Cougar Curve: BYU 35, Utah State 17

It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Cougars will take it over an in-state foe in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Turnovers played a big part in keeping the game closer than it should have been otherwise. Grades are in for every position group regarding their performance in Friday's game.

Quarterback: C

Max Hall finished the game going 16-of-23 for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Hall accounted for some great touchdown passes twice to Dennis Pitta and once to Luke Ashworth on throws that couldn't have been any better.

Where Hall stumbled was in throwing two interceptions while trying to go deep when there was over-the-top coverage. These are mistakes a senior quarterback doesn't make and Hall will certainly have to work to rectify those reads should the team hope to truly dominate opponents this year.

Riley Nelson got some spot duty and did very well on a keeper play up the middle. It will be interesting to see if they used Nelson to just give him a chance to go against his old team or whether his role will expand from here on out within the offense.

Running Backs: B+

Harvey Unga had a very solid outing, although he wasn't quite as dominant as I thought he would be going in. He finished carrying the ball 21 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Overall the team rushed for a very good 213 yards, which should have been expected by most fans given the matchups.

Manase Tonga continues to improve with every game as he looks to regain his old form. He appears to be all but there in shouldering much more of the running load as the season wears on. Both J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya were effective in spot duty as well.

Wide Receivers: B

O'Neill Chambers was effective early on, but all but disappeared as the game wore on. Luke Ashworth filled in very well for an ailing McKay Jacobson and was the Cougars' leading receiver on the night after catching five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. Spencer Hafoka didn't see many looks after a fumble at the start of the game.

Tight Ends: B+

Andrew George started off the game with a dropped pass, but did contribute a catch. Dennis Pitta again just did what he always does in catching critical third-down passes and passes for touchdowns. When not much is working, Pitta provides a very big security blanket for Hall that he doesn't hesitate to use.

Offensive Line: A-

They may have been the best unit on the field Friday, giving Hall more than enough time to spot open receivers while getting a push forward on almost all running plays. Matt Reynolds went down late in the ball game, but appears to be okay with an injury that was said to be mere cramps.

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line gave up nothing up the middle and did very well at neutralizing Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel's effectiveness in running the football. The Cougars were sort of spying Borel with a defensive end for a large portion of the game, having a pass-rusher drop back to spy and thereby confuse him regarding what run options he had.

Linebackers: B+

The containment they've lacked the prior two games was much better Friday, as no Utah State running back was able to get outside for big gains. There were a few passes completed across the middle of coverage, but overall the linebackers had their best outing since the Tulane game. Terrance Hooks especially showed well, making play after play close to the line of scrimmage.

The Cougars again did not vary their formations, as they went with the base 3-4 throughout the game with Jordan Pendleton playing more like a safety than a linebacker given Utah State's tendency to use spread formations. Both Jordan Atkinson and Grant Nelson saw a lot of playing time and played effectively.

Cornerbacks: C+

Brian Logan was benched in favor of Robbie Buckner due to missing a walk-through before the game. Buckner did alright in Logan's place, although he was beat deep on a pass and did have some other completions go against him. It was Buckner's first Division I football game, and all things considered he did a very fine job.

Brandon Bradley had a lot more throws against him in this game and unfortunately had a fade pass completed against him for a touchdown. Where the cornerbacks did do well was in providing a lot of coverage hurries and sacks for the Cougar pass-rushers.

Safeties: A-

Andrew Rich was the best defensive player on the field Friday, making play after play in the Aggie backfield and along the line of scrimmage. Rich was aggressive and also provided good coverage across the middle, as did Scott Johnson.

Special Teams: C-

Riley Stephenson again had a kickoff go out of bounds, which is something that should never happen, ever. The punting was okay, while the kick coverage had some good returns go against them. The return game was unspectacular once again. J.J. Di Luigi did show well on one kick return though, and it's likely that he'll be sticking as one of the two kick returners for the rest of the season.


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