BYU UConn Football

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut in East Hartford, Conn., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

It … was … really … hard … to … watch … because … the … game … kept … starting … and … stopping. All … those … penalties … made … it … very … difficult … to … appreciate … BYU’s … go-hard … go-fast … offensive … approach.

OK … I’ll … stop … now. This … is … getting … silly.

Now more than a day removed from the Cougars’ 35-10 season-opening victory over Connecticut Friday night at Rentschler Field, there are a few things to be gleaned from the game. First is that quarterback Taysom Hill can be among the most exciting players in all of college football. Second, the 15 penalties for 150 yards was astonishing, even for a season-opener.

Hill is a nice centerpiece for the program and if he can stay healthy he’ll not only make the Cougars a better team on the field, he’ll generate a lot of ESPN-driven attention away from it.

The kid’s got a real athletic charisma, akin to what the basketball team had in Jimmer Fredette a few years back.

That’s a good thing because considering the Cougars don’t have a conference to play in and their schedule -- which does feature a game at Texas this week -- is otherwise pretty soft (a troublesome byproduct of independence).

Hill’s abilities speak for themselves, really. We’ll most certainly delve into them in other columns to follow, but for our purposes here today, let’s just say he looked great on Friday, rushing 12 times for 97 yards and two TDs. Better still was his passing line: 28 of 36 for 308 yards and three more scores.

Good for him and good for the Cougars.

And then there is the bad, and definitely ugly.

All … those … awful … penalties, … 11 … in … the … first … half … alone.

C’mon … man!

Racking up more penalties than usual is, for the most part, a hallmark of season-opening games. Coming out of fall camp, one would think teams would have their stuff together enough to play a crisp, clean type of game, especially on offense. But too often, after beating up on each other all that time, they’re so anxious -- so fired up -- to play against another team their timing is off just a little and the result is a bunch of penalties, many of them false starts on the offensive line.

Certainly there was some of that going on for the Cougars. But those weren’t the only flags. Pass interference calls are also somewhat understandable since those can sometimes boil down to judgment calls by the officials. But the late-hit penalties? Those aren’t excusable, even for an opener and they need to be tightened up, otherwise they’re a poor reflection on the program in general and the coaching staff in particular.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougars have spoken of playing tough, physical and even “nasty” without crossing the line (a fine line to tiptoe, not doubt) but, clearly, that needs to be a point of emphasis looking ahead.

Look, there is always some nit-picking that follows the first game of the season. Some of it comes from us media types and, of course, the fanbase contributes as well. But there’s a reason why teams often make huge improvements between the first and second games of the season. A lot of it stems from coaches who evaluate, adjust and hammer home the finer details.

So, what do we know about the Cougars that we didn’t know before Friday’s game? It’s difficult to tell, really, because they were playing against inferior opposition (a theme that also emerged from last Thursday’s University of Utah opener). But BYU isn’t preparing for a conference season, so it’s all relative. And relatively speaking, we know Taysom Hill looked like an offensive machine. We also know the Cougars need to work on their discipline because there’s just no way they can afford to keep taking an entire field-and-a-half of penalties.

Face … it, … nobody … wants … to … see … that.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo

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