BYU Postgame Notes and Quotes
BYU won its season opener to improve to 57-32-2 in season openers. The Cougars improved to 8-3 under Mendenhall and 6-3 against Power 5 teams in openers under Mendenhall.
The attendance at Memorial Stadium was 89,959, the fourth largest crowd BYU has played in front of.
The team flag was carried by offensive lineman Ryker Mathews and the alumni flag was carried by former BYU defensive lineman Barry Oates (1979-82).
The last time BYU won on the last play of the game was in overtime against Utah in 2009 when Max Hall threw a 25-yard touchdown to Andrew George to win 26-23.
BYU totaled 511 yards of total offense. The 511 yards for BYU are the third most by a Bronco Mendenhall coached team in a season opener. Last season at UConn, BYU totaled 513, and in 2008 BYU totaled 563 against Northern Iowa.
The BYU defense turned in seven tackles for loss, three sacks and forced two turnovers.
Mathews’ first reception of the game came on a 15-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. With the reception, he extends his streak to 25 consecutive games with a reception. His last reception of the game resulted in a 42-yard game-winning touchdown. Mathews finished with three catches, 69 yards and two touchdowns.
Hill threw for over 200 yards in a half for just the fourth time in his career. He went over 200 passing yards in a game for the 11th time in his career. He finished 21 of 34 for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed nine times for 72 yards and two more touchdowns. With 268 passing yards Taysom Hill moved into 13th in career passing yards at BYU with 4,606, passing Gary Sheide. Hill's three touchdowns responsible for also passed Sheide (53) for 55 total in his career for No. 13 at BYU.
With two rushing touchdowns, Hill tied Ronney Jenkins and Pete Van Valkenburg for No. 8 in career rushing touchdowns with 24 total.
Kurtz’s first career reception was a 53-yard reception in the first quarter. He finished the game as BYU’s leading receiver with five receptions for 123 yards.
In his college football debut, Jonny Linehan had five punts for 255 yards with two over 50 yards and two downed inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 51.0 yards per punt. He booted a 77-yarder in the third quarter, No. 6 on the BYU all-time list for distance on a single punt.
Defensive back Micah Hannnemann had six tackles and his first career interception. He also recorded his first career punt return with an 11-yarder.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall opening statement
“While you were getting set up I was taking a quick look at my friend Mike Riley on the TV there and my heart goes out to him and the team. He's a good friend of mine and a really good person and a really good coach. Nebraska's to be praised. They played really hard right to the end, and so did we. Sometimes one play determines a game. Taysom Hill is lost for the season, a fracture. He did it on the touchdown run and then played more. Our athletic training staff said they'd never seen anyone go back and play in the same game once that's happened. He allowed us to stay within striking distance. There's no player or person that I've coached that I care about more than Taysom. So it's bittersweet. I'm so happy for Mitch Mathews, Tanner Mangum is just a few months off of his mission and being able to come in and help our team win. I'm just proud of the resiliency of our team in an opening game on a big stage in a historic stadium and finding a way to pull it out. Pure elation is just how it felt in the locker room. There hasn't been a bigger win for me personally and maybe it's just the way it came about to be part of, and I'm certainly not responsible for it but just to be a part of, I'm humbled and just lucky to be part of it. I can't wait to call my wife and kids and yell and celebrate on the phone from afar."
On his confidence in Tanner Mangum
"I was very confident from what he had demonstrated so far. He hasn't been back for very long. It wasn't a question of ability or capabilty, it was just a question of how long he could go because he's been back from his mission for such a short amount of time. But mentally and physically from an arm-throwing capability and a decision-making process he's really sharp. We just now have to put a unique structure in place to help him make it through the year. But what a great way to start, coming off a mission as a freshman and then throwing a Hail Mary to beat Nebraska. I think he played really well. I also have to say, Taysom's (Hill) relationship with Tanner has facilitated and gave it that growth and learning rate faster than any of us coaches could have done. This thing just keeps coming back to Taysom, and he has had a huge helping hand with Tanner and allowed him to develop so quickly."
On seeking a medical redshirt for Taysom Hill
“It's a little too fast and too early right now to even think about, so I don't know. Taysom has a bright future and in the world of business, finance and family. We'll let all of this kind of calm down for a little bit and maybe have a clearer head with a different perspective. I'll let him speak for himself on that one."
On the last play of the game
"The victory and defeat hangs in the balance on the results of one play. I know what defeat feels like. I know what it looks for the team, our community and our family. And I know what the win looks like and to be almost at the mercy of that and watching the play, there's no more raw emotion than a setting like that. The fun part is that you normally say things to people that you should have said a lot more, in terms of that you care for them and love them and maybe that's one of the cool things of coaching and my personality. Those things tend to break down barriers. It's one of the greatest celebrations that I've ever been part of in a locker room."
On the time waiting for the last play to be confirmed
"I saw it, so I was pretty confident. But until it's confirmed you don't know. Small price to pay, I guess, as long as it was a touchdown."
On what he said to Tanner Mangum before the Hail Mary
"There was a discussion amongst the coaching staff, with about six seconds on whether we take the shot now or do we try to get 10 yards closer with an outcut to the sideline. Our quarterback coach, Jason Beck, he and I communicated and then we decided if we throw it on time we might get 10 yards closer. So the last thing I said to Tanner was actually the play before, and I said to make sure that you throw it on time so we can have one more shot."
On if the second to last pass play had worked would they've kicked a field goal
"We felt we were just outside of that range. It would have been a very fast conversation because that was happening at the same time as the speed out decison. We thought would that give us enough and we thought it would be better to throw it in the end zone than to kick a long field goal. We were about five yards off I would say."
On their defensive stop to get the ball back
"The third and fourth quarters the only thing you could really see defensively is that they made some critical stops that they needed to and that preserved the game. We were inconsistent and certainly have a ways to go, but I'm going to draw on the fact that when there were critical stops needed, we made the critical stops. That will be my message before we work on all the other things we need to work on."
On whether he felt his team could over come this type of adversity
"You hope so, but I wish I could say yeah I knew for sure. But the chemistry and the leadership has been good and they've worked hard. The season will tell but what a great start. I've really enjoyed what I've seen from this team so far even before the game and you hope that leads to execution and consistency now. But that's a lot better to do after that type of win on the road."