BYU at Michigan State Postgame Notes


TEAM FLAGS: OL Parker Dawe, DB Cody Stewart
ALUMNI FLAG BEARERS: Chad Lewis, Doug Henstrom, Vaha Ongoongotau



BYU earns its first true road win of the season. The Spartans have only lost at home for the third time since 2013 and just the eighth time since 2010. It is just the third non-conference loss at home under head coach Mark Dantonio.

After surrendering 692 yards last week to Toledo, the Cougar defense held Michigan State to its fewest total yards (206) since the Spartans mustered just 187 against No. 13 Nebraska in 2011.The 206 given up by BYU are the fewest the Cougars have allowed in 2016 and best outing since 197 given up to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2015.

Facing a Michigan State team that averaged giving up just 106 rushing yards per game entering the game, the Cougar ground game ran for 260 against the Spartans. The total is BYU’s fourth game of 200-plus this season.

For the first time this season, BYU was stopped inside the 20s without points in the second quarter from the Michigan State 3-yard line. BYU had been a perfect 18 of 18 entering the game.

BYU put together a touchdown drive to start the second half that took 7:29 off the clock. It was BYU’s longest scoring drive of the season.

BYU scored touchdowns on every possession of the second half except for the victory formation in the final seconds. With a field goal to end the first half, BYU scored on five consecutive possessions in the game.


Jamaal Williams
Williams ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. It was his 14th-career 100-yard rushing game and sixth with 150 or more. He has ran for 160 or more in four of six games this season. He needs just 63 rushing yards to tie the top mark in Cougar history. With 3,959 all-purpose yards, he passed Lakei Heimuli for No. 6 in the BYU record book.

Squally Canada
Canada rushed for 50 yards on six carries, topping his career-mark of 49 yards from last week.

Taysom Hill
Hill went 18 of 27 for 138 yards and one touchdown while adding 47 yards on the ground and another score. It was his first rushing touchdown since Utah this season, giving him three on the year.

Sae Tautu
After having to sit out in the first half due to a targeting call the week before, Tautu made an impact in the second half with six tackles and two sacks.

Colby Pearson
Pearson grabbed a 4-yard touchdown in the second half, becoming BYU’s first receiver with two touchdowns on the season. He finished the game with three catches for 15 yards.

Michael Davis
Davis came up with his first career interception in the fourth quarter and returned it 40 yards to the Michigan State 32-yard line. He also had one tackle for loss.

Rhett Almond
Almond kicked a career-best 35-yard field goal to end the first half. He was also 4 of 4 on PATs.


Long Field Goal: Rhett Almond (35)

Tackles: Sae Tautu (6-tied)

FIRSTS (The following players recorded their notable first in a respective category)

Reception: Quin Ficklin
Rushing attempt: Colby Pearson
Interception: Michael Davis

Postgame Quotes

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake

Opening statement
Great game. Proud of our players and surely happy it was playing a complete game. All three phases were clicking and we hit some adversity early on and it seemed like they were up 7-0 for a long time. You know our guys kept fighting through and second half was ours. I think I made the statement before, we could win this game at the line of scrimmage and I thought our guys did a great job on the offensive line, defensive line and so great win proud of the guys and looking forward celebrating this one and getting on to the next one.

On both sides of the ball playing hard and completing the game
Michigan State is a really quality opponent and has so much talent and so much size. You see how big they are. We challenged our guys this week to own the line of scrimmage and I think are guys kept fighting through. It was tough, but just really proud of the way they ran the ball on offense and pass protected and also happy with the way the defensive line played on the line of scrimmage as well. Obviously we always want to get more disruption and get the quarterback more than that, but we will take it the way it went.

On what this win means to them
Well I mean having all those close games earlier I think paid off this week. Having our guys keep fighting and believing in what we are doing as a team and as a unit. The leadership took over. So nothing I did as a head coach. I think our players, our leadership was the key and to be honest with you, our coordinators did a great job, Ed (Lamb) with special teams and Ty (Detmer) offense and E (Tuiaki) with the defense. They did everything and I just had to decide if we wanted to go for it on fourth down or not. Two-point conversions didn't' come into play this week but it was actually a relief. We'll build on it. I don't know, when you play college football, I think the wins are hard to come by, so you need to celebrate them as much as possible and we plan on doing that.

On the field goal momentum going into the second half
Well the goal on the end was to go for it on fourth down close to mid-field, we hesitated just to burn more clock. If we could get three points out of it on that fourth down, converting it, we ran the time, but I just think that Michigan State has too much talent, where if you give them a short field and a minute on the clock, then they're dangerous and can get a score. So trying to create momentum. We got stuffed on the one fourth down earlier, but had to just trust our guys but everything as far as because everyone asked me why we hesitated and it was just to burn clock. That was the only reason.

