|BYU QB Hall has Cougars on verge of Top 10|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 September 2008 13:09|
Hall has good reason. BYU is looking a lot like it used to, in the rankings and on the field, where Hall is building on the school's quarterback legacy.
``It's not something we dwell on, but it's nice to see us move up in the polls,'' said Hall, who has No. 11 BYU off to its best start in seven years. ``We know we need to be up there at the end of the season to have a shot at our goal of a BCS game. The farther up we are right now the better.
``It's nice to be there. We just need to stay there.''
If Hall's season continues the way it started, BYU can count on continuing to rise. Through four games, he has thrown for 1,284 yards and 15 touchdowns, tying the school record with seven in a 59-0 embarrassment of UCLA. He has also completed 107 of 144 attempts (74 percent) with only two interceptions.
eased with is the Cougars' ranking. After being No. 16 in the preseason poll, BYU is now one spot out of the top 10, territory the Cougars haven't been in since opening the 2001 season 12-0 and reaching No. 8.
The Cougars are viewed by many as the favorite among the potential ``BCS Busters,'' schools trying to break into the Bowl Championship Series from leagues that don't have a guaranteed bid. And Hall's name has come up in early talk of the Heisman Trophy contenders.
Both situations depend on how well team plays. As long as the Cougars remain unbeaten, talk of both the BCS and Hall's Heisman chances will only increase.
Hall credits his teammates, and isn't just being modest. He hasn't been sacked this year and the defense shut out the Cougars' last two opponents - great circumstances for any quarterback. But Hall's passing is what's getting the most notice, which seems only fitting for a quarterback at BYU.
``It's great. We love Max,'' linebacker David Nixon said. ``He's playing well and he deserves all the credit that's been coming his way. I know he's got a level head on him. He's not going to let it get to him. I think we should continue rolling how we are.''
at included the Cougars' national title when they went 13-0 in 1984.
Hall said he'd like to see BYU contend for another national championship, but first things first.
At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Hall isn't particularly big or imposing. But his arm is strong and accurate, and he gets rid of the ball before the defense sees the play developing.
``We like to claim to be geniuses, but the fact is he's pretty good and we've got a good group of guys around him,'' said quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, a former Cougars' QB. ``There's a commanding presence about him just of excellence.''
BYU feels lucky to have Hall. A native of suburban Phoenix, he originally went to Arizona State, where his uncle Danny White played before an NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys. Hall redshirted with the Sun Devils in 2004, then went on his Mormon church mission.
He said his faith led him to transfer to church-owned BYU, which he felt would be a better fit. Under NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out a year and spent the 2006 season running the Cougars' scout team and learning the offense as quarterback John Beck led the Cougars to an 11-2 finish, going 8-0 in the Mountain West Conference.
ain went 11-2 and made a perfect run through the conference.
Hall is already more than halfway to his sophomore touchdown total. Jim McMahon's season record of 47 TDs in 1980 is reachable if Hall continues to improve. He has only played in 17 college games.
``Where I've improved most is mentally and understanding what the defense is trying to do to stop us,'' Hall said. ``Knowing when they're going to blitz or when they're going to drop, and then getting us to the right play to attack the defense that's coming.''
So far, he's made it look simple. When teams double up on tight end Dennis Pitta, Hall's brother-in-law, Hall has gone to wide receiver Austin Collie, who leads the team with 30 catches. If the defense concentrates on Collie, Hall finds Pitta, who has caught 29 passes.
Or Hall looks beyond his top two targets and finds Michael Reed or running back Harvey Unga.
Hall's seven TDs against UCLA tied the BYU record shared by McMahon and Marc Wilson. That's when the calls started coming in from around the country as sports writers and broadcasters wanted to know more about BYU's latest quarterback prodigy.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall scaled back Hall's interviews to Mondays and Tuesdays, giving his quarterback a break in the second half of the week as game days approached.
to be offensive player of the week for the linebacker's interception return for a touchdown in a 44-0 win over Wyoming. He also suggested senior Travis Bright - a 330-pound offensive tackle - should return punts.
Hall's humorous streak ends, though, when it's time to practice.
``I think we're working a lot harder than we have in the past right now because I think were getting a little taste of what we're capable of doing this year,'' Hall said.