Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 | midnight
Record: 10-2, 6-2 MWC
Offense (Nationally): 17th in yards per game, 7th in passing yards per game, 19th in scoring offense
Quarterback: Max Hall, 6'1'', Junior
Hall has put together two solid years as the BYU starter, passing for 7,477 yards and 60 touchdowns. He's got the 12th best passer rating in college football at 160.33. He's a pocket passer who does a fairly good job of avoiding pressure, his first sack of the season came in the Cougars fifth game.
Running Back: Harvey Unga, 6'0'', Sophomore
Unga was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2007 when he set the league's rushing record with 1,227 yards. Unga has turned in another solid year of running the football with 10 rushing touchdowns and can be used as a reliable receiving option by Hall out of the backfield, at one point scoring four touchdowns in a four-game stretch.
Receivers: Austin Collie, 6'2'', Junior; Dennis Pitta, 6'5'', Junior
Collie comes into the Las Vegas Bowl riding a 10-game streak where he's posted 100 receiving yards or better. With Collie working downfield, the tight end Pitta has found room underneath to put together the first 1,000-yard season of his career. Both receivers have the potential to take over a game, Pitta had 213 receiving yards in the Cougars first game of the season and Collie has put together six multiple-touchdown games.
Offensive Line: Dallas Reynolds, 6'5'', Senior; Ray Feinga, 6'6'', Senior; Matt Reynolds, 6'5'', Freshman; Travis Bright, 6'5'', Senior; David Oswald, 6'8'', Senior
One of the most experienced, and biggest (avg. weight of 325 pounds), groups in the NCAA, the BYU offensive line was heavily decorated this season with Dallas Reynolds and Feinga receiving first team all-conference selections and Bright receiving second team honors. The 331-pound Feinga was credited with not allowing a single sack last season, when the Cougars allowed just 1.54 sacks per game.
Defense (Nationally): 58th in total defense, 34th in scoring defense, 59th pass defense, 65th rush defense
Defensive Backs: David Tafuna, 6'1'', Senior; Kellen Fowler, 5'11'', Senior; Scott Johnson, 5'1'', Junior; Brandon Howard, 5'9'', Junior
Fowler is having the most active season of his career, improving from 28 tackles a year ago to 73 this season. While a solid tackler, he doesn't get his hands on the ball often, recording just two broken up passes and no interceptions. Tafuna, who suffered an unsual ligament tear in his right foot that ended his season last year, has recorded 52 tackles and one interception. Johnson has 57 tackles and scored a defensive touchdown for the Cougars on a 64-yard fumble recovery against Wyoming.
Linebackers: David Nixon, 6'3'', Senior; Matt Bauman, 6'1'', Junior; Coleby Clawson, 6'3'', Junior
Baumen, who started all 13 games as a sophomore for the Cougars in 2007, led the team in tackles with 101. Nixon is having the best year of his career and, with three interceptions, is the only BYU player with more than one. Coming into the season with zero career interceptions, forced fumbles, or fumble recoveries, the senior has turned into the best chance at creating turnovers the Cougars have with two forced fumbles and a recoverty to add to his interceptions. He is one of only two BYU defensive players to receive all-MWC honors. Clawson led the team in tackles for a loss with 11.5 for 64 yards and leads the team with three forced fumbles.
Defensive Line: Ian Dulan, 6'1'', Junior; Russel Tialavea, 6'3'', Junior; Jan Jorgensen, 6'3'', Sophomore; Brett Denney, 6'4'', Junior
All-MWC first-team selection Jorgensen anchors the defensive line with 8.5 tackles for a loss and a team-leading five sacks. The group has allowed only two hundred-yard rushers all season, Colorado State's Gartrell Johnson and Air Force's Todd Newell.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].