The Cougar Curve: BYU vs. Utah State

The game today felt like a preseason team scrimmage. While BYU was clearly dominant on both sides, the domination was not as complete as it could have been. Although several notable offensive starters were missing, the Cougars' execution was still not where it needs to be for the biggest game of the year the next Thursday at TCU.

Quarterback: B

Jason Beck had a decent game going 20-28 for 305 yards a touchdown and an interception. A lot of Beck's passes were deep posts where Anae looked to exploit the Aggie's coverage downfield. More times than not, those passes were underthrown and would have otherwise gone for long touchdowns.

Utah State had an offense that was begging to be exploited and it was difficult not to think what John Beck could have done to this offense had he played. Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae was not shy in trying to go over-the-top against the Aggie defense, but more opportunities should have been executed.

Offensive Line:B-

Cougar fans got their first look at BYU's offensive line without Eddie Keele. It is a line that could form into a solid and productive unit, but the degree of dominance they had going into the season is now lost and unlikely to return. Keele was that important to this offensive line.

Granted that BYU went with a lot of backups throughout the game, but the dominance up front was not what you would want against a porous Utah State defensive front. The Aggies even lost their best defensive linemen in E. J. Reid early in the game. Failing to punch the ball into the end zone at the end of the first half was a tad embarrassing.

The pass protection was very solid on the other hand as Utah State formed no semblance of a pass rush throughout the game. Heading into the season, I felt that BYU's top seven offensive linemen were as good as anybody's, but beyond that they may struggle. Now they're down to five of those seven without Tom Sorenson and Keele, the margin for overcoming any injuries throughout the rest of the year is minimal at best. The Cougar offensive line must play better than they did today if BYU is to have any hope at beating TCU next week.

Running Backs:B-

Like the offensive line the Cougar running backs were solid, but not exceptional by any means of evaluation. Fui Vakapuna started out very strong, but got into trouble when he tried to cut back against the grain multiple times which invariably ended in a loss of yardage or minimal gain. Vakapuna's abilities lie straight ahead and when he tries to cut it back it nullifies almost every advantage he has physically.

Curtis Brown had a very pedestrian game as well. Why more carries were not given to Ray Hudson or Mike Hague late in the fourth quarter is anyone's guess as Brown and Vakapuna were getting needless and risky work late in the game.

Tight Ends: B

Jonny Harline was back having a nice game, but did not explode which he might have had John Beck been playing. Daniel Coats was not a factor on offense getting a few looks here and there, but was not a go-to guy.

Wide Receivers: B+

They consistently beat the Aggie secondary down the field where several misfires by Beck kept them from having big plays. Matt Allen, Zac Collie and McKay Jacobson all hadd solid games. They did not have any dropped passes among them. Bryce Mahuika dropped a long pass that he would surely love to have back, but other than that, the Cougar wideouts played well.

Defensive Line: C+

Like the offensive line the Cougar defensive front got pushed around a bit more than you would like to see against a team like Utah State. The Aggies pushed through on a fourth and short, which should never happen especially when the defense diagnosed the play correctly with an all-out run-blitz.

They got decent pressure on the an Aggie pass attack that was not used much, but again, Cougar fans should have expected more against a very bad Aggie offense.

Linebackers: B

The starting linebackers were solid in not letting the Aggie running backs break containment. Chris Bolden and most of the 2s struggled however as Utah State consistently broke containment to the outside when they were in the game. Bolden is going to have to prove more disciplined if he is to see more playing time this year.

Safeties: A-

The safeties were never seriously tested throughout the game. Utah State's downfield passing game was non-existent. The safeties allowed nothing over-the-top while Cole Miyahira stepped up to have a couple of impressive pass breakups. Quinn Gooch is continuing to do his best Aaron Francisco imitation punishing more than one Aggie with a big hit.

Cornerbacks: B+

Like the safeties, the cornerbacks were rarely tested. Big props to Justin Robinson for picking off his first pass and returning it for an interception. Robinson unfortunately left the game early due to an knee sprain sustained after a cheap shot by the Aggie offense. Hopefully he will be ready to go against TCU.

Special Teams:B

Solid kick coverage, good execution on field goals although they whiffed on the initial kickoff return.


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