Three Takeaways From BYU’s Overtime Win Against No. 24 USC
PROVO, Utah – Games at LaVell Edwards Stadium in recent seasons have not gone well for the BYU football program and their fans. That narrative changed on Saturday as the Cougars pulled off the upset against No. 24 USC in overtime in front of a crowd of 62,456 fans.
This is a big win for the BYU football program. Here are my three takeaways from the Cougars victory over the Trojans.
Depth tested, BYU still performs
Back in June, I put together a piece that stated BYU was going to field their deepest team of the independence era (since 2011). That’s playing out nicely now as BYU’s depth was tested on Saturday afternoon by not having safeties Zayne Anderson and Sawyer Powell and then a handful of injuries happened as well.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake has made it a point of emphasis to build his roster that features talented players from player one all the way to player 123. Both scholarship players and walk-ons. It has taken time for the depth to build up, but Sitake’s program is deeper than they’ve been in years and now they are a group that is playing with a ton of confidence.
“I thought offensively we were able to use all our weapons and defensively we were able to rely on all our depth. We were fortunate the first two weeks to not have too many injuries. I’m so proud of how they performed today,” said Kalani Sitake in the postgame press conference.
Guys such as Isaiah Herron, Beau Tanner, Emmanuel Esukpa, Jaren Hall, Gunner Romney, and others came off the bench to make an impact in BYU’s victory over USC.
Khyiris Tonga is getting paid
Folks, enjoy Khyiris Tonga for the remainder of this season because that young man is going to be playing in the NFL next year. Two weeks ago, BYU tried to use Tonga as a five-tech defensive end with little to no success. Even defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki admitted that he didn’t put Tonga in the best position to make plays against the Utes.
Against USC, he was a one-technique defensive tackle all afternoon and he was nearly unblockable.
Tonga ended Saturday’s win with four tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two pass breakups.
USC was without one of their top offensive linemen in Andrew Vorhees and Tonga capitalized. The Trojans offensive line was consistently double-teaming Tonga whenever he was in the game.
Because of Tonga’s ability to consistently get a push in the trenches, the Cougars had success in getting a three-man pass rush on true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis.
Another defensive lineman that had a huge game was redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Fauatea. The former Hunter High product ended with three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and a forced fumble.
Did you know, BYU’s 2019 football roster consists of zero five-stars and only six four-star players? This data according to 247Sports.
Meanwhile, on USC’s sideline, the Trojans featured six five-stars and 41 four-star athletes.
There was a talent gap in terms of stars, but BYU still came away victorious. The Cougars player development and competitive spirit win the day against a USC team that ultimately couldn’t overcome adversity.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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.