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Albuquerque, N.M. • Something about New Mexico brings out the best in BYU receiver Cody Hoffman.
The Cougar redshirt freshman caught two touchdown passes in a November win against New Mexico in Provo, then came back with an even better performance Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl on the Lobos' home field.
Hoffman's season highs of eight receptions and 137 yards, including three touchdown grabs, helped the Cougars beat Texas-El Paso 52-24 at University Stadium.
Hoffman finished the season as BYU's No. 2 receiver, with 42 catches for 527 yards not far behind running back J.J. Di Luigi. The 6-foot-4 receiver became a dependable target for freshman quarterback Jake Heaps, and that was never more evident than Saturday.
Against the Miners in the second quarter, Hoffman caught a 31-yard pass in the corner of the end zone on a perfect throw from Heaps, while managing to stay in bounds. On BYU's next possession, Hoffman shook free in the middle of the end zone, and Heaps found him for a 3-yard score.
In the third quarter, Hoffman made a tough catch in traffic, again in the left corner of the end zone, for a 29-yard touchdown.
UTEP coach Mike Price was impressed with "the big, tall kid." So was Heaps.
"He's got so much potential," Heaps said. "It's going to be a lot of fun going to work with him and the rest of our receivers."
Certainly, more of the same production is expected from Heaps, Hoffman and other young players in the years to come. Senior safety Andrew Rich was including Hoffman when talking about talented athletes in the program "everywhere you look."
As for Saturday, Heaps said, "I just saw it in his eyes that [Hoffman] was ready to go."
Hoffman emerged this season when veteran receiver O'Neill Chambers was initially suspended and later dismissed from the team. A play Hoffman made against New Mexico taking the ball away from a defender in the end zone illustrated how Heaps had come to rely on him.
Yet Hoffman took that connection to a whole new level in Albuquerque. It helped that Heaps had all kinds of time to throw, being well protected by his offensive line, which allowed longer routes to develop.
A strong case could have been made for Hoffman as the game's offensive MVP. Heaps took home the award, but he couldn't have won it without Hoffman's help.
Hoffman's previous high for receptions was six against Utah State, accounting for only 46 yards. His regular-season high was 74 yards against Nevada, a figure he nearly doubled Saturday.
Hoffman goes off
BYU freshman receiver Cody Hoffman's most productive games:
Rec Yds TD
Texas-El Paso 8 137 3
Utah State 6 46 0
New Mexico 5 71 2
Florida State 5 17 1
Nevada 4 74 0