1. Jamal Golden’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did.
The return was supposed to go to the right, but Golden saw that Brigham Young’s defenders were closing that down pretty quickly so he cut left, rolled around the corner and only needed to outrace kicker Justin Sorensen.
“Once I got around them I was like ‘outrun the kicker,’ he said.
He got around Sorensen, but was held up long enough to give two defenders a chance to dive at his ankles.
After catching the ball at the 3-yard line, “I kind of glanced at the left side of the return and they were closing in really hard, so I just stuck my foot in the ground and ran around em,” he said.
Golden cut back inside around the 25-yard line and then cut back left a few yards later to score Tech’s first kick return for a touchdown in 178 games. Dez White was the last Yellow Jacket to do it and it happened against Maryland on Halloween (Oct. 31) in 1998.
The score closed the margin to 21-14 with 4:31 to go in the first half. Overall, however, Tech’s special teams had a rough day. Justin Moore missed a 35-yard field-goal attempt, the sixth the team has missed this year, all in the last three games.
BYU’s Kyle Van Noy blocked a Tech punt and recovered the ball on the 13-yard line. The Cougars scored a touchdown two plays later to take a 21-7 lead.
Further, because of what coach Paul Johnson described as line-drive kickoffs, which get to the returner quicker and give the defense less time to get down the field, the Cougars averaged 37 yards per kickoff return. Their average drive started on their 43-yard line.
Johnson described the kicking game as “a killer.”
2. Unlike most coaches, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall eagerly anticipated the chance to prepare his defense to play Tech’s option-based spread offense. Mendenhall, who also serves as the Cougars’ defensive coordinator, was evidently up to the task. Tech gained 117 rushing yards and 157 yards total. Tech, the No. 3 rushing offense in the country, had come into the game averaging 339.6 rushing yards per game and 37.7 points, 24th in the country.
“We continue to look for new ideas and better ways to do it,” Mendenhall said. “We presented it very clearly to our players, but they took their assignments and just ran with it.”
Johnson said that BYU played a straight 3-4 defense with few stunts.
“They limited us from big plays, and we weren’t good enough to get reads right,” Johnson said.
BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah was a problem, leading the Cougars with eight tackles and sacking Tevin Washington once.
3. Freshman wide receiver Anthony Autry left the game with an injury and did not return. After the game, Autry’s brother Myles, a star running back at Norcross High, sent out a message from his Twitter account asking for prayers since his brother has “a torn ACL.”
Autry, a true freshman, has become one of Tech’s most consistent wide receivers.
Kicker David Scully and offensive tackle Will Jackson did not play with hip and shoulder injuries, respectively. They were replaced by kicker Justin Moore and tackle Morgan Bailey, who became the 13th player to make his first career start this season.
4. A-back Orwin Smith took his turn wearing No. 40 as the team has honored former team captain and linebacker Julian Burnett, who wore No. 40 before suffering a career-ending neck injury in last season’s Sun Bowl. … Attendance was announced at 50,103, just shy of the attendance for the Miami game, which was the largest of the season. The crowd included thousands of BYU fans. …. Tech will play BYU next year Oct. 12. … BYU broke a seven-game losing streak in games played in the Eastern time zone.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog