Cougar Curve: Utah 17, BYU 16

BYU lost a complete heartbreaker Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium. Too many costly mistakes and downright flukes cost the Cougars what should have been a well-earned victory. Grades are in for a game where the outcome should have been in BYU's favor.

Quarterbacks: A-

He wasn't quite perfect, but considering the environment and opponent, Heaps was simply phenomenal. He was very much composed throughout the game and made some amazing passes that should be making BYU fans simply giddy regarding his future prospects.

The Wynn versus Heaps debate can now be deemed as a downright silly comparison, as Heaps clearly is the better player right now and has much more upside. He accounted for some huge third-down conversions, but was beset by several drops that helped Utah in its improbable comeback.

Running Backs: B

The were relatively efficient as a group, but weren't able to break anything on the ground. J.J. Di Luigi caught a critical third-and-long pass late in the game, and they were assignment-sound throughout.

Joshua Quezada and Heaps seemed to get their signals mixed up, which contributed to a critical lost fumble when it appeared as if BYU would coast to victory. Other than that, this group was what BYU fans have come to expect in being efficient, but not quite dominant.

Wide Receivers: C+

McKay Jacobson had his best game of the year and it couldn't have come at a better time. Unfortunately, he wasn't joined by the others, as Luke Ashworth dropped two passes and Cody Hoffman dropped a critical fourth-down pass.

Both Hoffman and Ashworth did contribute some good catches, but didn't show the same consistency as Jacobson in this game. It will be fun to see what this group could be capable of if they could all get it together for at least one game.

Tight Ends: B+

Devin Mahina again had a productive outing and looked to firmly establish himself as BYU's top tight end. Austin Holt again blocked like a monster and contributed a big gainer early in the first half.

Offensive Line: B

They did fine in their pass protection for the most part, but did seem to get worn down as a group late in the game. Utah was able to get to Heaps more in the latter stages, and the offensive line wasn't able to provide as much of a push in the run game. Overall they were efficient, but not dominating.

Defensive Line: B+

This group had a phenomenal first half, but injuries and lack of depth contributed to wearing them down in the second half. Vic So'oto being out for most of the fourth quarter and Eathyn Manumaleuna clearly wearing down helped Utah maintain some offensive consistency.

Manumaleuna had to shoulder almost exclusive reps at nose tackle, which is a very difficult thing to do. He had a phenomenal first half along with Matt Putnam, but the lack of depth at nose and So'oto sitting out really helped Utah over the hump.

Linebackers: A-

This group was outstanding from start to finish. The standouts were Shane Hunter and Jameson Frazier, who both had big interceptions and made numerous other plays.

True freshman Kyle Van Noy really stood out with his efforts in the open field, and Jadon Wagner also accounted for the big plays early on and late. Outside linebacker looks to be a dominating position group for the near future to be certain.

Cornerbacks: A-

This was flat out the best coverage from start to finish that I've ever seen from a BYU secondary. A tipped pass the wrong way by Brian Logan, who had all but perfect coverage, led to Utah's first touchdown. That was extremely unfortunate, but overall this group was outstanding.

Brandon Bradley had his best game and should have come away with the game-sealing interception, but couldn't hang on to the ball. It didn't look like a fumble to begin with by almost everyone's estimation. Logan and Bradley are two players who will be severely missed next season.

Safeties: B+

Andrew Rich was outstanding, as is the norm for him, but it was Travis Uale who really played well with his coverages. He did have one major gaffe, which led to a big gainer by Jereme Brooks, but other than that he played his best game.

Utah simply was covered all night in all their routes. The Cougars were jumping every route Utah threw at them, which is very much the opposite of what usually happens. Defensive coaches and players should be commended for an outstanding game plan and execution thereof.

Special Teams: B

This is a tough grade, as BYU clearly dominated the special teams play until the very last play of the game. It's somewhat ironic that Utah's awful punting helped them toward victory as much as anything else, with one punt hitting B.J. Peterson just barely 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.

Devin Mahina clearly didn't get enough depth in his stance, which allowed Brandon Burton to block that last field goal attempt, which lost the game for the Cougars.

It was a mixed bag for the coaches, as I felt they severely out-prepped and out-game-planned Utah's staff, but made some curious decisions with their play calling. Most notable among the play calls was going for it on fourth-and-inches in the first half with the defense playing lights-out.

Other curious calls came with running the football on a couple of third-and-longs. One of the bigger play calls was allowing Wynn (who was struggling mightily) to burn the blitz with a long pass, which led to the go-ahead touchdown. Up to that point, Utah was doing a very good job at picking up every blitz thrown at them, while BYU was playing lockdown coverage when dropping eight.


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