Cougar Curve: Arizona 31, BYU 21

BYU ended the season on a low note, losing to the Arizona Wildcats in the Las Vegas Bowl to finish out a season which didn't meet most fans' expectations, as the team went from preseason BCS busters to Las Vegas losers. Grades are in for every position group and how they fared in the bowl game.

Quarterback: C+

Max Hall was okay. He didn't have a bad game, nor did he have a good game. Should Austin Collie and Michael Reed not have each dropped a would-be touchdown pass, Hall's grade could have been boosted.

Hall had some turnovers and didn't take charge like most thought he would after coming off the worst game of his career against Utah. This observer continues to wonder why Harvey Unga isn't being used more in the passing game, whether it be calling passing plays for him or checking down to him underneath the coverage. Should Unga get more involved in the passing attack, it should help out the overall production.

Running Back: B-

Harvey Unga seemingly had the same sort of game he's had in every game this year. He was efficient, but wasn't dominating. Bryan Kariya stepped in for an injured Fui Vakapuna and fared very well when called upon.

Wide Receiver: B-

As mentioned, two would-be touchdowns were dropped by Collie and Reed, stunting drives which ultimately led to no points. Both players were effective, however, and made their share of good plays. Other than the drop, Reed probably had his best game of the year with nine catches for 117 yards. O'Neill Chambers was once again only targeted once, and an underthrown pass led to an offensive pass interference penalty.

Tight End: B

The tight ends were fine, but not all that big of a factor. Dennis Pitta had some nice plays, while Andrew George accounted for Hall's only touchdown pass.

Offensive Line: B-

Ray Feinga getting hurt didn't help out matters, but he was able to play some during the second half. The run blocking was average for the most part, while Hall got pressured more than one has come to expect here of late, and that falls on the offensive line.

Defensive Line: C+

The lack of pressure on Willie Tuitama really affected how well the defense was able to perform. Tuitama had all the time he needed to pick the Cougar secondary apart on just about every pass play. The defensive line fared better at stopping the run.

Linebacker: C

I thought the linebackers were okay and maybe even a bit better than they have been in most games this season. Shawn Doman had a good game, while the linebackers biting on too many play-action passes led to some big gains from fullback Chris Gronkowski.

Safety: D+

Not many plays were made by Kellen Fowler and David Tafuna. Fowler getting confused in coverage accounted for at least one of Arizona's touchdowns. Tafuna meanwhile was a little better in coverage than he has been, but again didn't make any big plays.

Cornerback: D

Scott Johnson played well, but that was about it. Brandon Howard covered well, which didn't get noticed, but was beat deep for a pass early in the game that should have been caught for a big gain. Brandon Bradley has a lot of talent and upside, but after Saturday night most fans could clearly see that he's not there yet. Bradley was beat repeatedly in coverage and failed to make any plays.

Special Teams: D

Mitch Payne whiffed on both of his field goal attempts, while Justin Sorensen just missed on a long field goal attempt. C.J. Santiago had a decent game, but for the most part the Cougar special teams hurt the team more than helped them in the game.

There are clearly changes that need to be made on this football team, which has seemingly been in a funk since the second half of the Utah State game. It's become quite clear that opposing teams that are familiar with BYU are locking on to their tendencies.

There is still a lot of talent on this team and the prospects should again be high for next season, but there needs to be adjustments. Cougar fans should have confidence in head coach Bronco Mendenhall making the necessary adjustments, as he's proven to perform on most occasions. It all starts with spring ball, and we'll be there yet again noting any changes or developments within the program and how they do things.

Regardless, despite the un-met expectations, Mendenhall put together a 10-3 football team and that should not go unmentioned or unappreciated. No one is happy with how the season ended, but it could have been a lot worse. The football program is strong, but needs to be tweaked a bit should it reach its full potential by next year.


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