BYU Cougars

Boise State won’t receive BYU treatment from ACC

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The Boise State Broncos have been one of the best non-Power Five programs for the past 15 years, but that’s not good enough for the ACC.

A report surfaced last week that stated that the ACC would now consider the BYU Cougars a non-conference Power Five opponent despite the school’s independent status.

While the Broncos have been just as good — if not better than the Cougars — on the field, their status won’t be be considered to fulfill the requirement.

Originally, the ACC wasn’t going to count BYU. It then realized that would be a mistake since at least one program scheduled the Cougars for a future date. Who’s to say the same won’t happen for Boise State?

After all, two programs already scheduled three games against the Broncos in the coming years.

The biggest difference in this scenario is Boise State is affiliated with the Mountain Conference, while the ACC reached agreements with two independents in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and BYU. Boise State obviously doesn’t bring the same national appeal or flexibility with its scheduling.

Oregon State lands BYU transfer

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Brayden Kearsley‘s heart never seemed to be quite into playing for the BYU Cougars. Instead, he’ll reverse course and return to his home state to finish his college football career.

When Kearsley was originally recruited, he first gave BYU a verbal commitment before backing out and strongly considering Oregon State. As national signing day approached, a visit to BYU caused Kearsley to change his mind.

“I always had BYU in the back of my mind, but I remember not wanting to sit through another one of the meetings with BYU again because I really didn’t want to go there anymore or at least I was telling myself I didn’t,” Kearsley said in 2013 when he officially committed to the school, via the Desert News. “I mean, I knew exactly what they’d say and I honestly didn’t want to hear it again, but it was different with Coach (Robert) Anae — it was something I wasn’t expecting.”

After two years in Provo, Utah, Kearsley decided he needed a change.

According to The Oregonian‘s Connor Letourneau, Kearsley’s career has come full circle after deciding to transfer to Oregon State.

The four-star offensive lineman was the crown jewel of BYU’s recruiting class, but he wasn’t able to find his way onto the field during his two seasons with the program.

A native of Aloha, Oregon, Kearsley will now play less than two hours away from his hometown.

The interior blocker will be required to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules before playing for the Beavers the following year.

(Photo courtesy of BYU’s athletic department)

BYU needs to build a new identity after 31-24 loss to UCF Knights

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BYU’s aspirations of sneaking into the College Football Playoff ended when quarterback Taysom Hill‘s knee exploded. The Cougars’ letdown against the Utah State Aggies Saturday carried over to Thursday night’s contest against the UCF Knights.

Hill’s replacement, Christian Stewart, wasn’t quite good enough to help BYU regain the momentum the team built during its 4-0 start to the season. Instead, the Knights (3-2) captured a 31-24 overtime victory.

Stewart, a senior, played well for stretches. After a sub-par first half, Stewart seemed to hit his stride. BYU scored all three of its touchdowns during the third frame. But the offense couldn’t manage to make key plays down the stretch or in overtime.

The Cougars sorely missed Hill’s ability to improvise and push the ball down field in the passing game. Stewart finished 22-of-37 passing for only 153 yards. While Stewart isn’t the same level of athlete as Hill, he still added 52 rushing yards. It was a solid effort during the senior’s first career start. But his play will be compared to Hill for the rest of the season. When BYU isn’t victorious, Stewart’s performance will come under scrutiny.

BYU’s disappointing stretch doesn’t fall predominantly on its new starting quarterback, though. The Cougars vaunted defense didn’t play to expectations.

The Cougars’ defense is built on toughness by winning at the line of scrimmage and aggressiveness with the ability to get to the opposing quarterbacks. Yet, the Knights gained 389 yards of total offense.

UCF quarterback Justin Holman entered Thursday’s game with 12 combined completions during the previous two contests. Holman threw the ball 51 times and completed 30 passes against the Cougars.

BYU’s defense is banged up and missing multiple starters at the moment, but Cougars defensive coordinator Nick Howell remained aggressive in his play-calling. It wasn’t enough as BYU fell short each time the defense was required to make a play at crucial points in the contest.

The cougars didn’t have answer for UCF in overtime. The Knights quickly marched 25 yards on five plays to score the game’s winning touchdown when Holman found William Stanback out of the backfield for a four-yard touchdown connection.

As Stewart leads BYU through the rest of the season, the quarterback’s goal is to make sure the program stays on track and becomes bowl eligible. Two more wins should come easily, and the program is already locked into an agreement with the newly minted Miami Beach Bowl. Although, games against the Nevada Wolf Pack, Boise State Broncos and Cal Golden Bears look far more difficult now than they did two weeks ago.

