BYU football: New stars emerging for Cougars
Provo • Through five games this football season, the BYU Cougars aren't exactly who we thought they would be.
For instance, the leading rusher is not super sophomore Jamaal Williams, but quarterback Taysom Hill.
The leading tackler is not NFL first-round draft prospect Kyle Van Noy, or senior safety Daniel Sorensen. It is Oregon State transfer Uani Unga, a former walk-on.
The best cornerback is a junior college transfer, Robertson Daniel, who was recruited to play boundary corner, but has filled in nicely for injured field corner Jordan Johnson.
And the leading receiver is not one of the most prolific pass-catchers in school history, Cody Hoffman. Gangly sophomore Mitch Mathews holds that honor.
"It has been really fun to see how other guys have stepped up," coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Mathews and Hoffman (who has missed two games) both have 13 catches. But Mathews has 234 receiving yards, to Hoffman's 212, and Mathews has three touchdown grabs all against Utah State in the 31-14 win while Hoffman is still looking for his first of the season.
"Mitch really emerged in spring camp, and then in fall camp," Mendenhall said. "He's been the most productive, and the most consistent, because of just practice. And he's been healthy, and there have been no other issues. Man, it doesn't mean anything for Cody other than it is a chance for Cody to not be singled out as much. Any time that happens, he has a chance to be more effective."
Hill and Williams are neck-and-neck in the rushing race, although Williams will likely overtake the quarterback as the season progresses. Hill is averaging 115.8 yards per game, Williams 114.2 despite missing a good chunk of the Utah game, all of the Middle Tennessee State game, and being limited in the USU game, with just 14 carries.
Williams was "jumping up and down, wanting to get back in," Mendenhall said. "â¦ Jamaal will carry the ball more this week [against Georgia Tech] than he did last week, but we are still going to use Alge [Brown] some."
New defenders emerge
Unga vaulted up the team tackling charts with a career-high 16 stops against the Aggies, and now has 45 on the season. Van Noy still has more solo tackles, 18-15, and his seven tackles for loss easily lead the team. But Unga has been a big surprise.
"Uani is tough," Mendenhall said. "He's playing really, really well, and he's big and physical and consistent. He's playing as well at inside backer as [anyone] I've seen or coached since I have been here."
Mendenhall said Daniel, from De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif., has also been a pleasant surprise.
"He's a great tackler. We knew he would be strong in coverage. But I didn't know we would be getting the tackler we're getting," Mendenhall said. "I have been really impressed."
More games scheduled
BYU has agreed to a four-game football series with Stanford and a two-game series with Hawaii, athletic director Tom Holmoe announced Tuesday.
Also, BYU will play host to Savannah State next year, an agreement that completes the Cougars' 2014 schedule.
The Cougars will visit Stanford on Nov. 28. 2020 and Nov. 26, 2022. The Cardinal will visit BYU on Sept. 2, 2023 and Sept. 13, 2025.
BYU will play at Hawaii on Nov. 25, 2017 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu and will host the Warriors on Nov. 17, 2018.
Savannah State will visit LES on Nov. 22, 2014.
Offensive coordinator Robert Anae said center Terrance Alletto has suffered an undisclosed injury and did not practice on Tuesday. If Alletto can't go Saturday, his likely replacement would be freshman Brayden Kearsley.
Georgia Techat BYU
O Saturday, 5 p.m.
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