BYU vs. WMU Postgame Notes
The following notes and quotes are from BYU's 49-18 win over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday at Albertsons Stadium.
TEAMFLAGS: Tanner Jacobson, Gavin Fowler, Akile Davis, Matt Foley, Dylan Collie, Michael Shelton, Butch Pau’u, Adam Pulsipher
ALUMNI FLAGS: Kalani Sitake
BYU scored 28 points in the third quarter. It was the most points in a single quarter since BYU scored 28 in the third against Texas in 2014 (41-7 win). It set a new BYU bowl record for points in any quarter, topping the famous 27-point fourth quarter against SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.
BYU’s 490 yards of total offense rank No. 6 in school history for a bowl game. It was the second-best mark for total yards in the 2018 season (510 vs. New Mexico State).
BYU had a 100-yard receiver (Collie 124) and a 100-yard rusher (Burt 110) for the first time in the same game since Devon Blackmon (142 receiving) and Algie Brown (134 rushing) against East Carolina (45-38 win) in 2015.
The Cougars put up 49 points in the game, tying a season high and 42 in the second half. It was the most points in a half this year.
BYU’s defense allowed just 313 total yards to Western Michigan. After giving up 192 in the first half, the Cougars allowed only 121 in the second half. Western Michigan entered the game No. 30 in total offense, averaging 447.2 yards per game.
Wilson, named the game’s MVP, was a perfect 18 of 18 in the game for 317 yards and four touchdowns. The 18 consecutive completions in the game set the new BYU single-game record, topping 14 set by Steve Sarkisian (twice, Fresno State and SDSU in 1995) and Steve Young (Wyoming 1982). With a completion to finish the Utah game, Wilson has completed 19 in a row heading into next season. The BYU record for most consecutive completions overall is 22, set by Steve Young in 1982 (8 at Utah State, 14 vs. Wyoming).
According to ESPN, Wilson's 18 passes without an incompletion in the game are the most in FBS bowl history. He and Riley Skinner (Wake Forest, 11 for 11 in 2008 EagleBank Bowl) are the only two quarterbacks to post a 100 percent completion percentage in a bowl game.
Collie finished his BYU career with his best game. The graduate transfer caught six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.He nearly doubled his season yardage, having entered the game with 153 receiving yards.
Takitaki ended his career with 19 total tackles, tying him for No. 4 in school history for total tackles in a single game and the most in a BYU bowl game. His 10 assisted tackles and nine solo stops also set personal bests. He was one shy of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl record. Takitaki also added a sack. Takitaki also topped the triple digit mark for tackles on the season, finishing with 118. He is the 68thBYU player to post 100 or more tackles in a single year.
Burt finished the game as the leading rusher with 110 yards on just 13 carries and one touchdown. His 37-yard touchdown run was just short of his career-long run of 41 yards set against Cincinnati in 2015.
NOTABLE CAREER HIGHS and FIRSTS
Tackles: Sione Takitaki (19), Tanner Jacobson (7), Sawyer Powell (5)
Completion percentage: Zach Wilson (100.0)
Consecutive completions: Zach Wilson (18)
Passing touchdowns: Zach Wilson (4)
Long pass: Zach Wilson (70)
Long reception: Aleva Hifo (70)
Passing yards: Zach Wilson (317)
Rushing yards: Riley Burt (110)
Receiving yards: Dylan Collie (124)
Receiving touchdowns: Dylan Collie (2), Dax Milne (1)
The following quotes are from the postgame press conference following the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
Happy we got the win. Great game. Like I said before, like I said yesterday, just really pleased with these guys and how they played, their resiliency. They are resilient in the locker room at half-time and they have been that way. They have always played hard, really proud of these guys and proud, especially the seniors, and how they showed an example, all of them, and our program, we're looking forward to building on this.
I want to make sure everyone understand, the Bowl prep was a lot of work. We had a lot of fun and we are really thankful to the city of Boise for taking for taking care of us, and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and then showing us great hospitality. We enjoyed all the festivities and just had a lot of fun but our guys worked really hard and our coaches and especially our players worked really hard and utilized all those practices, and their hard work is the reason why we won and really proud of them.
Was there a conscious effort to let Zach loose a little bit in the second half?
