COMMENTARY — Merry Christmas BYU fans! There was a Great 2012 Poinsettia Bowl WIN vs San Diego State under the Christmas tree when we all woke up Friday morning!
This was the fourth straight bowl game victory for the Cougars and it makes six wins out of their last eight bowl games. While watching the game, only one thing kept coming to mind: what a special player Kyle Van Noy is. All BYU could wish for this year for Christmas would be that Kyle Van Noy stayed in college football for one more year. Not likely though. He is, in my opinion, definitely a first-day selection right now for many NFL teams.
If you did not get a chance to catch the game, you missed a very special performance by BYU’s defense. They have been shutting good teams out all year, but last night was different (in a very good way). BYU’s defense scored more points than both San Diego State’s and BYU’s offendes did. Kyle Van Noy was all over the place: He blocked a punt, giving BYU great field position, a sack/fumble recovery for a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown, eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. For his great personal performance, he was awarded the MVP of the Poinsettia Bowl. Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah also recorded his first career interception and was pressuring the QB all night. Both teams’ defenses were solid throughout.
BYU’s nationally third-ranked defense and San Diego State were having a great defensive battle for the entire game. The game was at a standstill (6-3) in the early fourth quarter with the Cougars trailing. Van Noy sparked what was a fourth quarter filled with 20 unanswered points on his first touchdown of the night. This touchdown was the game-changer with his sack and fumble recovery in the end zone.
Another Cougar that stepped up big again was All-American punter Riley Stephenson. He had a lot of action with BYU’s offense again struggling to move the ball down the field. He racked up 268 yards on 8 punts. He showed why he was an All-American by keeping 4 punts inside the 5-yard. This put San Diego State’s offense up against a wall too many times for them to keep climbing out.
The local St. George QB, James Lark, got the go-ahead to start the game and Lark ended up 23 of 42 passing. Lark’s highlight for the game was hitting Devin Mahina for a 38-yard strike down the middle of the field. This let BYU put 3 points on the board with a 23-yard field goal as the time expired in the first half. He played a solid game for his second career start as a senior. It’s too bad we won’t be able to watch this senior QB play a few more games. He threw for 244 yards and connected time and time again with Cody Hoffman for 10 total receptions. Hoffman was named the offensive MVP of the game. This was Cody’s third bowl game with over 100 yards receiving. He also holds two-bowl game MVP’s and BYU’s career bowl game record with 26 total receptions leading to six touchdowns.
To the senior players for BYU, it was a great way to end this season. It will also hopefully propel the Cougars in the right direction for the 2013 season. Lets just hope than any of these great seniors we lose, we can make up for in the recruiting process going on right now. Typically a bowl game victory can sometimes help your recruiting, since this is the time of year when JC transfers and high school prospects are making their minds up on where they will play their college ball. An impressive win on ESPN never hurts this time of year and gives BYU’s program great exposure. It definitely assures the football recruits that the program is on track and heading in the right direction. Any loss this time of the year may have some recruiting impact for your future rosters.
All in all, it was a great effort and solid showing by BYU’s team on Thursday night. Congrats to the program on a strong finish, you made your fans, former players and alumni proud.
What’s needed to be done now that the games are over this year? First, recruiting is crucial and a top priority this time of year. Teams have to get ink on the paper with the players they want as fast as possible. Second, BYU will need to sit down and do a lot of evaluations. You will have very little criticism from the defensive perspective. They will just need to figure out how they can continue to maintain the great defense they have built. On the other side of the ball they will need some serious re-evaluation from the play calling on down to the players. There needs to be some changes made, because we did not see a good offense this year.
With all of the talent the Cougars have all over the field, it leads me to a couple of key issues we saw week after week. First, play calling was not constant and poor at times. The play calling put this team in too many bad spots and worked against them most of the year. Another serious issue was the QB position. BYU needs consistency from this position more than any other on the field. I would think that the spot is Taysom Hill’s and he is said to be recovering from surgery very well. They need to work on him becoming the star that we saw glimpses of during a couple of games (like the Utah State game).
Next, BYU needs to focus on penalties and being a more disciplined offensive unit. We watched too many false starts, fumbles and interceptions to have this last year’s team be a top 25 team. If these areas can be worked out going into this spring, we will be ready to roll into the 2013 season with high expectations.
Year End Honors and notes:
* Riley Stevenson and Kyle Van Noy were both named to the All-American third team
* Ezekiel Ansah was named honorable mention All-American (Pro Football Weekly)
* BYU’s Riley Stephenson was named the 2012 FBS All-independent Special Teams player of the year.
* Seven BYU Cougars were named to the All-Independent Team for 2012: Cody Hoffman, Braden Brown, Ezekiel Ansah, Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Johnson, Riley Stephenson, and JD Falslev.
* There were also several honorable mentions including; Preston Hadley, Braden Hansen, Brandon Ogletree, Daniel Sorensen, and Jamaal Williams.
* Cody Hoffman and Kyle Van Noy were both named to the All-Independent Team for the second consecutive season (the All-Independent teams are made up of selections from Notre Dame, BYU, Navy and Army).
Scott Young is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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