The Cougar Curve: Tulsa

Fui Vakapuna

BYU enters the win column with a 49-24 spanking of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both offense and defense turned in outstanding performances, so the grades are pretty good all around. The offense put last week's 13-point showing behind them by exploding for seven touchdowns and almost 500 yards. The defense also proved that they are for real.

Quarterbacks: A-

John Beck had a very productive outing throwing for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. After getting off to a slow start, Beck recognized that Tulsa was doubling Harline all game and had single coverage on the outside on just about every down.

Being the experienced player Beck is, he recognized the single coverage and made Tulsa pay for it. Other than a few misreads early in the game that stalled some drives, Beck had a virtually flawless outing after the first quarter. He had a 219.3 efficiency rating, which is the 14th highest quarterback rating in BYU history.

Running Backs: A

Curtis Brown rebounded nicely to rush for 125 yards, although his most impressive play was a 62-yard pass in which he broke five tackles. It was easily the most brilliant play in an already impressive career. Curtis Brown was as good as anyone could hope today.

Not far behind Brown was Fui Vakapuna, who got the touches fans were demanding, and he took full advantage of them, rumbling for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Vakapuna and Brown are easily the best running tandem BYU has had since Ronny Jenkins and Brian McKenzie.

Manase Tonga was behind the scenes, but quietly had a productive game scoring a touchdown of his own.

Wide Receivers: B+

A very good outing by the WRs was marred only by a drop of a would-be touchdown pass by Zac Collie. Both Matt Allen and McKay Jacobson had solid outings, taking advantage of Tulsa's single coverage downfield. Collie also had a nice outing. The entire starting unit played well.

Tight Ends: C

In Jonny Harline's defense, he was doubled all day long and only had one catch. Daniel Coats had no passes thrown to him and was flagged for one of the more difficult to understand holding penalties that you will see, which stalled a drive. Coats did great blocking for the Cougars on the edges all game long. It was apparent that Tulsa's game plan was to take away the tight ends and they did it effectively as both Coats and Harline were non-factors as passing options.

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line rebounded nicely by opening up holes for the running backs all day long and providing adequate protection for Beck on most passing plays. Five illegal procedure penalties just cannot be tolerated. They need to be corrected.

Defensive Line: A-

It was another outstanding outing by the Cougar defensive line. The early leader for most improved player of the year is Hala Paongo, who consistently plugs up the middle for the Cougar defense. It has become apparent early in this season that the Cougar defense, anchored by Paongo, is not going to give up many yard up the middle.

On the edges, the defensive ends provided good containment and made good pushes upfield on run plays. The pass rush was a bit lacking but for the most part the defensive line did its job. Props to Matangi Tonga for picking up his first career interception on a tipped pass.

Linebackers: A-

The biggest difference in this year's defensive unit is the lateral sideline to sideline speed of its outside linebackers. Bryan Kehl and David Nixon are as fast laterally as any outside linebackers BYU has ever had. Tulsa was not able to get yards on the edges, which is a credit to the outside linebackers, who consistently pursued effectively from sideline to sideline.

Supplementing Paongo and Tialavea's play up the middle are Cameron Jensen and Aaron Wagner. Jensen has quietly strung together two of his better games to open the season.

Safeties: C

Quinn Gooch was out and it showed as David Tafuna struggled in coverage. Most of Tulsa's big plays came when they beat the safeties across the middle. Cole Miyahira was back on the field and had a nice pass breakup.

Cornerbacks: A-

Ben Criddle made the play that changed the course of the game when he knocked away a pass from a Tulsa receiver that Tonga picked off. At that time Tulsa was driving only down 11 points. After he made the play BYU took the ball, scored a touchdown and never looked back. In recent years, BYU lacked a cornerback who could make game-changing plays.

It was hard to notice that Justin Robinson was even playing on the other side, which is not a bad thing for a cornerback. Robinson allowed nothing to be thrown his way all game.

Special Teams: B-

Good in kick coverage to be sure while Jared McLaughlin booted most of his kickoffs deep in the endzone. Allowing a blocked punt is unacceptable and could have been the turning point in the game had the defense not stepped up to hold the Golden Hurricanes to a field goal.

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