I've been trying to let Zach loose for a long time now. I think an aggressive style of football is what we need to have on offense and I don't know exactly the change, but I think this was really good for us in the second half to see that when teams are going to be committed to stopping the run, that we have to go other ways to getting points on the board.
I was really proud of Zach. Although he finished perfect with his completions, I hope he knows it's okay to throw the ball away once in a while. I don't expect him to -- I said it in the postgame thing, but I don't expect him to be perfect in 2019, but being close would be really nice.
Were you aware of that during the game, later on, that he had not thrown an incompletion?
No. Had no idea until really the end and they told me about it. You know, I thought maybe Sione would have a good chance of getting the MVP, but after I heard that, and thought Dylan would have a good chance, and Zach -- I've been on the other side of that where we defended some teams that were really efficient as a quarterback and completions.
But it's just nice to be on this side of this and see the hard work, and everyone, I think even the pass protection, all that stuff worked out so that Zach could set his feet and throw the ball.
Our receivers ran great routes. You had guys like Matt Bushman just stealing the ball from the other team. I thought it was really clean with our offense and I thought they were really efficient. It was good to see Zach just throw it and let loose. I mentioned that he's a gun slinger, and that's kind of what we need to let him do.
Can you take us inside the locker room a little bit at half-time because it was quite a difference from the second half to the first as far as what the offense was able to do. What changed and what did you guys do at half-time to produce that second half?
It was nothing I did. These guys did it all. The players did it. These three and the other leaders on our team look over and I really didn't need to have to say anything.
That's one thing I like going into our locker room, especially tonight, after the first half, we started pretty good and then some things went wrong and we faced some adversity, but I liked the mindset of the players coming in at half-time.
I didn't really need to say much and the right guys were doing the talking and yeah, so there's nothing -- not a miraculous speech or anything. The guys did it, you know, so a lot of credit to them and the relationship that they have with each other.
So I was just proud to see that happen. It was a nice thing. Some of what I've seen in the past, when you have great leadership and when you have guys that are willing to speak and say the right thing and to know that there's a lot of communication and that there's a lot of respect from each other in that locker room.
And so yes, I was really happy. My job was easy. They had already said what needed to be said.
We talked yesterday, but what was it like for you to be able to see Tanner complete his career on the field, and you had a bunch of seniors able to get out there and close out the season and their careers on the field. What does that mean for you to have those guys have that opportunity?
I think it's only right. I thought we were in a position, even though they scored a touchdown, they got a two-point conversion and we still felt comfortable with the game and I felt comfortable with our scheme and the things that our guys are doing fundamentally on the football field.
Yeah, it just felt right. The hard part was -- I was trying to run the clock out and I was being a jerk and just saying run the ball, and then, you know, A-Rod and Grimes are just like, hey, let's just let the kid throw. That was kind of the theme of the night. We let him throw.
And I apologized to Tim Lester at the end of the game; that's not what we normally do, but he understood. It was a nice throw and he'll have that memory here on this blue turf.
Yeah, I thought it was the right thing to do, even though, you know, we had some little conflict on whether to throw it or not. But if it was incomplete, then I would have been really upset.
Quarterback Zach Wilson
You came here a few months ago, had that kind of heartbreaking loss at the goal line there. How does it feel to come back here and to Boise and get the big win for your team with that kind of performance?
Yeah I learned more in these past six games than I have my entire life playing football. Starting to get more comfortable with everything in the flow of the game.
I was excited for this game plan going in and I know the rest of the team was and I know the coaches and the players were all on the same page with everything we were doing. I'm glad we get the W on this field and hopefully against the Boise State Broncos next time we get the W.
Did you hear Coach say that when he was asked when he expected from you, that he expected you to play perfectly yesterday? Did you hear that?
No, I actually never saw that interview. Of course, that's the intention of every game plan. You want to come out and try and be perfect.
On a more serious note, the bar you've set with this type of performance, you're not going to sneak up on people when you go 18-for-18, how nice is it to set that bar now and want to improve on this?
Yeah, I think the bar was set probably a little too high for the next Bowl game. I think we really proved ourselves in this game of what we're capable of. We're starting to find that out as an offense and starting to figure out who we are as a team and what we're the best at. It's just going up from here.
