BYU’s annual defensive exception

By Jacob Kendall

On Saturday BYU faced number 10 ranked Oregon State. Oregon State had just lost starting quarterback Sean Mannion to injury. Cody Vaz, a 5th year senior, would be making his first collegiate start. When he stepped on the field he looked more like an all-american than an untested backup. He marched his team up and down the field with precision and ease, picking apart the BYU secondary and making repeated connections with his top targets downfield. Granted, it’s easier to make your first start when you have receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton on your team. They happen to be 2nd and 10th in receiving yards per game nationally. Vaz finished the game 20 of 32 for 332 yards 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

BYU fans, coaches, and players left the game scratching their heads and wondering what just happened. BYU had a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally in most major categories. They had not allowed a touchdown at home to an FBS school all year. But this outcome is not out of the ordinary for BYU football and their defense.

In this loss, BYU surrendered over 450 yards and 42 points. Both of these totals were season highs. As BYU seems to do every year, they got torched on the scoreboard, and the yardage kept piling up in big chunks. These games seem to come against the faster, more athletic, and talented teams on the schedule. With Bronco Mendenhall as the head-coach, BYU has had at least one defensive “exception” game per year.

Year YPG Avg PPG Avg Exception Pts All. Pt Diff. Yds All. Yds Diff.
2005 417 29.3 TCU 51 22 475 58
2006 319 14.7 Boston Coll. 30 15 471 152
2007 307 18.5 Tulsa 55 36 595 288
2008 356 21.9 Utah 48 26 415 59
2009 329 21.5 Florida St. 54 32 512 183
2010 331 21.6 Air Force 35 13 477 146
2011 313 20.4 Utah 54 34 481 168
*2012 261 13.6 Oregon St. 42 28 450 189
Avg 329.125 20.1875 46.1 25.8 484.5 155.4

Since taking over as Head Coach, Bronco’s season averages are just over 20 points per game, and 329 yards per game. In the “exception” games BYU is allowing over 46 points per game, and 484 yards per game. Those numbers are over 25 points, and 155 yards above the defensive season averages. The game that was the biggest exception was vs Tulsa in 2007. Tulsa gained nearly 600 yards and scored 55 points. Those were 288 yards and 36 points more than the season average in 2007.

What do these losses have in common? Allowing a ton of yards and points, and committing to many turnovers. It’s kind of weird to have a “consistent outlier”…but that seems to be exactly what we’ve got here at BYU. And with such perennial consistency, one wonders if it’s just something we’re going to have to get used to.

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