Cougar Curve: BYU 26, Utah 23

The rivalry game ended in what has become very typical fashion. Max Hall threaded the needle in hitting Andrew George for a game-winning touchdown against Utah in overtime on Saturday. Despite the heroics this game should never have come down to what it did, much like the BYU-Utah game in 2007. Grades are in for every position group for Saturday's performance.

Quarterback: C

Max Hall's grade was greatly inflated by his game-winning touchdown pass. Despite his enormous struggles during Saturday's game he came through when the team needed him most, which cannot be ignored. Hall rose to the occasion and went out in dramatic fashion to top off what has been a very stellar career.

Leading up to Saturday's game Hall tried to indicate that Utah wasn't in his head and that he had completely forgotten about last year's game, but Saturday's performance would indicate otherwise. He was very tentative with his reads and throws, finishing with a paltry 12 completions on 32 attempts for a mere 132 yards.

Hall's struggles against Utah will be a distant memory for most fans, as his completion to Andrew George for the game-winning touchdown will prevail – and it should. Many fans argued that Hall couldn't step up in big games, but did exactly that Saturday when came through in the clutch.

Running Backs: B

Harvey Unga was very good in gutting through a gimpy angle to put up his typical stats of more than 100 yards rushing and 5.0 yards per carry. Unga was the best offensive player on the field of play for the Cougars, while the other running backs chipped in here and there for little production.

Wide Receivers: C-

Much like they failed to do against TCU, the wideouts struggled to beat man-coverage. McKay Jacobson fared better than the others in this regard, but they certainly weren't the factor they should have been in Saturday's game given how Utah was choosing to defend the offense.

Some big plays were made, however, most notably by Spencer Hafoka, whose diving catch helped BYU convert its initial first down of the game and got them in gear after an anemic start. Jacobson and O'Neill Chambers contributed some receptions as well in an otherwise uneventful outing for the Cougar wideouts.

Tight Ends: B

Utah took away Dennis Pitta as an option very effectively, as he faced double-teams almost exclusively throughout the game. Andrew George could not have scripted a better way to top off his final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium, however, catching a rope by Max Hall while taking the ball for the final game-winning touchdown.

Offensive Line: B-

The offensive line struggled as much in Saturday's game as they have in any game this season. Matt Reynolds was clearly hampered by a gimpy ankle, thus limiting how effective he was. He gutted it out, however, and helped tremendously as a result.

The pass protection was spotty while the run-blocking was pretty good for the most part. It was a group that entered the season with a lot of inexperience and a lot of subsequent question marks, but they forged together and should be one of the better units BYU has ever fielded in the years to come.

Coaching on Offense: D

Robert Anae did stick with the run far more than he has during similar games in the past, but it's still a wonder when given Hall's obvious struggles that the team still attempted more passing plays than run plays. The wonder of this is compounded considering Unga's average of 5 yards per carry.

The last quarter of game management should leave many a fan scratching their heads. One has to wonder about the wisdom of throwing out a five-receiver set with no backs on first down with about three minutes left when BYU was protecting a lead, and then also wonder about just running out the clock when the game was tied with a half a minute left and three timeouts.

How there were only 29 seconds left when BYU got the ball back after Utah tied up the game had to be the biggest head-scratcher of the entire game and an awful example of game management by the coaching staff. Should BYU have used one of its three timeouts after the defense held on fourth down, then the game very likely would not have gone into overtime, as Hall and company would have been presented with a little more than a minute and also two timeouts to get into field goal range. I've yet to listen to the postgame, but I will be very curious to hear Bronco's explanation as to why that timeout wasn't used during the final seconds of regulation.

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line was the best unit on the field of play during Saturday's game. The end play was outstanding, as Jan Jorgensen and Brett Denney made play after play in limiting Utah's offensive production.

The middle was solid for the most part, but they did allow some late gainers up the middle, which docked the unit from a solid "A." The pass rush, most notably, was probably the best and most consistent that it's been all season, as Jorgensen was getting to Jordan Wynn on a frequent basis.

Linebackers: B+

Jordan Pendleton was simply outstanding in both his containment and pursuit. His upside is tremendous and he's finally starting to realize that potential. He was the best player in a very good linebacker unit Saturday.

Coleby Clawson was his normal solid self, while Matt Bauman and Shawn Doman both contributed solid play throughout the game. Utah was hard-pressed to get many gainers of more than five yards during most plays, and a lot of the credit for Utah's struggles goes to the linebackers.

Cornerbacks: B

It was a mixed bag for the Cougar corners, as they were bailed out of several lagging deep coverages due to Wynn overthrowing his receivers. Brian Logan was solid, as has become expected of him, but it was Brandon Bradley who really shined in the Cougar defensive backfield. Bradley showed extremely well in redzone coverage, as Utah came up short time and again during drives.

Safeties: B+

Andrew Rich was outstanding in coverage, accounting for an interception late in the first half that put the Cougars comfortably ahead at the time. Scott Johnson contributed some great plays as well. This unit has been very good throughout the year and they were no different during Saturday's game.

Defensive coaching: B+

It was clear that the coverages BYU presented during the initial stages weren't working, but defensive coordinator Jaime Hill adjusted very well in mixing up coverages while using blitzes as effectively as they've been used all season in rattling Wynn.

BYU really mixed up its coverages well after the first quarter, giving Wynn different looks and bailing on what they presented to him during his pre-snap read. Utah was clearly confused on just how to attack BYU's defense for most of the game, which is a credit to Hill and his game management. The defense won Saturday's game.

Special Teams: C

It was very much a mixed bag for the Cougar special teams. Riley Stephenson was woefully inconsistent in both his punts and kickoffs, while Mitch Payne was consistent. BYU seemed to be in a lull until O'Neill Chambers busted through in a punt return for a big gainer, which led to BYU's first touchdown. They seemed to ride the emotion that Chambers provided with that play for the rest of the game.


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