Coach mentioned it but were you aware you had not missed all day? Were you aware the streak you were going and to be mentioned in the same breath, you came close to guys like Steve Young. What does that mean to you?
To be completely honest, I actually had no idea until they told me I was done playing. When they told me they were going to put Tanner in and give him the rest of the game, honestly it was kind of surprising (that it was over). The game flashes by so quick. I was way off; I thought I had at least six or seven to be honest. I didn't realize it was that low, but these guys, that's really where everything falls.
A quarterback, you know, you realize that the success for your quarterback comes based on the team around you. My linemen are out there sacrificing their bodies for me, and my receivers are going out there and making plays so that I know 50/50 balls, they are going to make it that one percent better.
Just giving these guys a chance, that's kind of the reason why I had success today was just because the whole team put it together.
Can you talk about what this performance means going into the off-season heading into next season, maybe the momentum that builds off that?
Yeah, I think this was a must for us. We didn't get the win against Utah but I think we proved a lot with what we are capable of on offense. We wanted to build on that this next game and we knew that we had to play well. I think this is a great momentum building into our off-season.
I think we're going to come out of the off-season with a lot of energy and I know guys are going to be excited about next year's schedule. We're going to be making sure everyone is on top of each other and making sure we are all getting better together and making sure guys are coming out and throwing.
You know, Sione was the leader of that. I remember I came out in summer every single day and he was out there working, and it's paying off for him. I think that's what we need from the whole team this off-season. I think the guys are excited about what's to come for BYU football and we're proving ourselves in the passing game and in the running game. I just hope we excel with that going into this off-season.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki
What does it mean to have a big game in your final game for BYU?
I just knew this was my last go around with these guys and these coaches. They have been so good to me my whole career here. I just wanted to kind of go out there and leave it all out there on the field. Every play in my head, I'm like, if I can get this play with back with these guys, so just getting them all.
It was 10-7 at the half-time, and you scored 35 straight and the defense did its job getting off the field. Talk about what your boys did.
It was 7-10 going into the second half, but we went to the locker room and Coach emphasized, "Everyone do their job and we'll be fine" and we felt that, too. That's kind of what we cleaned up and you know, going into the third quarter, just you could see it out there and you know everyone is doing their job and making plays. Everyone was fine out there.
Credit to all the guys; all 11 on that D-Line they were taking up blocks and going sideline-to-sideline. Give those guys credit, taking on two guys, and I'm just running free. So definitely, they deserve it.
Wide receiver Dylan Collie
What can you say about your quarterback and what he did today, what did you think of his performance?
You talk about -- I said it from the very beginning, you watch Zach from the time that I arrived in May till today, I mean, all he's done is gotten better physically and mentally; and from the way that he talks to the receivers and coaches, he's constantly communicating. And it was just a matter of time for him. He was able to let go and kind of run the show, and that's what he did today.
Being next to both these guys, you look at the mentality of what it means to be a football player on the defensive side of the ball and very few, very, very few people do it like Sione Takitaki and that's a guarantee.
To see an 18-, 19-year-old kid in Zach Wilson and what's going to happen in the next three years, yeah, he set the bar for himself but I'll go ahead and set it even higher. I truly believe this kid will be one of, if not the greatest quarterback in BYU history, and he's going to do that. He knows that and that's his mentality. I love being around him and love watching him grow.
What does it mean to you in your final game here at BYU to have this kind of performance, both individually and as a team?
It's huge. I think everything that happened from the get-go and the entire season, it was filled with a lot of ups and downs for the team and me personally.
To be able to go after that trial and go after those tribulations that we kind of went through all season long, to be able to come out and just finish out on a high note like this with guys that I genuinely do care about, and lucky to call teammates and friends.
Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester
On the difference between the two halves
They abandoned the running game. I thought our defense did a great job the first half keeping us in it, but once they got a lead on us, they just got after our secondary pretty good.
We have to do a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback but I mean, the quarterback had a great day. It was going to be about what quarterback could get into rhythm, and we said that all week, because I thought we could stop the run.
I felt like we did a pretty good job of that, and then their guy got into a rhythm against our secondary pretty good, and then Kaleb, Kaleb struggled. He was in over his head a little bit and seeing a lot of stuff. We knew they had a great defense coming in but getting down for him was the worst situation we could put him in, and he struggled.
