Kenny Cox | Posted: 7 Sep 2019 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU at Tennessee Postgame Notes

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The following notes are from BYU's 29-26 victory over Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 7. 

TEAM FLAG: QB Joe Critchlow
ALUMNI FLAGS: Kaneakua Friel (TE, 07-08, 11-13), Mitch Mathews (WR, 09, 12-15), Judd Anderton (DL, 00, 04-07), Jon Pollock (DB, 89-92-95)
GAME CAPTAINS: DL Trajan Pili, LB Jackson Kaufusi, OL Brady Christensen, P/K Jake Oldroyd

BYU played a double overtime game for the first time since 2016, when the Cougars defeated Mississippi State 28-21. With the win, BYU improved to 7-5 in overtime games since 1996. BYU is now 2-0 in overtime under Kalani Sitake, with both wins coming against SEC opponents.

SEC Country
BYU picked up its third win in an SEC stadium with the victory over Tennessee. The Cougars had previously defeated Mississippi State in Starkville in 2001 (41-38) and Ole Miss in Oxford in 2011 (14-13). All three were by a combined seven points. BYU improved to 7-7 overall against current members of the SEC.

Big Crowds
The Neyland Stadium crowd of 92,475 marks the fifth-largest crowd BYU has played in front of. The top five includes:
1. Michigan (2015) 108,940
2. Texas (2011) 100,995
3. Penn State (1991) 96,304
4. Texas (2014) 93,463
5. Tennessee (2019) 92,475

Ty’Son Williams
Williams scored the game-winning touchdown from five yards out. It was his second score of the game for his first multi-TD game of his collegiate career. He finished the game with 17 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Against Tennessee for his collegiate career, Williams has 41 carries, 173 rushing yards and three touchdowns after two games with South Carolina in 2017 and 2018.

Micah Simon
Simon had a career night with seven receptions for 127 yards – both career highs. He caught a career-long 64-yard reception to set up BYU’s game-tying field goal to go to overtime.

Kavika Fonua
Linebacker Kavika Fonua had a career-best 10 tackles and his first career interception. He returned the pick 20 yards to set up BYU’s first touchdown of the game at the start of the second half. He also had one tackle for loss.

Jake Oldroyd
Kicker and punter Jake Oldroyd had a night too, kicking three field goals, including one to tie the game with one second remaining from 33 yards out. Oldroyd also made kicks from 42 and 31 yards. He also made his two PATs. Oldyord also punted four times for 201 yards, an average of 50.2 yards, including a long of 55 yards and two of 50 yards or more.

First Starts: Atunaisa Mahe (DL), Payton Wilgar (LB), Kavika Fonua (LB), Malik Moore (DB), Joe Tukuafu (TE), Masen Wake (TE)
First Interception: Kavika Fonua (20-yard return)
First Sack: Chaz Ah You
Tackles (career high): Kavika Fonua (10), Sawyer Powell (8)
Made field goals: Jake Oldroyd (3 – 31 yards, 42 yards, 33 yards)

The following are post game quotes from both teams. 

Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt 

“It was a great football game. We obviously came out on the wrong end of it. It’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s hard to figure out how we lose that game, but there’s two fourth-and-ones that we don’t get. We have two guys running open for touchdowns before the half that we don’t get and we end up settling for field goals. We turned the ball over in the red area. We don’t get a turnover. We’ve got one turnover in two weeks. Then, we give up a 70-yard play with 17 seconds left on the clock. It’s hard to figure that one out, but hey, we’ll go back. We’ll coach them up. We’ll get them to where we understand situations better. One thing I will say is we had some guys that were fighting out there on both sides of the ball. It was a hell of a game. It was a competitive game. We didn’t get the breaks there at the end. We’ve got to get back on our feet this next week and get going. Give BYU credit, they never gave up, they kept fighting, they did a nice job and won the game.”

On the defense at the end on BYU’s last drive:
“There’s 17 seconds left on the clock. They have to go 60 yards to kick a field goal or at least 40. They can play three plays, so you play on top of them. The same defense we called on the previous play when they lost 12 yards is what we called.”

On what he saw on that 70-yard play:
“One of our guys got in the deep third and one of their wide receivers got 20 yards behind the area. They’re supposed to be the deepest of the deepest. They threw the ball and ran up there and kicked the field goal.”

On Jarrett Guarantano’s issues with a few short throws:
“I only saw two, right before the half, but I knew exactly what the play was calling and where it was going and I thought we had chances to stick the ball. We got a field goal out of it and I think there were chances to get two out of them, but we’ll see on tape.”

On red zone struggles:
“We’ve got to be more physical. We’ve got to knock them off the ball. We don’t have really big backs. We’ve got guys that weigh 200 pounds or 190 pounds. We’ve got to knock them back. We’ve got to have awareness of the down and distance. Tonight, I thought there were three times, on either third or fourth down, where there was just a little bit to go, that the guy with the ball in his hand didn’t finish the run the right way. You’ve got to have awareness of where the sticks are. Sometimes you’ve got to be your own blocker.”

