Cougar Curve: BYU 45, Colorado State 42

The Cougars squeaked out their second victory in a row using some late-minute heroics from Max Hall, Dennis Pitta and Austin Collie to defeat the Rams. While the game was certainly exciting, it is a bit frustrating that BYU is needing last minute heroics to beat lower-tier MWC teams. Grades are in for every position group.

Quarteback: A-

Max Hall got off to a slow start, but was practically flawless the rest of the way after committing an early turnover that led to Colorado State's first score. He was very much in sync with his top targets Austin Collie and Dennis Pitta throughout the game. Hall finished the game 28-of-35 for 389 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.

Running Back: B-

Harvey Unga wasn't much of a factor until the second half, when he and the rest of the offensive line begin to impose their will on the Colorado State defensive front. Unga broke free late in the game to account for a critical touchdown run.

Fui Vakapuna was an effective blocker in both the running and passing game, while he wasn't much of a factor in running the football. A lot of heads were scratched late in the game as the use of freshmen Bryan Kariya and J.J. DiLuigi late in the fourth quarter led to two turnovers that could have cost the Cougars the game.

It was great to see players like DiLuigi and Kariya get involved, but one has to question both players getting some of their first major work in the game during critical stretches in the fourth. DiLuigi fumbled on what was only his second run, while Kariya was a bit too anxious to block for Hall up the field, leading to Hall's only interception when Kariya didn't turn around in time to catch Hall's pass for him.

Wide Receiver: A-

Austin Collie completely dominated the play throughout the ballgame, doing whatever he wished during most stretches. I'd have to go back and count the passes thrown to Collie, but I can't remember Collie being targeted even once and the pass not being completed for a good gain. Collie seems to be hitting his stride over the past two games.

This team could have used more Michael Reed, and again it has to be questioned why Reed was targeted with a slant pass with only two minutes left in the game on a second-down play. The following play led to Hall's interception and a late score by Colorado State, as the clock was suddenly stopped and BYU was faced with a third-and-nine.

Tight End: A

It was great to see - and very beneficial to the offense to have - Dennis Pitta highly involved toward the end of the game. Pitta's ability to go up in coverage and snag balls is unique and was in full display Saturday during the closing stretches. Pitta's two touchdown catches were easily two of the bigger plays of the game.

Offensive Line: B-

It was frustrating to see the run game take so long to get going. Given the Rams' woes on defense in regards to stopping the run, you'd expect the offensive line to come out and dominate, and they did not. They did begin to impose their will during the second half and ended the game in very impressive fashion, however.

The pass protection was adequate for the most part, although a couple of unconverted third- and fourth-down run attempts could have very well cost the Cougars the game had it not been for the late heroics of Hall, Pitta and Collie. The offensive line not getting an adequate push upfield to convert on these critical short-down situations has to be fixed.

Defensive Line: B-

The pass rush was okay throughout the game, although they certainly could have benefited from more pressure applied in the backfield. Beyond that, the defensive line merely had an average effort in stopping the Colorado State running game.

Linebacker: C-

I thought that Matt Bauman was much improved during Saturday's game. Bauman came out strong and was able to make some good plays throughout the game. David Nixon was solid as usual, while Coleby Clawson really struggled with keeping containment and running ball-carriers out in the flat throughout the game.

Safety: C

Andrew Rich started, and like Bauman he came out strong during the first few minutes of the game. Rich provided a physical presence, while Kellen Fowler provided some good over-the-top coverage. The safeties were caught biting too much on several trick plays and some play action, which led to some scores.

Cornerback: B-

Brandon Howard continued his improvement since being torched by TCU. Howard still has a ways to go regarding his playmaking abilities, but he has shown improvement, which is extremely important from a first-year starter playing a critical position on defense.

The loss of Scott Johnson to injury hurt the defense in the second half. Brandon Bradley provided adequate backup, but when he went down, the Cougars found themselves scrambling and struggling with recently converted safety Steven Thomas called upon to fill in.

Special Teams: B-

Justin Sorensen was great during kickoffs, as he was kicking it far and high and thus preventing a lot of returns by the Rams. C.J. Santiago didn't get a lot of work, but did kick it well when he had the chance. Muffing a punt is unacceptable, and it will be interesting to see if Spencer Hafoka is given another shot, as O'Neill Chambers has proved effective throughout most of the year with his punt returns. The roughing-the-punter penalty was a killer and should never happen as well.


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