Max Hall was nails again Saturday, going 30-of-41 for 339 yards and three touchdowns. Hall also threw his first interception of the year, but was otherwise as consistent and productive as Cougar fans have come to expect.
Hall simply has a knack of making the correct read every time he's in the pocket. His accuracy was very good once again, as he has total command over Anae's offensive system. It wasn't a perfect game for Hall, but it was pretty darn close.
Running Back: A-
The only thing holding the running backs from getting a solid "A" grade was Harvey Unga's fumble as he crossed the goal line. It was a vicious hit, but Unga needs to hold on to that ball. Outside of that play Unga was outstanding, running the ball 22 times for 128 yards while catching five passes for 39 more yards.
Welcome back, Fui Vakapuna! Vakapuna was a major boost to the overall production of the Cougar offense Saturday. While he only ran the ball twice for 15 yards, his contribution was vital to Unga's overall success. Vakapuna looked to have embraced his role as primary fullback in the Cougar offense and looked at least as good as Manase Tonga has at anytime in that role. Big props to Vakapuna for his play Saturday, and he was rewarded by putting one of his two runs over the goal line for a touchdown.
Wide Receiver: B-
Michael Reed played a big role in Saturday's win over Washington. Reed was about as solid and consistent as one could expect, making some big third-down catches. He had a very good preseason practice session and it now shows. Luke Ashworth got into the mix and had a nice reception to set up a touchdown as well.
Austin Collie meanwhile has certainly had better games. One has to wonder if Collie's best use of practice time after sitting out almost a full three weeks with his stress fracture was splitting time at quarterback and at wide receiver.
Both Collie and Max Hall firmly believed that they'd pick up right where they left off the second Collie returned from injury, but that certainly hasn't been the case. Collie had a subpar week of practices by his standards and it showed Saturday, as he dropped a punt and had three passes go bouncing off his hands.
Collie will undoubtedly be as hard on himself as anyone following Saturday's performance, and I have no doubt that he'll be working very hard to fix the timing issues as well as the issues of simply catching the football. Look for Collie to rebound in strong fashion next week, as he's too good to not to bounce back.
Tight End: A
If someone can find a flaw in the play of the Cougar tight ends, then please tell me because I'm not seeing it. Dennis Pitta was simply outstanding once again, while Andrew George contributed nicely with a touchdown catch, among other contributions.
Offensive Line: A+
Did Max Hall get hit Saturday? I didn't see it if he did. The pass protection was outstanding all day long, giving Hall and the offense all the time they needed to make plays.
But what gives them the "+" on their collective "A" was their run blocking. I don't know if anyone would argue against the thought that Saturday marked the best run blocking performance a BYU offensive line as had against a Pac-10 foe in recent memory. Granted, Washington wasn't the stiffest test, but the Cougar offensive line dominated Saturday's play and should be commended for it.
Defensive Line: C+
Russell Tialavea and Mosese Foketi both got pushed around more than you'd like to see, and the rest of the defensive line was merely okay for what they accomplished Saturday. Ian Dulan was able to put on some good pass rushes, as was Jan Jorgensen, and it was incredible how many blind eyes were given to some blatant holds by the Washington offensive line by the officiating crew. Overall it was a pretty mediocre outing by the defensive front.
Shawn Doman was the best linebacker on the field Saturday, knocking down at least two passes in coverage while making some good tackles. Overall, the Cougar linebacking crew severely lacked a playmaker, as neither Matt Bauman, Matt Ah You, Coleby Clawson, Vic So'oto or even David Nixon showed up enough by making big plays during critical situations.
The linebackers did do an okay job of containing Jake Locker, although he did get too many yards during the second half, but overall you'd like to see more plays made by the linebacking corps.
It's scary to think what a good pocket passer could have done against the Cougar cornerbacks Saturday. Granted, with what Locker presented, they may have crept up more to the line than they otherwise would have, but regardless, both Brandon Howard and Scott Johnson were beat on what should have been long touchdown passes on at least two occasions.
Howard wasn't good at all in run support, and hopefully he rebounds from this and shows some good run stops next week. Scott Johnson proved very good in run support on most occasions, making some solid tackles in the open field.
It was hard to notice Kellen Fowler out there while watching the game on TV, which isn't always a bad thing for a free safety. David Tafuna meanwhile was around the ball a lot and made some great open-field tackles, although he did get beat in coverage a couple of times.
Special Teams: B
Justin Sorensen was merely okay on his kickoffs, not showing the leg he did last week against Northern Iowa. C.J. Santiago was very subpar with his two punts, as he averaged well under 30 yards per punt.
O'Neill Chambers fared well on his returns, but the young freshman seriously needs to learn how to shut his yap before he hurts his team. I really like Chambers. I like his attitude and his confidence, but he needs to end more plays by simply tossing the ball to the official and running off the field of play.
What obviously gives the special teams its big boost in grading was the blocked extra point at the end of the game. After everything that went wrong during the game, the team was able to step up once again with an improbable blocked kick, proving to be very resilient.