Cougar Curve: BYU vs. TCU

To be the best you have to beat the best, and tonight, BYU did just that. Everything that had gone wrong in BYU's previous big games went right today in the biggest game of the season. Third down execution was up, penalties were down and the turnovers bounced the Cougars way. BYU also took advantage of nearly every opportunity given them. Here is how the positions graded out:

Quarterbacks: A+

I usually don't pass out A+ grades, but it is difficult not to give one to John Beck tonight. Beck has thrown for more yards and touchdown passes before, but he has never had a game where he executed better in critical situations.

BYU's third down efficiency was well over 50% as Beck converted third down after third down all game long. He completed many passes against tight coverage and basically had his best game as a Cougar signal caller. It was hard to find any fault at all in Beck's play tonight. Oh yeah, he did it all on some very sore ankles.

Running Backs: B

Not a bad game, but not a good one for BYU's running backs. Curtis Brown proved to be the most effective back while doing most of his damage catching balls out of the backfield. The Cougars were not able to mount much of a ground attack although they did do enough to keep TCU's defense honest. Props go out to Manase Tonga for scoring the first touchdown of tonight's game.

Wide Receivers: A

BYU got solid play from each of the four Cougar receivers. Michael Reed made the big plays in the first half. He used his above-average size to get to the end zone for BYU's second touchdown early in the second half. Matt Allen continued to be the clutch guy in the second half catching a crucial touchdown that put BYU up by two scores as the game was winding down.

Zac Collie and McKay Jacobson both chipped in as well. The Cougar receivers were able to get open for most of the night against a very good TCU secondary.

Tight Ends: A-

Jonny Harline got a touchdown pass using his athleticism to haul in a fade pass from Beck in the corner of the end zone. Daniel Coats was more of a factor tonight as well catching his share of passes from the tight end position.

Offensive Line: B

The O-line did not mount much of a push downfield on running plays, but it picked up just about everything TCU threw at them in pass protection. Protecting Beck in this game was paramount and the Cougar offensive front did its job. Props to Ryan Freeman and David Oswald for getting the job done when Jake Kuresa went out early and Travis Bright went out to catch his breath.

Defensive Line: B

Good effort by the defensive line although the pressure on Ballard was a bit lacking in the first half. They were strong up the middle and held their own for most of the game without Ian Dulan, who did not play for most of the game.

Linebackers: A-

David Nixon made what may have been the play of the game sacking Ballard and forcing a turnover early in the game when TCU was about to score on its second drive. Cameron Jensen was the man on the spot shutting down TCU in key situations all night.

Safeties: B+

TCU made nothing over the top or behind the coverage all night. There were a couple of passes that could have beaten the Cougar secondary had they executed effectively, but they did not. Quinn Gooch and Dustin Gabriel are doing their best to make the weakest position of a year ago a strength.

Cornerbacks: A-

It was difficult to gauge how well the coverage was on TV, but what I did see was Ballard standing in the pocket time and again unable to find any open receiver. Justin Robinson played an entire game after sustaining a sprained knee last Saturday and had his best game as a Cougar making several key plays on the ball while in coverage.

Offensive Player of the Game: While Reed and Allen were both very good it would be a crime to give this to anyone but John Beck.

Defensive Player of the Game: Justin Robinson followed closely by David Nixon and Cameron Jensen.

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