Game notes from BYU's 55-3 victory over Navy in the 2020 season opener.
TEAM FLAGS: Kyle Griffitts
USA FLAG: Khyiris Tonga
NAVY FLAG: Isaiah Kaufusi
MARINE FLAG: Tristen Hoge
GAME CAPTAIN: Troy Warner
- BYU’s 52-point victory is the largest since a 70-6 win over Wagner in 2015 and the largest over an FBS foe since a 52-0 win over Wyoming in 2009.
- Navy’s 149 yards of total offense are the fewest for the Midshipmen since gaining 144 against San Jose State in 2012.
- BYU scored touchdowns on its first two drives for the first time since doing so against Hawaii in 2018.
- The Cougars went on to score on five of their six drives in the first half, including four touchdowns.
- BYU also scored on its first two drives of the second half as well.
- The 52-point loss is the worst suffered by Navy under Ken Niumatalolo.
- BYU’s 31-0 halftime lead was the largest in a season opener since leading Kansas State 32-0 in 1977.
- BYU’s 31-point lead at halftime equaled the largest halftime deficit for Navy since a 31-0 mark in 2002 when the Midshipmen trailed UConn. It was the second-largest halftime deficit under head coach Ken Niumatalolo behind a 35-0 margin against Notre Dame last season.
- BYU had an even offensive attack, totaling 301 rushing yards and 279 passing yards.
- The Cougars held the Midshipmen to 30 yards passing.
- BYU averaged 8.2 yards per play on the day.
- BYU’s 55 points are the second-most in a season opener in program history behind 70 against Tulane in 2001.
- The 52-point victory ties the program record for largest margin in a season opener with a 52-0 win over Utah State in 1986.
- Kalani Sitake improved to 4-1 in season openers. BYU has won 15 of its past 20 season openers.
- BYU went 6-for-7 in the red zone. The Cougars took a knee on their last drive of the game at the Navy 10 with 28 seconds remaining in the game.
- Navy did not reach the red zone. The Midshipmen got to the 20-yard line after a 4th-and-4 play that only gained two yards and resulted in a turnover on downs in the third quarter.
- BYU committed just one penalty for five yards. The last time the Cougars committed one penalty or fewer was against Hawaii in 2017.
- BYU punted just once; the last time BYU had one punt was 2016 against Southern Utah. The last time they did so against an FBS opponent was 2015 against UConn.
- The punt was a 56-yarder by Ryan Rehkow, the first of his career.
- BYU is now 2-4-1 on Mondays all-time, getting its first Monday victory since defeating Colorado Teachers College (now Northern Colorado) in 1929.
- Allgeier set career highs in attempts, yards and touchdowns, finishing with 14 rushes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
- He scored his first career rushing touchdown on a 34-yard run in the first half.
- Katoa scored three total touchdowns, all in the first half. He’s the 11th player to score three TDs in a first half at BYU and the first since Jamaal Williams against Idaho State in 2013.
- It was his second career game with one rushing and one receiving in the same game.
- Katoa finished with 10 rushes for 80 yards and two touchdowns along with three receptions for 32 yards and a TD.
- The former Navy linebacker led the team with eight tackles. He played in 13 games for Navy in 2018 before transferring.
- Romney had career highs in receiving yards and receptions with four catches for 134 yards. His previous highs were four catches and 54 yards.
- His 45-yard touchdown reception was a career long.
- Kaufusi had two sacks and five tackles, all solo, to go with a forced fumble.
- Wilson went 13-of-18 for 232 yards and two touchdowns for a 206 passing rating before leaving the game in the third quarter.
- Wilson moved into 18th on the BYU career passing yards list and tied Christian Stewart for career passing touchdowns at 18.
