Michael Alisa

No. 2 BYU RB won’t play for rest of 2013

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On the same evening BYU saw the return of its top running back, the Cougars officially announced the loss of his backup.

Michael Alisa, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said prior to the win over Utah State, will miss the remainder of the 2013 season due to injury.  Alisa has been hampered with a groin injury that the program apparently doesn’t expect to get much better as the season progresses.

The Deseret News did note that the senior “has a redshirt available, and could return for the 2014 season.”  Alisa missed all but four games — plus a quarter —  of the 2012 season with a broken arm.

Alisa had been listed as the No. 2 back on the depth chart behind starter Jamaal Williams, who returned Friday night after missing last weekend’s game with a concussion and severe stinger.  This season, Alisa has rushed for 99 and three touchdowns.

At least for now, freshman Algernon Brown (112 yards) will serve as Williams’ primary backup.

(Photo credit: BYU athletics)

BYU loses 3 turnovers, leads at half

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The first half was nothing too memorable for BYU’s offense but the Cougars somehow reached halftime with a lead on Middle Tennessee State. BYU has turned the football over three times in the first half but a strong running game and a complimentary defensive effort has allowed for BYU to get past the sloppy play. BYU got on track to take a 23-10 lead at halftime.

Quarterback Taysom Hill has once again done plenty of damage on the ground, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Hill also lost a fumble for one of BYU’s three first-half turnovers. Hill has had to carry the bulk of the offense tonight with receiver Cody Hoffman suspended for the game against the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee took a 10-7 lead in the first quarter when Logan Kilgore connected on a touchdown pass to Marcus Henry in the red zone. Early in the second quarter BYU started to fight back by picking up a safety by bringing down Middle Tennessee running back Jordan Parker just inside the goal line. Hill later rushed 50 yards for a touchdown for the play of the half, giving BYU a 16-10 lead and Michael Alisa added a late half touchdown to pad the lead before the break.

Utah holds off BYU to win Holy War

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Travis Wilson threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns to lead Utah (3-1) to a 20-13 win over in-state rival BYU on Saturday. It was the Utes’ fourth-straight win over BYU (1-2) in the fabled ‘Holy War’ and Utah now leads the overall series, 58-34-4.

The teams started out rusty, with the first six possessions resulting in punts. But Utah jumped out to a 13-0 lead thanks to drives of 77, 64 and 80  in the first half, the last one comprised largely of a 74-yard pass from Wilson to Dres Anderson to set up a first-and-goal on the Cougars one-yard-line.

BYU never did get untracked in the first half. Quarterback Taysom Hill missed on his first four passes and three of his first 10 and the Cougars went 0-for-7 on third down conversions. As a result, the Utes took that 13-0 lead into the half.

The second half was a different story, though.

The Cougars came alive behind Hill, who rushed for 61 yards on the first two drives of the second half, both of which ended in BYU field goals. Suddenly, the score was 13-6 heading into the final quarter and Utah had gone cold. One of the field goals came at a price, though, as Cougar running back Jamaal Williams was knocked out after suffering a helmet to helmet collision while converting a key first down. Williams left the game on a stretcher midway through the third quarter and did not return.  It was later confirmed that he had movement in his extremities.

Meanwhile, Wilson got hot again, hitting five-straight passes on a 79-yard drive to give Utah a 20-6 lead.

BYU then attempted to mount a dramatic comeback.  J.D. Falslev returned a punt 58 yards to the Utah 13-yard line and suddenly Hill and the Cougars were in business with almost 10 minutes to play. But a rather curious series of play calls, including a run up the middle for two yards on third and six, resulted in Utah getting the set and BYU turning it over on downs.

The Cougar defense also got a set and Utah was forced to punt out of its own goal line. Hill, who had 260 passing yards and 99 rushing yards, then drove BYU 44 yards for a touchdown, going 3-for-3 for 32 yards along the way. Michael Alisa’s 1-yard run cut Utah’s lead to 20-13 with 5:13 left.

It truly looked like the Utes would give this one away after yet another punt left BYU in good shape at its own 38 yard line. A couple passes by Hill got BYU as far as the Utah 38, but his 4th and 13 pass  was intercepted. Hill got one more shot later to throw a Hail Mary or two, but Utah thwarted them.

This was a big win for Utah, which moved to 3-1 (an OT loss away from being undefeated), thanks to a sweep of in-state schools Utah State, BYU and Weber State. The continued development of Wilson has to have the Utah coaching staff fired up. And for the defense to rebound as it did after a rough outing last week against Oregon State is also encouraging. With UCLA and Stanford up next on the schedule, Utah needed this win to gain some confidence.

But it’s back to the drawing board for BYU. The Cougars have a stingy defense but the offense is still a work in progress. Until Taysom Hill becomes a more proficient passer — or his coaches figure out better ways to feature his talents — they’re going to continue to have spotty performances from time to time.