hard to find much that they didn't do well.
I was really encouraged by the safety and Kyle's [Van Noy] play. Again, I thought Middle Tennessee State was an explosive team and a good team coming in, and we prepared for them like that.
I was pleased with the win."
MTSU coach Rick Stockstill had a lot of positive things to say about BYU. For instance:
"We got beat by a team that's better than us," Stockstill said. "The turnovers gave us a chance but we just couldn't get anything going offensively. Their front seven is really good. It's hard when you can't get anything easy. We had to earn every inch we got. … I'm not going to make excuses or try to reason why [they lost]. That defense is really good. That's a special defense out there. They're in the top two or three in the country in all the defensive categories for a reason."
Taysom Hill ran for 165 yards and passed for 177 and just might have earned some player of the week honors. Stockstill called him a "special" quarterback.
"I thought we battled and competed against a really, really good football team," he said. "That quarterback is special. I said it coming in: he was a better passer than he was given credit for."
More praise from Stockstill: "I can't say enough good things about how good that [BYU] football team is. It's a physical, tough football team. The quarterback makes their offense so dang hard to defend. I think he's a special player."
A few notes from the game, as distributed by BYU sports information:
* Kyle Van Noy added "safety" to his resume in the second quarter. He also had seven tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
* Hill is now No. 2 on BYU's all-time list for rushing yards by a QB in a single season. He has 565 and passed Virgil Carter, who had 474. Next up is Eldon Fortie, the leader with 1,149 yards. Hill has rushed for more than 100 yards three times.
* Daniel Sorensen made his seventh career interception.
* JD Falslev had 107 punt return yards, including the 71-yarded he took back for a TD. The last time BYU had more than 100 punt return yards was in 2006 against Wyoming.
* BYU hasn't held a team scoreless in the second half since blanking San Diego State in the second half of the Poinsettia Bowl.
* Austen Jorgensen had a career-high nine tackles and Blake Morgan and Marques Johnson had career-highs with five tackles.
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