Cougar Curve: BYU 42, UNLV 35

It was a very hard-fought victory against a much improved UNLV team, but in the end the Cougars got back to their winning ways. While the offense appeared to be back to its expected form, it's the defense that continues to struggle. Grades are in for every position group regarding how they fared Saturday against the Rebels.

Quarterback: B+

There wasn't much wrong with Max Hall's game Saturday, as he went 24-of-30 for 247 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Hall spread the ball around better and looked more comfortable than he has in any other game since the UCLA game earlier this year.

Hall did miss a couple of passes, one of which should have been picked off to kill a drive in the second half, but otherwise Hall was very efficient and he seemed to be seeing the coverage better than he has since the bye week.

Running Back: B+

Harvey Unga was Harvey Unga Saturday when running the ball, and was a bit more involved in the passing game, which was a welcome sign. The big boost at running back came from Fui Vakapun,a who exploded for 71 yards on just eight carries. It was the best Vakapuna has looked running the ball for almost two years and was a very welcome sign.

Wide Receiver: B

Austin Collie had a very good game, beating the UNLV coverage time and again during third down situations. Collie was able to get open, and his timing with Hall, which seemed to be right on, was the best it's been all year.

Michael Reed was okay, but still hasn't seemed to hit his stride since getting hurt. Reed did have a couple of big grabs late in the game. O'Neill Chambers was used in a way that I've been waiting for all year. Chambers creates tremendous matchup problems in the blue zone, and offensive coordinator was able to use that to the advantage of the offense early in the game when Hall connected to Chambers on a fade route. Hopefully we see more of this as the season draws on.

Tight End: B-

Where has Dennis Pitta gone? After dominating play during the first two games of the year, Pitta has been seldom seen here of late. Pitta did catch the winning touchdown pass, but all but disappeared during the better part of the game for whatever reason. George had a solid game, rebounding from a subpar performance against TCU.

Offensive Line: B-

This group didn't get the push in the running game during the first half that you'd expect, although they did finish strong in the second half. The pass protection for Hall was good and back up to standard. All in all, it was a good, solid, but not dominating performance from the offensive line Saturday.

Defensive Line: B-

This group had to make do without the services of Russell Tialavea, who was held out of Saturday's game due to injury. They did a decent job in limiting Frank Summers up the middle, but again the pass rush was a bit lacking. Granted, Omar Clayton did a great job getting rid of the ball early, but with the four- and five-man pass rushes that were used all game long, you'd like to see more pressure on the quarterback. Matt Putnam did bust through the line to record a sack that all but wrapped up the Cougar victory as time wound down.

Linebacker: D

Fans need to realize that this group is what it is. Outside of David Nixon there are no real playmakers within the linebacker ranks, and you can expect offenses to exploit this unit for the rest of the year. Against UNLV it was more of the same of what we saw against TCU, as linebackers took bad angles, got pushed around and didn't make many plays.

Safety: D+

Much like the linebackers, we've come to learn what we can expect from this unit. Both Kellen Fowler and Andrew Rich had okay outings, but it was David Tafuna who again struggled mightily from his strong safety position to make plays. Tafuna continues to take bad angels and lag behind in coverage, and this observer is beginning to wonder if pulling him for Andrew Rich isn't justified and necessary at this point.

Cornerback: C+

Brandon Howard was much improved this week, as he didn't get beat badly in coverage much at all Saturday. Scott Johnson was able to gut through his injury and had a productive game. Brandon Bradley made some plays, but also struggled some in coverage across the middle.

Special Teams: B

This group would have received a resounding "A" if it hadn't been for Justin Sorensen kicking the ball out of bounds twice during kickoffs. That is something that simply can't happen. Bryan Kariya had a standout day in his coverage work, as he blocked a punt and made several tackles. The kick returns were very good with Austin Collie and Chambers once again, as the special teams generally helped BYU to victory. Oh yeah, C.J. Santiago was great in pinning UNLV deep on both of his punts.


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