NOTABLE CAREER HIGHS and FIRSTS
First career starts: Clark Barrington, Masen Wake, Pepe Tanuvasa
First career rushing touchdown: Tyler Alleiger (34 yards, 1st quarter)
Career high receptions: Gunner Romney (4)
Career high receiving yards: Gunner Romney (134)
Career long reception: Gunner Romney (43 yards, 1st quarter), Keanu Hill (22 yards, 4th quater)
Career high tackles: Pepe Tanuvasa (8)
Career high rushing yards: Tyler Allgeier (132)
Career high rushing attempts: Tyler Alleiger (14)
Career high sacks: Isaiah Kaufusi (2)
First career kickoff return: Caleb Christensen (17 yards, 2nd quarter)
First career reception: Masen Wake (5 yards, 1st quarter), Chris Jackson (13 yards, 3rd quarter)
First career rush: Talmage Gunther (4 yards, 3rd quarter), Chase Wester (4 yards, 4th quarter), Terence Fall (2 yards, 4th quarter)
First career sack: Seleti Fevaleaki (5 yards, 4th quarter), George Udo (11 yards, 4th quarter)
First career punt: Ryan Rehkow (56 yards, 4th quarter)
First career forced fumble: Drew Jensen (4th quarter)
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
I’m happy with the win. I’m really pleased with the leadership on this team. I told the guys I was going to let loose and have fun tonight. I wanted to see them lead and take over this game and they did. It was an awesome sight to see as a head coach. There are some things that we can get better at and improve on, but I love the fact that we had a lot of players get in the game. Against a good physical team like Navy, I felt like we challenged our team to be physical so I’m glad that it showed up. I think Navy will do some good things this year. Our guys – they played out of their minds tonight. It was a great sight to see as a head coach.
On the defensive performance
I knew we had some physical guys up front and I knew that Coach Tuiaki was going to have this defense ready to play. You look at the guys we have that are ready to play, it’s an experienced group with a lot of veterans. This wasn’t like a new game for them. Although the scheme was different and we had to do a few different things to defend the option, we’re going to rely on the fundamentals of the game to help us win. We’re going to have to be physical up front. We’re going to have to tackle well. I challenged our team to be great fundamental players tonight. It worked out. Our defense was able to respond and this is a great sight to see.
One game. We’ve got to build on it, get better from it. But I’m glad we had a lot of guys, even young kids, newcomers, come in and get some valuable reps.
On if this game helps establish the identity for the program
I don’t know that you can define everything from one game. I don’t like to be defined by one game from the previous four years so I’d just like to build on this. I’m glad that we came out of this game mostly healthy. We have some guys that are nicked up a little bit.
These guys have worked really hard. I’m just proud of them. I’m proud of the leaders on this team. I’m proud of Matt Bushman, the things that he did as a leader for our team to get us to this point. Khyris Tonga, all the seniors on this team, they responded well. I was really proud of them. The players made it happen. They did exactly what I wanted them to do. They’re starting to own the team and own the program. I’m really proud of them.
On the performance of the offensive line
They’ve been doing it all camp. We were a little concerned because when we started doing live work they took it to our defense. That was a little shocking because usually the defense is further ahead in scrimmages early on in camp. The defense had to respond. They had to quickly get back on it and you had this great battle of physical football on both sides, the line of scrimmage especially. It’s a clash every time and I’m glad that they were able to make each other better.
Our d-line, I’m just proud of the way they played. Our coaches worked extremely hard. I was so happy for them. Coach Tuiaki and Ed Lamb and the rest of the defensive staff did an amazing job; so did the special teams, so did Coach Grimes and Coach Roderick and the offensive coaches. They had a great game plan. Let’s keep this thing rolling. Let’s build off of this. We have some time to get ready for Army. I look forward to our offense, defense and special teams performing like this at a consistent level.
On the unique atmosphere
Normally even away games we have a good presence, we have fans from all over the country show up. What was really exciting was seeing the fans outside the stadium as we drove in on our buses, showing support even though they knew they couldn’t come in. There was a good number of them. I want them to know how much we love and appreciate them doing that. It means a lot to these players.
We knew that we would have to have a lot of passion and excitement, but that’s nothing that I try to generate. That’s something these guys have. I mentioned their attitude of appreciation and gratitude to be here. They feel really fortunate to play this game and they showed it. They had missed the little things. During this pandemic there are the little details that you miss. They love being around each other. They value it now. We really want to make sure that we show our best every time and honor the 60 minutes that we’re given to play in this game.
