Jonathan Taylor - UW vs. BYU

Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor runs the ball for a first down during the second quarter against the BYU Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. 

M.P. KING, STATE JOURNAL

Offense: A-minus

Alex Hornibrook was razor sharp. His 50-yard pass to Danny Davis jump-started the offense and he drilled four touchdown passes in the red zone. Jonathan Taylor runs far beyond his years. Quintez Cephus is the real deal. Led by gritty Michael Deiter, the line faced its toughest test and passed with flying colors.

Defense: A-minus

On BYU's first possession, T.J. Edwards stepped in front of a pass for a timely interception, something he does often. Dontye Carrier-Williams' first interception won't be his last. Isaiahh Lowdermihlk used his size to stuff several runs. Backup linebackers Christian Bell and Mike Maskalunas teamed up for a safety.

Special teams: B

Derrick Tindall's offsides penalty on a field-goal attempt cost UW three points when BYU's Rhett Almond missed the first one, made the second. Anthony Lotti didn't have to punt much, but his first kick, a 51-yarder, was a beauty. UW excelled in coverage. A.J. Taylor's 42-yard kickoff return was a positive sign.

Coaching: B-plus

BYU spread out UW and ran the ball down the field on one first-quarter drive, but UW made adjustments and stopped the run without abandoning the nickel defense, sometimes by sliding safety D'Cota Dixon closer to the box. The play-action deep ball to Davis on the first play of UW's second series fooled BYU.

Overall: A-minus

This wasn't a vintage BYU team after losing its tailback and quarterback to the NFL, but it was still big and physical along both lines of scrimmage and UW was playing on the road and at altitude. None if it mattered. The Badgers got off to a fast start for the first time and dominated on both sides of the ball.

Angry
4
Sad
1
Funny
2
Wow
2
Love
40

Tom Oates has been part of the Wisconsin State Journal sports department since 1980 and became its editorial voice in 1996, traversing the state and country to bring readers a Madison perspective on the biggest sports stories of the day.