Cougar Curve: BYU-20, Arizona-7

The Cougars thumped the Wildcats Saturday for a 20-7 victory that really wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Grades are in for what has to be a very satisfying start of the season for all within the football program.

Quarterbacks: B+

Max Hall went 26-39 for 288 yards and two touchdowns in his debut. More importantly, Hall threw no interceptions, although he did turn it over once on a fumble. Hall stayed within the game plan and was very poised in the pocket throughout the game.

After three early passes that could have gone for big plays were overthrown, Hall settled in well. He did not look like a first-year or even a first-game quarterback. What was most impressive about Hall was his pocket presence. He stayed in the pocket very well, showed no happy feet, and got it done, indicating a very promising future for the sophomore quarterback.

Running Backs: A

We've been high on Harvey Unga since last fall, but today he probably even exceeded our high expectations. Unga was simply the best player on the field, catching nine passes for 127 yards and a touchdown to go with 68 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Fui Vakapuna was productive, although less so, with 36 yards of his own. Collectively they ran for just over 100 yards, which we stated before the game would lead to a comfortable victory by the Cougars.

Joe Semanoff quietly went about his business, blocking well and catching a nice pass for a first down. Add Manase Tonga to this group next week and BYU is looking very strong at the running back position.

Wide Receivers: B+

This is probably the hardest position to grade since they weren't a big part of the game plan, much like they weren't last year against Arizona. What they did was quietly catch nearly every pass thrown to them for medium yardage.

Look for Austin Collie to become much more involved in the near future, as Anae will open the playbook up more and more with every game. The WRs also blocked very well down the field on plays to the running backs.

Tight Ends: A-

The tight ends were involved, as Dennis Pitta had four catches for 32 yards and a touchdown, while Vic So'oto caught two late passes for a combined 33 yards to help rubber-stamp the victory.

Offensive Line: B+

They picked up blitzes well all game while mounting a solid running attack. Not getting an adequate push near the goal line on Hall's failed quarterback sneak brought the grade down a bit, but overall they did a very good job. They gave Hall time, opened holes, and won the battle along the line of scrimmage against a very tough Arizona defensive front.

Defensive Line: A

Arizona was focused on running it right at what may have been perceived as a weak middle going in, but BYU's defensive front quickly made them scrap that plan. Eathyn Manumaleuna got most of the reps, but all nose tackles played relatively outstanding, considering it was their first game ever.

Meanwhile, a lot of the defensive success came with Ian Dulan, Jan Jorgensen and Manumaleuna being able to get to the quarterback well on passing plays. They were able to do so even when only rushing three players and dropping eight into coverage. BYU's front is indeed young, but they got it done today, beating Arizona's offensive front throughout the game.

Linebackers: A

The linebackers were quick from side to side, stuffed the middle effectively, and didn't miss many open-field tackles throughout the game. A lot was expected of this group going in, and they certainly didn't disappoint. Bryan Kehl was active and aggressive throughout the game, and his impact was felt often by the Arizona offense.

Cornerbacks: A

I had to remind myself that Kayle Buchanan was indeed playing, as he wasn't involved in many plays. This is a very good thing if you're a cornerback, and it indicates that Buchanan was shutting down his side of the field in coverage throughout the game. Ben Criddle did likewise on the other side, and Arizona's wideouts were ineffective throughout.

Safeties: A-

Corby Hodgkiss had an outstanding game, playing very well in coverage while stuffing some short passes across the middle. Like the linebackers, the tackling by the safeties was very solid. Arizona wasn't able to go anywhere after the initial contact, which limited their production as much as anything.

Quinn Gooch was solid as well, although he helped to keep Arizona in the game by being out-battled for what should have been an interception late in the game on third-and-long. Overall, an outstanding effort by both the cornerbacks and the safeties, as their play sort of mirrored what they did against Oregon last year in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Special Teams: D

It wasn't all a bed of roses for the Cougars, as the special teams did not execute overall like one would hope they would. A missed extra point, missed 36-yard field goal, shanked punts and too may return yards gained by Arizona leads to a D grade.

As BYU dominated both sides of the ball throughout the game, the special teams play didn't play much of a factor, save for keeping the game closer than it should have been. There is tons of work that needs to be, and will be, done with the special teams still. One bright note was downing a punt at the one-yard line in the first half.

Offensive MVP: Harvey Unga

Defensive MVP: Corby Hodgkiss


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