On settling for field goals in the red zone:
“For the teams that are good in the red zone, lots of times they’ll line up and run through everybody, kind of like that team just did to us on that last play. Right now, we’re not knocking people off the ball. We ran the ball, and we ran stretch plays. When you get down in the red area, everybody tightens it down. The windows are not as big for the throws. There are more guys closer to the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to get a hat on a hat. You’ve got to knock people off the ball. You can’t have missed assignments and the back has to make one miss down there. Run through a guy and fall forward for three and a half yards; get him to two yards and let him fall for two and a half more. These guys were eight-dropping a lot down there. The windows were really tight in the throwing game.”

On the improved rushing efficiency this week:
“I think we got the ball on the perimeter a little bit more. The score probably indicated a little bit to running the football. We had chances - two chances - to put the game away and we didn’t. If we had run the football and run the game out, the game’s over. We didn’t do that. We didn’t throw the ball there on third down because they still had their timeouts. It didn’t make a lot of sense. You try to play to win the game there. We didn’t get that done. I look at it on offense - we turned the ball over. They get the ball in the red area. We miss a couple of opportunities right there before the half. There were two fourth-and-ones we didn’t get. We have two opportunities to end the game – situational football. We didn’t take advantage of it. Defensively, there on third-and-five, they ran the ball. We called a call that you think is good for the run on third-and-six. You’ve got a guy that’s got the back. They don’t block him, and we don’t put a hand on it. The guy runs for 18 yards for a touchdown there. They got a couple on us there, little RPOs there in the second half. We missed a few fits and probably had some linebackers and defensive backs that got tired in the game – especially inside linebackers. We had very few guys at that position. Jeremy Banks moved over there but still is a little bit away from knowing exactly what to do. We went with Will Ignont for the entire game because he knows what to do.”

On team’s response to BYU forcing overtime:
“Well, that’s why I called them out on the field, to make sure that they did (get refocused). We’re in a good call down there. They run an RPO, and we’re playing inside coverage, and we get beat inside on a slant route. That’s what they do. They get three by one at run zone, run hitches to the field, run slant to the X. If you watch the film, they probably did that 25 times in this game. They did it down there. We know what play is coming. I thought our offense responded and scored there, which was really good. But having to settle for a field goal there… and with the last couple of plays there, they basically just willed themselves there (to score), in my opinion. I mean, we’re calling Flex-Cover 1. We’ve got more than they could block, and then they run the ball for five, six, yards however many it was – 12 yards. I don’t know, I’ll have to see that on tape. That wasn’t a good finish to the game.”

On message to guys in the locker room:
“First of all, we had a lot of guys at fault. A lot of guys at fault. They played really, really hard. But the bottom line is that there are a couple of errors that we made in the game that you can’t do. Things you just don’t do. We made a couple of those errors in the game, and it’s tough to win against anybody when you make errors like that. It’s a tough pill for everybody to swallow. Everybody worked hard this week and responded the right way. We have to go back and do the same thing this next week.”

Tennessee junior running back Ty Chandler
On how the team’s performance was different from last week versus Georgia State:
“I feel like the offensive line did a great job. They were able to give us a great push allowing us to work up to the second level. We had a game plan and we went out there and tried to execute. It would have been much better if I was able to finish some of my runs and get to the endzone.”

On his emotions after the loss:
“It’s hard, but we have got 10 more games left. We have to keep going and as a team we have to keep it up. Like I said, we have to work even harder this week.”

On his message to the fans after the loss to BYU:
“I love you all, and I enjoy you all. I appreciate that you come out and watch us. We need you all, and I want you to keep coming out. This team is going to get better. We have 10 games left, and I feel that we are going to keep pushing.”

Tennessee redshirt junior offensive lineman Marcus Tatum

On his thoughts on the offense’s performance:
“I think we just need to come out next week and execute better. As a whole, we just need to get better at down and distance situations and important critical moments in the game and just keep getting better in those aspects.”

On Tatum’s message to fans:
“We’re just going to come back and keep fighting.”

On how deflating the loss is to the team:
“I would call it more motivating actually. We just know that we have the capability. We know that we can fight as a team. We can come back and just execute better and finish.”

On the root of the team’s problem in short-yard situations:
“I would have to watch the film to answer that fully. Honestly, it’s probably one person. That’s what it usually is when we watch film. It’s just one person out of the 11 that’s making a mistake, and it just costs the whole team.”

On his outlook coming out of the game this week compared to last week:
“They’re both a loss, so they’re both a learning experience. For this one, I felt we fought a lot better as a team, and we were really just trying to come together a lot more on this one.”

