Max Hall was okay and quietly efficient by not turning the ball over while guiding the Cougars to enough points to win comfortably. Hall completed 22-of-34 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. What was frustrating was the lack of execution on third down throughout the game, which is something Hall and the offense has excelled at in the past.
"Average" would be a good word to describe Hall's performance Saturday, as well as the performance of the rest of the offense. It wasn't Hall's best effort, but it certainly wasn't his worst at passing the football. Hall did look much more comfortable with his reads Saturday, although you'd expect more production through the air against New Mexico's defensive system.
Running Back: B
Harvey Unga had a good, albeit quiet, performance. He was much more involved in the passing attack, which helped to open things up. Fui Vakapuna was again very good in his lead blocking. It was an efficient but quiet game from the Cougar running backs.
Wide Receiver: B
Austin Collie obviously had a very good game, showing no ill effects from his jammed finger he sustained following Tuesday's practice. Collie ran great routes, found open spaces and was the best playmaker on the field for the Cougar offense.
Michael Reed had a solid game, while no other Cougar wideout got involved much.
Tight End: B
While Dennis Pitta had a very quiet outing, Andrew George stepped up to catch two touchdown passes. Pitta's production has not been what it was the first two games here of late. Defenses are obviously accounting for him more, which has opened things up for Collie and others. It was good to see George step up to make some key plays when Pitta wasn't available to Hall.
Offensive Line: B+
They picked up the Lobo blitz effectively all night, buying Hall plenty of time to pick out open receivers. The run blocking was efficient against a very physical Lobo defensive front. All in all I thought it was a very solid outing from the Cougar offensive front.
Defensive Line: B
Jan Jorgensen, Brett Denney and Ian Dulan all had very good efforts in defending the run and otherwise. Matt Putnam also showed up, wreaking havoc on an attempted screen to his side of the field, a pass he should have picked off. Up the middle the nose tackles weren't as strong as you'd like, as New Mexico was able to establish a strong push up the gut of the Cougar defense on most occasions.
It was a game in which a Cameron Jensen/Kelly Poppinga-type inside linebacker would have thrived, as the Lobos were intent on pounding the ball away again and again against the Cougar defensive front. What become very clear to me is that the Cameron Jensen/Kelly Poppinga-type inside linebacker currently isn't on the Cougar roster.
There were no great plays stuffing the gap or making plays in the backfield from any Cougar linebacker outside of David Nixon, which is a bit troubling. The open-field tackling was lacking as well from the inside linebacker unit, as they took more bad angles than one would want to see.
Terrance Hooks played a bit and maybe he'll be the one to step up as the true playmaking physical-type inside linebacker that this team is lacking at the moment. On the outside, Nixon was very good as mentioned, while Coleby Clawson showed up late with consecutive sacks during New Mexico's final drive.
This game was able to stay close due to New Mexico being able to stay on the field offensively. While the Cougars did allow more yards on the ground than most would expect or like to see, they did hold them out of the end zone, which counts for something.
The safeties had a decent game from what I observed. They didn't allow any long passes to go against them, while Kellen Fowler and David Tafuna combined for an interception. The safeties were much improved in their effort and execution from a week ago.
Both Brandon Howard and Brandon Bradley struggled a bit in their open-field tackling, while none of the cornerbacks made an impact by making plays. Bradley did provide very good coverage in the end zone to prevent a touchdown toward the end of the game, but overall they didn't fare as well as you'd expect against an anemic Lobo passing attack.
Special Teams: B
The coverage units didn't allow any big returns and C.J. Santiago was the beneficiary of some very fortunate bounces on several of his punts. Justin Sorensen hooked the ball on his long field goal attempt, which has been his tendency since he started practicing, but he did show plenty of leg on the 50-yard attempt, which was encouraging.