Where Have All the Gunslingers Gone?



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As decent as BYU's pass defense has been this season (49th nationally in passing yards allowed, 32nd in pass efficiency defense, only 3 passing touchdowns allowed), it has to be said that the Cougars have yet to face a really good passing quarterback, and that won't change this week.

New Mexico QB Brad Gruner will be starting his third game in place of Donovan Porterie, and to say Rocky Long has been underwhelmed by Gruner's passing abilities would be an understatement. Gruner's numbers this season (4 games played): 25/61, 279 yds, 2td, 5 int, 41% comp, avg. 69.8 pass yards/game.

Of the FBS quarterbacks BYU has faced this season, none are ranked higher than 55th in pass efficiency (USU's Diondre Borel) or 68th in total offense (UCLA's Kevin Craft). Of the quarterbacks BYU will face the rest of the way, the highest-rated QB is Utah's Brian Johnson (23rd in pass efficiency), and the most productive QB is SDSU's Ryan Lindley (39th in total offense).

(Note: Northern Iowa's Pat Grace is 28th in pass efficiency and 60th in total offense in the FCS)

In short, BYU's Max Hall is far and away the best quarterback BYU defenders will see this season, and it's not even close. Compare Hall's current pass efficiency rating to the FBS QBs on BYU's schedule (national pass efficiency rankings in parentheses. Only top 100 QBs are ranked):

Max Hall: 172.0 (8th)

Jake Locker, UW: 103.6

Kevin Craft, UCLA: 106.3 (97th)

Dax Crum, Wyoming: 84.1 (Karsten Sween is now starting for Wyoming. His rating: 66.7)

Diondre Borel, USU: 128.4 (55th)

Brad Gruner, UNM: 73.8

Andy Dalton, TCU: 104.1 (Dalton missed the last game--knee--expected to play at CSU this week. Marcus Jackson started v. SDSU. Jackson's rating: 122.8)

Omar Clayton, UNLV: 143.7 (34th)

Billy Farris, CSU: 137.0 (41st)

Ryan Lindley, SDSU: 120.8 (70th--Lindley suffered a slight shoulder separation @ TCU--could be back as soon as this week v. AFA)

Shea Smith, AFA: 124.6 (not enough pass attempts to be ranked in Top 100)

Brian Johnson, Utah: 148.3 (23rd)

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Hall is ranked 9th nationally in total offense, while among FBS QBs BYU will face this season, only Lindley (39th), Clayton (47th), Farris (49th) and Johnson (50th) are in the Top 50.

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As you can see, the best QBs BYU will face are found in the back half of the Cougars' schedule, but none of them are exactly striking fear into the hearts of defenders these days. If it comes down to quarterback play, BYU will have an overwhelming edge in every game the Cougars play.

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New Mexico is one of five teams to whom Bronco Mendenhall has yet to lose as BYU head coach. The others are UNLV, CSU, Air Force and Wyoming.

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BYU has won 17 consecutive October/November/December games.

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