Onsides kick decision plays pivotal in BYU’s 43-26 win over Houston

BYU wide receiver Talmage Gunther, right, celebrates recovering an onside kick with Jason Money, center, and Isaiah Kaufusi during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Houston, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Houston. | Eric Christian Smith, Associated Press

BYU coach Kalani Sitake likes to be aggressive, for better or for worse, and has shown as much throughout his time as the program’s head coach.

During BYU’s 43-26 win over Houston on Friday, several of those aggressive decisions didn’t work out, although perhaps his most aggressive play call of the night provided huge dividends in both taking back the lead and then finishing it out.

The BYU offense had just cut Houston’s lead to 26-21 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter on the heels of Zach Wilson guiding the offense 75 yards in just five plays while taking 2:12 off the clock. It was good for placing seven points on the board, but bad for a BYU defense which was clearly gassed after yielding a 98-yard Houston touchdown drive just prior, which chewed off nearly seven minutes of clock.

The solution? How about giving the defense even more time to catch their wind and regroup, beyond just the scant 2:12 provided by the offense.

The thought certainly had to go through the head of Sitake, with him calling for an onsides kick that was executed to perfection by kicker Jake Oldroyd and the BYU special teams unit.

“It just lit a spark on the sideline,” said BYU defensive lineman Zac Dawe. “As a defense — especially in Houston where it gets humid — it gets a little draining, at times. But … when we had that extra break … that was a huge turning point in the night.”

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The BYU offense wasn’t able to convert the successful onsides kick into points, but did provide the defense extra time to catch their breath and make further schematic adjustments.

Did the respite and further adjustments work? Well, the numbers speak for themselves.

The BYU defense, which had been reeling through the second and third quarters, finished out holding Houston scoreless throughout the fourth quarter, forcing short possessions which amounted to a scant 20 yards of total offense. The pass rush, which had been rendered generally ineffective for three quarters, started showing life with the rest of the defensive flowing, as a result.

Doing as much wasn’t easy, with the BYU defense having to make do without defensive line standout Khyiris Tonga sitting out the game on top of the absence of several other notable contributors.

“We just knew we had to put our foot on the gas, refocus on fundamentals, and that’s what we did,” Dawe said. “We all rallied together and the energy on the sideline really picked up. I’m just proud of the guys and everyone stepped up big time, and we got the (win).”

As far as making the decision to attempt the onsides kick, Sitake didn’t mention any attempt to save the defense some gas, rather than expressing confidence in the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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