BYU Notes: Cougars get another field goal block to help get win at UMass
How would you like to be a field-goal kicker facing the BYU football team?
It’s not necessarily something that you think about, but this is one of the areas where the Cougars have really been surprisingly good in 2018.
BYU opponents had attempted 12 field goals before the Cougars took the field against UMass at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Masschusetts, on Saturday — and had only made four.
The Minutemen proved to be slightly above average against BYU, making 1-of-2 attempts against the Cougars.
The second attempt was a big one for UMass as BYU had a 14-10 lead, but Minuteman kicker Cooper Garcia was lining up for a 36-yarder with the wind at his back in the final seconds of the first half. A score there makes it a 1-point game and gives UMass some momentum.
But Cougar senior defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi did what he does in the middle of the field goal block: actually adjusting his big paw in mid-air as the ball came off of Garcia’s foot.
Kaufusi didn’t get much of the ball — just brushed it really — but it was enough to knock the ball of course.
According to BYU, the Cougars were No. 2 nationally in opponent field goal percentage allowed. Opponents have made just 5-of-14 field goals (35.7 percent) against BYU this season.
The second Pau’u
BYU senior linebacker Butch Pau’u came into the season with big expectations but injuries have set him back throughout the year.
In Saturday’s game, however, it was Butch’s younger brother Neil Pau’u who took center stage and made a pair of big plays in the third quarter.
The first came on a flea-flicker, as senior running back Matt Hadley took the handoff, then pitched the ball back to Cougar freshman quarterback Zach Wilson. Wilson launched the ball to Neil Pau’u on a post route.
The ball hung up in the wind, forcing the wide receiver to adjust on the ball with two UMass defenders closing fast but he hauled it in for a career-long 40-yard reception.
Neil Pau’u later added a 22-yard catch but left the game after appearing to get hurt. Still, the 62 yards on the two catches were a career high for the sophomore.
A hit to remember
Every defensive player dreams of the moment when they get a clear shot at an opposing quarterback.
Cougar senior linebacker Rhett Sandlin has played certain roles for BYU throughout his career but he got rewarded for his diligence in the third quarter at UMass.
He came off the edge on a third-and-6 with no blocker picking him up. He bore down on Minuteman quarterback Ross Comis, who was looking down the field, and laid him out with a hard, clean hit.
Sandlin later added a second sack (the first two of his career) and also had his first punt return, when a popped-up kick bounced right to him and he fielded it.
The Cougars won the coin toss and deferred, meaning UMass got the ball to start the game. The Minutemen used a 14-play drive to get a field goal … The Cougar team captains were from the defense: Corbin Kaufusi, Sione Takitaki and Butch Pau’u … Game-time weather was partly cloudy with a swirling wind.