On Sae Tautu's impact on the game
Yes, Sae is just starting to just really trust the technique and everything that he worked on he's starting to come along on me and obviously last week we didn't get to see it because he got that targeting penalty. And this first half it was hard for him. But he came in, and was hungry and ready to go and I think I don't know exactly what he got, but he had a lot of great stats. He had two sacks and that made a lot of difference for us on the pass-rushing. Getting to the quarterback, and I think he was able to have the presence in the pass-rushing, where he got some error throws, and we got a pick from Mike Davis on one of those.

On being involved in a defense turnaround
Well Toledo, they exposed every problem and every mistake we made. It was a team like this; a perfect storm, for getting crushed and when you made a mistake, they exposed it and you know they capitalize on every little mistake we made and so it just seemed like everything was going long last week and this week it seemed like a lot was going really well in our favor. But from last week, we talked about doing the fundamental part of the game, and tackling and blocking on offense and just being able to have a good presence as far as the fundamentals of football. Toledo, even though we made mistakes and didn't help ourselves with the missed tackles, and this week, although we did have a couple missed tackles that cost us a little bit in this game, it wasn't as bad as last week so we are improving on that and it comes down to it, you have to tackle and you have to block and you have to be able to own the ball. That was our opportunity.

On moving Harvey's position and other position changes
Yeah well I thought Harvey (Langi) had so much experience playing inside linebacker position, so this week coach Tuiaki decided to use him more in the hybrid role and we will use his as defensive end and also as a middle linebacker and I thought he did a great job and playing the entire season, making that move was really good for him. I think people have a hard time targeting him because they don't know if he's playing inside linebacker or defensive end. And we will keep working that. With Butch being out, I thought utilizing him and his inside linebacker position and I thought Tuiaki did a great job with him and you saw him fill up, and also (Adam) Pulsipher out there so we used him in different spots and I thought it would help our defense. 

On physicality of Michigan State and challenging guys to match
Yeah they challenged themselves. We talked about it a little bit, but I don't really have to give a tough speech to get them going. They understand where we're at and what's required of them. The leadership took over and you give them a little too much credit as a coach, just being honest, and the leadership just took over and they demand a lot of each other and our coaching staff did a great job preparing them. The x-factor is just that our players are great leaders and have great guys like Jamaal (Williams) take over the offense and have guys on the defensive side like Kai take over them and also Harvey. That was the x-factor in all of it.

On second half performances
Let's do it at whole game and see how it works. There's always room to improve and you have to give a lot of credit to Michigan State. They're a great team and have a lot of talent. They're banged up a little bit but in the first half we were just competing and competing and we had to have them and we had some issues with a few missed assignments here and there but other than that, once the guys were comfortable with it, I thought we were able to roll with that and they made some big plays and our guys broke some tackles. Jamaal and Squally (Canada) broke some tackles and that just worked out. Those guys work hard and they deserve all the praise that's coming their way.

On defensive stops on third and fourth downs
Yeah it was huge. We were excited about it. We took the win from the beginning and we just felt like we were comfortable with our defense and our offense. Being in a position where our wins, our help and our guys kind of felt that. We wanted to start fast in the second half and we did.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement:
“I believe this program’s been built on a pretty solid foundation. It’s taken nine years to do that. It’s taken that long to get to where we’ve been. And the ride up the mountain’s very difficult at times, and that ride down sometimes is very quick.”

On responding to yet another loss:
“The reality is that we’re a 2-3 football team. Should we handle ourselves with conviction? Those are the things we need to do to be able to turn this thing around.”

On fading as the game went on: “I want to congratulate BYU. They kept playing, and as the game continued to wear on, they seemed to get a little stronger, especially in the fourth quarter, with their ability to run the football.”

On struggles to get off the field on third down:
“We have to go back. We have to look at things and evaluate what we did, who we did it with, how we did it, and we’ll ask ourselves, was it execution? What exactly did happen?”

On benching starting quarterback Tyler O’Connor:
“The bottom line is production. At some point in time, you have to be productive. If you’re not productive and you’ve got seven points on the board, then you’ve got to make a change for the sake of change. I don’t think he was playing that badly. I really don’t. But we can’t take the sacks.”

On the quarterback situation: 
“I don’t want a quarterback controversy. Tyler’s done a great job leading. He’s been OK. He hasn’t been poor. But I felt like we needed to do something for the sake of change in that point in time.”