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Making Extra Points: Cougars hold off Arizona to win opener

September 2, 2018

Daily Herald columnist Darnell Dickson looks at some of the key moments and players from BYU’s opening game 28-23 win at Arizona.

The key play

Kalani Sitake rolled the dice and went for it on 4th and goal in the third quarter. Squally Canada rewarded the Cougars with his third touchdown run and a 28-10 lead.

The sneaky key play

The big touchdown pass from Tanner Mangum to Matt Bushman in the third quarter doesn’t happen without Dylan Collie’s catch. The Hawaii transfer went up and battled an Arizona player for the ball, securing it after it bounced around a little. That’s the kind of effort BYU receivers need to make.

The unsung hero

Canada rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns and he can give at least some credit to fullback Brayden El-Bakri. The 240-pounder is an absolute road grader. Arizona linebackers are going to be seeing him in their sleep.

The difference maker

Oh, Canada, indeed. The senior running back demonstrated great vision and balance all night. Then he iced the game with a couple of big runs at the end of the game. What’s most impressive is that his performance came against a Power 5 Conference team, not UNLV or San Jose State.

The revelation

I thought Jeff Grimes was money as a play caller in his first game. His game plan was well designed and he set up some big-play opportunities in the third quarter. It’s early, but I like what I saw in his decision making.

The top unit award

I was leaning toward the offensive line but there were too many critical holding and false start penalties for my liking. I really liked what the linebackers – Zayne Anderson, Butch Pau’u and Sione Takitaki – did to keep Kahlil Tate in check. That’s an athlete and he never hurt the Cougars on the ground.

Random Observations

I knew Kalani Sitake would go for it on fourth down in the third quarter. That’s his style and it was nice to be reminded that he believes in his team. … The defensive game plan was solid, so kudos to Ilaisa Tuiaki. … I must confess that 28 points and nearly 400 yards of offense exceeded my expectations for the Grimes offense in Game 1. … The offensive line got a good push most of the night but they’ve got to clean up the penalties in critical situations. … Mangum had some nice moments but he continues to miss receivers on what should be bread and butter passes. ... So Khyiris Tonga is a strong dude, I guess. … The BYU defensive backfield continues to be my biggest worry. … The defense had some great moments but had trouble getting off the field on important third downs. … Did I mention that the BYU DB’s really, really worry me?

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