The Cougar Curve

Much attention of late has focused on the Cougars' prolific offensive attack. Unwilling to yield the spotlight completely to their teammates, the Cougar defenders stepped up to play their best game of the season.

Quarterbacks: A-

John Beck completed over 70% of his passes with three touchdowns and 267 yards. He's now strung together 5 very impressive outings and has really seemed to have hit his stride proving successful against a variety of schemes. Beck, who was pretty good to begin with, has improved steadily over the season, which has been a big boost to the offensive production.

Beck started out a bit slow as the first few Cougar drives stalled, but he got markedly better as the game went on. He was all but flawless during the second half. Beck faced much better pressure from UNLV in the pocket than he did against AFA, but held steady having confidence in his reads and in his line. This was a very solid outing for Beck.

Running Backs: A

Curtis Brown and Fahu Tahi were both relatively quiet in comparison with what they've done in recent weeks, but they both did plenty combining for well over 100 yards and three touchdowns.

Hello, Wayne Latu, nice to get to know you. Latu has always been someone who shows promise in practice and today Cougar fans got a firsthand look at his promising future. Latu hits the hole very fast and has better speed than any of the Cougar backs. Manase Tonga made good use of an increase number of touches and was as effective as ever lead-blocking and picking up blitzes.

Wide Receivers: B+

It was sort of a quiet game all the way around for the receivers. There were not a lot of game-breaking catches, but there was a steady diet of solid execution throughout the game. It was very nice to see Todd Watkins hold on to a bevy of underneath passes. Watkins also proved effective blocking downfield. He has not busted it open in recent games, but he is proving to be a much more well-rounded receiver this season.

Offensive Line: B+

They were not as dominant as they were against Air Force or Colorado State, but they did most of what they wanted to do throughout the game. They gave up more sacks than usual and did not get as much of a push for the running game initially as they have in recent weeks, but they did the job they needed to do for what is emerging as the best offensive line in the Mountain West Conference.

Defensive Line: A

UNLV had two yards rushing and could not form any semblance of a running attack throughout the game. Manaia Brown busted up everything run at him in the middle of the field and Justin Maddux probably had the best outing of his career, recording multiple sacks while holding his side of the line very effectively.

Linebackers: A-

Linebackers were very solid again today. Cameron Jensen jumped many shovel pass and screen attempts for minimal gains. Justin Luettgerodt picked off his second pass in as many games and was all over the field. Paul Walkenhorst held steady in his role which has become more of a defensive end than a free-roaming linebacker.

Safeties: B

This unit was not good early on as UNLV made most of their yards in the middle of the field and in the flats on passing plays, but the group got much better as the game went. They blitzed effectively and made good, solid open field tackles.

Cornerbacks: B+

This was without question the best showing by the cornerbacks this season. Most of this is due to Kayle Buchanan. The walk-on seemed to find his stride and become comfortable with the position. Buchanan has now played a total of three college football games and he is getting much better. He had an interception and one of the better hits you will see a corner make when he nailed an unsuspecting UNLV running back on a flare pass out of the backfield.

Special Teams: D

BYU had a punt blocked for the second week in a row which is something that could kill them against a viable opponent. Why is it that I am relived every time BYU makes it past the 20 on a kickoff return? A lot of work on the special teams units still needs to be done.

Conclusion

UNLV is not a very good football team and they proved it today. They made big mistakes throughout the ball game which BYU took advantage of at every turn. It was very nice to see the Cougar defense create a lot of turnovers for the first time this season. The team will be served very well if they continue this new trend.

Television announcers: F

This is my first commentary about a crew doing a game, but considering what went on in the press box, I feel it appropriate. Kelly Stouffer should be reprimanded for his comments during the second half and particularly in the fourth quarter. His commentary was embarrassing. He blew an issue way out of proportion by constantly harping on BYU for playing Beck in the fourth quarter and throwing the ball to the end zone when up 41-14. Stouffer's "concern" for Beck's health would be more convincing had he not been on the receiving end of a couple 30-plus point whoopings by the Cougars when he was a quarterback for Colorado State from 1983-1987 (Stouffer did have one win over the Cougars in 1986).

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