The BYU Cougars football team has not always made things easy. But, in the past two games the Cougars have been able to combine the run and pass -- with an assist from a stingy, Top 10 ranked defense -- to stymie good opposition.
The Cougars have answered critics questions week in and week out since a disappointing loss to rival Utah.
Last week BYU didn't find any cure for a disease like this week's opponent, Georgia Tech; it just demolished a Utah State team reeling from the loss of quarterback Chuckie Keeton, using a balanced offense to confuse and overpower the Aggies.
This week it was a perfect storm for the Cougars, who moved to 4-2 on the season by not playing a flashy football game but rather one that got the job done.
It was just enough of a passing game from Taysom Hill to throw off the scent of a Georgia Tech team interested in pulling off the upset in Provo.
Here's why BYU defeated the Ramblin Wreck on Saturday:
The Cougars unveiled the uniforms Saturday that caused such a stink before the season. You know, the "Tradition, Honor, Spirit" team virtues on the backs of jerseys that made players like Kyle Van Noy come out and publicly question what Bronco was thinking when he suggested the team wear them for every game.
How those jerseys were different from the ones Utah occasionally wears to honor "Wounded Warriors," I have no idea. But the jerseys seem to work; BYU played inspired football and seemed to have a spring in its step on most plays.
All everyone knows is that the jerseys did cause controversy and make everyone think that BYU -- once again -- was above everyone and everything.
Of course, Bronco changed his mind after such uproar, saying that the team would only wear the virtuous jerseys on special occasions, such as this game.
And so, the Cougars welcomed Georgia Tech to Homecoming Weekend with the promise of high altitude, virtuosity and possibly some money exchanging hands -- closing out a home-and-home series with a school in Atlanta making headlines in part to one of its students finding a cure for cancer.
Set the tone
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has been teased for not having a big arm -- but he certainly put those rumors to rest yesterday when he unloaded a 45-yard cannon on Cody Hoffman who danced into the Georgia Tech end zone for the opening score.
The 45-yard touchdown was HIll's 2nd biggest pass play of the year at a school where the long throw was a staple for decades -- but this score did something more for BYU.
It set the tone for the rest of the game, a game which the Cougars led the entire way.
And it wasn't the prettiest of games -- but you don't always have to play flashy football to win. In fact, usually, you don't. And BYU did things its way -- from the opening drive onward.
The return of Spencer Hadley
Back for his first game after a suspension for partying in a Las Vegas nightclub, linebacker Spencer Hadley wasted little time getting acquainted with his BYU defense.
The senior from Washington had three tackles and one for a loss in the Cougars' 38-20 win. The one tackle for a loss was huge, as it also forced a Georgia Tech fumble -- which Hadley also recovered, leading to a BYU touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Though it might take some time for Hadley to get back to speed -- and BYU will need him with games coming up at Houston and home to Boise State -- he did enough to disrupt the Georgia Tech passing game with Daniel Sorensen and Alani Fua that the Ramblin Wreck needed a whopping 53 carries to get to over 250 yards rushing.
But the BYU pass defense was as good as advertised.
Most people only know about Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley for obvious reasons. Both are game-changers; both are hard hitting, physical specimens who will knock your block off at the point of attack and both have had their share of off-the-field issues.
Fua is different from those Cougars in that he has had none of the off-field issues that have plagued Van Noy and Hadley. And, he seems to have all of the talent that both Kyle and Spencer possess, with none of the nonsense.
Saturday night against Georgia Tech he had two tackles and one pass broken up -- but most important, the junior linebacker had a 51-yard pick six early in the fourth quarter to put the game away at 31-13 after the Ramblin Wreck started to climb back into it. But Fua didn't have the biggest day either...
The rumor around campus was that Cody Hoffman was in serious danger of losing his eligibility to play because of academic issues -- but those issues surrounding that situation seem to have dissipated.
And that's great news for a Cougar team that really needs Hoffman to step up after a slow start to the 2013-14 season. But, after yesterday's performance in which Cody snagged five passes for 99 yards it looks like Hoffman is not only back in good form -- he's ready to take on a labyrinth of difficult teams in October and November.
His monster numbers couldn't have come at a better time for BYU; his 99-yard performance was his best since his 8-catch, 108-yard game against Utah. After sitting out the Middle Tennessee game and being a relative non-factor at Utah State, Cody Hoffman is one to watch from here on out. And so are the rest of the Cougars.