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Review of the year for the 2022 season

techsm5

PROVO, Utah – The last independent tour for BYU football is over. BYU finished the 2022 season with an 8-5 record. That’s two shy of the 10-win mark BYU reached in 2021.

It was an underperforming finish to a season that opened as a Top 25 preseason team and then peaked unranked.

It could have been worse. After a winless October with BYU at 4-5, the Cougars bounced back to win their last four games. Including a 24-23 New Mexico Bowl win over SMU that saw BYU defensive back Jakob Robinson come in with a stoppage on a Mustangs two-point attempt.

But when you step back and look at BYU’s overall work in 2022, it was an underperforming team. The Cougars were one of the most experienced teams in college football entering the 2022 season, and they had a star quarterback in Jaren Hall. So to finish with just eight wins, with some games influenced by a handful of games, leaves BYU and its fans wanting more of what happened this season.

Best moment of the 2022 BYU football season

BYU’s fight to end 2022 on a four-game winning streak

Every year during the independent seasons, at some point, the question arises: “Why are you playing?” This question carried much more weight in 2022 when BYU was 4-5 on the season.

When asked this question, many players pointed to pride and a desire to restore BYU’s winning ways. For the time being, it looked a lot like your typical “gamer chat”. But they supported him.

Each week, BYU coach Kalani Sitake sets a goal to inspire his guys before a game. First, against Boise State, it was beating a rival. So, Utah Tech, protect LaVell’s house. Then, in the regular season finale at Stanford, BYU made history by defeating the Cardinal for the first time. Then at the New Mexico Bowl, win a playoff bowl.

Thank you BYU players for buying and not throwing in the towel when it could have been easy to do so. Even though BYU has taken a step back in 2022, the struggle to finish strong will always remain an enduring image for this team.

best game

September 10, 2022: #21 BYU 26, #9 Baylor 20 (2OT)

Neither BYU nor Baylor have met the lofty pre-season expectations placed on them at the start of the year. BYU finished with eight wins, while Baylor finished the season losing at 6-7. But at this late-night stage in early September, it was a glimpse into the future of the new Big 12 conference.

And for now, that left BYU feeling like the possibilities were endless in its new league.

The on-field product was entertaining with smashmouth football, great performances from Chase Roberts, Max Tooley and Jaren Hall, and an atmosphere that ranks among the best in LaVell Edwards Stadium history.

The game of missed opportunities

October 8, 2022: Notre Dame 28, #16 BYU 20 (Las Vegas)

BYU lost a home game in Provo to Notre Dame to face the Irish in Vegas. The Sin City contest was a Notre Dame home game with all signage and field logos centered around the Irish.

The game was a struggle for BYU from the first snap. As an injured Jaren Hall, who barely practiced throughout the week, threw an interception in the opener. It set the tone for a night that never looked good for the Cougars. BYU made a run in the second half, but the Cougar defense had no answer for tight end Michael Mayer.

Offensive MVP

QB Jaren Hall

Pretty easy here with Jaren Hall. There’s an argument for Puka Nacua, but he wasn’t available in enough guys to put him above Hall. Hall completed his final season at BYU, starting in all 12 regular season games.

He passed for 3,171 yards, 31 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Hall also rushed for 348 yards, joining Steve Young and Taysom Hill as the third BYU quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in a season, in addition to rushing for 300.

Defensive MVP

BY Tyler Batty

BYU defensive end Tyler Batty completed his third season as the team’s highest-ranked defensive player by Pro Football Focus. But, like the rest of BYU’s defense, Batty was not immune to his flaws. There have been missed sack or tackle opportunities in games, especially against Arkansas. But in a season when BYU lacked continuity and playmakers, Batty was among the few players the Cougars could rely on.

Batty finished with 52 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, and he was third on the team with two sacks. He also had four quarterback hastes and a fumble recovery.

Special Teams MVP

Punter Ryan Rehkow

Rehkow ended his third year in the program on a high note. His performance at the New Mexico Bowl was Rehkow at his best. He averaged a season-high 58.7 yards per punt.

Earlier in the year, in a loss to East Carolina, he had a season-high 71-yard bomb that turned the pitch upside down.

Rehkow has a leg up in the NFL, and he’s one of the best punters BYU has produced since Lee Johnson in the 1980s.

Best Newcomer

OT Kingsley Suamataia

The timing of Kingsley Suamataia’s transfer from Oregon was a big deal for BYU. A former five-star prospect, Suamataia entered the BYU program and beat a freshman All-American and a Week 1 starter to earn the starting go-ahead at right tackle.

He started 12 games for BYU football at right tackle, allowing no sacks. Suamataia earned Freshman All-American recognition from College Football News. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound player will be one of BYU’s stars on offense as he enters the Big 12 conference.

Best Position Group

wide receiver

The depth of BYU’s receiving unit showed itself in 2022. Other sources of production had to emerge without Gunner Romney all season except for two games, plus no Puka Nacua for four games. And they did.

Kody Epps became a star on BYU’s offense before a season-ending injury suffered against Liberty. Epps finished with 459 yards on 39 receptions for six touchdowns.

Number two in receiving yards behind Puka Nacua was Keanu Hill. Hill finished with 572 yards on 36 catches and had a team-high seven touchdowns.

Brayden Cosper was a solid contributor in his final season with the program. Then redshirt rookie Chase Roberts put up impressive games with 22 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns.

Imagine what this group could have produced if everyone had been healthy at the same time. Instead, they never had their full collection of staff, but they still produced to a high standard.

2022 BYU Football Schedule

September 3 – South Florida | Win | 50-21

September 10 – No. 9 Baylor | Win | 26-20 (2OT)

September 17 – at No. 25 Oregon | Loss | 20-41

September 24 – Wyoming | Win | 38-24

September 29 – State of Utah | Win | 38-26

October 8 – against Notre-Dame | Loss | 20-28

October 15 – Arkansas | Loss | 35-52

October 22 – at Liberty | Loss | 14-41

October 28 – East Carolina | Loss | 24-27

November 5 – at Boise State | Win | 31-28

November 19 – Utah Tech | Win | 52-26

November 26 – at Stanford | Win | 35-26

December 17 – against SMU | Win | 24-23 (New Mexico Cup)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU’s move to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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