UCF, meanwhile, enters the heart of their conference schedule with a contest against the Tulane Green Wave Saturday, Oct. 18. The Knights should become bowl eligible by the first weekend of November with the Temple Owls and Connecticut Huskies on the docket after next weekend’s game.

UCF’s Justin Holman leads Knights to 10-3 halftime advantage over Taysom Hill-less BYU

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Prior to BYU traveling to Orlando, Fla. to play the UCF Knights, the story line surrounding both programs was the status of their quarterbacks.

The Cougars needed to adjust after losing Heisman Trophy hopeful Taysom Hill to a devastating knee injury last week against the Utah State Aggies, while the Knights weren’t sure whether or not sophomore Justin Holman would continue to lead their offense after poor play Saturday against the Houston Cougars.

Holman stepped up after being challenged by his head coach, George O’Leary, and the quarterback already completed more passes (15) through two quarters against BYU than he did the previous two games combined (12).

“He’s getting rid of the ball and making the right read,” O’Leary told ESPN prior to heading to the locker room during halftime.

Holman’s play, particularly during the Knights’ first drive of the game, is the difference in the contest right now. The junior signal-caller was on fire to open Thursday night’s game, as the Associated Press’ John Coon noted.

During the game’s opening drive, Holman was 5-of-5 passing for 57 as UCF easily cruised to the first half’s only touchdown. UCF’s signal-caller finished the half 15-of-24 passing for 144 yards, and Holman spread the ball around to eight different receivers.

The quarterback’s biggest mistake came late in the first half as UCF was driving again, but Holman was sacked and fumbled the ball at BYU’s 28-yard line.

The Cougars, meanwhile, haven’t gotten much form their new starting quarterback. Senior Christian Stewart was 10-of-15 passing for 58 yards and an interception.

Whichever team produces better quarterback play in the second half will be the one that claims a much-needed victory on a national stage.

BYU’s quest to reach CFB Playoff remains intact after victory over Houston

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BYU’s Thursday night meeting with the Houston Cougars had all the makings of a trap game for the home team.

Bronco Mendenhall‘s squad was coming off a season-defining 41-7 victory over the Texas Longhorns. BYU then returned home for first game at LaVell Edwards Stadium this season. The team brought a national ranking with it for the first time in two seasons. The No. 25 BYU Cougars could have been overconfident and let the visiting Cougars sneak away with a victory. Instead, BYU overcame mistakes to win the contest 33-25, while showing exactly why they have the potential to earn a bid as the non-Power Five qualifier for one of the New Year’s bowl games.

It starts with BYU’s quarterback, Taysom Hill. The senior didn’t have his best game by any stretch of the imagination. Hill was intercepted twice by the visiting Cougars. But he still amassed 360 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. The signal caller now has 689 passing and 356 rushing yards through three games. Hill provides BYU with an advantage every week, because he’s the best player on the field during each contest.

BYU surrounded Hill with the caliber of weapons that can make the Cougars’ offense special. Hill has his choice between multiple massive targets, including 6-6 wide receiver Mitch Mathews and 6-6 tight end Devin Mahina. The offensive line is a good combination of talent and experience. Running back Jamaal Williams is a tough runner between the tackles who ran for 139 yards Thursday. And the Cougars even adjust their tempo to control what opposing defenses can and cannot do against their offense. It makes it very difficult to adjust to what BYU does when it has the ball.

On the defensive side of the football, BYU’s scheme is flexible and has plenty of talent at each level. Senior Alani Fua is the wild card. The 6-5 linebacker can line up as an edge rusher and beat opposing offensive tackles to get pressure on the quarterback, or he can line up in coverage over a wide receiver. The team’s secondary is also very physical, and the play-calling is always aggressive. This unit sets the tone for everything the team does each week.

Finally, BYU has gotten past a possible stumbling block against Houston. Mendenhall and his squad can now look to the future and a schedule that sets up nicely in the coming weeks. The Houston contest was the first of three straight home games. The Virginia Cavaliers and Utah State Aggies are next on the docket. If BYU can avoid losses at UCF on Oct. 9 and Boise State Oct. 24, the Cougars will likely face the Pac-12 Conference’s Cal Golden Bears with perfect season on the line during the last week of the regular season.

The talent is finally in place for BYU to make the run that’s been expected of it since Mendenhall took over the program.