BYU football year in review: A look at the best players and performances from a difficult season

Published: January 3, 2018

The 2017 season didn’t go as anyone expected.

After an underwhelming opening game win over lowly Portland State, the losses and injuries piled up. There was little offensive production as the team went through four quarterbacks and half a dozen running backs.

Even the soft back-end of the schedule didn’t go as anyone had planned as the Cougars dropped games to likes of East Carolina and UMass.

All told, BYU won just four games in 13 tries and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2004. The offense also proved to be one of the least productive the school has fielded in a long, long time.

While the difficult season left many Cougar fans scratching their heads wondering what the future of the program holds, there were some bright spots.

Here is a look at the players who played the best in a disappointing season.

Freshman of the Year on Offense

Matt Bushman

Bushman was the main target in the passing game and delivered some solid numbers as a freshman. He finished first on the team in catches and yards with 49 receptions for 520 yards ans also tied for first with three receiving touchdowns. His catches and receiving yards were first in the nation among freshman and helped him earn a spot on USA Today’s freshman All-American team.

Freshman of the Year on Defense

Khyiris Tonga

The defensive lineman from Granger High had a huge impact on the front seven for the Cougars. He finished fourth on the team with 4.0 tackles for loss and third with two sacks. He also totaled 19 total tackles while playing in all 13 games, including two starts.

Most Exciting Player

KJ Hall

Hall missed plenty of action with a myriad of injuries, but he did some special things when he on the field. He averaged a team-high 6.9 yards per carry in the run game while finishing fourth on the team with 206 yards on the ground. He also recorded 10 catches for 111 yards in just five games.

Most Improved Player

Corbin Kaufusi

Kaufusi made huge strides on the field after he decided to focus on football. He finished fourth on the team with 67 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss. He added a team-best six sacks while forcing two fumbles and blocking a kick to earn Phil Steele All-Independent first-team honors.

Comeback Player of the Year

Sione Takitaki

After a year away, Takitaki had one of the most productive seasons by any Cougar on the roster. He finished second of the team with 79 tackles while leading the way with 12.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded five sacks, four quarterback hurries and two pass breakups in 12 starts.

Best Performance in a Game

Squally Canada

Canada easily came away with the best performance of the season as he ran all over the UNLV Rebels in BYU’s lone road victory of the campaign. In the 31-21 win, he carried the ball 25 times for a season and career-high 213 yards, including eight runs of 10 yards or more. He also had one of the three Cougar touchdown runs on a 2-yard burst early in the second half.

Offensive MVP

Tejan Koroma

Koroma was a steady force for an offensive line that had a really nice season. The four-year starter was named a Pro Football Focus Second-Team All-American after starting all 13 games at center.

Defensive MVP

Fred Warner

Warner continued his strong play in a Cougar uniform with a team-best 87 tackles, including 48 of the solo variety. He also managed 9.0 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a sack while starting all 13 games.

Special teams MVP

Jonny Linehan

Not only was he the comic relief off the field with his hilarious tweets, Linehan was very effective in the punting game as well. He averaged 42.9 a punt on 59 attempts, including 26 punts that were downed inside the 20-yard line with just two touchbacks. He also delivered 10 punts of 50 yards or more.




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