The Cougar Curve

If finals were given today, the Cougars football team would no doubt fall on the bottom half of the curve. Fortunately for the Cougars they have an entire semester to grasp the course material that is the new old school BYU offense. Total Blue Sport's Brandon Gurney hands out his grades to the Cougars' individual units.

Quarterback: B-

John Beck came out extremely accurate hitting almost every receiver in stride while making correct reads. As the game wore on with Boston College applying more and more pressure on their pass rushes, Beck's management and movement in the pocket was not what you would hope for. The failure to convert on third down was noticeable and was one of the chief factors in BYU's loss.

The accuracy and arm-strength are there, no question about that. Furthermore, Beck proved able to make quick and confident reads, which are of great importance in this new system. If Beck can manage the ebb and flows of maneuvering himself within the pocket when his first progression or even second progression are not there, then great things will happen.

Receivers: B

The receivers were very solid for the most part catching most passes thrown their way. Johnny Harline and Nathan Miekle played as they practiced all fall. Zac Collie as well proved able every time the ball was thrown his way as did Daniel Coats.

I felt that one of the crucial junctures of the game came when Joe Griffin dropped an easy pass on a mid-range out pattern on a second and short play, effectively ending BYU's initial drive in which they had great momentum. Griffin cannot do this if he expects to play a prominent role in the rotation. I like Griffin and expect him to rebound and be a big factor for the rest of the season.

Todd Watkins needs the ball more. With the new offense which emphasizes short hitches and slants I have often wondered throughout fall camp where that leaves what is still BYU's most effective offensive weapon: the deep ball to Todd Watkins.

It was apparent that throwing deep to Watkins was not a primary focus of the initial game plan. I have listened to subscribers argue that the deep pass was not there due to almost exclusive use of cover two schemes, but I am not buying it. Watkins is this offense's most effective weapon and he needs more than two passes thrown to him deep throughout the course of a ball game not only to get a quick score, but to stretch the coverages.

Running backs: B+

Curtis Brown and Fahu Tahi both caught everything thrown to them for good yardage. No problems there. Both had precious few chances to run the ball and the talked-about two back sets were rarely used which was a little curious, especially on a crucial third and short play where Beck stumbled coming off the snap killing another drive just short of the 30 yard line.

I like the new offense a lot with the wide-splits out of the shotgun, but it is my hope that Anae does not abandon the run-game which seemed the case yesterday against Boston College. Brown and Tahi are very good runners who can do some great things out of the backfield other than catching passes.

Offensive Line: C+

Eddie Keele was matched up with Mathias Kiwanuka throughout the game and did a very admirable job against the pre-season All-American for the most part. The offensive line had its moments, but failed to pick up some key blitzes during crucial points of the ball game.

It became apparent that the ACC officiating crew was going to call any semblance of holding that they saw and BYU's line did not adjust to this. I have not seen the tape yet, but I recall at least four promising drives being effectively killed by untimely holding calls.

Defensive Line: C+

Make no mistake about it, Boston College's front five on offense were at least as good as advertised. They basically did what they wanted on the offensive line. They made BYU's defenders go where they wanted them to go and controlled the line of scrimmage during most drives.

BYU's defensive front did not get pushed over by any means, but I considered this a strength of the Cougar defense going into the season and hoped they would match BC's offensive line making their run game ineffective. This did not happen as BC was able to put together some long, sustained drives.

One of the more unbelievable things during the game was Manaia Brown being called for neutral zone infractions three times in one half. I think this underscored BYU's ineffectiveness on the defensive line throughout the game as BC dictated the flow on most drives while BYU's front seemed unprepared on too many of an occasion.

Linebackers: C

Cameron Jensen made some great plays on screen passes and run plays. He was very good for the most part. Not a lot of noise made by Paul Walkenhorst and Justin Luettgerodt on the outside, which was disappointing and again directly related to BC's very impressive offensive line play. I like the linebackers on this team a lot and think they will be receiving B grades and above for the rest of the season.

Secondary: B-

They did not get beat downfield for a touchdown, which was huge. Seeing how Boston College was controlling the line of scrimmage, even one successful downfield pass would have potentially broken the game open.

Bronco was predictably playing his corners way off the line of scrimmage which BC exploited with quick hitters throughout the game. Hard to fault Soelberg, Robinson and Hale due to the fact that the coverages they were called to run neutered them against these short hitches.

I thought Dustin Gabriel played a good game as did Spencer White, Quinn Gooch and K.C. Bills. Nice to see Bills get a sack. They secondary did not get beat and were not exploited downfield which was a huge plus. Simply stated, the front six played worse than expected while the secondary played a bit better from my view.


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