The Cougar Curve

There is a striking, yet predictable, disparity in Brandon Gurney's grades for the various Cougar football units. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the failing marks outweighed the passing marks and the team walked away with a 1-point overtime loss.

Grades:

Quarterback: A

John Beck had his best game as a Cougar quarterback. His completion percentage was not as high as it was against EIU and Boston College, but his yards per attempt were way up. He was on all day long for the most part and managed the game well and completed several critical third down passes. Hard to fault anything Beck did today.

Running Backs: B

Solid, but not close to spectacular. Not many open field tackles broken by Naufahu Tahi or Curtis Brown. They did not do much to hurt the offense and were solid catching the ball out of the backfield for the most part. To TCU's credit, they were very stout in their lateral pursuit and open field tackles.

Receivers: A-

Todd Watkins made some outstanding plays. He was his old self getting behind defenses and making catches during critical situations. Watkins did however own two crucial mistakes in his dropped pass that would have gone for a touchdown and drive killing fumble at the end of the first half.

Johnny Harline was outstanding as was Zac Collie. Matt Allen made a few nice grabs as did Daniel Coats. No problem with the receivers. They dominated the Horned Frog secondary for the duration of the ball game.

Offensive Line: B

Gave Beck time and run-blocked effectively as most running plays went for more than three yards. During important third down situations in the second half when Robert Anae chose to run the ball, the line did not get enough of an up-field push, killing drives. Offensive line was solid

Defensive Line: C-

Came out as a dominant unit, but wore down considerably as the game went on as Vince Feula, Daniel Marquardt and Manaia Brown were all hobbled and barely serviceable during most of the second half and it showed.

TCU's offensive front had its way with the Cougar front during the fourth quarter. BYU's defense could not stop them and were especially vulnerable off-tackle. The 17 play TCU drive in the third quarter killed BYU's defense. They never recovered after that drive as TCU did what they wanted offensively after that.

Linebackers: C+

Cameron Jensen was not himself. He was not as physical with TCU's front as he normally shows. His injury was apparent throughout the ball game. He was not bad, but he was not the force in the middle that he normally is.

Paul Walkenhorst going down with an injury hurt the defense big time. Walkenhorst was very effective bottling up the off-tackle runs that killed the Cougars in the second half. TCU's offense was custom-made for Walkenhorst's strengths. Not having him in there was one of the chief contributors of the Cougar's defensive demise in the second half.

Justin Luettgerodt was outstanding in the first half and all but disappeared in the second half. A lot of this is of course due to the ineffectiveness of the defensive line as Luettegerodt had to take on too many offensive linemen.

Cornerbacks: D+

Justin Robinson is the best cornerback on this team. He is proving to be a play-maker and uses every bit of his 160 pounds in open field tackling. Considering this is his third game at the D-I level, he should become one of the more effective corners BYU has ever had in the program by the time he is done.

The lack of effective open-field tackling by the other corners contributed greatly to the Cougar loss. Nate Soelberg, Chris Hale and O'Neil Howell were not collectively beaten for big gains, but I cannot recall any of them stepping up to make plays. The lack of play-making from the secondary may prove tough to overcome once BYU plays its first game against a team with an above-average passing attack.

Safeties: D

I'm not sure Dustin Gabriel should have played today or at least as much as he did. Like Jensen, he did not show like he normally does. He was non-existent as a presence across the middle and got burnt on more than one crucial pass plays. The Cougarback in Bronco's 3-3-5 scheme has to be a play-maker and Gabriel did not make plays today.

Bills was the most effective safety while the others did not do much. It is scary thinking of how the secondary will perform once they are matched up against a legitimate passing attack. Some serious work needs to be done in the defensive backfield.

Special Teams: F

It could be argued that the Cougar special teams lost the game today. The kickoff allowed for a touchdown kept TCU in the game during the first half as BYU was prepped to blow them out of the water.

BYU should not have made the final field goal to put the game into overtime. The snap was bad and fortunately Riley Weber made a huge play getting the ball down for Jared McLaughlin to kick it through. The problem was not fixed however and the bad snap proved to be the final nail in the coffin as BYU lost by the one point margin.

Conclusion:

BYU beat themselves today. Props are due to TCU for hanging around, not getting down and playing mistake-free football that allowed them to take almost everything BYU gave them. TCU won the game on Cougar turnovers, poor coverage on special teams and just about every mistake BYU made otherwise. When you put up close to 700 yards total offense, it is hard to figure out a way to lose, but BYU did.

When you think BYU has effectively exhausted every way possible to lose a football game during the past three seasons, they came up with something new. That is discouraging to say the least. The team is not terribly familiar with winning and sometimes you wonder if they know how.

That said, this is a very good football team. I firmly believe that all the parts are there to win the Mountain West Conference with some tweaking. The offense had a break-through game and did what they wanted on almost every occasion. If the defense can even prove satisfactory and stay healthy for the rest of the year then I'm now more convinced than ever that this team will win the conference title. They just need to learn how to put teams away. Once they do that, then this will be a dominant football team.


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