The Cougar Curve

The offensive grades are high as should be expected for any unit putting up 62 points. The defensive grades went down significantly after fourth quarter meltdown.

Quarterbacks: A

John Beck was virtually flawless in his reads, his composure in the pocket and in making accurate throws. Beck has now strung together four straight impressive outings as he is seemed to get over the hump in regards to consistency and the future for this Cougar offense could not be more bright with Beck at the helm.

What I liked best about Beck today was how he stayed in the pocket, made effective reads and delivered the ball with accuracy when the Falcons dropped eight in coverage, which they tried throughout the ball game. One pass of note is when Harline broke open, but Beck recognized a zone coverage and waited for Harline to close while staying in the pocket.

Beck is proving more patient in the pocket as his trust of his offensive linemen is improving. His accuracy and arm-strength have always been, a given and now that he is making most of the correct reads and proving more patient in the pocket, Beck could finish his Cougar career as one of the better QBs to pass through the program. This is not hyperbole; Beck is looking good and has all the tools around him to continue to look good.

Running Backs: A

Curtis Brown sets rushing records while running over, around and through the Air Force defense. He caught the ball well out of the backfield, picked up blitzes effectively and did everything you could expect from him. Like Beck, Brown looks to be on track to finish as one of the best RBs ever to pass through Provo.

Fahu Tahi's production was similar to Brown when he was in, but had far fewer reps due to being dinged up for the better part of the second half. Tahi slipped a couple of times on run plays, which was unfortunate. Overall he had a solid outing.

Receivers: B+

Michael Reed broke out of the eight receiver rotation, becoming BYU's go to receiver today. He ran solid routes, caught everything thrown to him and caused problems all day for the Falcons. What many of you on TV may have missed was how well he blocked downfield. On at least four different plays, Reed allowed the running back to get five more yards by blocking effectively downfield.

Todd Watkins was also much improved blocking downfield. Not a spectacular game for Watkins, but a solid outing. Jonny Harline had two unfortunate drops, one which went for an interception, but was again a very productive weapon for Beck. Matt Allen had a very nice game as well.

Daniel Coats is not getting enough credit for what he is accomplishing this season. A lot of this is due to the emergence of Harline, but can you recall the last time Coats has dropped a pass? Coats' blocking has been outstanding and is a very overlooked aspect of the Cougar offensive line's effectiveness. Coats is having a very good year.

Offensive Line: A

What can you say about this unit? Not giving up sacks, pushing the defensive front completely off the line and making them go exactly where they want them to go while dominating from start to finish. They are all back next season, save Brian Sanders and Lance Reynolds, Jr., and should easily meld into the best offensive front BYU has had since 1996 if they are not there already.

Defensive Line: B

This unit played the option very well. I thought Manaia Brown had his best game of the season. Stopping the fullback dive play is crucial when facing Air Force and I cannot recall any dive plays going for more than 3 yards and few going for more than 2. This is a credit to Manaia Brown as he looks stout manning the middle.

Vince Feula, Justin Maddux, T.J. Sitake, Hala Paongo and Kyle Luekenga all had solid outings as Air Force's option play was never really a factor. More pressure on the quarterback would have been nice, but they stopped the option which will beat Air Force 9 times out of 10.

Linebackers: B+

Justin Luettgerodt continues to emerge as a real play-maker on defense. He has strung together some very productive outings. He is known as the most fiery player on the team and it is showing on the field. It was nice to see him get an interception.

Cameron Jensen and Paul Walkenhorst were both solid as expected and players such as Bryan Kehl and Markell Staffieri did well seeing more reps as, for the first time this season, BYU went with four linebackers on about half of the defensive plays.

Safeties: C+

This unit was looking forward to a high B at the very least midway through the third quarter before it fell apart. Way too many coverage errors were made during the fourth quarter against a triple-option team. Run support was very solid throughout the game, however.

David Tafuna, Corby Hodgkiss and especially Quinn Gooch did very well filling in for K.C. Bills, Spencer White and Dustin Gabriel for practically the entire game. Gooch made several outstanding plays knocking the ball down in coverage while stopping the option on more than one occasion.

Cornerbacks: D

This unit was looking forward to their highest grade of the year until the fourth quarter hit. It was as if they gave up as a unit in the fourth quarter as they could not do much of anything right against a triple-option team. I thought Kayle Buchanan had a solid outing up to that point and cannot understand for the life of what he did wrong on his pass interference penalty.

Justin Robinson struggled mightily in the fourth quarter. Letting Air Force receivers get behind the secondary with no double moves and without possessing great speed should be frightening to most Cougar fans as their team is now set to finish out against three pass-happy teams. The weakness of BYU's defense is glaring and they will have to work hard to overcome it.

This game could have been termed as close to a perfect outing until the end of the third quarter. This team has to learn to put teams away as it was very clear that Air Force was completely overmatched at just about every position. The fact that they let the Falcons stick around is scary and until this secondary improves it is questionable whether they will ever be able to completely put a team away.

Fortunately BYU is proving to have their most balanced offense since the 1996 season. They have proven that they can run or pass the ball for a lot of yards and a lot of points. With an offense this productive, BYU can cover up a lot of the defensive deficiencies. Props to Coaches Anae, Reynolds, Higgins, Doman and Grimes for putting together an outstanding offensive unit that has improved steadily throughout the course of the season and looks to finish very strong.

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