On how he thinks the team has improved running the ball:
“When we’re running the ball, we’re not really thinking of the yardage or anything like that. We’re really just trying to control the ball, control the game and control the clock. So, I feel like we did it in certain moments of the game, and sometimes when we really needed it, we just didn’t get it done. In the critical moments when we needed it, we didn’t get it done, so I don’t feel like we did as well as we needed to.”

On being an older player on the team and staying positive:
“I’ve been through worse here. We’ve all been through worse here. We’ve seen worse. Look at the positive. We fought. We just need to continue to fight because it’s really not the end. SEC play still hasn’t started. We still have a lot of room to improve. We only have room to grow, and that’s a good thing to look at.”

On the attitude of the locker room after losing:
“I feel like now people aren’t accepting it anymore. I’m starting to see a little more motivation throughout the locker room. People know that we can continue to fight. We can be good. We just need to finish in the right moments.”

Tennessee redshirt senior offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy
On how he described the game tonight in general:
“It was obviously very disappointing, but we still have 10 games left in the season, so we really have to come out and execute next week.”

On how what he saw from the offensive line today:
“I felt like we did a good job, but we just have to execute at the right time to be in the ball game.”

On what he thought the issues were from the offensive side:
“We really just have to go out there and execute. The little mistakes hurt us and that turns into why we lost the ball game.”

On how he would describe the locker room right now:
“We just know we worked hard and we are disappointed. We have to come back and execute. We need to learn from our mistakes. Tomorrow we will go watch the film, see what we did wrong and see what we can improve upon going into next week.” 

Tennessee junior defensive lineman LaTrell Bumphus 

On how he would describe the game overall:
“Obviously it was very disappointing, but we just have to come back next week, watch film and get corrected on things we didn’t do as well tonight as we should have done.”

On how feels about a couple of the key mistakes his team had at the end:
“It hurts, but we know that we don’t want to do that anymore, so we will just go back and improve on other things.”

On the message for the team heading into overtime:
“Just keep fighting. We know that we were going to have to fight and keep going.”

On if he felt he did a good job pressuring the QB tonight:
“I feel like I did some things well, but I still have a lot of things to improve on, so we will try to get those corrected.”

BYU Head Coach Kalani Sitake Quick Quotes
“Great game, obviously. Happy about the outcome. Tennessee did some really good things, I think we just had some plays go our way, made some breaks and were able to come out victorious and had a couple more plays than they did. I’m thankful that it took all three phases to make this work and just proud of our guys and how resilient they were in this game.”

On what he saw on Micah Simon’s long reception at the end of regulation:
“I think it might have been a broken coverage because we protected for quite a while. They really did a good job taking away a lot of the deep throws throughout the game. I think Zach was just able to make a throw and trust that Micah would be there and I think it just worked out. I’m just glad that they tackled us as early as they did so that we could kick the field goal and get the game into overtime. I don’t know how close he was to scoring, but just glad that we were able to get that play done.”

On Jacob Oldroyd’s game-tying field goal:
“He’s been in that situation before, but he’s just so mentally strong. We trusted him to be on the field. There’s a time that we could have gone for it in the red zone or on the other side of the 50, but we just felt like that if we kicked the field goal, we would keep getting closer. We felt that if we could stop them in the four-minute situation when they were trying to grind the clock, we knew we we’re going to rely on him again to kick a field goal.”

BYU Wide Receiver Micah Simon Quick Quotes

On his long reception at the end of regulation:
“It was basically just four verts. It was third-and-long and we needed to get something down the field. I was on the same side with Matt Bushman and he’s a really great tight end so he had a lot of eyes looking at him. I think they had a lapse in coverage and I got behind their guys and Zach (Wilson) made a great pass.”

On what Zach Wilson’s message was to the team during the last drive:
“We went back to practice during fall camp that was player-ran. I remember that when we were having player-ran practices and making the schedule about what we were going to do, one of the periods we wanted was a two-minute period. We thought about the hardest situations that we had been in before. We picked four situations and they were all from games last season that were really difficult – having to drive 75 yards with only one timeout. We felt that the stress we put ourselves under in fall camp was able to prepare us for this moment in just fighting for the end and knowing how to operate and knowing how to execute under pressure.”

BYU Kicker Jake Oldroyd Quick Quotes
On his game-tying kick:
“It definitely brings back some familiar feeling from a year ago, but I love it, it’s what I live for. I’m so happy to be able to be in that position and happy that I had the trust of my teammates and coaches that they allowed me to have that opportunity. I’m so grateful for the way that everyone else executed so that I had an easy job.”

On where his confidence comes from:
“For me I think it comes from preparation, that’s the biggest source of confidence that I have. Just trusting in all of the work that I’ve put in. The last couple of years that I’ve been here all leads up to moments like this and I know that I can trust myself to execute in moments like this because of preparation.”

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