It will be a great learning experience for him to have to throw the ball to come back and win the game, you know, and that's something that would he have got to be able to do. We've got to be able to run it and throw it, and once we got down, it was all on him to bring us back, and obviously we didn't.
On his quarterback
I thought he got comfortable. And that was a big thing, because early on, we were moving him around. We were getting to him and he was uncomfortable. He was a little bit off rhythm and like I said, but their offense, they have all the talent in the world.
It's just getting that kid into rhythm where he's throwing the ball in time, seeing the coverage, and he was in rhythm. That throw, the first play in the second half, that throw he had, he got hit while he through it, because I was watching from the pressure and it was right over the middle. It was a heck of a throw, while getting hit. Having done myself that a time or two, it doesn't hurt as much when you complete it, and then he got in a rhythm.
And any quarterback, especially a quarterback, a good one, with a line that good, that center is as good as we've seen, they were going to give him some time.
We tried to mix up pressures, but the problem with mixing up pressures is you're putting your secondary in a lot of man-to-man situations. That's scary. We're thin there. We've been thin there all year and it showed, because you can't let a quarterback in rhythm just sit back there. Once he got into rhythm, we had to start bringing pressure and he exposed us in the back end.
On BYU’s offensive line
They were definitely way bigger. They started sliding the pro. I don't think we did a good enough job hiding our coverage. They did the fake clap or the one clap and would see the coverage, slide the pro to it, and we were not able to hold our water long enough, you know, so we had much better protections the second half.
But their guys did a good job, as well. We were going to mix up the pressures and the coverages and early on, it seemed like we had a good rhythm on keeping him -- they wanted to run the ball. You could see that early on. That was their plan. We made them change their plan, and so the same way with us. They made us change our plan, and it came down to a throwing game, you know, with two 18-year-olds out there, which I don't think either coach wanted that plan, you know, and they were able to get back there now.
I thought our O-Line gave our guys plenty of time. Late in the game when they had their ears pinned back and when all the momentum was swung, they started getting more pressure on him, which happens in pretty much every game once it gets to that point, you know.
I think both offensive lines did a great job of giving time because they brought more pressure than we had seen and our O-Line did a good job of giving them time. We just have to execute in that situation.
On getting the 15 extra practices
I mean, learning how to go through a Bowl week is a big deal, you know, and getting all those extra practices for our young guys, we have an extremely young team and that's not a secret. And they are going to use this, this chip on their shoulder.
I let the seniors talk after the game in the locker room. Bogan said: Yeah, we're in the same place in his first year and they came here, didn't win the game, and they used that. That fueled their whole off-season and they built it and got it better the following year and then obviously they won 13. It's a growth mentality, you know what I mean, and you have that -- it's hard to have the growth mentality. Our nine seniors have a great mentality. They are always working. That's who they are.
They have done a good job of leading the younger guys, and we need to make sure our core values pass on to the young guys because if they do, then all of a sudden instead of nine guys out there with one starter, you've got, you know, 16 next year and eventually you're going to get into the 20s, and then you're cooking. It takes time to balance everything out.
But those guys had some great things to say about using this to fuel us to grow, you know and that's what we need. We already grew from the practices the young kids did but would he have got to use it in the off-season.
WMU's Alex Grace
On going into halftime
I mean, we felt good going in and we just didn't come out and play to the best of our ability. BYU made some big plays and we just couldn't come back from it.
On Zach Wilson
He's a great player. We thought if we had got to the quarterback a little more, if we had maybe hurried him a little more, the game could have been different. He's a great player and we just didn't play to the best of our ability.
WMU RB Jamauri Bogan
On playing in his last game
I'm going to try not to cry right now, but it's been a heck of a journey. It's been a heck of a week for me, though. My grandmother just passed away, who meant a ton to me, and then it was also my last football game. It's been a tough week for me. Didn't sleep much. My eyes are heavy from crying a lot.
It's been a great journey. Western Michigan University, I always say, changed my life. I'm forever grateful, the education, the teammates, the coaches, and just for the atmosphere the school has and has allowed me to flourish.
I'm going to give back to the school in so many different ways in the near future, so I thank Western Michigan for the opportunity.