Defense Grade: A-

BYU’s defense won this game, plain and simple.

They shut down Ole Miss’ vaunted rushing attack, yielding only 68 net yards rushing (2.3 avg on 29 attempts). The two top Rebel running backs, Brandon Bolden (5.3 avg) and Enrique Davis (2.3 avg), were both knocked out of the game with injuries and accounted for just 48 total yards.

The pass defense was acceptable, considering the inexperience in the starting backfield, but you have to wonder if the Cougars benefited from the fact that juco transfer QB Zack Stoudt didn’t play until the last Rebel drive of the first half. Before that, starting quarterback Barry Brunetti had attempted just three passes, completing two for three yards.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee cut Stoudt loose in the second half and he ended up 13 of 25 for 140 yards. Eight of his completions went for 11 yards or more (longest gainer was 24 yards). Corby Eason was picked on continually during the second half and was the victim of several key first down completions by Stoudt.

The Cougar D held the Rebels to a paltry 12 first downs and 211 total yards and stiffened on a critical drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter, holding Ole Miss to 3 points after they had reached the BYU 11 yard line.

They registered one sack for a 9-yard loss, forced two fumbles, and fittingly scored the winning touchdown with 5:26 remaining when outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy sacked Stoudt and then scooped up the fumble he caused and raced the final two yards to pay dirt. (ESPN ranked the play #9 on their Top 10 of the day).

Offense Grade: C

Disappointing, to say the least.

The receivers were sponges (only one dropped pass) and ball protection was good. Jake Heaps recovered his own fumble off a shotgun snap that he handled rather nonchalantly, attempting to catch the slightly wide right snap with his right hand.  That was the only BYU fumble.

The line opened holes with consistency and the pass protection was adequate. Jake Heaps was sacked only once, although he was hurried several times when the Rebels blitzed. The rushing game netted 98 yards on 31 attempts (3.2 avg) with J.J. DiLuigi (12 carries, 56 yards, 4.7 avg) leading all running backs. Bryan Kariya was second among all rushers in the game with 40 yards on 11 carries.

Ross Apo (4 catches, 46 yards, TD) and DiLuigi (5 receptions, 32 yards) led the team in receiving. Ten players had grabs including tight ends Austin Holt (2 for 26 yards) and Richard Wilson (2 for 18 yards).

Heaps had a decent stat line of 24-38, 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (116.5 rating) but he didn’t look as sharp as expected.  All five first half possessions ended with a punt.

The first possession of the second half was an impressive 67-yard drive into the Rebel red zone – the first time all day – but Heaps telegraphed a pass and safety Charles Sawyer picked it off and raced 97 yards for the score.

There was a moment in the game when Ole Miss was driving for their second field goal of the game at the close of the third quarter, and Stoudt was zinging the ball with authority, connecting with three different receivers for gains of 21, 12 and 24 yards.

The contrast with Heaps’ play at that point was startling. The Rebels got a field goal out of the drive to take a 13-0 lead, and it made you wonder what was wrong with Heaps.

Fortunately, on the ensuing possession DiLuigi ripped off the longest gainer on the ground in the game (a 16-yarder) and Heaps hit him for 9 more yards two plays later.

Kariya picked up one yard on a pass, Riley Nelson ran for 6 yards from the Wildcat formation, and finally, we saw a glimmer of the future when Heaps hit McKay Jacobson for 19 yards up the left side of the field and another 19 yards to the right – this time to Ross Apo for the score.

Special Teams Grade: C-

This facet of BYU football will have to improve drastically if they hope to prevail over better teams like Texas and UCF.

Justin Sorenson missed a chip shot 31-yard field goal opportunity and Riley Stephenson’s first punt was shanked for a net 11 yards. Essentially, a turnover, the punt could’ve been disastrous were it not for the defense forcing Nick Brasell to fumble two plays later.

Stephenson recovered from his first punt to guide four subsequent kicks inside the 20, and finished with a 36.2-yard average.

Return coverage was solid except for allowing a 44-yard punt return by Jeff Scott at the 3:13 mark of the second quarter. Scott’s return helped set up a 20-yard field goal that gave Ole Miss a 3-0 lead at the half. Sorenson’s three kickoffs were returned for an 11-yard average, the longest was 18 hash marks.

JD Falslev returned three punts for an 11.7-yard average and a long of 27 yards.

Final Grade: C+