BYU linebacker Pepe Tanuvasa
On his emotions playing back at Navy
As we drove up the highway to the stadium, lots of great memories of playing here were coming back. There were no hard feelings toward my old teammates on Navy, but I knew they were going to play hard so I had to match that same energy. Luckily, I had a great defensive line, great defensive backs and a great partner in Keenan Pili. With that support, it felt really amazing.
On getting the win
I know how good Navy is. I know that Navy had a lot of restrictions from the Academy as far as practices. We just had a really good game plan and I felt like we played our A game. We were fortunate to come out on top. I attribute that to all the coaches and players on the field for playing their hearts out and coming out with the win.
BYU defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga
On the defensive scheme against the option
It was very disciplined play. It was a matter of stepping the right way and being really sound on the defensive line. Navy cuts a lot and we were able to use our hands more and continue to be dominant up front.
It was all the coaches collectively just being able to help. Everybody chimed in and we were able to learn. Especially against this offense that was new to many of us, we took it as a learning opportunity and to grow from it.
On the impact of practicing against BYU’s offensive line
Our offense is great and always gave us good looks. Our scout teams on both offense and defense, without them, I don’t think this would’ve been possible. They gave us nothing but great looks.
BYU offensive lineman Tristen Hoge
On the offensive line’s impact on the game
I’m extremely proud. Seeing all the work everyone has done and to see everyone execute. We said that we were going to come in here, we know our game play and we’re going to execture our game plan. Our foot was always on the gas and I’m proud of every one of these guys.
On playing in an empty stadium
Initially, it was pretty surreal. You walk out and it kind of hits you like, ‘Wow, this is for real.’ There’s no cheering. There’s no fans. There’s nothing. It’s pretty quiet. But, after that first drive it really subsides and you realize at the end of the day it is just you and the boys.
On the offensive gameplan
We’ve always liked to put things on the offensive line’s back. We’re going to run our plays on how the offensive line goes. If the offensive line does their job, we’re going to rush forever. If we have good protection, our quarterback is going to throw forever. That’s what we did, we put it on the offensive line. With that being said, we had some great plays made by our backfield and our receivers tonight. I’m really proud of all the guys.
BYU running back Lopini Katoa
On the early momentum on offense
I have a biased opinion as a running back, but I feel like if you can get the running game early, everything else opens up. The lanes that the O-line was opening up for us to run through were amazing. We could run the ball where we wanted to. Big credit to the O-line, they just opened the game for us.
On the dominant performance
We’ve put in the work every year since I’ve been here. You don’t always see your hard work payoff like you want it to. But, we saw it come together today in every phase of the game as a whole team. I think it showed our preparation that we’ve put in through the uncertainty. We didn’t know if we were playing and our schedule got flipped around. That didn’t slow us down at all. We worked through the adversity. Big credit to our coaches and our administration for working their butts off to give us these games. All our hard work paid off and it showed in the game today.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo
That game was 1,000-percent my fault. Obviously, we weren’t prepared. One team was prepared very well. BYU played great. Kalani (Sitake) had them well prepared. Obviously, we weren’t. One team was playing football. We looked like it was our first live game. Unfortunately, your live stuff is against yourselves. There is no one to blame but myself. I erred on the side of keeping our guys safe with COVID-19 and contact tracing. We weren’t ready to play. This was the worst Navy football game we’ve ever played. We weren’t prepared and that was my fault because I chose block bags and tackle donuts. Obviously, BYU has good players. I told our guys that they didn’t lose the game; that I didn’t have us prepared. I made a decision on the safety side of it and it showed that we weren’t ready to play. I have been coaching a long time and I’ve never seen a Navy team play like that. We weren’t prepared because I didn’t have us prepared and that is the bottom line.
On moving forward including practice
We have to do something. I need to talk to the doctors and see what we can do; what we are allowed to do. It is hard to tackle dummies and block guys and try to play guys live. We have to try to improve. It is a good question, but we will see. We will take a look at that.
