This was unquestionably Max Hall's worst outing of the year and might have been his worst game since he took the reins of the team back in 2007. Hall has been nothing short of great prior to this game, but Friday he was forcing the ball into coverage while looking on to too many pre-snap reads.
Yes, Hall and the entire offense misses Reed, but it would help to give more looks to those replacing Reed during the course of this ball game. O'Neill Chambers, Luke Ashworth and others running opposite Austin Collie were running open for most of the night, but Hall rarely looked their way for whatever reason. It could be timing issues or those guys not being exactly where they should in their patterns, but Hall locking onto Collie and Pitta affected the passing game Friday.
Hall made some bad reads and tried to force the ball into coverage, which is very uncharacteristic for him. The good news is that he likely won't be repeating Friday's performance and should fix the problems which ailed the Cougar passing attack.
Running Back: B-
Harvey Unga had a quiet night, while Fui Vakapuna got in some more work running the football. While they weren't bad, both players certainly didn't present the force they have in every other game this season. I expected Unga to run rampant over Utah State Friday, but it simply didn't happen.
Wide Receiver: B
Collie had some untimely drops but was otherwise very effective, breaking open the game early with a long touchdown catch. Hall was looking Collie's way often Friday, and more times than not he was able to make plays when Hall wasn't forcing the ball into double coverage.
It would have been nice to have seen more from Luke Ashworth, O'Neill Chambers, Reed White, Tyler Kozlowski and others, but as was previously mentioned, they weren't targeted much. Ashworth dropped a long pass early, but responded nicely by hauling in another pass the only other time he was targeted. Both Chambers and Kozlowski responded well every time they were targeted by Hall.
Tight End: C+
While Dennis Pitta had a very productive first half, he disappeared during the second half of the game. Pitta also dropped an easy pass, which is very uncharacteristic for him, but uncharacteristic things were happening all over the field Friday. Andrew George was simply not a factor Friday.
Offensive Line: C
I was expecting a huge push from the offensive line Friday, but didn't see it against a highly suspect front-seven from Utah State. Even the pass blocking was shaky at times, as they allowed their second sack of the year. The offensive line has raised the bar for itself considerably this year, and it was well below that bar Friday against a very suspect Aggie defense.
Defensive Line: A-
This unit was unquestionably the best unit on the field Friday for the Cougars. Brett Denney got most of the snaps ahead of Ian Dulan and responded very nicely by making several plays in the backfield. Jan Jorgensen was again extremely effective from the other end position.
Diondre Bolen was Utah State's biggest offensive threat coming in, and the defensive line did an outstanding job at containing him throughout the ball game. Utah State did get a better push during several running plays than you'd like to see, but overall the defensive line of the Cougars was very effective.
The outside linebackers were very good Friday. David Nixon especially had a nice game, providing great containment along with Coleby Clawson on the other side. Daniel Sorensen filled in well when subbing for Nixon, who sustained a bruise to his shin during the final quarter.
Initially the inside linebackers were forcing the action, doing their part to create losses and turnovers, but as the game wore on they started to take some really bad angles and missed on several open field tackle opportunities. I've stated before that BYU is in need of a consistent playmaking inside linebacker along the lines of a Cameron Jensen or Kelly Poppinga, but none of the ILBs stepped up to be such a playmaker Friday.
David Tafuna missed a lot of opportunities to make open field tackles, and one such incidence led directly to Utah State's first touchdown. Kellen Fowler was okay, but not involved much. Overall it was a very average outing at best from the Cougar safeties.
Scott Johnson got beat in coverage a couple of times, which is unusual for him as he's been the best cornerback on the team so far this season. Brandon Howard wasn't able to make a couple of plays on the ball while he was in coverage, and that led to big plays for the Aggies or penalties. Brandon Bradley meanwhile continues to progress game-by-game and was the best cornerback on the field Friday.
Special Teams: C-
A blocked field goal is unacceptable during any stage of the ball game, and Mitch Payne wasn't able to connect on two of his four kick attempts. The kick and punt return did well, while C.J. Santiago struggled to get good height and distance on the ball with his two punts.
Offensive MVP: Austin Collie
Defensive MVP: Brett Denney