Cougar Curve: BYU 23, Washington 17

Grades are in for the first game of the season, which had to leave fans with a big smile on their face. Coaches prepared this relatively young team extremely well, as BYU showed themselves as clearly the better team. Grades are high across the board as a result.

Quarterbacks: B+

I'm grading them on a bit of a curve when considering it was the first time either of them have seen significant playing time while at BYU. There were some rocky moments, but both quarterbacks really rose to the occasion.

The coaches started with Riley Nelson, and so will I. Simply stated, Nelson played the same way he's been practicing all fall. He's not spectacular with any aspect of his game, but he manages to be very efficient with what he can do.

He came out sharp and led both of BYU's touchdown drives, and he looked a lot more settled than Heaps during the first quarter. He also managed to throw some ugly balls that he probably shouldn't have gotten away with, but that is what you're going to get with Nelson: efficient but unspectacular play. But considering the venue and the situation, he was about perfect with what he was able to provide.

Jake Heaps came out a bit rocky, but settled down nicely after converting a critical third-down situation during his second set of reps. His reads were very good throughout the game, but he just missed Luke Ashworth and then missed McKay Jacobson on two third-down passes that could have effectively put away Washington for good.

He'll get there though when given more time and more reps. Fans should be downright giddy by the promise they saw with Heaps on Saturday.

Running Backs: A-

J.J. Di Luigi was outstanding and was clearly the offensive MVP for a skill position. He started off a bit slow, but really hit his stride in the second half. His long touchdown pass on third down really started to swing things BYU's way.

Bryan Kariya's main contributions with pass-blocking probably weren't noted by most fans, but should be. He did an amazing job picking up blitz after blitz and was relatively efficient in running the football as well.

It was very gratifying to see Joshua Quezada get into the act in scoring the first touchdown of the season courtesy of a pass from Riley Nelson. These guys aren't Unga by any means, but they did enough Saturday to warrant a very high grade.

Wide Receivers: B-

They were okay, but none of the wideouts came through with a huge game. There with enough dropped passes to warrant a pretty average grade. O'Neill Chambers was too quiet and McKay Jacobson uncharacteristically whiffed on a pass from Heaps in the fourth that could really helped BYU put Washington away.

Cody Hoffman had some good contributions, although he didn't cut off his routes on a couple of occasions, thus leading to incompletions and stalled drives. Overall, this group is going to be very good once they get into the season and develop better rhythm with their quarterbacks.

Tight Ends: B

Other than a dropped pass by Richard Wilson in the end zone, this unit did well. They weren't a dominating position group, but they did enough to warrant a collective B grade, with Wilson, Mike Muehlmann and Marcus Mathews all contributing receptions.

Muehlmann had at least a couple of blocks in the open field that helped account for some extra yardage, which is always a key facet of overall offensive production. This is a group that showed better than they practiced for the most part, which is very good to see.

Offensive Line: A-

The only thing keeping this group from a solid "A" grade was that it wasn't punishing with its run-blocking coming out. During the second-half, however, it wore down the Washington defensive front while completely owning the line of scrimmage.

Where this group was outstanding was in its pass-protection. One won't often see pass-blocking as flawless as they did Saturday, as both quarterbacks were rarely - if ever - pressured or even touched when dropping back to pass.

Defensive Line: A-

Romney Fuga was the best defensive player on the field from my point of view. He was getting good penetration on passing plays, demanded a double-team on running plays and split enough gaps to really make a difference with his play.

Both Eathyn Manumaleana and Vic So'oto did very well in their containment responsibilities with Locker, and also had a strong showing on most running plays. The pass rush was decent, as they got to Locker effectively enough to throw him off his rhythm on a lot of occasions.

Linebackers: B

Both Jameson Frazier and Jordan Pendleton provided outstanding effort from the outside in limiting Locker to almost no yardage outside of the tackles. Pendleton in particular provided some very good pass rushes late in the game to stalemate the Husky offense.

The play inside was good downhill, although they struggled in the open field, which was to be expected from this group. Shane Hunter showed well late while Brandon Ogletree showed well early, which is good to have from the most veteran players at the position.

Safeties: B+

Andrew Rich was very good - as is to be expected - providing some jarring hits from his strong safety position. Steven Thomas lagged behind on a couple of long passes, but he was otherwise consistent with his play while playing a position where consistency is key.

Cornerbacks: B+

Brian Logan accounted for two enormous pass knockdowns, but that is something to be expected from him in manning the field corner position. Brandon Bradley was solid, although he did get burned for at least one long pass play.

Corby Eason got a lot of reps in place of Brandon Bradley and fared very well. He contributed a big pass knockdown and did a very solid job in coverage.

Special Teams: A-

The kick coverage was about as good as I've ever seen from a BYU team, so they're to be commended there. Riley Stephenson did a very good job punting the football, while Mitch Payne's missed field goal was the only thing keeping the special teams from an A grade.

Coaches: A

The Cougar coaching staff had their team much more prepared than Washington and should be commended for that. This is a relatively young BYU football team, but one wouldn't know it from watching Saturday's game.

They made some key adjustments at halftime on both offense and on defense while constructing a game plan that really held Locker in check. It's hard to find any major fault in the playcalling, the adjustments or the overall preparation seen from the Cougar coaches.


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