Cougar Curve: Utah 48, BYU 24

The Cougars turned the game over to the Utes on their way to securing a loss that didn't match the stat sheet. One stat loomed ominous: BYU turned the ball over six times to Utah's zero turnovers. It's hard to win any game, particularly one against a quality opponent, where you turn the ball over six times. Grades are in for every position group regarding Saturday's performance.

Quarterback: D-

I won't say much here, as we all saw the game, and it doesn't need to be belated. Max Hall simply had the worst performance of his life in what may have been the biggest game of his life. I'm sure Hall would grade himself an "F" and he'll recover from Saturday's performance.

Hall did make some plays, and he wasn't aided by an offensive coordinator who refused to run the ball during the second half - let alone run the ball on first down - until it was too late. This put Hall in bad spots, which certainly didn't aid his performance.

It's difficult to understand why Hall struggled so much Saturday, as he's been nails in practically every big-game situation he's been in so far in his career. Saturday's loss and performance will be hard to overcome, but Hall is as tough as they come and will rebound and learn from it.

Running Back: A

Harvey Unga and Fui Vakapuna both put forth great efforts and performances. Unga averaged 7.7 yards per carry on just 18 rushing attempts, while Vakapuna averaged 9 yards per carry on his four rushing attempts. Again, it's a wonder that Anae refused to use these high-performing running backs like they should have been used in the second half.

Anae did start to call more run attempts after the Utes went up 41-24 with 9 minutes left, which made his game-calling and game-management all the more questionable. Unga and Vakapuna were having great games and needed to be used more than they would Saturday. This is especially so in light of Hall's struggling performance.

Wide Receiver: A-

There certainly wasn't a lot to criticize regarding the performances of the Cougar wideouts. Austin Collie was as dominant as ever, while Michael Reed made some big contributions. The Cougar receivers were effective for the duration of the ball game for the most part.

Tight End: B+

Dennis Pitta was a bit quiet, but came through with some big catches during key moments of the game. Andrew George was okay, but did help account for Hall's fifth interception of the day when he missed on a low pass.

Offensive Line: A-

I personally thought that the offensive line played great. They had a couple of stupid mistakes, but for the most part Hall was granted adequate time in the pocket, and they put forth a big push on most running plays. On the edges the tackles did an outstanding job of limiting how effective Paul Kruger and Koa Misi were.

Defensive Line: B

The defensive line did well at stopping the run, although the pass rush was again lacking. They did get some good pressure on Johnson in some occasions, but Johnson's quick drops and release didn't help their cause.

Linebacker: C+

The Utes were able to attack the flats and the middle of the field very effectively, and this was in large part due to the ineffectiveness of the Cougar linebackers. The linebackers did step up to make better plays in the second half, but if BYU is to continue to run its soft zones, which rely so much on the linebackers to read and make plays in the open field, then the individual linebacker performances have to improve.

The good news is that they're getting better at linebacker. Matt Ah You especially has seen marked improvement over the past few games. The defensive play-calling during Saturday's second half aided the linebackers, as defensive coordinator Jaime Hill crept up his cornerbacks and applied more pressure all around.

Safety: C

Both Kellen Fowler and David Tafuna were awful in the first half, but rebounded to make some nice plays in the second half. The team has suffered from the lack of plays made from its linebackers, but like the linebackers, the safeties are seeing some improvement here of late.

Cornerback: C-

Both Brandon Bradley and Brandon Howard struggled Saturday. Bradley in particular had a lot of balls completed to his assignment while in coverage. This team misses Scott Johnson tremendously, and he certainly could have made an impact during Saturday's game.

I've noted Howard's improvements in coverage, but it's his run support and overall tackling that continues to be frustrating. Howard simply cannot tackle, which isn't a priority for a defense, but it certainly hurts to not have a cornerback that can provide any type of run support whatsoever. Hopefully Howard improves on this aspect of his game in the offseason.

Special Teams: B+

It was once again a very solid performance from all aspects of the Cougar special teams. All the coverage and kick units have done well to give BYU advantages in most games this season.


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