John Beck is showing a command of the offense and a presence in the pocket that has put him in elite territory over the past two games. Beck's play was flawless again today. Even the most critical of evaluators would have trouble finding flaws in Beck's game at this point.
Every read was correct and all but 2 of his passes were perfectly placed. Beck is maneuvering around and in the pocket as never before.
Running Backs: B+
As expected Fui Vakapuna came out smoking before going out early with a high ankle sprain. Curtis Brown did what he always does; he caught multiple passes out of the backfield, picked up blitzes, and ran the ball efficiently. 46 yards rushing against a team like San Diego State seemed a bit low for Brown, though.
Manase Tonga scored another touchdown and was efficient as always. Ray Hudson and Mike Hague each got to be the featured back on a fourth quarter drive.
Wide Receivers: A
With all the preseason hype about the tight ends and running back it is the Cougar wide receivers that are quietly becoming the go-to guys in this year's offense. The rotation of Zac Collie, McKay Jacobson, Michael Reed and Matt Allen has proven effective for every down and distance BYU faced this year.
I sat in the north end zone for today's game, which gave me an excellent view of how pass plays developed and how in tune Beck is with his WRs. Many of Beck's throws to his WRs were let go even before the WRs made their breaks. Nathan Meikle was more of a factor today as well. It was just another strong game for Beck's go-to guys.
Tight Ends: B
The tight ends were very quiet today as Jonny Harline caught one of the two passes thrown to him, and Daniel Coats dropped the only pass sent his way. The blocking was solid but Beck is obviously looking elsewhere these days as teams are still keying their coverage attention on Harline in the middle.
Offensive Line: B+
Ray Feinga did not play, but the offensive line did another excellent job, allowing more than enough time for Beck to throw from the pocket. Save for one big hit, Beck was untouched all day.
The push downfield on running plays seemed lacking for at least the third game of the season. While they were not bad by any means, they seemed to wear down as the game went on after blocking extremely well for Vakapuna in the first half.
Defensive Line: B-
They performed well, but the Aztecs ran for more almost as many yards as BYU, and the down linemen did not mount a significant pass rush. Does Dulan really make that big of a difference as a 17-yeard old true freshman? Since he has been out, the play of the DL appears to have taken a hit.
David Nixon forced his second turnover in two games when he stripped an Aztec ball carrier in the first half. Markell Staffieri saw the majority of reps at inside linebacker after Aaron Wagner went out with a sprained ankle. Cameron Jensen was solid as expected.
A couple of young linebackers are making names for themselves over the past couple of games. Most notable is Shawn Doman, who gets the reps in almost every passing down. Doman has proved to be very good covering tight ends and players out of the backfield. That will surely earn him increased minutes.
Quinn Gooch laid out another receiver over the middle with a massive hit, and a Cougar DB returned an interception for a touchdown for the second time in three games. Dustin Gabriel picked off an SDSU pass and took it to the house for his first career touchdown. Gabriel continues to be one of the two most improved players on defense along with Hala Paongo. It was another good game for the Cougar safeties.
Ben Criddle and Justin Robinson were not awful, but they were not the play-making cover guys that they were last week against TCU. A lot of this was due to the relaxed coverages that the Cougars ran after jumping out to an early lead.
Special Teams: C-
Derek McLaughlin had two excellent punts putting his first out of bounds at the two-yard line. Two botched extra points ruined what would have been a good overall showing by the Cougar special teams. If nothing else, those missed extra points give Bronco something to work on during the bye week.
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