BYU Football: Cougars Overtake USF Bulls in Season Opener

TAMPA, FL — The 2022 BYU Cougars have proven to be worth the extra two-and-a-half hours of waiting on opening day, not just eight months after a long, tortuous offseason.

Sure, there were some hiccups after the opening kickoff was delayed by a weather delay of 2 hours and 34 minutes, but for the most part No. 25 BYU played the role of a really good college football team on Saturday. and fulfilled its role. 31,521 crowd announced at Raymond James Stadium.

The Cougars beat South Florida 50-21 after scoring the game’s first 38 points in what is perhaps their most dominant half since the 2020 season opener in the Navy.

BYU is currently 6-1 in the season opener under Kalani Shitake. Hey, these guys might be pretty good, but the real barometer comes in the form of Baylor and Oregon over the next two weeks.

“We know how good we are and we know how good we are.

Some wondered how the Cougars would handle the famed Florida humidity, heat, two-hour time difference and all the unknowns surrounding the new-looking Bulls. They passed with flying colors, proving that their rankings are accurate and that they are looking forward to another strong season.

BYU coach Kalani Shitake said: “We’re really happy. We’re 1-0 and looking forward to moving on. Yes…a great way to start the game.”

and one season.

By giving the Bulls a 50 Burger, the Cougars rolled up 575 yards of offense to keep USF under 300. They took a big lead and went home on the coast.

In short, except for the kickoff coverage team that allowed USF’s Jimmy Horn Jr. to return the kickoff 89 yards for a TD, and another kickoff to midfield that led to the Bulls’ third touchdown. There were very few tidbits.

“For the most part the defense keeps them down to 14 points, which is really satisfying,” said Shitake. “I don’t like special teams that give them seven points…and with the offense, I thought I could have scored a few more.”

Perhaps because the Cougars were still in the stadium about eight hours after their arrival, or because the game didn’t kick off until 4:36 p.m. was rather modest.

Running back Ropini Catoa, who recorded 10 carries for 55 yards, said his teammates in the locker room after the game were happy with the win, but far from happy.

“We know how good we are and we know how good we can be,” Catoa said. “We must be hungry.”

Unlike last year, when BYU led the Bulls 21-0 and then jumped out in the second half to take the eventual 35-27 victory, Shitake mostly kept the pedals on and his team kept the results down. left.

Aside from those kickoff returns and USF’s 84-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half, which only cut BYU’s lead to 31, there wasn’t much to upset the BYU fans.

“There are things we can do better,” Shitake said. “We messed up the second half…. Too many penalties.”

In fact, they only had two penalties in all games. He’s clearly a difficult man to please.

Fifth grade junior quarterback Jaren Hall thrashed Baylor transfer Jerry Bohannon, completing 25 of 32 passes for 261 yards and completing two touchdowns with a 161 passer rating.

Bohannon, who led Baylor to a 38-24 win over BYU in Waco last year, showed he was average when playing against average teams. He finished 17th of his 30 with his 172 yards, no TDs, and BYU’s Max he gave up a Pick 6 to Tooley.

Hall threw a pick requiring BYU points as Mekhi LaPointe intercepted the toss on the goal line.

“I threw it wrong and read it badly,” Hall admitted.

Otherwise, he was his steady self, rushing for 17 yards and avoiding sacks.

Hall said “every story was against us” leading up to the game, and Cougar answered all the questions.

With BYU playing without star receiver Gunner Romney, Hall let the team know all week that Romney wouldn’t play. .

Hall completed passes to 12 different pass catchers, with Kodi Epps leading four.

“It was one of my favorite parts of tonight,” Hall said.

The Cougars couldn’t have asked for a better start, and the Bulls couldn’t have had nightmares about a bad start after a long delay. The Cougars seemed almost lethargic. Then the game started.

On the first play of the season/game, Naqua ran a fly sweep left, scored blocks from Masen Wake and Chris Brooks, and sprinted the USF secondary for a 75-yard touchdown.

Nacua also recorded BYU’s second TD, going 5-14-0 in less than seven minutes. The crowd was stunned.

Bohannon’s Tooley’s pick 6 from scrimmage later made it 21-0 and the Cougars were rolling. According to an article in Bountiful High, he returned a few picks for touchdowns in high school, but against Washington a few years ago, when he was fifth in line, he scored a goal across his line “. I was feeling good on Saturday because I hit a lot of ribs to ‘dive in’.

“We tried, we fought hard, we came out on top,” Tooley said.

Brooks’ 40-yard run set up the Cougars’ fourth touchdown, a 21-yard throw from Hall to Keanu Hill.

BYU’s 28 points in the first quarter tied a program record.

The Cougars kept coming even though Naqua sprained his ankle and was completely out with about six minutes left in the first quarter. Focusing on tight ends Darin Holker, Isaac Rex and Wake, Hall drove the Cougars his 65 yards for his fifth TD midway through the second quarter.

His 12-yard TD throw to Holker made it 35-0.

BYU’s offense was punted once in the first half — Shitake succeeded on the 4th and 2nd off his own 43 on the second possession — but USF’s 4th and 4th passes went incomplete. After that, there was another ambiguous possession in the first half. .

BYU brought the ball to USF 14, but lost 7 yards on two plays and Hall had to throw the ball out in the 3rd and 18th. His 39-yard field goal by Jake Oldroyd made him 38–0.

Naqua’s 75-yard TD run was BYU’s first score on the first play of the season since Bob Jensen threw a 73-yard TD pass to Richard Zayas in 1987.

“I think they were ready for anything,” Shitake said. “We were ready for the heat. We were ready for kick-off at 4pm EDT. was nice to see (during the delay).

The Cougars’ defense played nearly flawlessly until the end of the first half when USF had an 84-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes. His 50-yard strike from Bohannon to Xavier Weaver got the Bulls into his BYU territory, and Jared his TD on his fourth goal from his one in Mangum. It finally put the Bulls on the scoreboard.

“I didn’t like giving up that point in the first half,” Shitake said. “Our technique was sloppy and there were some issues that needed fixing.”

After Horn’s TD and a safety created when the punt snap went outside the end zone, BYU picked up momentum and Brooks scored 52 yards and channeled Tyler Algaier inside him. , the Cougars were able to start preparing for Saturday’s home opener. Baylor.

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