On how much if it contributed to not going live
It is 1,000-percent. Have you ever seen us play like that before? You hope that it doesn’t turn out like that. You talk a lot in the staff meetings and there was a lot of concern. ‘Are we going to be ready?’ from both coordinators and all the coaches. I heard them and they are legitimate concerns. The last time we tackled anybody was the bowl game. That was nine months ago. We didn’t have spring ball. We have been in quarantine and different things here at the Academy. We chose to go that way, but we weren’t ready to play that game and that is 1,000-percent my fault.
On the decision between him and doctors for not going live
Contact tracing. Some of the people we talked to just going face-to-face contact and what constitutes contact tracing. We had blocking bags. We asked how do you do that? How do you block people? Can you wear masks? There were a lot of conversations with doctors and our conference, but ultimately, I made the decision. I am not going to blame anyone. With the information given to me, I made the decision to practice that way. I have never seen a Navy football team play that way. You think about it. No spring ball and then our first live ball is there. You are hoping that you can play a little bit better. The way we played, why would I think anything different. Just a bad decision. I also think that I am always going to err on the side of protecting my players. We have been relatively no positives. We are trying to keep them safe, but it is hard to get a football team ready that way.”
On the atmosphere with no fans or Midshipmen
We have never been in a stadium like this, but neither has BYU. Obviously, you would like the fans in here, but I am not going to take away from BYU’s win. They got after us and a big part of it was we weren’t ready. They were prepared and we weren’t. The reason we weren’t prepared was the way I prepared our team. That is the bottom line. There is nobody to blame but myself. I am not going to point my finger at the fans or the Brigade or any of that. I am going to point it at myself. I made a decision to err on the side of caution and I am grateful for that because we are safe and all healthy, but obviously football-wise, we weren’t ready.
On if there were any positives from the game
No. We have been playing a long time and never had a loss like that. As soon as the first couple of series went, I have been doing this a long time so I knew we weren’t ready. They were pad-ready and we weren’t. Nobody told me we had to practice that way. There were things that were said to keep our players safe, and I erred on that side. Football is different than basketball. You have to be pad ready. We weren’t and they were. They are a very physical team. That looked like our first live scrimmage and they looked like they were preparing. That is not BYU’s fault. That is my fault and I am not going to take anything away from them.
Senior cornerback Cameron Kinley
On the disappointment on the defensive side of the ball
We have got to play better. There is just no excuse for it. I heard Coach talking about not getting a chance to hit, but a lot of us have been playing football for 15, 10 years, whatever. That is not our identity. We have to be more physical up front. We have to be more physical in the back end. Across the board that wasn’t Navy football. We will come back better. We have to learn from it.
On changing the way you practice to be more pad ready
I am definitely in favor of that. Coach Niumat’s priority was keeping us safe. Obviously, that has been evident. No positive cases. I definitely tip my hat to him for that, but I am open to getting some more physical practices going. BYU came to play. Their running backs were running downhill. We were getting pushed off the ball. We missed a lot of tackles. We are definitely open to getting more opportunities to tackle in practice so this doesn’t happen in the future. It is all about learning from this and improving and not coming over into the next game against Tulane.
On the atmosphere
To be honest, when you get on the field, you really don’t think about it. You get zoned in on everything going on. In a game like that, I don’t think the crowd would’ve helped at all. We have to find that energy from within. We had some crowd noise playing. It was a little different. It was strange seeing empty stands. It felt like a scrimmage you could say, but it didn’t have any impact on how we played. That was all on us.
Senior quarterback Dalen Morris
On the offense tonight
It was tough. That was a tough game to be a part of and a tough game to watch. It comes down to execution and we didn’t execute in the first half. You have to execute and at the end of the day, I didn’t do that.
On how he would grade himself tonight
Grade wise, I would say an F. I didn’t execute well at all. The offense relies on me. It starts with me and ends with me. I think it showed today that if you don’t execute, you don’t win games.
On where they go from here
You go back to the drawing board. You put the hardhat back on and go to work. Simple as that.