It would be very hard to ascribe many faults in Max Hall's play Saturday. Hall had control of almost every situation while making some brilliant plays and passes throughout the game to keep the Cougars ahead. Perhaps his most brilliant play came at the end of the first half when, instead of spiking the ball at the goal line as time was running out, he saw an opening and went for a run around the end that paid dividends.
Hall has been so good and consistent since his sophomore season that many are beginning to take him for granted. He has simply found a way to get it done in most games he's played in, and fans may only truly appreciated what he is when he's gone, which is a shame.
Running Backs: B-
The running backs weren't able to get it going, as Harvey Unga looked a bit lethargic Saturday. J.J. Di Luigi contributed well, as did Bryan Kariya, but as a whole the production from the running backs was down Saturday.
Manase Tonga didn't play and it noticeably effected the push the offense was able to get at the point of attack, as well as other areas where Tonga is key. Jo Jo Pili filled in admirably, but he simply can't provide what Tonga does at this point of his career.
Wide Receivers: B
They were serviceable, but as a whole didn't provide for all that many big plays. Luke Ashworth was the most productive of the bunch, while O'Neill Chambers, Spencer Hafoka and Brett Thompson all chipped in for plays throughout the game.
Tight Ends: A
The tight ends were very good Saturday, although Dennis Pitta didn't get involved until late in the game. What he did do was account for one of the more spectacular touchdown grabs one will see, reaching over the out-of-bounds line while keeping his feet inbounds for the score. He did end very strong, as is the norm, and finished with six catches for 72 yards.
Andrew George was very productive, catching four passes for 75 yards and a key score late in the game. The Cougar tight ends are the best in the nation and again proved as much Saturday.
Offensive Line: B-
The offensive line did not get the push on running plays that we've become used to. The Aztecs were able to collapse the point of attack on too many occasions, which led to short yardage and sometimes no gains on first-down run attempts.
The pass protection was good, as Coach Mark Weber rotated in almost all of his available bodies on the offensive front throughout the game. It was this young group's first time going against the unusual 3-3-5 alignment that Rocky Long presents, and that may have been a factor for the line's subpar performance overall.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line allowed very little up the middle once again, while still struggling to mount an effective pass rush for most of the game. They allowed the Aztec passing game too much time to operate, which led to some big gains in the first half.
The linebackers were burned by play action way too much in the first half and struggled with their tackles in the flat. They improved as a unit in the second half, but didn't have the impact that they had been having in previous games.
Brandon Bradley was picked on in the first half as he battled through the flu. He eventually gave way to Lee Aguirre at the boundary position. Aguirre played very well, improving a lot over his past performance. He is a solid player who provides much better depth than the Cougar secondary is used to at corner.
Brian Logan was very solid in coverage again, as he wasn't beat for much of anything against the team that spurned him during the recruiting process. Vincent Brown was able to exploit some of the matchups, but most of those came against Bradley, who we'll give a pass due to his illness.
Andrew Rich showed very well in run support as is the norm, but was beat deep on at least two occasions. He wasn't beat badly by any means, but the Aztecs receivers were able to beat him deep for some big gains early on.
Scott Johnson accounted for the biggest defensive play of the game when he picked off a pass at the goal line as the Aztecs were about to go in for a score that would put them up late in the first half. The safeties on the team remain very good and active playmakers, although they collectively didn't have their best performance Saturday.
Special Teams: B
The kick coverage and kick return teams did fare well, while Riley Stephenson was able to pin the Aztecs deep on a couple of punts late in the game. Stephenson also looked much better on his kickoffs, while Mitch Payne booted through his lone field goal attempt of the night.