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BYU Defense Giving Up Tennessee TD Was Tone-Setter In First Half

Photo: Courtesy of Mitch Harper,

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Halftime at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville and BYU trails Tennessee 13-3 in a game that like last week, has been a grind for the Cougars.

Here are three quick takeaways from the press box at the half here in Knoxville.

1. Short yardage situations find BYU passing the football

On two of BYU’s offensive drives in the first half the Cougars had 2nd & 2 and opted to pass the football instead of run the ball with Ty’Son Williams. One of the 2nd & 2 situations led to an eight-yard lass on a sack for the Volunteers.

Through one half of play, BYU has 12 rushes for a total of (-4) yards.

2. BYU dug themselves a hole early in the game

Tennessee’s first offensive series of the game was a tone-setter in every way possible. The Vols who were looking to make a statement after a shocking loss to Georgia State a week ago put together a 15-play 80-yard drive that culminated in a 4th & 3 touchdown pass off a tipped ball.

BYU’s personnel groupings on the defensive side of the ball didn’t feature defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and Zayne Anderson early in the drive.

Entering the game, Tennessee fans were down and out on their team’s chances of coming away with a victory against BYU, had the Cougars struck first it could have taken the energy out of Neyland right away.

3. Atunaisa Mahe continues to surprise

Redshirt freshman defensive tackle from West Jordan High School has been a bright along BYU’s defensive front. Mahe created a great push on multiple occasions during the first half to force Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano out of the pocket.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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